Microsoft SideWinder X6 gaming keyboard

Microsoft has long hoped to rule the roost with PC gaming peripherals, and the sleek SideWinder X6 keyboard is their latest attempt at grabbing this huge share of the PC market.

Immediately you’ll be well aware of the keyboard's ample size. At over 20 inches wide and nearly 10 inches deep at its lengthiest, those of you with already cramped desks may need to get the tape measures out before making any form of purchase.

The SideWinder X6 packs a removable keypad which you can attach at either end of the keyboard. It’s a particularly nice touch for gamers who have always craved their numbers at the opposite end to the usual keyboard standard. It all slots together via a magnetic contact which feels not only well made, but something that won’t fail you no matter how many times you shift the keypad.

The biggest selling point for gamers are the 30 programmable “S” keys. The first 12 are set to the left of the keyboard, with the rest set out on the keypad, making the customisability of this particular section all the more important. Getting all 30 close together for those kind of gaming titles that require frequent button presses is an absolute treat.

What makes these 30 programmable keys all the more appealing is the included software which allows you to assign specific configurations for different games. All you need to do is simply load up your game of choice, and the keyboard will automatically load up the key layout desired for that particular title. Not only incredibly handy, but astonishingly easy to use.

One of the best features is the ability to record these simple macros on the fly. For those of you whose only macro experience is during dull computing lessons with Excel that may mean little, but to WoW players in particular it could prove a major selling point. Actions that could take a half dozen separate presses can now be easily chopped right down to one swift push of a button. Tested with titles from genres spread across MMOs, RTS titles, and even good old FPS shooters, the macro feature is certainly a solid, and infinitely usable, one.

The dull appearance of the SideWinder X6 is helped by the backlight. A large twisty knob at the top end of the keyboard can turn the backlight up, or down, at will. The standard keys will light up red, while the macro buttons will shine a yellowy orange colour.

Verdict

For gamers, there’s little to sway anyone against the SideWinder X6. It’s a comfortable keyboard that packs a number of features that make the price tag seem pitiful.

The macros and removable keypad help nudge this one to the top of the tree for gaming keyboards.