RGB is everywhere and it’s here to stay. Love it or hate it. However, Venatos has introduced a keyboard that is hard not to love with its gorgeous RGB implementation. The Venatos Northern Glow TKL Optical Keyboard is as beautiful as the colorful atmospheric phenomenon it is named after. Not only that, but the reactive, tactile switches provide positive activation feedback for a crisp typing experience.
Opening the box reveals no-nonsense packaging surrounding the keyboard that is sturdily held in soft foam. Pulling the keyboard out exposes the plush palm rest underneath – also wrapped in foam. Both seemed very sturdily kept in packaging. It’s assuring to know your keyboard won’t be bouncing around in transit. Venatos was also kind enough to give us another box with white keycaps and a keycap remover to switch the keycaps out. At the time of this review, Venatos is including these white keycaps for those who purchase the keyboard for a limited time. So if white keys match your setup and you need a keyboard, you might not want to miss out.
The Venatos Northern Glow Optical Keyboard can be found on Venatos’s website for $150. It’s also on Amazon, but at the time of this review, doesn’t look like it has been released yet. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Design: RGB for Days
First impressions are good! The Northern Glow TKL is compact, weighty, and feels like quality. The clean, defined edges and aluminum backplate give the keyboard a continuous and confident look. The braided cable, matte black color and muted lines of the RGB strips running through the metal frame like veins seem to want to be used. Like the sloped angles of a sports car at rest seem to already put the car into motion, the design of the Northern Glow TKL draws your hands and eyes for use.
The design is not lost on the overall design either. Both sets of keycaps are dual injected. The light from the RGB glow underneath shines through the letters for both practical and aesthetic usefulness. On the palm rest, elegant leather-like material pads your hand and gives those who like palm rests a better angle for typing and relaxing their hands while at work. In a simple, but smart engineering move, there are no plastic tabs or hooks for the palm rest needed to install like other keyboards. Magnets automatically capture and secure the palm rest when it is close enough. No more lifting up the keyboard and looking for snap tabs to install or uninstall it.
The wireless integration of RGB into the palm rest is also very impressive. The same RGB tracing that is in the keyboard also surrounds the edges of the palm rest. It’s connected through a series of contacts on the front edge of the palm rest and the bottom edge of the keyboard. It automatically syncs and matches the RGB on the keyboard without any other hassle. The result is a seamless, congruent design that is as eye catching as it is practical.
Performance: Fast and Sturdy Switches
Now for the performance. The Northern Glow TKL uses DG optical switches. Venatos advertises the clicky orange switches have a lifespan of 100 million clicks. This is twice what might be considered to be the general lifespan of most other switches on other keyboards. For example, the Cherry MX blues, also a clicky switch, have a lifespan of 50 million clicks. The switches used on the Northern Glow also have a shorter activation travel. Requiring only 1.5mm of travel verses around 25% more for many other keyboards. The result is a faster typing response and gaming reaction time.
In practice, the switches seem to hold up to their promises. I obviously haven’t tested them for 100 million clicks to see if their durability is true to their claim. But they feel sturdy and able to handle the punishment of heavy handed typists or gamers. The audible feedback from the switches is nice and comforting to those who love the click clacking of progress being made on screen.
Rest for wrists
Gaming is enjoyable and comfortable with the use of the leather armrest. Long gaming sessions can put pressure on the bottom of one’s palm – especially for those keyboards which have hard, angled edges. Fortunately, Venatos thought ahead and solved that problem in the best way with their palm rest. I can say, undoubtedly, this is the nicest, most visually appealing keyboard support I have used to date.
Something that might be improved, however, is the visibility of the letters and symbols when RGB is not used. When the keyboard is dark the symbols of the dark keycaps are difficult to see. While many of us don’t actually use the letters and instead go by feel and habit, it would be nice if the dark keycaps were a bit more visible when in stealth mode.
The Northern Glow TKL comes with an awesome amount of RGB customization without even needing to download Venatos’s software. There are 55 different options across a range of different RGB zones on both the keyboard and palm rest one can choose from. However, should you want to download the Northern Glow software for an even more customizable experience, the beta software is available on Venatos’s website.
Less is more
Ten Keyless Keyboards have their pros and cons. Some players might find the lack of a dedicated number pad frustrating. However, the space saved is worth it if you’re not constantly plugging in numbers or using the number pad for dedicated hotkeys. And despite the compact design, Venatos still manages to fit in a spot for the arrow and media keys. For a TKL keyboard, the Northern Glow seems bigger than it is and remains comfortable to type on. The visual statement it brings also helps to amplify its smaller physical presence. This is a small keyboard with a big personality.
Overall the Northern Glow TKL makes a bold statement while also providing a great practical user experience. The hardware itself and advertised longevity of the switches are impressive in of themselves, but the added elegance of the RGB and aluminum materials put icing on the cake. While $150 is a decent chunk of change to drop on a reduced size keyboard, this is the ultimate statement in TKL design, and would make a fantastic addition to a compact gaming workspace.