Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro Optical RGB Gaming Keyboard Review
A master class in keyboard design and performance
NOTE: Roccat kindly sent me a final retail unit of this keyboard to review at my discretion alongside marketing assets and technical information. I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
Roccat’s Vulcan TKL Pro takes everything great about the standard Vulcan Pro (see my review here) and shrinks it into a sleeker body. The TKL size is my personal favorite keyboard form factor, and this is one of the best examples of it that I’ve ever used. It’s unfortunately common in the gaming peripheral space for TKL keyboards to lose features or design touches in the transition to a smaller size, but incredibly the Vulcan TKL Pro has a few small improvements over its bigger brother.
Selling for a standard price of $159 (official site here), the Vulcan TKL Pro comes equipped with Roccat’s custom-designed linear Titan Optical switches. A nice braided detachable USB-C cable is included in the box. It’s fully compatible with the AIMO RGB lighting system, and just like the bigger Vulcan Pro keyboard, it features exposed key switches that shine with a brilliant, clean light.
The unique and vibrant aesthetic of the industrial design is the immediate standout feature of the Vulcan keyboard family. This looks quite unlike any other gaming keyboard on the market, which is wonderful. It has a thin, low profile design for both the body and the keycaps which exposes as much of the underlying switch structure as possible. You can look into the switches easily and see their innerworkings. That’s both fun and something I’m surprised other manufacturers don’t play around with, considering how much marketing attention is lavished on switch designs which are then hidden by backplates and caps.
The AIMO lighting is breathtaking, with an automatic mode that reacts to your actions and spreads light across all of your other compatible Roccat peripherals which I used almost exclusively during my review process. I went a little crazy when they sent me all of this gear to review and hooked it all up at once, and I’ve enjoyed basking in the light show for the last week and a half. If you don’t want reactive real-time lighting, you can also fully customize the lights to your heart’s content. The Roccat Swarm software is easy to use, and I had no trouble setting custom lighting and keymapping profiles.
Linear switches are my personal favorite style of switch, and as a result the type of key switch I have the most experience with. I’m pleased to say that Roccat’s Titan Optical linear switches are among the most smooth I’ve ever experienced. They have a perfectly even resistance throughout the entire keypress to their gentle bottom-out, and are wonderful to press. They respond very quickly to even a light tap, and they’re equally comfortable for typing or gaming. The keys are balanced such that they respond nearly as well if you clip the edge of the cap instead of the center. And the precise design of the frame and the custom key caps gives them a great sound too.
Just as with the larger model, at a first glance the keys look like they might be a little unstable, but they’re rock solid. The key caps are a custom ABS low profile design that’s angled perfectly to match the angle of the top of each key switch underneath. The spacing between keys is nearly as wide as on the larger keyboard in spite of the small form factor, and they’ve served me well for hours of gaming as well as typing things like this review article. I’m a little worried that the ABS will wear out or shine in the long- term, but after a week of intense use they’re still going strong.
In a move that cannot be applauded enough, the Vulcan TKL Pro retains the excellent volume knob from the bigger version, alongside a small clicky mute button. I’ve seen so many TKL boards cut these media control functions compared to their larger variants, and it’s so awesome that this is still present here. The knob itself is a little bit smaller than the one on the full size Vulcan Pro, but still has a sturdy rotation and feels like it came right off of a pro audio mixing console.
Design-wise, the TKL Pro is a rousing success even compared to the great larger model. The frame is not only smaller overall due to the lack of number pad, but also has less empty bezel space around the edges of the key area, making it a truly compact design. They even managed to shed a little thickness from the frame itself. The shiny plastic from the edges and underside of the standard Vulcan Pro is gone, replaced with an entirely matte body that better matches the overall aesthetic. The detachable USB-C cable solves one of my few complaints about the Vulcan Pro, making the TKL model much easier to move around or travel with.
Thanks to all of these small tweaks, the Vulcan TKL Pro is a better-looking and better-feeling version of an awesome keyboard. There are only a couple of reasons it might not be a better match for you compared to the standard Vulcan Pro. It doesn’t have the wrist rest or as many control shortcut buttons as the bigger unit, but I don’t think either of those is a huge loss...though until I found myself enjoying the rest on the Vulcan Pro I wasn’t much of a rest user. It doesn’t have an option for tactile switches, so if you’re not a fan of linear switches then that could also be a problem.
Otherwise, this is an excellent keyboard with brilliant performance that’s easily worth its asking price, especially if you’re as big a fan of the aesthetics and of smooth linear switches as I am. I’d love to see a future model take a shot at using PBT keycaps instead of ABS, but I’m not sure that could be done without damaging the light key feel that makes this so enjoyable to use.
Before I reviewed these Roccat models, I had spent a few months secretly dabbling with some of the smaller cheap OEM clone keyboards that have become popular on Amazon. There’s a whole world of mini 60ish percent layouts available with surprisingly good key switches and even PBT if you search around. The Skyloong SK61 I had been using even had a decent sound to it, in spite of its all-plastic body.
These Roccat models showed me just what I had been missing. The clone models had none of the aesthetic frills or precise feel that I’ve experienced with either of the Vulcans, and while other keyboards might represent a better raw value as far as “I got a thing that I can type with for less money,” there’s something to be said for the massive amount of engineering Roccat clearly put into the Vulcan family. And it’s so nice to have arrow keys again after being lost in the 60- percent sea.
I’m going to use the Vulcan TKL Pro as my main keyboard from now on, as it impressed me just as much as Roccat’s Burst Pro mouse. It has a number of cool original design touches while at the same time nailing the core performance aspects I want out of a keyboard.