Gamdias Hermes Gaming Keyboard Review
Whenever we review things at OC3D we try our hardest to impartial to the brand name and stick to just looking at the products performance, and then how it compares to its contemporaries. After all, some huge names have produced some stinkers, and some unknowns have wowed us. However, we're not blind to the fact that a lot of people merely go for a brand name they know and trust, so it's as much our job to explain why you shouldn't, or should, stick to what you know. With the Gamdias Hermes it definitely counts as a product from a brand you're unlikely to have heard from before. So on the one hand we want to cut it a little slack as a first effort, yet on the other the marketplace is so harsh and the range of options so vast, that it has to be particularly great to drag most people away from the Roccat/Razer/Steelseries/CM Storm/Corsair behemoths that dominate.
By basing the Hermes around the Cherry MX switches, a lot of our work has already been done for us. You're all very aware by now of how excellent they are. There is a reason that every mechanical keyboard of note uses them. Such is the high level of quality control from Cherry, you're guaranteed that every key will feel the same as every other.
The Hermes comes with what is called the Gamdias Element. Explained on their website in the standard English but not quite translation that Eastern products usually come equipped with as providing "faster keystroke snapback, and decreases keystroke clanking noise". So does it? We have to say no. Damping a mechanical keyboards noise is always nice, especially in an environment where lots of typing is done. Why Gamdias chose to equip their Hermes with the Cherry MX Blue's, a switch specifically designed to be noisier than the reds, browns or blacks, is beyond us. It's like wearing ear plugs to a concert by The Who. There is an inbuilt level of volume you just can't dampen. As for speeding up the keystrokes, the point of Cherry switches is their uniformity. Changing the response by any amount at all feels off. To paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide, 'it's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike typing on a Cherry keyboard'. Those who want the Cherry experience wont enjoy it, and those who don't care wouldn't be buying a mechanical one in the first place so it suits nobody in its current state.
Speaking of typing it's something that people do more of than they imagine. Just because you're not a writer doesn't mean that you're not posting to forums, or sharing your thoughts about the Xbone, or emailing your folks. A keyboard needs, primarily, to be good for typing. The inclusion of so many macro keys on the Hermes means that it's actually very much a gaming keyboard. If you're in home position for touch typing them you're resting the palm of your hand on the right hand three macro keys. It very much encourages a fingertip style of typing, else you're constantly making accidental presses, and typing in a different manner is guaranteed to bring on RSI.
It's a shame that the fundamental elements are so askew, because the additions are generally excellent. The lighting is great, neither too in your face nor too dull. The macro keys are within easy reach, although too close as we said above. The logo and lock indicators are a nice shade of yellow and the headphone/microphone ports are shown clearly too. The software is outstanding, some of the best and most feature rich we've seen on any keyboard. The build quality of the keyboard is fine too. It's plastic, and lacks the steel spine of some better offerings, but it doesn't creak or wobble. Finally the wrist rest that doubles as a dust cover is enormous, easy to affix and perfectly angled. We don't understand why the F keys are left open to the elements, but otherwise it's a cool idea.
Pricing is a bit more of a thorn in the side of the Hermes though. Coming in at £114 from an unknown manufacturer it's expensive. Even from a known brand it's at the upper end of the market, and surrounded by all-aluminium efforts from CM Storm and Corsair that are infinitely better looking and feel more special. If everything was perfect, then the price we can live with. After all even Roccat were new once. But the typing experience, the primary function of a keyboard, is unpleasant. It's such a dedicated gaming keyboard that you'd have to almost never type at all to begin to justify it. Some nice ideas then, that just haven't gelled together into a cohesive whole.
There are just far too many other options that are successful as both a keyboard and a macro gaming keyboard to be able to recommend the Gamdias Hermes to all but the most hardened hipster.