At the point in time, perhaps the most difficult markets to get into are motherboards, graphics cards and mechanical keyboards. Sure, its easy to have brand bias favor GPUs and mobos but which actually leaves mechanical keyboards at an absolute stalemate between companies because functionally, the majority of them will work fine and at the end of the day, its a battle of who has which that edges out one over the other. Which leads to our review for today: we have the XPG Summoner mechnical gaming keyboard. This is part of our series covering ADATA’s big releases recently for their XPG lineup. The Summoner physically flattering and RGB is always welcome if you can turn it on and off. Let’s take a closer a look and see how it handles. Read on!
Features – XPG Summoner
● CHERRY MX RGB Key Switches
● 7 Pre-Defined RGB Modes
● Magnetic Ergonomic Wrist Rest
● Media Control Key
● Macro Keys
● 100% Anti-Ghosting Keys
● Sandblasted Aluminum Frame Design
● USB Passthrough
● 9 Replaceable Red Keycaps
Closer Look – XPG Summoner
The XPG Summoner comes packaged in a full-colored box with a glamor shot of the Summoner keyboard at the front. Do note that XPG doesn’t include a giant Cherry MX indicator at the front so check out your switch type at the model code.
Inside the package we have a small array of inclusion like documentation, a sticker sheet, keycap replacements and a key puller and the magnetic wrist rest.
Despite its relatively larger box, the keyboard itself has a tight form factor with minimal spacing on the sides and bottom lip area. There’s no dedicated multimedia keys so only the volume wheel, which is also recessed into the frame, and the mute button are the only dedicated keys here.
Its only when you connect the magnetic wrist rest that the Summoner actually takes shape to look like the keyboard in the marketing materials. The wrist rest adds a lot of heft to the silhouette but I’ll talk about typing experience later.
The USB cable is braided.
The package includes WASD and arrow key replacement keycaps and a key puller. I’ll just say it right now, even if it does work, the keycap puller and keycaps show bad craftsmanship and I’m very disappointed these aren’t as sharply molded as the frame of the keyboard itself.
We have a USB passthrough on the top right edge of the Summoner.
Here’s the volume wheel. As you can see, its actually recessed into the frame, not embedded and maybe its just me but they could’ve handled this better and actually placed dedicated media keys instead of uber XL large indicator LEDs.
The keyboard kick stand are relatively low and gives a slight lift to the keyboard for adjustment.
Here’s a closer look at the gunmetal frame of the keyboard. Very good quality on the base.
Our sample comes with Cherry MX Speed Silver switches. For anyone who’ve only had experience with the main 4 kinds (Black, Blue, Brown, Red), think of Cherry MX Speed Silvers as a faster Cherry MX Red; same force required at 45g but actuation is shorter.
The Fn keys serve as the majority of the alternative keys for this keyboard giving us access to lighting profiles and multimedia keys.
Here’s the keyboard with the keycap replacements. They actually look good and the matte red actually pop but that flimsy plastic and bad quality of the keycaps leaves me worrying how long these things will last especially for someone who types nearly all day and then games all night.
Let’s just get it out of the way: the XPG Summoner is in no way a functionally customizable RGB keyboard. You have the options of changing lighting but the most RGB thing you can do with this keyboard is the color wave. The Summoner doesn’t have software support as well so that leaves you just manually changing profiles and colors.
User Experience & Conclusion
And we finally get down to recommendation and to be honest, its a tough one. Talking about performance first, its definitely a functional keyboard and the choices of Cherry MX Speed, Cherry MX Blue or Cherry MX Red leaves gamers with options for their personal preference. I’m personally a MX Blue guy but for gaming, I’m well aware how a worn down MX Blue feels so for purely gaming use, the Red and Silvers do better. Still, at $149 I’m not gonna hop to the store rushing out for a keyboard that’s technically the same as many others and to be fair with XPG, I feel they tried but with so many options out there for far less, the XPG Summoner has no defining performance trait to make it a likable choice for someone who games. A lack of a software companion leaves the keyboard relying on Fn keys for macro recording and light switching which ultimately falls flat and only extends this keyboard by a small bit to its default flavor.
Moving on to quality, I have to praise XPG for the gunmetal aluminum top panel base and the wrist rest which gives the XPG Summoner and excellent look and silhouette but the inclusion of sub-standard keycap set leaves a bad taste in the mouth specially for the price. Still, overall quality is good and while you may be spending more, a replacement double-shot keycap set is a fine upgrade for this keyboard to round out the premium build.
Ultimately, it boils down to personal choice and the Summoner is a perfectly fine keyboard with a premium build but as the opening paragraph of this review tells us, its a competitive market and ADATA XPG needs to step up in multiple fronts to contend with ultra cheap mech keyboards that are flooding the market. The XPG Summoner is as vanilla as you can get for a gaming keyboard which is why I’m being hard on it. XPG was the company that brought us a $250 headset + stand/DAC combo and they weren’t shy about it so I really don’t know why they’d skimp on the Summoner’s option.
Quality-wise, the Summoner is an excellent keyboard with metal build and functionally nice wrist rest. The options of key switches are decent and is very open for a keycap upgrade. And even with an extremely slim gaming feature set, the Summoner’s silhouette is extremely likable and the typing experience is anything but subpar.
As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about this keyboard so the question is, is it recommended? Ultimately, if you’re very discerning about build quality, you’ll appreciate XPG’s effort in the construction of the Summoner bar the keycaps but if you’re looking at a well-built, simple keyboard, the XPG Summoner mechanical keyboard is actually a good choice especially for Cherry MX purists that swear by the brand.
ADATA XPG backs the Summoner with a 2-year warranty.