A great keyboard at a great price.
If the $150 Logitech G513 is too lavish for your budget, then your eyes and wallet are likely to turn to the recently launched Logitech G512 Carbon (See it at Logitech). It offers the same solid, stylish aluminum design and customizable RGB lighting along with the same selection of switches as you get with the Logitech G513, but cuts out a few extras to shave a hefty $50 off the bill. The Logitech G512 Carbon gives you the choice of three types of mechanical switches: Romer-G Tactile, Romer-G Linear, and a new switch dubbed GX Blue. My review unit came with the newest and clickiest of the three, the GX Blue. Let’s jump in and see what the Logitech G512 Carbon serves up for $100 and how Logitech’s latest proprietary switch performs.
Logitech G512 – Design & Features
The Logitech G512 Carbon is a compact, full-size keyboard; there is little wasted space on the keyboard deck. The deck has an aluminum top and feels rock solid. It does not look or feel like a budget peripheral. The floating, black keys offer a nice contrast against the charcoal gray carbon finish of the deck. The only branding to be seen is the small “G” logo in the keyboard’s top-right corner.
On the bottom, you’ll find a channel to help you route wires under the keyboard. Six rubber feet keep the keyboard from sliding around your desk. Two wide, sturdy feet (with rubber feet of their own) let you raise the back edge of the keyboard for a different typing angle.
A USB passthrough port sits in the top-right corner, a convenient feature that goes missing on a lot of keyboards at the price range, including the Cooler Master CK552. The G512 Carbon has a thick braided cable that protrudes not from the middle of the keyboard but over on the right side near the USB port; it’s a smart choice because it makes it easier for the cable to pass around your monitor stand. Good thing, too, because the braided cable is so thick that it’s not very flexible. The keyboard requires you to occupy not one but two USB ports on your PC due to the USB passthrough. You’ll have to make do without a wrist rest or buy one separately; unlike the G513, the G512 Carbon does not include such a comfort in the box.
With both the G512 Carbon and G513, Logitech offers its own proprietary mechanical switches in the three main flavors: linear, tactile, and clicky. It offers Romer-G Linear and Tactile switches from Japanese manufacturer Omron, and Logitech turned to Chinese manufacturer Kailh for its new GX Blue switches. The Romer-G Linear is similar to a Cherry MX Red switch with a smooth keystroke, the Romer-G Tactile is closer to a Cherry MX Brown with a tactile bump with each keystroke, and the GX Blue is an analog to a Cherry MX Blue with a tactile bump accompanied by an audible click with each keystroke.
Kudos to Logitech for giving gamers a choice of switches for these keyboards.
Kudos to Logitech for giving gamers a choice of switches for these keyboards. For the G512 Carbon, it sent me the clicky GX Blue switches. The GX Blue switches have an actuation distance of 1.9mm, total travel of 4mm, and an actuation force of 50g, which are the exact same specs as the Cherry MX Blue switch aside from having .1mm less actuation distance.
Logitech follows the standard keyboard design for the G512 Carbon; there are no extras for media control or a volume dial. The keyboard’s row of function keys double as media controls and let you change the keyboard’s lighting effects. The RGB lighting looks great, but the only bummer about the design is the secondary functions of keys do not light up as they do on the G513 model. It’s just looks better when the secondary functions are illuminated, and it can also makes it a lot easier to use them when gaming in the dark.
The keycaps have a soft, smooth finish, and their concave top surface made it easy for my fingers to land in the center of each key. Key spacing felt spot on; I needed no time to adjust to the G512’s layout and was typing comfortably and accurately as soon as I took it out of the box. Unlike with the pricier G513, the G512 Carbon does not include any replacement keycaps.
Logitech G512 – Software
The G512 Carbon works with Logitech’s Gaming Software for customizing the RGB lighting and recording macros. The software is fairly easy to figure out, but it would have been easier if the buttons and menu choices had labels in addition to their vague icons.
Logitech’s Gaming Software lets you use Logitech’s LIGHTSYNC functionality to sync the keyboard’s RGB lighting to other Logitech peripherals. The software also lets you record macros and disable additional keys for Game Mode, so you don’t accidentally hit unwanted keys during certain games. You can save your profiles and settings to the keyboard’s onboard memory.
The meat of the software is customizing the RGB lighting. You can choose colors on a per-key basis or select from a number of cool presets. There’s an awesome Contrastic effect that gives a different color to the row function keys and the keys between the regular keys and number pad. I also like the colorful BleepBoop effect and the Matrix-esque Datafall effect that defaults, of course, to green. You can create your own effects, but it’s easier to just take a preset you like and edit it.
In all, the software is useful and easy to use – after you figure out what its various icons mean. It provides a preview of your lighting customizations so you can get them set up right on the first try. I enjoyed the many different color effects it offers, but gamers will likely find the Zones the most useful, where you can customize different zones on the keyboard, from the WASD and arrow keys to function and modifier keys.
Logitech G512 – Gaming
Compared with the Romer-G switches, the GX Blue switches have a longer actuation distance (1.9mm to 1.5mm) and overall travel (4mm to 3.2mm) but still felt quick and responsive during CS:GO and Overwatch sessions. They offer physical and audio feedback in the form of a satisfying bump and loud click with each key press. My performance on CS:GO and Overwatch did not suffer as a result of the GX Blue switches — I felt as fast as I usually do on both games (which is mildly proficient with CS:GO and fairly slow on fast-moving Overwatch battles). Fast-twitch gamers may want to give up the loud, satisfying click of the GX Blue switches and opt for the faster Romer-G switches.
I enjoyed the tactile feedback during gaming, with the keys feeling well-spaced, and the rubber feet and heavy weight of the keyboard kept it from sliding around on my desk too. Plus, I’d recommend typing on the G512 in only the most private of places; as enjoyable as the loud clack of the keys is for gaming, it’s sure to annoying anyone within earshot if you spend any amount of time banging away on it.
The Logitech G512 is available for $99.99 direct from Logitech’s website. At the time of this writing, it has yet to appear on Amazon, Best Buy, NewEgg or any other reseller.