Review: BenQ Zowie Celeritas II Gaming Keyboard

Zowie has made quite a name for itself in the recent years, especially in the esports arena. The brand is regularly coming up with peripherals catering to the esports players, from keyboards and headsets to high refresh rate displays. The Celeritas II is the latest gaming keyboard in the Zowie lineup, priced at INR 10,900. But is it worth the price? Let’s find out.

The philosophy behind the Celeritas II seems to be straightforward: elegance in simplicity. The keyboard has a pretty standard design; in fact, from a distance, it doesn’t look much different from a normal office keyboard. But don’t let that fool you, because on the inside the Celeritas screams gaming. It uses custom optical switches instead of the Cherry MX Brown like its predecessor. Optical switches are a new form of mechanical switches, which use light for actuation instead of a mechanical connection. As such, they have an advantage over conventional mechanical switches as optical switches can be faster and more durable.

It follows the popular ‘red and black’ colour scheme that we’ve seen with almost every brand by now. The keyboard has a matte black finish, keeping it simple without any frill.  At 1.89kg, the Celeritas II is a bit on the heavier side of the spectrum. It measures about 44.2 x 17 cm, which means it doesn’t take up too much space on your table. There are four rubber grips on the base which prevent the keyboard from sliding on the surface.

While the gaming community is moving towards a more colorful RGB lit world, the Celeritas II keeps things rather uncomplicated with a simple Red LED backlight. You can adjust the brightness and toggle it on/off using the Fn keys, which also double up as media control buttons. The choice to go for flashy RGB is rather subjective; on one hand, you can argue that the red backlight results in a less distracting experience. But on the other hand, not having the option to customize the backlight colour, especially at the INR 10000 price point seems a bit lacking.

One of the more interesting features the Celeritas II offers is PS/2 compatibility, and the keyboard comes with a USB to PS/2 adapter in the box. Even though most of the people have switched to USB by now, it’s nice to have that option to use PS/2 should you feel like using it. And Zowie has also brought the Real Time Response (RTR) function to the keyboard, which is useful in games where the player needs to activate multiple commands simultaneously. RTR can only be used via PS/2.

Talking about performance, here’s when the Celeritas II begins to set itself apart. Unlike a lot of its gaming counterparts, the Celeritas is completely plug and play, and doesn’t require you to use any software to set it up. It supports N-key rollover, meaning each keypress is detected individually, regardless of how many keys are being pressed at the same time. The wrist support can be a little small for some users, but it’s not hard to get used to. Furthermore, the optical switch driven keys are responsive and swift, making games like PUBG and Apex Legends a joy to play. You can quickly move between different keys without much resistance and take action, meaning esports players can really use it to their advantage. Single player games are equally fun, whether you’re trying to survive in Metro: Exodus or wrecking the city in GTA V.  Typing, on the other hand, doesn’t feel as good, as I prefer a bit of more tactile feedback than the Celeritas II offers.

Overall, the Celeritas II is a great keyboard, with a clear emphasis on functionality over aesthetics. It’s well built, sturdy, and gets the job done without any nonsense. The optical switches are ideal for both casual and professional gamers, and it doesn’t require you to jump through any hoops to set up.  The only downside, is that at a price of INR 10,900, it feels a little costly, especially when you consider other options that offer much more in terms of customization options.

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