MEGATech Reviews: Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Looking for a mechanical keyboard that's not afraid to show off a little personality? This slim RGB offering from Tesoro could fit the colorful bill.
  • Very solid build quality
  • High quality, detachable USB cable
  • Versatile features and functions
  • Strange font choice is confusing
  • Blue switches are noisy
  • Customization software needs work
8Overall Score

It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tried it for yourself. And once you do, you’ll never look back. That has been precisely my experience with the dual monitor setup at my desk and that’s exactly how Futurelooks colleague Jason Landals felt about mechanical keyboards after really trying them out for the first time a few years ago. But like all things, not all mechanical keyboards are made alike.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB mechanical gaming keyboard. That’s right. It’s got RGB lighting up the wazoo, but that’s not the only trick it’s got up its clickety-clackety sleeve.

What’s in the Box?

The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum is “just” a keyboard, so there are hardly any surprises when you crack open the box. Aside from the keyboard itself, which is decidedly slimmer than what you might find with a more standard keyboard, you get a small quick start guide and a braided USB cable. It’s a little curious that they didn’t choose to differentiate the artwork on the box between the black and white models, but this is hardly a big deal.

I really appreciate that the USB cable is fully detachable. This can make it a lot easier to thread the cable through your desk, depending on how you have your workstation set up. Around the back of the keyboard, you’ll find a single microUSB port (on the right side when looking at the keyboard from the front). The quality of the braided cable also means that you don’t have to deal with much of a tangled mess either.

First Impressions

As mentioned, the keyboard body itself comes in your choice of black or white. From there, you can choose between the blue mechanical switch or the red mechanical switch, both of which leverage Tesoro’s Agile Switch technology. The keycap is decidedly slimmer than a standard keycap (6.2mm vs. 11.5mm), thanks to the reduced travel distance (3.5mm vs. 4.0mm) and the reduced actuation point (1.5mm vs. 2.0mm).

The Tesoro GRAM Spectrum provided for the purposes of this review came with the blue mechanical switches, which have a distinct actuation point with a springy “clicking” noise with each keystroke. This is geared more toward typing and accuracy. This is in contrast to the red mechanical switches, which are meant to be near silent and are geared more toward gaming and speed. This is largely a matter of personal preference.

The blue switches produce a higher-pitched, spring-like noise with each keystroke. This is very different from the experience I’ve had on my daily driver, the SteelSeries 6Gv2, equipped with linear Cherry MX Red switches. With that keyboard, the deeper sound of each keystroke is the result of the key “bottoming out” rather than activating the switch.

Two other features also jumped out at me immediately about the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum. First, the keycaps are shorter in height, along with providing the visible “gap” underneath. This results in a definite “edge” to each key with an almost “floating” appearance.

Second, and perhaps almost more important, the font choice on the keycaps is definitely unique. Tesoro went with a more “futuristic” look, but this not only looks strange, but can also cause some potential confusion with characters like #, @, % and &.

That aside, the build quality feels seriously solid all around. I did find that the little stands on the back for elevating the rear of the keyboard are on the shorter side, but this is also meant to be a “slim” keyboard, so that’s somewhat understandable. It’s also, again, a matter of personal preference.

Configuring the RGB Light Show

You don’t really need to install the software on your computer in order to control the RGB lighting on this mechanical keyboard, but you do need the software to unlock full control of not only the lighting, but also any profiles that you would like to save.

By default, combining the function key with the left and right arrow keys will cycle through the multiple lighting effects. There are modes where the whole keyboard lights up in a single color, individual keys light up as you hit them, or you can send a “ripple” of light emanating from the keys that you strike too. Combining the function key with the up and down arrows adjusts their relative brightness.

I found the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum software to be functional, if clunky. If you go into the lighting effects settings, for instance, and then you click on the “illumination” button, it won’t automatically switch to the other set of settings. You have to click on apply or exit first before moving to a different set of adjustments. Also, the color slider for choosing what color you want to use is really small and linear. You can enter specific RGB values for greater precision, but it would have helped if the color slider was either 2D or if you could make it bigger.

In terms of the actual RGB lighting itself, it’s definitely very bright and vibrant with individual LED lights for each key. The lighting emits not only from the top of the key where the character is, but also all along the periphery of the key. The effect is definitely striking.

I did notice that when I used the software to choose colors, the presets didn’t really align with what I thought they would be. The one that looked like it would be a deep red turned out like a hot pink with RGB values of 231, 0, 24. I had to manually enter RGB values of my own (I settled on 200, 0, 0) to get a pure red. The orange looked more like a neon yellow and the yellow was a lime green. It’s deceptive, so you will need to do some manual adjustment.

Clicking and Clacking with Blue Agile Switches

So, how is it to actually use the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum keyboard? The first thing that really struck me was just how the keys (or rather the key switches) sound. As mentioned above, this keyboard is going to be on the louder side and you get a higher-pitched “click” with each and every activation. This can get annoying for some people after a while, but the trade-off is that you get presumably more accurate typing thanks to the clear audible response of each key press.

In typing up this review (among many other posts I’ve written up these past few days), I found that the reduced key travel didn’t make as much of a difference as I had anticipated. I know that I generally don’t like keyboards on laptops precisely because of the significantly reduced key travel or tactile response, but this slim keyboard doesn’t get anywhere near that territory. I’m still very comfortable. Partly due to my poor form, though, I did find myself accidentally hitting the Windows key on the left with the edge of my palm.

On the gaming front, some people might find the audible “click” of the blue Agile switches to be a little annoying after a while. The nature of the switch also means that you may not be quite as fast with rapid double-tapping as you might with other key switches. Gamers will definitely like the RGB lighting and the ease of saving macros though.

MEGATechie Tesoro GRAM Spectrum Spectacular or MEGATechie RGB Mechanical Failure?

For many mechanical keyboard purists, there is no replacement for Cherry MX switches. Everyone has their preferences for the color (read: type) of key switch they prefer, but Cherry MX is the Kleenex and Q-Tip of the industry. However, products like the Tesoro GRAM Spectrum with the company’s unique Tesoro Agile switch technology demonstrate that you definitely should not dismiss a mechanical keyboard simply because it doesn’t rock that Cherry life.

I will preface this by saying that, as a general rule of thumb, I’m not a big fan of the clicky-clacky nature of blue switches. That being said, you can get this keyboard with red switches that still utilize Tesoro’s unique tech. You also get great build quality and plenty of customization at a reasonable $130 price point. Tesoro should think about changing up the font and reworking the PC software though.

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