Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Review – A Well-Forged Keyboard

I used to use the Roccat Ryos MX as my daily driver, and before that, I used the TK and TKL. Unfortunately, as desk space started to come at more of a premium, it became harder and harder to work around the Ryos. They’re excellent keyboard and well-constructed, but man, they’re huge. I’ve bounced around from keyboard to keyboard since then, but often higher-quality gaming keyboards bring with them a lot of mass.

Fortunately, manufacturers are moving away from the tend of making gaming keyboards substantial LED-laden chunks of metal and plastic, and we’re seeing some excellent low-profile products on the market. One of these is Roccat’s latest flagship keyboard, which moves away from the massive aesthetic of the Ryos series and towards a more subdued and smaller style. The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is simply one of the best keyboards I’ve ever had the pleasure of typing on and is as pleasant to look at as it is to use.

Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Review – Compact and Classy

Roccat Vulcan 120 Review Front View

The Roccat Vulcan 120 takes a more conservative approach to its design. A lot of gaming peripherals and hardware have received criticism (some rightfully so) as being gaudy, relying too heavily on matte and gloss blacks and RGB LEDs mounted every which way. The Vulcan is much more subdued than a lot of the previous keyboards we’ve seen from Roccat, consisting of raised keys on a thin body topped with brushed aluminum.

The raised keys of the Vulcan give it an almost skeletal look and contain part of what provides this keyboard with its unique lighting effects. These custom Roccat Titan switches feel similar to Cherry MX Browns. They’ve got a good bounce, and you can feel the point of actuation quite nicely. The Titan Switches are also quiet in comparison to Cherry MX Reds, so you can type on the Vulcan for extended amounts of time without waking up a loved one or droning out other noises. On the technical side, the Titan Switches have a 1.8mm actuation point, which allows for a good balance between gaming utility and typing performance.

Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Review – Lighting the Way

Roccat Vulcan 120 Review Top View

The keys on the Vulcan also have a look all their own. Instead of being covered by domed keycaps the switches are right out in the open. This style allows for the transparent covers which allow the per-key LEDs to shine out from each side of the game instead of around or through the top like most LED-equipped keyboards do. I absolutely loved this because I’ve run into keyboards that can be infuriatingly distracting when their LEDs are on and shining right up at you. Since the lights on the Vulcan shine out to the sides, you get a much fuller, less distracting lighting display.

Roccat’s AIMO system works with the Vulcan’s keys and creates on the fly reactions to what you’re doing on your PC. As you type, AIMO reacts to your keypresses, and will also change its display between programs, with changing audio and all sorts of things. The Vulcan 120 can sync with other Roccat peripherals as well, though we didn’t have another AIMO-compatible device on hand to see how well it works.

If you’re not looking for intelligent lighting, you can also choose from a bevy of other options through the Roccat Swarm software. All the standard settings like Breathing, Heartbeat, static light, ripple, and fade are available, and there is also per-key custom settings available if you want to really get down and dirty.

Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Review – (Not so) Macro Machine

Roccat Vulcan 120 Review Side View

For the most part, the Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is a reasonably barebones keyboard at first glance. Some gamers will be disappointed that there are no dedicated macro keys. However, macros can be assigned to the six keys that comprise Insert through Page Down. There are also shortcuts on the function keys that allow you to control media play options and shortcuts to programs.

The upper right side of the keyboard has a knob which you can use to adjust the volume, or when the FX button is pressed, you can change the lighting with it. There’s also a handy mute button. I usually just control my system volume with the sound panel in Windows, but man is it convenient to have a knob to do it sometimes, and when you twist it you get a really lovely subdued clicking that gives it a solid feel.

The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO also includes a wrist rest. This feels like more of a bonus or add-on item. It fits the keyboard well enough, but in my opinion, it detracts from the rest of the design. It’s plastic and serviceable, but you’re probably better off either not using it or substituting one of your own for it.

Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO Review – The Keyboard to Beat

I absolutely love the Roccat Vulcan. It feels great to type and game on and looks absolutely stunning. The Vulcan 120 AIMO is available now, but it’s a bit pricey at $159.99 and is a Best Buy exclusive. However, if you don’t mind waiting until September 30, you can get the Vulcan 100 for $149.99 on Roccat’s website. Furthermore, if you don’t care about the multi-color lighting, the Roccat Vulcan 80 offers the same chassis and key style for $129.99 but with only white LEDs.

The Roccat Vulcan 120 AIMO is one of my favorite keyboards. It’s compact, beautiful, and works like a dream. If you just can’t live without dedicated macro keys, you’ll probably want to pass this one up. Otherwise, this is the gaming keyboard to buy right now.