The GX-Gaming Imperator Keyboard by Genius is designed with the serious MMORPG and RTS gamer in mind. As such, the keyboard’s biggest selling points are the six programmable macro keys meant for ease of access and rapid response to help MMO players get the most out of their games. Any online gamer worth their salt knows the importance of a good set of peripherals, and should be able to tell whether or not the Imperator is a wise investment.
The Imperator looks large but actually doesn’t seem too wide. Coming in at 19.69”, the extra width and length is due to the macro keys and palmrest which should be standard features of any gaming keyboard. My favorite physical aspect of the keyboard is the gold plated USB 2.0 cord. At 1.8 meters it is long enough to suit any needs but is also sheathed in a sturdy material instead of thin plastic like most cable cords. The USB cord saves the keyboard from feeling completely flimsy and cheap. As someone who spends long hours at the computer I truly do appreciate the palmrest. That being said, I do wish the material used wasn’t hard plastic like the rest of the board.
Like any new keyboard, typing feels alien at first because you need to give your fingers time to acclimate to the minute changes. When typing, it has the response of any standard keyboard. The keys themselves don’t take much effort to push down on and with a fast response time you are guaranteed to have your keystrokes timed correctly. One of my biggest gripes when typing is the shortened length of the backspace key. More room has been given for the Enter key while the Backslash has been moved along the top row. I recognize the importance of a wider press range for the Enter key while gaming; but the importance for backspacing while typing means this won’t be my typing keyboard of choice. It should also be mentioned that typing on the keyboard isn’t very quiet; but for those who like the audible “clicks” then this shouldn’t be an issue. The macro keys and multimedia buttons do take a bit more effort to push down on than the normal keys. While this issue might not be as important for things like volume control, using the macro keys is meant to provide quick responses in-game and could have used a little less resistance.
In the end, the Imperator is meant to impress you with its macro keys. With the ability to store up to three profiles, you can have a total of 18 macro keys at your disposal. Recording macros are actually quite easy to do with the software that comes with the keyboard. Though the interface itself is very basic, setting up profiles and assigning macros is a breeze. You can record keystrokes and mouse clicks plus time delays. There’s even a setting where you can disable the Windows buttons so you don’t accidentally stop your game in the middle of battle. Macros can even be assigned to launch certain programs and perform certain actions like cutting and pasting. The fact that macros aren’t used strictly for gaming is a great touch and can be appreciated by anyone who doesn’t spend all their time gaming with the keyboard. When pressing any of the multimedia keys or changing profiles, an on-screen alert will pop up telling you what is being pressed—another handy feature. Macro settings do work quite well when playing and operate as you programmed them and as you would expect them to.
As a gaming keyboard, the Imperator gets the job done for the most part—though I do have to question why Genius gave their keyboard the same name as Razer’s gaming mouse. The biggest issue with this keyboard is definitely going to be the price. Retailing for $49 (MSRP), you might be a little hesitant to put down your money for such a basic keyboard that doesn’t offer many bells and whistles. Genius also offers the Imperator Pro which seems like a better keyboard. Though the Pro has the same features as the basic model, it features a color changing backlight and two USB ports to plug in any additional peripherals. However, the Imperator Pro is priced at $109.99—a pretty big mark up for some lights and USB ports. It’s fair to say that the Imperator is not competitively priced especially when lined up to other big-name companies. As a basic gaming keyboard with such a high price tag it is hard to recommend the Imperator to any gamer who wants to replace their old gaming keyboard. However, if you are looking for something very basic with some easy to use features (and you can find a great deal on it) then give the Imperator a shot.