Thermaltake Level 20 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review

April 16, 2019 | 14:00

Tags: #cherry-mx #cherry-mx-speed-silver #gaming-keyboard #keyboard #mechanical-keyboard #mechanical-switch #rgb

Companies: #thermaltake

Software

Oddly for a keyboard with six onboard profiles and 512KB of memory on which to store them, you still need to have the software in order to access them, so you can’t take custom settings with you unless you also bring a copy of the software.

Unfortunately for a company that has courted controversy multiple times under accusations of design rip-offs and trademark infringements, the software supporting this keyboard is called… iTake. Even now, weeks after I first noted this, writing it out still brings a smile to my face. And believe me when iTell you, dear reader, that this is the only truly positive quality iTake brings to the iTable.

Things did not get off to a great start when the software told me my firmware was up to date while offering me a new version of the firmware. Auto-updating is appreciated, of course, but such mixed messages hardly suggests good quality control.

Aesthetically, iTake is not a looker, and it doesn’t play particularly nice with high-res screens either. The navigation and overall feel is dated, and inferior to Corsair, Logitech, and Razer – companies with whom Thermaltake is directly competing. The UI has a long way to go before it’s on their level.

I’ll cut to the chase: As far as I can tell, iTake is simply not ready and does not work as intended. I have been through two samples of this keyboard, and I have tried them on four separate PCs, and not once could I get any custom key commands to work. They would appear to be programmed, but not once would keys actually output anything other than their default command. I can't really fathom the idea of this software or firmware passing any verification whatsoever, but I have attempted all that I feel is reasonable to get it working, and tech-minded colleagues have likewise been left stumped.

Thermaltake is looking into the issue, and there is always the caveat that by the time you read this things may have changed, but given that this product is readily available to buy at the time of writing, it’s only appropriate that I give you fair warning.

For what it’s worth, the lighting portion worked, but again the UI lags behind the competition, and I suspect that even if everything had worked properly I would have struggled to recommend using this keyboard over competing offerings given how advanced they now are.

Thermaltake also offers Razer Chroma integration and mobile app-based controls, but I hope you’ll forgive me for drawing a line on what my time is worth.

Conclusion

Just in case you skimmed the first page, liked what you saw, and skipped to the conclusion thinking, ‘oh, how bad can the software be?’, I implore you to read the above section.

Needless to say, I will not be recommending that you part with £150 in exchange for this keyboard. Thermaltake’s hardware design, if you can excuse the very bulky frame, is at least solid: Cherry MX switches, excellent build quality, and a good feature set. None of that is unique to Thermaltake, but it has fused various good elements into something respectable.

But the iTake software is a real letdown, and even if Thermaltake gets the custom commands working reliably I would be hard pressed to recommend this keyboard to anyone looking to spend much time delving into custom settings. That’s what keyboards like this are all about, after all. Thermaltake’s key competitors have years of experience in this field, and it’ll need to iTake a leaf out of their books before its own software is on par.


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