It’s been about 10 months since the original Logitech G915 was released, and it’s been positively received since then for its impressive low-profile design, dedicated media controls, and incorporation of Logitech’s “Lightspeed” wireless tech. Logitech’s back at it again with the G915 TKL—a tenkeyless version of the G915. This compact and thin board seems ideal for those with limited desk space, but let’s see if it can live up to its high asking price of $229.99 first.
Looks and Layout
The G915 looks great; the dark-grey brushed aluminum body compliments the all-black keycaps (which thankfully, use nice-looking legends) and buttons perfectly. On top of that is the RGB lighting under each key, button, and the Logitech logo. The lighting is bright and vivid, and there’s a good deal of customization to be had using Logitech G Hub.
Of course, the major difference between the original G915 and the TKL version is the layout. I’m a big fan of the tenkeyless layout, as it opens up a lot more space for mouse movement without cutting out anything too important. If you’ve never used a tenkeyless board before though, it’s just a normal keyboard with the Numpad chopped off (as you can see in the image above).
Besides that, the only other notable thing about the G915’s layout are the various buttons scattered about the top of the board. Before we talk about their functions though, I want to talk about the buttons themselves. Because these things are way too sensitive. Just brushing your finger over them seems to activate them. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s annoying anytime you need to move or pick up the keyboard.
Nitpicking aside though, the buttons are still useful to have around. You’ll be frequenting the cluster of buttons on the right side of the board as that’s where the media controls are (i.e., skip track, pause/play, and mute) along with the oh-so-smooth volume wheel.
The right side features another cluster of buttons. This is where you can enable the “gaming” mode (which, by default, disables the Windows, FN, and Menu keys—more on this later), adjust the lighting brightness levels, and toggle between standard Bluetooth and Logitech’s Lightspeed wireless.
Faster Than Light
Speaking of Lightspeed wireless, it’s one of the more appealing features here for gamers. Lightspeed wireless promises ultra-low latency while remaining wireless, which should mean the keyboard is viable to use in competitive matches. Although, you can also plug in the detachable MicroUSB cable to use the G915 in wired mode (alongside charging it).
But how good is Lightspeed really? While I was using the keyboard (for both gaming and typing), I honestly couldn’t feel a difference between the wired, Lightspeed, and Bluetooth modes in regards to latency. But feelings aren’t very scientific, so I spent some time on a reaction-time test in all three modes to see if I could get some more concrete data.
My reaction time (averaged out) was the lowest in wired mode at around 220 milliseconds, then in Lightspeed mode at around 270 milliseconds, and finally, Bluetooth mode where I got around 375 milliseconds. Unsurprisingly, wired mode is still the way to go if you want the lowest latency possible (it was also the least variable). However, Lightspeed is a legitimate improvement over standard Bluetooth wireless for gamers who want to cut the cord.
Solid Build, Shallow Switches
Thanks to the aluminum frame, the G915 feels remarkably solid in the hands for how thin (around one inch thick) it is. There’s no flex of any kind (believe me, I tried) and the weight (1,025 grams) is the perfect middle-ground between being light enough to move around easily while not budging when in use. The rubberized fold-out keyboard feet found on the bottom of the board also help ensure the keyboard doesn’t move while in use.
With how thin and solid this keyboard is, you could safely throw it into a bag without much to worry about. And, don’t worry, the thin frame doesn’t lead to thin battery life, because this keyboard can last up to 40 hours while in Lightspeed wireless mode with the backlighting on, with it lasting about 45 days with the lighting off according to Logitech G Hub.
But when it comes to a keyboard’s built quality, the main thing that matters, in the end, is the typing experience. The G915 is a mechanical keyboard, but it doesn’t use standard MX-style mechanical switches. To achieve the ultra-thin design, Logitech designed the low-profile GL line of switches. They’re about half the height of standard mechanical switches, and use a completely different stem design (so most aftermarket keycaps are a no-go).
So, how do they feel? My unit has the GL Tactile switches, which are your standard brown-style switches (the most popular of which are the Cherry MX Brown switches). Comparing them to the Gateron Browns I had lying around, I was impressed by how similar they felt—although the difference in travel distance was immediately apparent. Of course, that low travel distance is ideal for competitive gaming, but even for typing, the switches feel pretty good to use. They don’t match the satisfaction that standard mechanical switches will give you, but for what they are, they’re more than fine.
As I said, my unit has the GL Tactile switches, so I can’t say too much about the GL Clicky or GL Linear switches that are also available. However, I think it’s safe to say that they’ll feel pretty similar to other blue- and red-style switches respectively—except for travel distance.
The (Bad) Software
Everything about the G915 so far has been great, but if it has one major weakness, it’s the software. The G915 requires you to use Logitech G Hub to customize anything about it. This limitation, by itself, is fine, but it would be a lot easier to swallow if G Hub felt like software that was worth using. G Hub can be difficult to navigate, and it feels clunky to use overall. It has this drag-and-drop design that, while in theory is a good idea, feels terrible to use thanks to the laggy interface. But, of course, G Hub’s UI being bad is hardly an original complaint.
But that’s all set dressing, functionality is what matters most. Unfortunately, G Hub doesn’t impress with that either. The biggest problem I have with the G Hub is the options when it comes to reprogramming keys. You have some nice options, such as program-specific actions (for example, muting yourself in Discord); creating program-specific profiles (which automatically kick-in when the program launches); and a macro creator which, while unpleasant to use, does feature everything you’d need to create complex macros. (It even records mouse input from non-Logitech mice.)
The annoying part is that the only keys you can reprogram are the Function keys. You can switch between three layers on the fly, so that’s technically 36 keys in total, but being able to reprogram stuff like the Scroll Lock or Pause keys (keys I never use) would have been nice. You also can’t reprogram any of the extra buttons or the volume wheel, which is a shame considering how useful a reprogrammable scroll wheel could have been.
If we compare this to Logitech’s competitors, for example, Razer, which for years has been allowing users to reprogram each key in-depth using its Synapse software, G Hub just feels lackluster in this regard.
Things do start to look a little better when we look at lighting. The UI is still annoying to use, but the options presented are solid. You can choose between various effects and presets, or individually color each key. Lighting profiles are also the only things that can be flashed to the board’s memory (meaning it will be saved even when you’re using a computer without G Hub installed), which is nice to see.
While G Hub doesn’t allow you to do anything like combining multiple effects to create something more unique, the options presented here are still enough for most people to adjust the lighting to their liking.
The final main option in G Hub is altering what keys get turned on and off when you flip into the “gaming” mode. I never use this sort of mode on any keyboard, but for users who do, there is a strange limitation here. By default, gaming mode disables the Windows, FN, and Menu keys. Fairly normal so far, but you aren’t allowed to re-enable those keys in the gaming mode. This is especially strange as every other key can be freely enabled and disabled to your liking.
The Logitech G915 TKL is a strange keyboard for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a good keyboard, but for the high asking price, it becomes difficult to recommend. You have to highly value the G915’s unique feature set for the price to be worth it. Because, to be fair, this is the only low-profile mechanical keyboard I can think of that uses the tenkeyless layout, features full dedicated media controls, and has this level of build quality.
If you don’t care about the low-profile nature, better options exist out there for less that can either give you a better typing experience with full mechanical switches, or more features when it comes to customization.