Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 – Complete Review
Before starting my review, I would like to thank Creative. They sent me the Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 so I can test it and review it for you guys. Once again thank you for giving me this excellent opportunity.
Creative are know for their top-notch gaming headset and audio related tech, but they also make other high-quality gaming accessories such as the Vanguard Ko8 gaming keyboard. Being focused on a single gaming accessory can be good, but nowadays to keep up with others you need to expand your brand across a selection of PC peripherals, and that is precisely what they did.
Before we go in an in-depth review, here are my first impression of this gaming mechanical keyboard.
At first look, the Vanguard K08 looks like most modern mechanical keyboards. Very elegant and sophisticated with dedicated media keys and extra macros, which is one of my selling points in a keyboard since I’m a macro freak. It also comes with a wrist rest which is very easy to install. The only problem is it does not “clip in” so if you lift it up it automatically it comes off, while it’s not a big problem I find it annoying.
Since I am a big fan of mechanical keyboards, as soon as I opened the box I clicked on the keys, and I was mind blown. I have been using a Razer Black Widow for the past 3 years, and I love the feel and the sound of the mechanical keys. Despite being a mechanical keyboard, the Vanguard is different. To my big surprise, this model does little to no sound when typing on it. The feel is different as well. It feels like a membrane keyboard, so if you’re the type of person to like a loud and clicky gaming keyboard, you might want to look at another model.
The cable seems pretty solid, keep in mind you will need two free USB port to plug this keyboard. Fortunately, this model offers a USB pass through, which is a handy feature to plug in your mouse, headphone or to charge up your mobile phone. The cable is not very flexible which is not a big problem, but it’s worth mentioning.
The K08 has media keys which I find refreshing, my last keyboard did not have that feature, so this is a neat little bonus. It allows me to switch songs and to lower or augment the volume of my headphones.
|Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 SE Gaming Keyboard (Black)||Check Price|
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the 2020-10-30 at 12:48 and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 Review
What’s in the box?
The Vanguard Ko8 gaming keyboard comes in a sturdy and heavy box. Once you open the original package, you will find a white box. You will need to open that one as well. When that is done, you will find your keyboard inside the box with all its accessories. Below I have listed all the components of the box.
- Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 Mechanical Keyboard with 2.0m USB cable attached
- 1 detachable wrist-rest
- 1 key cap remover
- Quick start leaflet
Design And Features
Creative is known to create gorgeous gaming headset, and their fantastic design was passed onto this mechanical keyboard. The Vanguard is very similar to the famous Razer Black Widow regarding design. They have the same layout with the extra macros on the left side of the keyboard. Despite their similarities, the Vanguard offers a handy feature, on the top right of the keyboard you can find dedicated media keys, which allows the user to quickly change their music without alt-tabbing. Also, there’s a button that lets you switch between light intensities.
This model comes with a detachable wrist rest, well detachable is a big word, as I mentioned above in the “cons” section the wrist rest does not clip onto the keyboard. That means the keyboard rests on the wrist rest so if you want to lift it up to clean underneath it or to move it around, the wrist rest will remain in place on your desk. This might not be a big problem since most people don’t often move their keyboards around, but it would be great if Creative produces wrist rest that can clip on the keyboard.
The cable is exceptionally thick and braided, which I love. I hate having thin wires. They feel cheap and weak. Despite its thickness, the cable is pretty flexible, so you won’t have any problem when it comes to cable management. Keep in mind the cable splits into two USB connectors, so you will need two free spots to connect it. One of these drives the keyboard and lights and the other one is a USB 2.0 pass-through providing a single port.
The USB pass-through, which is a convenient option, by the way, is perfect for connecting your gaming mouse, headset or even your mobile phone charger. The port is located on the top of the keyboard, which is excellent for cable management.
Similar to the moderns gaming mechanical keyboards, The Vanguard K08 offers incredible peripheral lighting. The Vanguard K08 embraces this aesthetic, with an ‘Aurora Reactive’ lighting feature that allows the user to define all manner of crazy lighting effects. There are many different color combination and effects you can create with the Creative Software, but I will go into detail later. The application does not come with the keyboard you will need to download it here.
The Key Switches And Performance
This is what impressed me the most, the mechanical switches. At first, I thought this model would be like most mechanical keyboard, but I was wrong. When I started testing it, the keys felt like a membrane keyboard but still felt clicky like a mechanical keyboard. My favorite part is they make almost no noise, my last keyboard the Razer Black Widow was so loud I often waked up my little boy when he was asleep. This is the perfect model if you’re like me and can only play video games when everyone is sleeping. I can finally play games without my wife being mad at me for waking our baby boy.
These mechanical switches are co-designed with OMRON, PRES (Perceive-React-Execute Switches). These keyboard switches are custom mechanical switches professionally created for high actions per minute for gaming and typing comfort, on top of offering a centered light guide for a fantastic RGB backlighting experience. Making the Vanguard K08 an ideal choice for people who play video games and use their home computer for work.
This model is built to have a long lasting life, unlike a lot of model on the market. Durable and reliable, each switch can withstand an astonishing 70 million keystrokes and provides a double cross-point technology for fail-safe contacts.
Co-designed with OMRON, PRES (Perceive-React-Execute Switches) are custom mechanical switches professionally developed for high actions per minute gaming and typing comfort with a centered light guide for a brilliant RGB backlighting experience. Built for durability and reliability, each switch can withstand over 70 million keystrokes and feature double cross-point technology for fail-safe contacts.
PRES allows you to reach your full potential, offering quick input action and instantaneous rapid-fire keystrokes while minimizing typos and mistakes – giving you the perfect balance of speed and control
As a gamer, we all know 1 millisecond can be the difference between a victory and defeat, especially if you’re a professional gamer. Thus, the speed of your keyboard response is an essential factor. Most of the mechanical keyboards on the market offer a default travel distance of around 2.0mm. The Vanguard K08 provides an incredible 1.5mm travel distance. That means you only have to press the keys by 75% of the usual distance before the action is fired off, making it an ideal choice for hardcore gamers and professionals.
I tested two completely different games. The first one was League of Legends, a MOBA genre where reflexes and speed is a significant factor. The keyboards response time was fantastic, it gave me a small boost over my opponent, that is not the only thing you need to win, but it’s a slight advantage over someone with a standard mechanical keyboard.
Second game I tested is Path of Exile, this is a Hack and Slash RPG, which requires quick reflexes and response time. Mainly if you play in “Hardcore Mode,” fans will know what I mean. Basically, if your character dies in that mode you cannot play it anymore it gets put in “Standard Mode.” So response time is crucial.
The custom PRES switches also feature dual connectors on each switch. This guarantees the key will fire if either of the connections fails for whatever reason. The keyboard also features 26-key rollover with anti-ghosting, and while using it, I never encountered any lag or delayed commands as a result. Making it an excellent option for virtually any types of games.
The USB 2.0 pass-through works amazingly as well, similar to the volume, mute and dedicated media keys. Another handy option is the Windows lock button, meaning it locks the Windows key from functioning. This feature is fantastic when you’re in an intense online game and don’t want your game to “alt-tab” when you misclick the Windows button.
As I mentioned above the software does not come with the keyboard you will need to download it here. I highly recommend this application as it allows you to fully customize your keyboard. You will be able to create new macros, re-bind keys, and switch between crazy color combinations. Also, you will need it to update the firmware.
Similar to the Siege mouse, also created by Creative, the application comes with eight different lighting presets and the ability to create and customize your own, down to each key and the BlasterX logo.
There are four different “Motion” you can choose from:
- Solo, which is the color you choose from a variety of different colors.
- Cycle, this one goes through every color, the title explains it very well.
- Wave, my favorite, this one is a rainbow wave depending on the direction you choose.
- Pulsate, depending on the color you choose this setting to pulsate for 1-2 seconds.
Keep in mind the color is only for the looks as it adds nothing more to the performance. While it is very cool, it would be nice if Creative could create a reacting keyboard to specific in-game events or when you hit a particular macro. If you’re like me and want for your accessories to match, you could combine the mouse, the keyboard, and the sound bar all using the same preset. Unfortunately, you cannot customize the color on their headset.
That being said, the Software offers even more customizable options. This feature allows the user to modify the “performance” of the Vanguard, meaning you can change the repeat delay and rate, as well as adjusting the polling rate.
Last but not least, the macros section. For me, this is a crucial option when I shop for a new keyboard as I am a big fan of MMORPG and having quick access to critical abilities is a must. I even macro useful tools when I work.
The Sound Blaster Connect allows the user to fully re-bind any keys to something else. The user can also create macros for quick access to the individual action. It could be an essential ability in a video game or immediate access to an application, that is the beauty of it you can create whatever you want!
Is there any alternative?
Yes, in fact, like most PC accessories on the market there is an alternative. Below I will compare three other similar keyboards so we can see what the Vanguard K08 can offer over other similar mechanical gaming keyboards.
First of all, the keyboards above all have similar prices, making them very easy to compare. If we look closely at the comparison chart, we can see that all of them have multiple color customization which is a standard option for high-end gaming keyboards. All of them have different types of key switches, which all offer something unique, so in that case, it’s a choice of preferences.
When it comes to dedicated media keys, most of them have that option, while this is not a big problem, it’s a cool feature to have, especially if you like to listen to music while playing video games. Last but not least, one feature I find remarkable is the extra macros. Sure all of these models offer re-bindable keys, but as a hardcore gamer, I like to have quick access to particular in-game abilities/action, for me, it could mean the difference between a victory and defeat.
My Final Verdict
After testing the Vanguard Ko8 for a whole week, I can safely say this mechanical keyboard can be compared to the big names out there. It is surprising since Creative is more focused on Audio gaming accessories rather than keyboard and mouse accessories, making this keyboard a excellent and fantastic choice.
As I mentioned above I’ve only tested this keyboard on two different types of games, plus I have written a couple of articles with this keyboard, and even after an extended period it still feels very comfortable. On top of that, it’s pretty soft when I type on it, making it a perfect choice for me, as with other mechanical keyboards I would wake up my little boy in the middle of the night.
This concludes my Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 Review. This mechanical gaming keyboard as really impressed me with its many customizable features, its responsive 1.5mm key switches, dedicated media keys and more, I can say it can compare to the big names out there. As I have been using a Black Widow Ultimate for the past three years.
The Vanguard is an easy recommendation for any mechanical keyboard enthusiast and hardcore gamer who want a high-quality performing keyboard without breaking their budget. You can even use this keyboard for professional use, like myself.
Do not forget to leave us a comment in the section below, let us know if you liked The Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 as much as we did. If you want to explore more of Creative’s product, do not forget to visit their website as they offer a lot of amazing products!