ROCCAT Vulcan 121 Mechanical Keyboard and Kain 202 Wireless Mouse Review – Truly Premium Hardware
If you play and work at your PC regularly, you will know the value of a good keyboard and mouse. An accurate mouse and a competent keyboard can change everything. The speed and comfort of your typing while working, the accuracy of your inputs while gaming, highlight the correct cells in your spreadsheets, or making sure you're hitting those headshots instead of the body. The correct tools can make a massive difference to the quality of both your work and play, and if you're looking to upgrade your set up then you should definitely consider ROCCAT.
ROCCAT's strapline on their website states "At ROCCAT, we're passionate about developing premium gaming hardware that makes you play better." That's a bold claim and one which every hardware manufacturer makes - the question is whether or not their products can hold up to scrutiny. ROCCAT sent us over two of their newest pieces of gaming hardware, the Vulcan 121 AIMO mechanical keyboard, the Kain 202 AIMO wireless mouse. In case you were wondering what AIMO is, that's ROCCAT's RGB lighting, which sports 16.8M colors, as you would expect of a gaming-certified piece of hardware.
I must confess that before they got in touch I had never had the chance to go hands-on with some of their hardware, so I was excited but dubious. Like most people I already have a PC set up with the hardware I desire, and I felt it was very unlikely that a product would be good enough to make me change the tools I use every day. And I was wrong. ROCCAT's hardware is so good that I almost immediately, and comfortably, made the switch, and I might go as far as saying this is some of the best gaming gear I have ever used.
Design & ergonomics
ROCCAT's signature brand is "German design and engineering since 2007." If you look at the boxes of their products, you will find that on there somewhere. The statement that ROCCAT wants to make is that this is what they specialize at, and so, at the very least, you would expect both the keyboard and mouse would feel comfortable and look stylish.
Let's start with the mouse, the Kain 202, a rechargeable wireless mouse. The mouse is a sleek matte-white design, with the ROCCAT logo and the sides of the scroll wheel illuminated with RGB. This mouse is elegant and simple and has clearly been designed with ergonomics being the key concern. The mouse fits comfortably in my average-sized male hands, with my fingertips about a centimeter away from the tips of the mouse buttons. It features only two extra mouse buttons - this isn't necessarily a mouse made for multiple keybinds and complex MMOs or MOBAs, then.
But what it is, is simplicity and elegance. I've already said it, but that is what is defining about this mouse. It is perfectly comfortable, and the large side mouse buttons allow me to feel for them and click them with my thumb incredibly lightly - so lightly in fact, that I may have pressed the mouse buttons a few times while gripping the mouse. The white design contrasts beautifully with the black underside of the mouse, which is visible from the front and sides.
What might be the nicest aspect of the mouse is the positioning of the charging cable - there's a space for it at the front of the mouse, and when the cable included in the box is inserted it blends perfectly, making the mouse appear as if it were always a wired mouse. It's a good thing that the cable included with the mouse is a quality, sturdy braided cable, as the space where the cable inserts into the mouse does not fit some larger, thicker third-party cables. A bonus is that it comes with a male Micro USB to female standard USB converter, meaning you can use your mouse cable as a USB extender while your mouse is not in use, making it easier to keep track of on your desk if nothing else.
The mouse wheel is surrounded by some brushed steel, making it look very stylish, though this style is slightly ruined by the rubber DPI button, which is stamped with "DPI" on it. A plain black button would've sufficed, and made the mouse look a bit sleeker, but as it stands this is a minor complaint on what is otherwise a product that looks and feels premium.
Next up is the Vulcan 121 keyboard, a keyboard which I have been using for about a week now, and I am typing this very review out on right now. I have used many keyboards in my time, many of them being cheap office-grade pieces of kit, and I know when a premium piece of hardware stands out. Like any gamer or regular office worker, I prefer to type on a sturdy mechanical keyboard, one where I can feel physical confirmation of each keystroke. When it comes to that, the Vulcan 121 is one of the very best I've used. In fact, I'll start by saying this: this is a better keyboard than Razer's BlackWidow Chroma V2, which I reviewed some time ago.
While the Kain 202 mouse was about simplicity and ergonomics, the Vulcan 121 screams style, and not in that overly extra "gamer" way that so many other hardware manufacturers mildly ruin their products with. This looks sleek and stylish enough to fit in with any professional office situation, while also looking and feeling premium. The body is a thing sloped design, being thicket at the top where the F keys reside and slimming down near the bottom. With the magnetic wrist rest attached, it completes the illusion of the keyboard continually getting thinner.
The design team has gone for an angular design with this keyboard. While the Kain 202 mouse is sleek and comfortable, rounded on all edges, the Vulcan 121 keyboard has sharp edges, and a mirror-sheen strip of metal that runs along the sides and the top of the keyboard. The rubber pads on the bottom of the device hold it all in place as you would expect on a desk, and I can only say that I found it incredibly comfortable to use throughout my experience. The wrist rest is a nice addition, and I found that it definitely helped my typing comfort for extended periods.
I often use Corsair's K63 wireless keyboard for a lot of my work and play - it's comfortable and convenient thanks to the fact that it's so compact, and can easily slot into Corsair's lapboard attachment for couch PC gaming. But this has placed that keyboard on the backburner almost entirely. This keyboard may be a decent amount larger and wired, but the comfort of typing and the immediacy of the feedback from each key is just wonderful. I feel as if I'm putting minimal effort into pressing down each key while typing this review, while typing on a different keyboard doesn't feel bad, but I instantly start feeling as if I'm accidentally hitting extra keys, and the mechanical click just doesn't feel as distinct.
This is almost certainly partially down to ROCCAT's Titan Keys, transparent keys which ROCCAT professes to be reliable, with a travel distance of 3.6mm, and with less wobble and accidental keystrokes than other keys. In my experience, it seems to be true. The keys also come with these incredible short keycaps, which make the transparent keys underneath more visible, making the keycaps appear almost as if they're floating above the keyboard. It also serves to make the RBG colors more visible - and of course, you can change out the keycaps for any kind you like if it's not to your aesthetic liking.
Just underneath the keys is an aluminum faceplate, which not only helps the keyboard look like a premium quality product, but feel like one too. The keyboard does also feature a few rubber media keys - similar to the DPI button on the mouse - but unlike there, these keys do not stand out, and the hard plastic volume knob feels very, very satisfying to turn, almost like it's a distracting fidget spinner.
In terms of both design and ergonomics, I adore both the Kain 202 mouse and the Vulcan 121 keyboard. Both feel incredibly comfortable whether you're working or playing for hours on end, and will make any desk set up look smart and stylish.
In terms of special functions, there isn't really anything that the ROCCAT Kain 202 and Vulcan 121 do that other keyboards and mice don't. As stated, the Kain 202 even lacks a comprehensive suite of extra mouse keys that many mice you get for either the office or gaming set up usually include in the modern-day. But despite that, what you get here is exactly what you want. Neither the keyboard nor the mouse comes with anything superfluous - if you want a performance gaming mouse that looks and feels stylish and comfortable, then the Kain 202 is amazing. Actually, genuinely, amazing. And again, if you want a premium keyboard, which looks and feels premium, then the Vulcan 121 is perfect.
One functionality note I should add is that the Kain 202 mouse has a very good wireless range and latency for a wireless mouse. Ordinarily, I can absolutely tell the difference between a wired mouse signal and a wireless one, but in this instance I found the Kain 202 to be much better than other wireless mice I have used in the past, and despite having a decent rechargeable battery inside, it is incredibly light while in use, making it both one of the more accurate wireless mice I've used, in addition to one of the lighter ones. Plus points all around.
That's not to say there are no special features or functionality at all, but you'll find that in ROCCAT's Swarm software - though I didn't know that the software existed until I looked deep into the small print of an installation guide. Of course, this software is here to make it easier for you to customize and use the keyboard and mouse. You can use this software to give both the keyboard and mouse important firmware update, adjust DPI settings, rebind the entirety of the keyboard and mouse save for the Mute key (including the DPI button), and of course, customize the RGB colors of your keyboard and mouse.
After activating the automatic setting was to have my keys shine in a different color shortly after being pressed, as the keyboard slowly pulses through colors. As a side note, the transparent keys do make the RGB aesthetics of the keyboard much more palatable. Razer's BlackWidow Chroma V2, on the other hand, sometimes felt like staring into an abyss of swirling colors thanks to how overwhelmingly bright it could be. This is far more aesthetically pleasing for me personally.
In the Swarm software you can create custom DPI profiles, multiple key layout profiles for both the keyboard and mouse and more, meaning if you're the type of gamer that does play those fast-paced and complex MMOs and MOBAs we mentioned earlier, you can absolutely set all of the macros you wish across the multiple profiles until you have a battle station that is customized in the way that you desire.
Both the ROCCAT Kain 202 wireless mouse and the Vulcan 121 wired keyboard are simple. They are premium RBG gaming peripherals for PC, that's what they are marketed as, and that's exactly the promise ROCCAT delivers on. I thought I had a good set up, with a reliable Logitech wireless mouse and a compact mechanical Corsair keyboard, and I didn't think much would shift me away from using the tools I trusted. But ROCCAT blew me away and forced me to change my work and play habits almost immediately.
Both the keyboard and mouse feel high-quality all over and look premium. They perform exactly as you would expect too, proving that ROCCAT's products aren't just about aesthetics, but precision performance too. All of the posturing about German design and engineering on their products isn't a bluff - ROCCAT is absolutely capable of delivering what I can only see as some of the most high-quality hardware accessories on the market.
If I'm to make a complaint at this point, I would perhaps point towards ROCCAT's decision to make the mouse's charge cable fit very snugly, possibly preventing users from actually being able to use a different cable. As long as your ROCCAT branded Micro USB cable stays strong and you don't lose it this shouldn't be a problem, but it is absolutely worth mentioning because, in my experience, no cable lasts forever.
ROCCAT boasts about German design and engineering, and they deliver on that promise. Both the Kain 202 wireless mouse and Vulcan 121 wired keyboard are beautiful products with shining RGB lighting, incredible comfort, precision design, and great ergonomics. I can't complain of having experienced any discomfort while using them, and this review has ensured that I will keep a close eye on ROCCAT products going forward. If you aren't paying attention to ROCCAT, you should be now, as they are producing some of the best hardware on the market.
- Premium design and build quality
- Precise, reliable components
- Excellent wireless mouse accuracy
- Excellent mechanical keys
- Simple, stylish designs
- The mouse charging port is designed for the included Micro USB cable, you may struggle to use different cables
- No reason not to have the keyboard use the same accurate wireless technology as the mouse