The Roccat Magma gaming keyboard proves that you don't need to settle on a limited design to save cash with a membrane deck. Thanks to a distinctive panel with RGB lighting sitting underneath the main board, the Magma cleverly disguises a drop in aesthetic customization options with a replacement effect that some may even prefer.
Coming in at just $59.99 / £49.99, this is a particularly affordable piece of kit. However, unlike many other cheap gaming keyboards, you're not skimping on too much to keep that cost low. As it stands, the Magma will serve a wide range of everyday play styles well. It won't live up to the performance you'll find in the best gaming keyboards further up the price bracket, but on the flip-side, no-one is expecting it to.
Average price: $59.99 / £49.99
Size: Full board
Media keys: Dual-function
Wrist rest: Detachable
USB passthrough: None
The Magma's most noticeable feature is a translucent plastic panel covering the deck beneath the keys. Rather than per-key RGB, the Roccat Magma opts for a set of ten LED lights stretched across this panel, and configurable in five zones of customization. If you're looking to pinpoint precision over the look and responses of your gaming keyboard, this certainly isn't a feature to gloss over as there is a definite drop in clarity and control. However, the resulting effect can prove surprisingly satisfying, especially when pooling just a couple of colors together for a more subtle glow.
Elsewhere, the Roccat Magma's price is kept low by using membrane switches rather than mechanical ones. This means you're still getting a smooth response and satisfying distance of travel, even if you're sacrificing a little of that tap sensitivity.
Roccat's EasyShift macro control scheme is present here as well, allowing you to customize dual functionality for certain keys using the Swarm software and by holding the caps lock key to unlock dual functions.
While much of the Roccat Magma's design is overshadowed by that distinctive panel, the plastic shell that surrounds the deck is surprisingly sturdy. That said, the translucent sheet does have a little too much give when pushed to feel fully solid. It would take some considerable key hammering to put that much pressure on the plate in normal use, but it is certainly noticeable under closer inspection.
As for the key caps themselves, they use a smooth ABS plastic which doesn't offer too much in the way of grip but is to be expected at this price point. The downside? The legends on top of the caps aren't too well defined, and while things do improve with the RGB effect switched on, the top two rows suffered fading around the top edge of each character. If you're not used to feeling your way around those function and number keys, this might take some adjustment.
Despite all that, you are getting a full-sized deck here, with the exception of dedicated media controls, and a ridged palm rest as well.
Despite offering cheaper membrane keys, there's still a surprising feel of quality here, with a nice resistance in each switch and a responsive experience overall. Typing on the Roccat Magma proved to be particularly satisfying, with each key light enough to bottom out comfortably and quickly.
Gaming required a little extra manoeuvring - when it came to a more intense setting, that extra weight in each key press made itself known. While still snappy, the extra travel distance is particularly pronounced once the heat is on, which detracts a little from the twitch reflex action you may be used to on a mechanical board like the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro.
Overall, though, considering the Magma comes in considerably cheaper than other similarly-specced gaming keyboards, you're getting excellent performance for the price here.
Overall - should you buy the Roccat Magma?
The Roccat Magma certainly has a lot going for it, and if you're shopping in a more budget-friendly price range, you're getting fantastic value for money. Smooth, responsive, and tactile, the overall typing experience was satisfying and offered fast travel across the deck itself as well.
Gaming on the Magma may take some adjustments considering the extra resistance in the membrane switches, but at $60 / £50, you're still getting a great piece of kit with a unique design twist to boot.