XPG’s foray into gaming peripherals brings us to the Summoner; XPG’s fully mechanical keyboard, and not just any mechanical keyboard. This one brings the highly revered Cherry MX switches under the hood, and yes, we know how much we love them. I have been testing and reviewing keyboards for as long as I can remember and I have to tell you that by now, there is a certain feel that I am used to. Back in the old days, getting your hands on a Cherry MX powered keyboard was difficult. Only Corsair had the access to the industry-standard Cherry MX switches, so everyone else was rushing to use Chinese clones. Which did work, mind you. But the performance was never on par with what Cherry had to offer.
However, their exclusivity ended and that made everyone rush to use what the best switches were available at that. While others started working on developing their own. Cherry MX is now found in almost all the keyboards in the market. By theory, every mechanical keyboard should feel the same, since the core part is the same, right? No. Apparently, a mechanical keyboard is more than what switch it uses. I quickly noticed this when I unplugged my Razer Huntsman Elite and started using the XPG Summoner and I have to tell you. Not all gaming keyboards are made the same, and that is not necessarily a bad thing all the time.
Still, we are going to get to the bottom of this and find out what makes the XPG Summoner the potential candidate for your next keyboard.
Table of Contents
XPG Summoner Spec Sheet
|Switches||Cherry MX Speed Silver/MX Blue/MX Red|
|Onboard Storage||Yes (up to 5 profiles)|
|Media Keys||Yes (volume wheel and mute)|
|Interface||2x USB 2.0 Type-A|
|Cable||6 feet (1.8m)|
|Additional Ports||USB 2.0 passthrough|
|Key Caps||ABS plastic|
|Construction||Aluminum top plate|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||17.7 x 5.3 x 1.7 inches (449 x 135 x 44mm)|
|Weight||2.1 pounds (951 grams)|
Unboxing the XPG Summoner
Keyboard unboxing has become a fairly standard procedure. You can change the packaging just a bit but aside from that, the experience is going to be the same throughout. Granted, a $200 keyboard unboxing might include something fancy but for the larger part, it remains the same.
The same is the case with unboxing the Summoner, and honestly, for the price of PKR 22,500, I would say that the unboxing experience is somewhere in the middle. I will let you be the judge, of course.
The front of the box has your usual information including the name, the branding on the top right, along with the specs, as well as the Cherry MX stamped at the bottom right corner. The keyboard itself nicely sits in the middle, and you can see the entirety of the box flanked with red accents. It seems that the red and black theme is still in fashion. Needless to say, the XPG Summoner’s box is not going to win any awards, but it will not be robbed of anything either.
The back of the keyboard shows a fancy feature set that you are going to be getting with the keyboard. Pretty standard stuff, as this has become a norm for any high-end gaming keyboard available in the market. You get Cherry MX switches (Blues in my review unit), a sandblasted aluminum frame, a volume rocker, a USB pass-through, a leatherette, magnetic wrist rest, replaceable keycaps, and 7 RGB lighting modes, more on that later.
The keyboard is nicely packaged around soft padded foam, so you can be sure that it is not going to break in transit. It cannot even move once it is snuggly packed. So, you can have the satisfaction there. The paper sheet on top shows the XPG logo, and that is about it.
I can easily say that all keyboards look the same and get away with it because that is true. For instance, my Razer Huntsman Elite looks a lot like my first Corsair K70 Rapidfire, but it is what is underneath that matters. Still, if looks are something that you like, then you would be glad to know that the XPG Summoner does look really good.
The top is this simple, grey sandblasted aluminum that looks beautiful. Yes, the metal plate does give extra rigidity and you cannot change anyone’s mind about that. The keycaps themselves are ABS, but given the price, I cannot expect PBT Doubleshot, in the first place. The volume rocker sits nicely at the top right along with status LEDs, and the XPG logo sits right above the cursor keys. I honestly feel that the logo is unneeded, it would have given the keyboard a much better cohesion overall, but hey, what can we do.
The included magnetic wrist rest is definitely a nice addition but that is all it is, a nice addition. The moment I took it out of the sheet, I almost thought there is going to be another part tucked away somewhere because not only did it feel light, but the plastic also felt cheap. It almost felt like something I can break in two pieces with my bare hands. Now I am someone who is heavy-handed when it comes to keyboards. My job involves typing tens of thousands of words every single day, and I can tell you that the thick, padded wrist rest that came with my Huntsman Elite is showing a lot of wear but still manages to hold on because of how structurally strong it is.
The same does not apply to the wrist that is supplied with the Summoner; it feels flimsy, and something that can easily break in half if you apply enough force. After spending over half a decade testing all sorts of keyboards, this is the first time I was scared of using a wrist rest in fear of breaking it. Sure, it is magnetic, I would give it that, but that does not take away from the fact that the quality could have been so much better.
Moving onto the keycaps themselves, XPG is using your standard-issue ABS plastic keycaps, and while they look good, they are not going to win any awards, to be honest. They will get shiny over time and honestly, at the price you are paying, it would be criminal to expect PBT Doubleshot keycaps. So, I am not really going to take any points off here.
Now, what seems to be the problem here is that the Summoner is supposedly fully RGB, but for some reason. The lighting is dim at best. Now, I understand that these switches were provided by Cherry MX, and I have owned Cherry MX keyboards in the past too, but the lighting was never the same on the other keyboards. This makes me wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that XPG intentionally kept them dim. Even at the full brightness, the lights are not bright enough and while it does not effect legibility in any way, not a lot of people might be satisfied with what they are getting.
Now, I did think that maybe I could change the brightness from the software but guess what? There is no software at the moment to control the lighting or any other feature, for that matter. Every known customization has to be done with the help of a function key and while I would have accepted this if it were a 60% keyboard but we are talking a full-sized keyboard with a price tag to match. The lack of software just looks like a lazy excuse at this point. However, things aren’t finished here. Upon closer inspection, I also realized that there are only 7 preset lighting modes that you can use on this keyboard. If you are looking forward to make any changes on your own or want to personalize the keyboard the way you like, there is no way you can do that.
At this point I realised that I was expecting too much from this keyboard, but then I had to remind myself of the MSRP that this keyboard is going for. If I am expected to pay PKR 22,500 for this keyboard, I would want to have all the features that are being offered by a keyboard this expensive.
I feel like I have been too harsh on the XPG Summoner so far, but I can justify that. The price for the keyboard simply does not match what it provides in terms of the overall experience. However, if you are someone who is willing to pay the price just for the sake of the performance you are going to get, then I am pleased to tell you that the Summoner performs as well as you would expect any Cherry MX loaded keyboard to perform. Which is not a bad thing, to begin with. As a matter of fact, my overall experience with Summoner as far as the performance is concerned was very pleasant, to say the least.
The Summoner is available in Red, Blue, and Silver switches. The review unit I received comes with Blue switches, and honestly, they are my favorite. Being someone who has to type thousands of words every single day, I can tell you that the Blue switches are really made for that. Granted, you might have some issues if you are playing online, but if you have a good microphone, you don’t have to worry about it.
The switches themselves are standard issue Cherry MX Blue, no surprises there. But still, if you wish to get some specs, you can check them out below.
Tactile and audible switching characteristics.
- 60 cN operating force.
- 2.2 mm of pre-travel.
- 4.0 mm total travel.
These are of course the RGB variant, hence the translucent housing, but as I have stated before, the lighting on this keyboard is less than satisfactory, and I wish XPG had done something to improve it. Thankfully, the typing experience is great, and it goes on par with the keyboards that are more expensive than the XPG Summoner, but then again, it is hard to justify this keyboard’s price to anyone.
Overall, the performance of this keyboard remains untainted by anything that could come in the way. Whether you are a typist, a gamer, or both. This keyboard is not going to let you down as far as the experience is concerned.
I am having a hard time coming to the conclusion with this keyboard, I have to be honest. I like keyboards, but I don’t know where the Summoner fits. It has a lot of potential but most of it is wasted in many ways that could have been easily taken care of. For starters, the flimsy wrist rest, the lack of dedicated media keys, no software, and dim lighting are just the things that come in the way of what otherwise could have been the perfect keyboard.
You do get tried and tested Cherry MX Blue switches, a sturdy build quality aside from the wrist-rest, and the volume rocker is a lifesaver for people who prefer to play music while doing their daily tasks on their computer.
I could best sum this keyboard up as Captain America; it is built to last, it is going to perform the way you would expect it to perform, and it would not give up on you. However, it feels like a keyboard trying to fit into a world that has already moved on to better, and cooler tech, and with what the XPG Summoner brings to the table, it simply is not enough for the price you are paying.
Things I Loved
- Tried and tested Cherry MX switches are a treat to use.
- The volume wheel is a pleasure to use.
- Sand blasted aluminum top can survive anything.
Things That Could Have Been Better
- Lack of any software is a let down.
- The wrist rest feels flimsy.
- Lighting is dim and cannot be customized as per user’s preference.