A good keyboard is an important part of any PC gaming set up, but getting a solid piece of equipment doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. There are plenty of great mid-range keyboards out there with features to suit all of your needs and none of the frills that drive up the price. The XPG Mage is a full-sized mechanical gaming keyboard which promises to do just that.
XPG is the gaming arm of ADATA, a company best known for their hard drives. They contacted us asking for a fair and unbiased review of the Mage. Do they have what it takes to manufacture of the best mechanical gaming keyboards? Here’s what we found.
Zoom In: Specs
- Full-sized keyboard form factor
- Wired via detachable USB Type-C
- Lightweight gunmetal grey aluminum body
- Kailh Red Mechanical switches
- XPG Prime software
- RGB backlighting
- Price: $59.99
Design and Build Quality
Out of the box, the XPG comes with a quick start guide, warranty, a detachable braided USB Type-C cable, and a sticker pack. Unlike the XPG Summoner Keyboard we previously reviewed, the Mage does not come with a wrist rest.
The keyboard itself has a nice, gunmetal grey aluminum body which gives it a neutral yet stylish design with two feet at the back of the board for added incline. This reinforcement also means that the board doesn’t have any flex and it has enough weight that it doesn’t move around while you’re using it.
The keycaps, however, are simple ABS plastic. This makes them less comfortable to type on and more likely to show signs of wear over time. They also feel a little bit loose on the switches.
There are no designated media control keys, though there are secondary media control functions on the F7-12 keys. Holding down the FN key causes a neat lighting effect where the RGB fades away, leaving only the keys with secondary functions lit so they’re easier to distinguish.
Many may wish to replace the keycaps on this board, but it otherwise feels sturdy and well-built.
Kailh Red Switches
We’ve always found Kailh to be one of the best manufacturers of mechanical keyboard switches for gaming. I loved their Box White switches in my review of the Kinesis TKO and I love their red switches here.
The action on these Kailh red switches are smooth, providing just enough resistance to give the user feedback without giving them so much that it slows them down. They are as comfortable to type on as they are to game. There is a fair amount of clickity-clack to typing on the Mage, but that can be attributed more to the keycaps than the switches.
Linear red switches are the most popular among gamers, but they aren’t option out there. Unfortunately, they are the only ones available on the Mage. Users who prefer tactile or clicky switches should look elsewhere.
Brands like to throw the word “gaming” on products all the time, but the only true test of their value under-fire is to pull up a game and see how it works when alien monsters are flying at you from every corner.
I tested the XPG Mage in-game by playing some Prey and found it to be an overall good experience. The keys are well spaced and the switches were responsive. I did experience some joint fatigue after a while as it didn’t come with a wrist rest, but the board itself performed perfectly.
XPG Prime Software and RGB
Good software can do a lot to enhance a gamer’s customization options. Unfortunately, the XPG Prime Software is aggressively mediocre. There are only three profiles, and the customization options are extremely limited.
Users can choose from one of seven lighting effects: static, color cycle, breathing, reactive, rainbow wave, and ripple. They can adjust color, brightness, speed and direction on some effects as well. There are also some key-binding options and “gaming mode” that allow the user to disable the windows key, alt + tab, or alt + F4. The Canvas feature also allows users to sync effects to multiple XPG devices.
Many of the control software applications from other peripheral manufacturers offer a good deal more customization and control features. To be fair, the XPG Prime Software works perfectly, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other control software out there — there just isn’t much to it.
Is the XPG Mage worth the Money?
The XPG Mage MSRPs at $59.99, which puts it in a middle ground between budget and premium options. That’s right where it should be. Sure, the Prime Software could use an upgrade and the keyboard missing a few features (like premium keycaps, media control keys and a wrist rest), but the Mage is generally well built and it performs every task exceptionally well.
Users willing to spend more might be better off with something like the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire, but there are few products with RGB and quality linear switches to compete with the Mage at its price point.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The XPG Mage is a moderately priced and exceptionally well-built keyboard. The software has limited functionality and it’s light on a few key features, but its build-quality and dependability make it a valid option for budget-savvy buyers.
- Solid build quality with aluminum face plate
- Premium feeling Kailh brand switches
- Flawless functionality
- Cheap feeling keycaps
- No designated media controls
- Subpar software and RGB control