Tesoro may not be the first name you think of when it comes to buying a new gaming keyboard, but given the successes they’ve delivered in the past, they’re certainly a name you should be looking at more often. Just check out some of the kick-ass keyboards we’ve reviewed from Tesoro over the years and you’ll get an idea why I’m excited about their new Excalibur V2, such as the Lobera Supreme, Lobera Spectrum RGB, the seriously cool Tizona Elite and of course, the predecessor of today’s review sample, the Excalibur.
“Excalibur is a classic take on gaming, giving gamer all required tools to dominate the field of battle without additional features that most gamers would not use, making it one of the best performance to value board out there.” –Tesorotec.com
Equipped with a powerful ARM Cortex Premium CPU, onboard memory, 1000Hz polling rate, full N-key and 6-key rollover, LED lighting, on-the-fly macro recording and more, it’s certainly ticking all the right boxes for a well-rounded desktop keyboard.
Equipped with Kailh mechanical blue switches, and a wide range of lighting effects, the V2 is bound to be a lot of fun to work and play on, as well as a visual treat, so let’s jump in and take a closer look at what the latest keyboard from Tesoro has to offer!
- Gaming Grade Mechanical Switch
- 32bit ARM Cortex Premium Processor
- 1000Hz Ultra-polling rate
- 512KB (4Mb) Onboard memory
- All keys programmable
- NKey / 6 Key Rollover
- Versatile Lighting effects
- Make your own LED effects with instant lighting recording
- Double injection keycaps
- Quick profile switch, instant macro recording, reset hotkey, keyboard lock
- Compatible with Win XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
The packaging is really nicely designed, showing a stylised image of the keyboard on the front, as well as a picture of a sword, most likely Excalibur since all Tesoro peripherals are named after legendary weapons.
Around the back, a quick breakdown of the main features, such as that ARM CPU and the Kailh blue switches; nothing we don’t already know, so let’s get the box open and take a look.
The first thing you’ll find, a simple quick start guide and a Tesoro product catalogue, all fairly straightforward stuff so far.
The V2 comes hard-wired with a good quality 1.8m black braided cable. Although, I’d prefer that it was a removable cable, as it makes it easier to transport the cable without damaging it. It’s plug and play ready too, meaning you can get straight into the action, but there is also downloadable software if you want to tweak some of the more advanced settings.
A Closer Look
The overall design is relatively unchanged from the previous model, so we still have the same bold black chassis and matte finish that gives it a rather simple, but overall quite clean appearance. The build quality certainly feels impressive taking it out of the box, it’s got a good weight to it, no flex to the main board and should stand up strong to a few knocks and bumps.
There is a stylish large font on the key caps, and the caps have an ever so slight curve to them that provides a nice typing action. The Kailh Blue switches are very similar to Cherry MX Blue, although to my fingers they feel just a little bit lighter to press, which is no bad thing, as the keyboard feels nice and fast and that’s going to cut response times while gaming.
Tucked away on the F-keys, you’ll find some FN-Shift functions, with F1-F5 giving you quick access to on-board profiles, allowing you to switch between macro and lighting profiles on-the-fly.
A key lock function resides on F6, while F7-F9 are master volume controls.
Finally we have three basic multimedia controls, allowing you to quickly skip through songs without taking your hands off the keyboard. These are very convenient to use while working and even more so while gaming, as you don’t have to tab out.
Here you can use the FN-Shift again to toggle between full N-key rollover and 6-key rollover, whichever best suits your needs. PgUp and PgDn have access to the instant macro recording and instant lighting recording features, allowing you to quickly dial in the settings you want on-the-fly. As I said before, there are more features in the software, but there’s still plenty that can be done without it.
A full-size number pad on the right; fairly self-explanatory.
The directional keys also have FN-Shift functions, allowing a quick master control over the LED lighting. You can also see that the keys are ever so slightly recessed into the housing of the keyboard, helping give it a slightly lower profile that can improve the ergonomics.
The FN-Shift key is tucked where you would often find the second Windows key, and it has a funky little Tesoro logo on it that I rather like.
The general design of the keyboard is a little basic, but certainly not in a bad way; I quite like the simple almost monolithic nature of it.
Around the back, just the join for the hard-wired USB cable, which is placed off-center and that should mean less interference with most people’s monitor stands.
Four tough rubber grips on the base, but otherwise, it’s pretty flat and solid here.
There are two durable plastic kickstands to adjust the height, which also have small rubber grips on them too.
Setting up the V2 is nice and easy, just hook up the USB cable and you’re good to go. All the main features can be toggled right from the keyboard, and macro recording can be done on the fly too, but if you really want to get all the finer details customised, you’ll want to download the desktop software. If anything, the software is most useful for setting up the five onboard profiles and once your settings saved to the keyboard, you’ll likely not need to load it very often, if at all.
The built-in LED lighting is only a single colour, but you do get a per-key lighting engine and a range of effects to play around with; lighting, trigger, ripple, firework, radiation, breathing, wave marquee, custom and macro. Personally, I like the custom mode most, as I like just a few gaming focused keys lit while playing and I like the full keyboard to be illuminated while working. Although I must admit the effects do look quite cool sweeping across the board, they rarely offer any practical benefit for day-to-day usage.
The Kailh switches certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to their gaming prowess, they’re light, fast and have that tactile click that you’ll be familiar with from any other blue style switch. There is one downside, of course, they’re quite noisy, but anyone who’s used a blue switch before will already know to expect this. The durable housing of the keyboard stays firmly planted on your desk while typing and even with a good bit of bashing at the keys and shunting the space bar, it didn’t want to slide around at all; good news for all your rage quitters.
The macro recording works perfectly and while you can pre-configure them, I like the ability to record it on-the-fly as you can create contextual shortcuts for certain fights or sequences in a particular game. Either way, it’s always nice to have extra features and if you save them back to one of the five profiles available, you can take them with you stored on the keyboard; perfect for LAN gaming events.
Overall, the V2 is a lot of fun for work and gaming. It doesn’t have a lot of crazy features, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really need to.
The Tesoro Excalibur V2 comes in at a very affordable $89.99 USD directly from Tesoro, this is a pretty great deal for a well equipped mechanical keyboard, and it’s certainly a lot cheaper than their RGB model, the Spectrum, which comes in at $119.99. If you’re looking for all the premium thrills without a triple figure price tag, this would be a great keyboard for work and gaming alike. Stock in the UK seems a little limited at the moment, at least at our preferred retailers, but a quick Google should find you one through various eBay stores or Amazon for around £65-70.
While it may not have all the crazy high-end features of some of the mechanical keyboards we’ve seen hit the market this year, it also doesn’t come with the $150-200 price tag to match. What you do get, are all the features you’re likely to need, nothing more, nothing less. Equipped with a good macro recording engine, onboard memory for up to five profiles and per-key LED lighting and effects, this is a nicely focused mechanical keyboard that’s going to be great for day-to-day use in the office, especially for those looking for a mid-budget mechanical solution. When it comes to gaming, those blue switches are an absolute blast to use and are a very noticeable quality improvement for those switching up from a membrane switch keyboard. I know the enthusiast keyboard user may turn their nose up at switches that aren’t produced by Cherry, but Kailh are doing great work and their blue switches perform fantastically, while not coming with the branding price premium.
The LED lighting may not have all those RGB thrills people seem to love, but the lighting engine on the V2 is still packed with features to give you plenty of customisation options. Per key lighting is a big step up from the usual all on or all off modes, as it allows you to create more defined gaming setups that add a welcome level of visual flair to your desktop that provides tangible benefits to your gaming.
The build quality is pretty tough overall. There’s nothing especially fancy about the design, but that’s fine by me. A durable frame, that’s not too thick and is strong enough to survive a good few knocks and bumps and the mechanical switches are sure to last millions of keystrokes without failure. The hard-wired cable is nice and strong, but a detachable one would have been even better. Overall, the whole thing should be good enough to put in your backpack and be carried along to gaming events, not just for stay-at-home gamers. There’s really little to criticise here, at this price, the V2 is ticking all the right boxes and would make a great addition to anyone’s desktop setup.
- Durable build quality
- Simple yet stylish design
- Bright blue LED lighting
- Per-key lighting engine with good effects
- On-the-fly macro recording
- Onboard memory with up to five profiles
- Fully programmable keys
- Easy to use software
- Competitive price
- Limited availability in the UK at time of writing
- Hard-wired cable (detachable USB preferred)
“Tesoro may not be the biggest name in gaming yet, but the Excalibur V2 is a great mid-budget mechanical gaming keyboard. It’s packed full of all the right features, has a cool lighting engine, easy to use software and rock solid build quality, giving you everything you need for lost long days of work and longer nights of gaming.”
Thank you Tesoro for providing us with this sample.