Purchasing a mechanical keyboard is a necessity when building a gaming pc setup. Not only will they up your game, but most will also make your gaming space look amazing if they include RGB lighting. Once you start using one of these, you’ll never go back to using a boring old keyboard again. Mechanical keyboards nowadays though are a dime a dozen and it really takes something special these days to stand out. Take for instance the Whirlwind FX Element mechanical gaming keyboard. On the surface, it might look like every other mechanical keyboard, but this is the first content-reactive mechanical keyboard to auto-sync dynamic RGB lighting effects using on-screen analysis for event recognition on any game. In layman’s terms, the keyboard lighting reacts to what is on your screen.
More on the lighting in a bit but first let’s talk about the overall design of the Whirlwind FX Element. For starters, this keyboard doesn’t quite look like a lot of the other mechanical keyboards I’ve seen in the past. There’s actually a generic body that many of these keyboards seem to share, but the Whirlwind FX Element has its own unique style. This keyboard seems a bit thinner than most with a very nice aircraft-grade, anodized brushed aluminum frame. Not only that, but the body itself also has a really interesting checkered pattern that resembles the look of carbon fiber.
Other notable details are thick rubber feet, braided USB cable, and LED indicators for the CAPS, NUM, and SCROLL lock. The text on the keys is also very legible and they don’t go crazy using weird fonts like on other keyboards I’ve seen.
While almost a perfect design, I would have liked a way to tuck the cable underneath the keyboard so you can position it on the left, right, or middle. Instead, the cable just sits permanently in the middle.
Installation is a breeze and for the most part, the Whirlwind FX Element is simple plug-n-play, though to get the very most out of it, you will need to download the Whirlwind Engine Software, powered by EX Analytics. This is the software that is used to control and customize advanced settings for the Whirlwind FX Element keyboard and any other products you might have from them.
In relation to the keyboard, you’re able to customize the idle lighting effects, download custom effects, set per-key lighting, and customize what happens when audio and visual media are detected on your screen.
Other than that, there’s not much else required for installation. This is a simple process that is going to take you less than five minutes to complete.
Basically, the meat of your experience will lie with the Whirlwind Engine Software. This is where the magic happens so you’ll need to get to know this software well. There are only four tabs available and each is fairly self-explanatory.
The Dashboard tab allows you to search and browse for new game effects for the Element. Here you can see if the game you are playing has game effects already made for it or not. Games include such titles as PUBG, Fornite, CoD Warzone, Minecraft, Cyberpunk 2077, and more. If the game isn’t there, the keyboard will still react to what is on your screen, just not for certain actions. There is a way to make your effects, but it requires some programming that I’m not going to get into in this review.
The Dashboard also includes idle effects you can download for when you aren’t playing games. These are what you’d typically see on other RGB keyboards. All of these effects you download can also be customized to suit your needs.
The next tab is the Device tab and it just shows you which Whirlwind FX products you have installed. If you click on the product, in this case, it’s the Element keyboard, you’re able to customize the color of each key independently of the effects your using. That means you can have certain keys to light up certain colors. There’s also a “game mode” switch, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it does.
If we head into the Effects tab, here is where you can choose and customize all the effects you download. You can change colors, speed, or whatever else is part of the effects you chose. It’s fairly intuitive and simple to understand.
The last tab is the Media Settings tab. This tab seems to control what the EX Analytics detects and when to switch the keyboard into media mode. You also control here how it handles those inputs and how it affects your keyboard lighting. Again, fairly simple to understand and adjust.
With the actual hardware, the Whirlwind FX Element keyboard is a great mechanical keyboard. This one uses Kailh Red Linear mechanical key switches. Red Switches are linear type switches that require very little force to actuate. They do however require that you press them all the way down in order to register a keypress, unlike tactile switches that only need to be pressed halfway. Red Switches are said to be better for gaming but in my experiences with it so far, it’s also very good for typing. The switches are also fairly quiet so this would also be a decent keyboard for an office environment.
I just like how they feel and honestly, once you start using any kind of mechanical keyboard, you’ll never go back to using anything else again.
As perfect as this keyboard might seem, there is one thing however that the Whirlwind FX Element doesn’t seem to do is custom macros. I can’t really find any place in the Whirlwind Engine software where you can record custom macros. It’s an omission that hardcore gamers may have to think about. Casual gamers, of course, may never need this feature.
The Whirlwind FX Element mechanical gaming keyboard stands out as being the only RGB keyboard that is the first content-reactive mechanical keyboard to auto-sync dynamic RGB lighting effects using on-screen analysis for event recognition on any game. Literally, it’s another way to visually immerse yourself in any game you’re playing and I think that’s pretty darn cool. If you’re into all the flash and excitement, you’re really going to enjoy the Element.
However, hardcore gamers who run custom macros may have to look elsewhere as I can’t find any place to record macros in the software.
Aside from that, the Whirlwind FX Element is a fantastic piece of hardware. It’s solidly constructed, the RGB lights look incredible, and the software is very simple to use.
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