When you’re looking for the perfect gaming set-up, it’s difficult to know who to trust. New manufacturers come and go, while established players can translate years of experience into resting on their laurels. Fnatic is a name you’ll have heard of –it’s the most successful esports brand of the last decade, raking in the cash from League of Legends and CS:GO, along with a bunch of the other biggest games of the moment – but it might surprise you to learn that they’re now also a peripheral manufacturer.
Slightly less surprisingly, they have an eye on providing the best esports gear out there. The advantage is that if it’s good enough for esports teams, it’s going to be more than good enough for us mere mortals tootling about playing Fortnite for fun. We’ve had the opportunity to take the Fnatic STREAK keyboard for a spin over the past couple of weeks and, in terms of punching letters into a computer, it’s a truly incredible piece of hardware.
The STREAK is a full-size mechanical keyboard. You can outfit it with your favourite colour of Cherry MX switch, playing host to the super-swift Reds, their quieter sister the Silent Red, the tactile Brown middlemen, or the pushier Blues. You can get exactly the key-feel that you want, or indeed need, depending on what your primary use is going to be. I opted for the Cherry MX Brown, which balances swift keystrokes with a more definite ‘bump’ and less click and clack than you’d get with the Reds.
In use they feel fantastic, whether typing or gaming. The layout, spacing and depth of the keys is perfect, helping to up your word count or nail that last moment dodge. I don’t think I’ve come across a mechanical keyboard that comes close to the STREAK’s performance, and the thought of going back to other, lesser keyboards fills me with dread. It’s the best typing experience I’ve ever had, and with each Cherry MX switch rated for 50 million keystrokes, it’s one that’s going to last me for many years to come.
Taking it out of the box, you know you’re in for a ride, as the STREAK screams premium design. Its ultra-thin body is crafted from precision engineered metal, and despite its slim form-factor and modest 962g weight, it feels incredibly robust. It’s sleek, it’s slim, and its deep metallic-blue colouring looks fantastic.
It comes with its own wrist support as well, and it feels slightly weird to be telling you that this is the most comfortable thing I’ve ever rested my wrists upon. Well, on my desk, at any rate. It’s made of ultra-soft PU leather, and you set it it at three different angles to find a position that’s just right for you. If you’re looking for one of the most comfortable keyboard experiences around, the STREAK is it.
One of the most serious elements of the package is the size of the cabling. Honestly, it looks less like a computer keyboard’s cable and more like something from your toolbox. It’s so big that it needs two USB connectors, though that’s ultimately down to the fact that it features a dedicated USB passthrough.
What that means is that there’s a handy USB socket available at the back of the STREAK’s body, giving you an easily accessible port to do with as you wish. I opted to put my mouse’s wireless dongle in there, and it worked like a dream, but thanks to having a second USB port powering it, you could charge your phone or perhaps bang in a wired controller without having to fumble round the back of your desktop. It’s a handy extra.
The Fnatic STREAK is a fully RBG-equipped keyboard, and it’s a perfectly presented rendition. Apparently capable of 16.8 million colours, that’s a little more than my human eyes can differentiate between, but it looks fantastic whether you go for a strong, solid colour, or opt for one of the eight animated modes.
Given that customisation is at the heart of the STREAK, that extends to the RGB lighting, and besides being able to tweak every colour manually you can even create your own patterns, colours and layouts. You can even choose the colour for every single button if you want. Besides that there’s a removable magnetic plate at the back that you can have Fnatic replace with one that has a more personal meaning. Your Gamertag? Your real name? Maybe TheSixthAxis? It’s certainly one way to see your name in lights.
Alongside all those regular, run-of-the-mill QWERTY keys, the STREAK includes a few extra buttons to make your life just a little easier. A function lock button locks in the traditional function buttons, while there’s a metal volume dial, and buttons to mute the sound or your microphone above the numberpad.
Besides that there’s the Fnatic key that puts the keyboard into Competition Mode. You can customise this as you see fit, so that you can disable every single button on the keyboard other than the ones you need, helping to eliminate costly keystroke errors. It’s brilliant, especially if you’re liable to start catching the wrong thing in the heat of battle, and it definitely helped to clean up my act while playing Disintegration’s multiplayer and PvP in Elder Scrolls Online.
The entire keyboard can be tuned to your needs, with a full Key Binding menu available in the Fnatic OP software. Each key can perform dual functions when combined with the Function button or be completely re-mapped. Hell, you can have them launch applications, or even open files or links, while the software gives you four profiles to set them all to. It’s the most customisable keyboard software I’ve come across, and it’s clear, intuitive, and functional. That clarity is arguably the more impressive feat!
The only problem I encountered with the entire package at any point was occasionally finding the wrist rest had detached itself from the body of the keyboard. Strangely this never seemed to happen when in use, and reattaching it is as simple as snapping it back into place. Beyond that, the STREAK performed every task asked of it with speed and confidence, and at its RRP of £120, it’s an absolute bargain.