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Hot!Z20 Review

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Nike_7688
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2021/03/02 13:27:59 (permalink)
I've posted some of this information elsewhere, but thought I'd put together some more thoughts for folks here as I've had a little bit more use with it. Currently, I've only played BF:V, Valheim, and Raft with this keyboard, but also used it for various web browsing and general computer usage thus far. I've had it for about 2 weeks. Overall, I definitely like it.
 
I'll start with a little background on mechanical keyboards for those of you who, like me, have not had one before:
I've been gaming for many years, but I never had a mechanical keyboard like this. The Z20 is optical-mechanical, but it still has the same type of physical design/movement (the actual switch actuation is made optically instead of through mechanical contacts though). If you've never had a mechanical-switch keyboard before, you should do some research on that to see if you're willing to deal with the trade-offs. There are benefits to mechanical style that are worth it for many gamers, but if you had to do a ton of typing, I'd be pretty hesitant to go with a keyboard like this due to the noise it makes. Just to be clear, this noise is not a problem with EVGA's keyboard specifically, it is just a byproduct of the mechanical switch keyboards in general. Some other videos to help: video1video2 (he says "PCB Board" at some point *shudders in EE*...sorry...he has some great info after that). This is a loud keyboard. There are louder keyboards out there and I don't think it is unusually loud for a mechanical keyboard, but again, if you've never had one before, be prepared.
 
On to Pros:
1. It is beautiful. I am not a fan of rainbow RGB on everything and appreciate more subtle things. While some have commented about how "huge" the EVGA logo is, I don't find it intrusive. It is not lit up specially, doesn't flash at you or something, and I mostly don't even notice it's there. All that said, I have toned down the lighting to about 50% intensity and have it on a solid blue that seems to match my case and X17 nicely (which is also toned down and just blue for now). Being fully adjustable, I can set the lighting however I want, and a soft blue solid tone is pleasant to me.
 
2. The TOF sensor is a fun feature. I just use it to make the keyboard get dark as I walk away. I do not like all the lights on my system to stay on when I'm not at it, so something like this is much more helpful than remembering to hit a button every time. I leave my computer up F@H, so it is on all the time and I like that I can have the lights turn off on this automatically. I haven't tried the sleep settings as that's not something I have my computer do. It is either on and doing things, or it is off.
 
3. Gaming has gone very smoothly. I have done more gaming than typing so far (which is to be expected on my desktop) and I think the best compliment that I can give a keyboard totally different to one I've owned before is that there was zero struggle or issues jumping right into games with it. I will say that someone on my discord voice channel asked me what all the clicking sounds were while playing Raft together. This has never happened to me before, but I do use a desk-microphone (omni) that sits literally right next to the top left corner of the keyboard. I may have to adjust this lol.
 
4. Volume roller is nice. I've never had one of these before, I wasn't sure if I'd use it or not. With switching back and forth between headphones and speakers constantly, it has been handy to have a physical thing I can adjust quickly to turn things up or down.
 
5. Palm wrest is comfortable for me...mostly. This is squishier than some, but not in a memory-foam or gel-pad kind of way. More of a leather chair kind of way, but you do bottom out. My desk is made of wood and I previously haven't even been using a palm-wrest so it's an upgrade. Using it, I sometimes wish it was about 3/8" longer (direction between me and keyboard) as the pressure point in my palm sits right on the bottom edge that isn't as soft. The reason this is a Pro is that I am glad it exists, think the magnetic attachment is fantastic, and I'd much rather use it than go without. I think it's funny that previously I was worried about it cluttering up my desk and taking up too much room, and now I wish it was just a little bigger lol.
 
Cons:
1. Noise. As indicated above, this is not really specifically at fault with this keyboard, just mechanical keyboards in general as they are much louder than I would prefer. If all you've ever used are membrane and scissor-mechanism keyboard before, the noise from this thing may be a shock to you. I would be grumpy if I had to use this in an office or shared space and needed to type a lot on it.
 
2. Textured gaming keys vs F and J key bumps. This is an odd one. I don't really dislike the textured gaming keys. The issue is that the normal bumps for the F and J keys are so small that I can barely feel them. I end up trying to find my place (without looking) by figuring out which other fingers are on the textured gaming keys and I don't always remember, which means I end up one key over sometimes. I think this will get better with time, but it is something I did not consider when purchasing the keyboard, and I'd like the feedback to get to them that those two keys could have been done a little better for quick positioning when typing.
 
Other:
-I haven't used the macro keys. I didn't think I'd have much use for them anyway, but I wanted the TOF sensor so I bought the Z20.


i7 5820k @4.2GHz - EVGA x99 Micro2 - EVGA GTX 2080 Super XC Hybrid - 32GB 3200MHz CAS15 G.Skill DDR4 - Patriot 2TB NVMe - BeQuiet! Dark Base 900
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10 Replies Related Threads

    EVGATech_DanielM
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/02 19:43:20 (permalink)
    Hello!
     
    Thanks for the review. Very detailed and we appreciate the feedback. As Keyboards are going to start being a big thing for us we cant thank you enough for your review.
     
    I saw you send us a email regarding some questions, we would be happy to follow up.
     
     

     
     
    -Daniel_EVGA
    #2
    glocked89
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/03 10:45:55 (permalink)
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s
    #3
    RiChess
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/03 12:17:03 (permalink)
    glocked89
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s

    Interesting, looks like 4k polling is essentially marketing gobbldygook. No wonder I wasn't particularly impressed with my Z20s keys, from that guys testing anyways my old RAPIDFIRE is slightly faster even with slower polling.

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    EVGA_James
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/04 10:13:59 (permalink)
    RiChess
    glocked89
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s

    Interesting, looks like 4k polling is essentially marketing gobbldygook. No wonder I wasn't particularly impressed with my Z20s keys, from that guys testing anyways my old RAPIDFIRE is slightly faster even with slower polling.




    I  actually worked with Battle(non)sense on that. It appears that Corsair might have heavily modified their firmware. He informed me that another keyboard manufacturer provided him with an unleased firmware that would make their keyboards faster than the K70 RF. But this causes some strange electric noise like coil whine but it indeed made it faster. We are looking into optimizing both the z15 and z20 and how much headroom potential it has. However in general k70RF currently the only kb that was able to achieve this. 
      


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    RiChess
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/04 15:15:50 (permalink)
    EVGA_James
    RiChess
    glocked89
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s

    Interesting, looks like 4k polling is essentially marketing gobbldygook. No wonder I wasn't particularly impressed with my Z20s keys, from that guys testing anyways my old RAPIDFIRE is slightly faster even with slower polling.




    I  actually worked with Battle(non)sense on that. It appears that Corsair might have heavily modified their firmware. He informed me that another keyboard manufacturer provided him with an unleased firmware that would make their keyboards faster than the K70 RF. But this causes some strange electric noise like coil whine but it indeed made it faster. We are looking into optimizing both the z15 and z20 and how much headroom potential it has. However in general k70RF currently the only kb that was able to achieve this. 
      


    That's fascinating, I always assumed the speed of the keys was purely due to the physical way it was built (key depth/resistance/switch type etc), with the polling rate tossed in between the KB and PC. Would be very curious to see how much ya'll can push the Z15/20 as well.

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    #6
    glocked89
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/04 15:40:32 (permalink)
    EVGA_James
    RiChess
    glocked89
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s

    Interesting, looks like 4k polling is essentially marketing gobbldygook. No wonder I wasn't particularly impressed with my Z20s keys, from that guys testing anyways my old RAPIDFIRE is slightly faster even with slower polling.




    I  actually worked with Battle(non)sense on that. It appears that Corsair might have heavily modified their firmware. He informed me that another keyboard manufacturer provided him with an unleased firmware that would make their keyboards faster than the K70 RF. But this causes some strange electric noise like coil whine but it indeed made it faster. We are looking into optimizing both the z15 and z20 and how much headroom potential it has. However in general k70RF currently the only kb that was able to achieve this. 
      

    Appreciate the response. That's fantastic! I actually wouldn't mind a bit of coil whine for speed. Looking forward to to the firmware update.


    post edited by glocked89 - 2021/03/04 18:28:36
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    B1022
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/05 09:53:31 (permalink)
    Z20 looks great


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    xenkw0n
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/09 21:14:34 (permalink)
    How about responsiveness?  Isn't one of the big selling points for the Z20 the fact that it has a theoretically much faster polling and response time due to a number of factors?  Is that actually noticeable compared to previous keyboards you've owned or are we dealing with a gimmick?
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    Nike_7688
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/10 09:08:59 (permalink)
    xenkw0n
    How about responsiveness?  Isn't one of the big selling points for the Z20 the fact that it has a theoretically much faster polling and response time due to a number of factors?  Is that actually noticeable compared to previous keyboards you've owned or are we dealing with a gimmick?

    glocked89 posted a youtube link above where someone tested the latency. In my personal experience, I don't know that I've ever noticed my old keyboard having a slow response time. As such, I don't think I can tell any difference in responsiveness from this. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm assuming you're asking me as an owner how it "feels". I think that's a subjective thing and to me, it feels good, but similar to other keyboards I've used in terms of responsiveness. The thing I have trouble gauging is the linear switches are new to me and trying to reteach my fingers that have been typing for at least 20 years that they don't really have to bottom out has been a learning experience. The biggest difference I notice is that even though these have a shorter throw than most mechanical switches, it feels like the key-press is long to me. I think it's because I'm used to that "break" in force that happens with a membrane keyboard when the membrane inverts or when my old keyboard's miniature scissor mechanism actuated. Those keyboards basically feel like there's a limited distance from "up" to "down" where with this thing I have a whole range of travel that feels uniform as you press down. So my brain starts thinking controllers like I can add various amounts of a,s,d,w when moving, but that's not a thing that is actually happening. After a few hours of gameplay, it just feels "normal" and everything is pretty smooth. It feels like you could train yourself to type or game without ever hitting the "bottom", but I don't know how realistic that is.
     
    The only thing I have trouble with my Z20 on still is muscle memory on where left-Ctrl is not being correct on this. I keep wanting to reach a little farther, where there's a blank spot, so instinctively, I reach farther left and hit the macro button...which currently does nothing. I have to re-train myself to a closer left-ctrl button on my pinky. It's not so bad after I use it a few times, but usually the first time I reach for control on that keyboard I still overshoot lol.


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    hotdoghotline
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    Re: Z20 Review 2021/03/10 20:51:02 (permalink)
    EVGA_James
    RiChess
    glocked89
    I'd like to piggy back off this post a little. I've noticed slight "pinging" noise on the keys while typing. I would also love to see a model with switches that have a shorter actuation point like 1.1mm.

    Also curious about this youtuber's testing on the latency because that's important to me.
    https://youtu.be/UmS_t3YYy8s

    Interesting, looks like 4k polling is essentially marketing gobbldygook. No wonder I wasn't particularly impressed with my Z20s keys, from that guys testing anyways my old RAPIDFIRE is slightly faster even with slower polling.




    I  actually worked with Battle(non)sense on that. It appears that Corsair might have heavily modified their firmware. He informed me that another keyboard manufacturer provided him with an unleased firmware that would make their keyboards faster than the K70 RF. But this causes some strange electric noise like coil whine but it indeed made it faster. We are looking into optimizing both the z15 and z20 and how much headroom potential it has. However in general k70RF currently the only kb that was able to achieve this. 
      


    It would be cool if the "Hyper-low latency mode" could just be added to the current keyboards as a toggle. Lots of gamers are interested in hardware with the lowest latency possible (it's one of the selling points of optical switches - no debounce). A technical article on keyboard latency would be an interesting read as well.


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