There is little not to love about mechanical keyboards. They are satisfying to use regardless if you prefer them loud and clicky, or soft and quick. They also last almost forever, taking in whatever abuse you throw at it. These two reasons usually justify mechanical keyboards as an investment – especially if your work revolves around typing on a computer all day.
Personally, the best part of a mechanical keyboards are the long key travel. No laptop has been able to replicate this (save for MSI’s GT80 and GT83 behemoths), and is one feature I miss most when working remotely. On the other hand, there has been a gradual rise in popularity for “low-profile” keyboards, a category which the new Tesoro Gram Spectrum falls in.
What Is It?
The Gram Spectrum, simply put, is a mechanical keyboard with shorter keycaps that result in a shorter key travel than one would associate mechanical keyboards with.
It also comes with RGB lighting, which coupled with the white body results in some fascinating effects. The Gram’s switches, on the other hand, are Tesoro’s very own Agile switches, which are made by Kailh. In comparison to Cherry MX switches, I’d say these Agile switches feel a lot like Cherry MX Green switches: they’re tactile and heavy (in the sense that they require more force to press down), but with shorter travels.
Is It Any Good?
Right off the bat, I really, really like the design and appearance of the Gram Spectrum. It is minimalist, and it is also a rather compact – thanks to the low-profile keys – mechanical keyboard. The metal backplate also gives the Gram a very premium touch and reassuring build quality. Other than that, I like the fact that the keyboard’s braided cable is removable.
The many different lighting effects of the Gram Spectrum are also some of the most interesting features of this keyboard. The most eye-catching is definitely the Rainbow Wave effect, which cycles through the many colours available to the keyboard. I tend to favour less flashy lighting modes, but it’s nice to have a whole suite of different modes to suit each individual’s personal preference.
Another noteworthy aspect of the Gram Spectrum is how quiet it is. Usually, clicky switches such as MX Blue and Green can get pretty loud, but it’s not the case with this keyboard’s Agile switches. While they’re not as quiet as Cherry MX Brown or Red switches, these switches are definitely quieter than the ones found on the Razer BlackWidow and BlackWidow X. Not to forget, these are tactile switches, so in a way they sort of combine the best of both worlds, being quiet but tactile.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
I’ve mentioned that the Gram Spectrum’s Agile switches are akin to Cherry MX Green switches, and…well, that’s the thing: these switches are heavy. Personally, I prefer Cherry MX Blue switches: they’re not quite as heavy as MX Green switches, but has the same clickiness. Because of how heavy these Agile switches are, doing a lot of typing on the Gram Spectrum can be…tiring. User mileage may vary, of course – I know some who actually prefer heavier switches.
Supposedly, the advantage of the Agile switches is shorter actuation time. It makes sense: since the keys have shorter travel, the actuation point is also shorter. According to Tesoro, its Agile switches have a 1.5mm actuation point, while other switches usually actuate at 2.0mm.
After playing more than a few games of Dota 2 with the Gram Spectrum, the shorter actuation point doesn’t feel all that advantageous. Then again, the fact that the Agile switches are heavier than conventional mechanical keyboard switches may negate any possible advantage.
Should I Buy It?
If you like heavy, tactile, clicky switches, and you love the idea of a compact mechanical keyboard, the Tesoro Gram Spectrum is an ideal keyboard. On the flip side, if you don’t quite like the idea of a mechanical keyboard with short key travels, you might want to try them out in stores before you invest in one.
During my time with the Gram Spectrum, I found it to be a solid, sleek-looking keyboard – I really dig its looks. However, I value long key travels and lighter switches more; the Agile switches are simply too heavy for my liking. That being said, it certainly is an interesting compact mechanical keyboard. Retailing at RM439, it’s not the most affordable mechanical keyboard in the market, but it certainly isn’t the most costly either.