Mechanical keyboards with RGB lighting and palm rest are now available in numerous variants, and the Summoner also falls into this category. To stand out from the crowd, the manufacturer XPG garnished the package with a padded palm rest and a volume wheel. In addition, the company leaves you the choice of having the keyboard with Cherry MX Red, Blue or Speed-Switches. For this, just under 105 euros are required (currently: € 69.00 *).
Whether this combination is enough to stand out on the keyboard market and how the XPG Summoner performs in practice will be examined in the following test.
|Dimensions:||449 x 135 x 44 mm|
|Dimensions (palm rest):||445 x 88 x 19 mm|
|Weight (palm rest):||191 g|
|Switches:||Cherry MX Speed Silver / Red / Blue|
|Scanning rate:||1,000 Hz|
|Lighting:||RGB (One LED per key)|
|Specials:||volume wheel, padded palm rest, USB port on device|
Scope of delivery
In addition to the keyboard itself, XPG also includes various accessories. A magnetic palm rest, a key remover and red replacement key caps for WASD, the arrow keys and the Windows key are included. There is also a manual and several XPG stickers.
Design & workmanship
XPG uses the typical plate-mount design for the Summoner, where all switches are held in position by a metal plate. This plate also covers the upper side of the keyboard. According to XPG, sandblasted aluminum is used here, which has a smooth, gray surface. The “kink” that the keyboard makes in the upper right corner is also noticeable, so that the mute button and the volume control can be reached more easily.
XPG largely follows usual conventions in the layout and the rest of the design: The case tray is completely made of matt black plastic. However, special features like a cable channel or a two-stage height adjustment are not to be found here. But there is a USB slot at the back of the keyboard, which is connected to the PC via a second cable.
Our test sample is based on the Cherry MX Speed RGB Silver Switches, which trigger after only 1.2 millimeters. The lighting is provided by an LED installed inside, which can be seen through the transparent plastic housing. XPG relies on the Cherry variant for the stabilizers for large buttons.
The wrist-rest included by XPG, like the keyboard, is made of matt black plastic. The actual support surface, on the other hand, consists of a padded imitation leather cover, which is adorned with the XPG logo.
The manufacturing quality of the buzzers is impeccable: the case is stable and optically and haptically flawless. The same applies to the wrist-rest, even though it is not very torsionally stiff due to its construction. In addition, the struts on the underside, which give the rest stability, are clearly visible. Since these are hidden during operation, however, this is not a real point of criticism.
Practice & Ergonomics
In practice, the XPG Summoner performs well, with the excellent palm resting area standing out positively. Due to the padded cover, it is extremely comfortable and even larger hands can sit on it without any problems.
Since the keyboard is fixed by the palm rest and the hands resting on it, it never slipped in our practical use. We were also impressed by the magnetic holder, which holds the palm rest on the keyboard. It is strong enough so that it cannot come off unintentionally.
Typing on the keyboard is, as usual with Cherry switches, a very pleasant experience: The keys react precisely and if you’ve ever had a mechanical keyboard under your fingers, you’ll quickly get used to it. The advertised N-Key Rollover works perfectly. We also noticed the sound image positively, because the keyboard emits a deep, but not too loud sound when typing normally. On the other hand, if the keys are pressed down emphatically and slowly, the built-in metal springs are clearly audible.
The lighting was also convincing in the test: it is bright and quite even. As usual, however, lower lettering is visibly less bright than the main lettering. This problem occurs on all keyboards. We couldn’t hear a whimpering of the control electronics.
But the XPG Summoner is not absolutely flawless in practice, because the company has unfortunately allowed itself a small deviation from the usual standard. The three status LEDs on the keyboard do not, as usual, display the Numpad, Capslock and the scroll function. Instead, the third LED shows the game mode instead of the scroll function, which locks the Windows key. You can still use “Scroll”, but you always have to try out in which state you are currently. This is not really tragic, especially since the scroll function is only used by few people anyway. But if you use the function often, you should consider this point.
Software & Configuration
Of course XPG also offers a software for the summoner with which the configuration can be taken over. This software is called Prime and is currently distributed as beta. The program is quickly installed and has a modern UI. With this UI you can select various ready-made lighting effects, adjust key assignments and create and configure macros. The macros may contain a maximum of 64 actions, i.e. 32 keystrokes.
With the canvas function, the XPG Summoner also offers a possibility to control the lighting directly via the software. In this mode, the individual lighting effects can be placed on different keys at the same time and thus combined. Attention: The lowest level has the highest priority – this can cause confusion at first.
There is nothing to criticize about the functional range of the software: The usual functions are all completely covered, and operation is easy. The only thing we could have done without is the registration notice that is displayed every time the program is started. Users who are particularly fond of details might also miss the missing SDK. But for most customers this is not a disadvantage.
Alternatively, you can configure the keyboard directly on the device. For this purpose, XPG gave the Summoner an FN key. With this key you can select a light effect and vary the brightness in four steps. It is also possible to record macros. The corresponding commands can be learned quickly and are also clearly presented in the manual.
For most keyboards it is difficult to stand out clearly from the crowd. Most of the time, the best choice simply depends on fluctuating or subjective factors such as appearance or the current price.
The same is true for the XPG Summoner: The core package is similar to that of many other keyboards, from the rest it only stands out with a few accents. Specifically, these are the volume wheel, the USB port on the device and, most importantly, the leatherette palm rest. The latter is the keyboard’s biggest feature for us, as it is extremely comfortable and ensures fatigue-free typing even after a long time.
The XPG Summoner delivers a round picture in the other usual points, such as typing feel, lighting and workmanship, and there’s hardly anything to criticize. We would have only wished for a separate LED for the scroll function, which was replaced by the game mode in the XPG Summoner.
So for the end, the look and price remain. While the former is a matter of taste, the price is convincing, at least at the time of testing. With 105 Euro (current: € 69.00 *) the Summoner is currently the second cheapest keyboard with MX Speed Silver Switches. Compared to the slightly cheaper model it offers the additional USB port and the padded palm rest. So at least if you like Cherry’s Silver Switches, you won’t make a mistake with the XPG Summoner. With the other, more common switch types, however, you have to look at the price, because there is a lot of movement on the market. But even there, the total package offered by XPG Summoner should do well.