This article first appeared on The Tech Report.
If I said, “It’s a gaming keyboard,” you could probably guess the main specs and features of the Patriot Viper V675. It has a full-size layout with RGB backlighting and offers plenty of customization capabilities, and you can use the onboard controls to an extent, but there’s software you should use to get more granular about it. It has RGB racing stripes along the left and right sides, and you get a detachable magnetic wrist rest. The switches are mounted to the metallic top plate, exposing the clear switch housings so the backlighting barfs profusely all over. The keycaps? Black ABS plastic with translucent legends and sublegends, although some of the sublegends aren’t as well lit because the LEDs are located on the north side of the switches. A volume roller and four dedicated media buttons line the top edge of the keyboard.
Given I could just about copy and paste that paragraph for any number of gaming keyboard reviews, the Viper V765 is not what you would call unique. So it needs a reason to exist, both in the general keyboard market and within its own product stack. Or at least, assuming it’s of sufficiently high construction quality, it needs to offer some value in terms of cost. Let’s find out if any of that is the case for this keyboard.
- A Closer Look
- Switches, Keycaps, And Lighting
- Patriot Viper Keyboard V765 Software
- The Verdict
- Where To Buy
A Closer Look
I’ll give Patriot this: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a shinier top plate. The thing barely looks real, so deep and speckled is the metallic aluminum finish. That sensational silver is framed by black–black plastic all around the edges of the keyboard, black keys, and black buttons.
Patriot gets points for using a standard bottom row; I will forever be baffled by gaming keyboard makers who get cute with the bottom row. If there’s a reason to go non-standard, great; but Patriot wisely chose to not break what wasn’t broken. There is no column of macro keys on the V765 as there is on the V770, but there are a few extra buttons.
Just above the F1-F4 keys, you’ll find four dedicated media buttons with stop, play/pause, forward, back controls. Across the way, above the numpad, is a volume roller. I never did get it work for its intended purpose, though, and there’s no way to program it within the accompanying software. (After reaching out to Patriot about the issue, it seems I’ve discovered a bug in the latest firmware release. It’s being fixed for the next release.) For what it’s worth, it has a stepped action, and it’s rather stiff compared to other rollers I’ve used. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily.
The underside of the V765 is unremarkable–there’s no cable routing trough or anything. There are, though, two flip-down feet that give you a bit of a typing angle. It’s not too flat by default, with a pitch of maybe five degrees. The feet just about double that.
The cable is a nice touch, with a braided red-and-black design that nicely matches the rest of the keyboard. It’s not removable, though, so you’ll have to be careful not to stress it if you transport the V765 anywhere.
Switches, Keycaps, And Lighting
In a refreshing change from Red, Brown, or Blue switches, Patriot opted for Kailh Box White switches for the V765. Clearly, that call was made at some point in the product development cycle before the cap-cracking issues emerged. I confirmed some time ago with Patriot that the V765 is equipped with the offending Box White switches instead of the retooled versions that have slightly thinner stems that purport to solve the keycap-cracking problems.
However, there are two reasons not to worry. The first is that it’s unlikely you’ll experience cracking on Box White switches anyway; the problem is just not that widespread. We wouldn’t put especially expensive or vintage keycaps on them just in case, but we’re not sure who would put aftermarket caps on a keyboard like this one, anyway. Secondly, Patriot makes its own keycaps, so its internal QA will catch any issues. And in the extremely remote event that you find cracks in one of the V765’s keycaps, you’ll have recourse thanks to Patriot’s two-year warranty.
Many people enjoy the light but clicky feel of the Kailh Box White switch, and you can count me among them. What I don’t enjoy so much is the ping sounds I hear when I’m typing on the V765. It’s by no means the noisiest pinging I’ve heard on a keyboard, but it’s certainly audible enough that I can hear it even when I’m sitting back in my chair.
I’m also not enamored of the stabilizers. They’re more or less Costar-style, although I suspect they’re either Patriot’s own creation or were bought off-the-shelf from a knockoff supplier. These stabs feel a bit sticky and stiff, and the bars look thin to me.
The black ABS keycaps on the V765 are pretty much standard-issue for gaming keyboards. They’re thin, and good golly do they shine up quickly. The shine-through legends feel nice and bright; they’re certainly large. I like the look of the font much better on the alphas than on the modifiers, though. On the latter, it looks a little thick. Patriot placed the sublegends on the number keys such that they’re right atop the LEDs, so they’re just as bright as the legends. It didn’t do the same with the lighting controls that are on the F keys, which are printed lower on the cap and thus aren’t evenly backlit.
The lighting situation is the epitome of love/hate. The LEDs seem especially bright, with rich color and reasonably strong color mixing–something that I’ve learned is definitely not a given even with expensive keyboards. And the effect of the underlighting on the textured, metallic top plate is striking, and frankly rather unique. There’s tons of light bleed, by design, and it’s more or less even around the bottom of the keycaps, except for the ones on the edges that don’t have neighbors on four sides.
A big problem with the lighting, though, is that the glow off of the top plate and from the shine-through legends are different tones. You can see this issue most vividly if you set all the LEDs to white. The “white” on the top plate has a bluish look, whereas the “white” coming through the legends is reddish. The same holds true if the backlighting is set to yellow, light blue, or magenta. This is not solvable without different keycaps; there’s something in the tone of the translucent plastic that affects the color of the light. If you employ a lighting other than single-color static, you may not notice it too much, though.
Patriot Viper Keyboard V765 Software
The unimaginatively named “Patriot Viper Keyboard V765” software is an oddball in the pantheon of proprietary keyboard software. The interface just looks unpolished and clunky, and instead of a bunch of tabbed sections, it’s one static page. There are no sections, per se, so you’d be pardoned if, like me, it takes you a hot minute to notice that there was even a way to make key assignments.
But there is. If you mouse over the GUI of the V765 in the software, you’ll note that each programmable key lights up in red. Click any key to bring up a menu where you can assign any key input, combination of up to three keys (but not modifiers it seems), Windows action, media control, file, or macro to a given key. Click Save, then click Apply when the menu closes. Be forewarned that most of the time, our bindings didn’t “take.” I also noticed what I presume is a bug: After you make a key binding, save it, and apply it, if you open up the key again, the “Disable Key” box is ticked.
Making macros is extremely simple, though. In the lower left corner of the window, click Macro. Click New, click Start Recording, perform your macro, and click Stop Recording. You can choose to add a delay between keystrokes, but you can’t define how much time, although you can specify how many times you want the macro to loop. You can do macros, and adjust some of the lighting, using the onboard controls if you don’t want to mess with the software.
It’s good to see that you can employ lots of lighting effects, and also that the software presents numerous controls for modifying their performance, but you have to poke around for a good bit to figure out how to do half the things the software can do. For instance, I could not for the life of me figure out the difference between “Light Effects” and “BackLight Effects.” And the “Brightness” squares below that make no sense to me at all. After I got the racing-stripe lights on the sides of the V765 to work–turns out you have to press Fn + Ctrl, a lot, to get them to turn on–I figured out that “Backlight Effects” was there to control those lights. But it’s independent of the main lighting controls. So, you can set the “Backlight Effects” (racing stripes) to Wave, and the lights will shimmer in rainbow colors, but the rest of the keyboard lighting doesn’t change. Also rather odd is that you apparently can’t set a color for the racing stripes; it defaults to green or rainbow.
It took me a while to find anywhere in the software where I could create and set custom colors. Eventually, I dug into the Lighting Profiles from the Light Effects list and found that option. You just click any key or button in the GUI, and you’ll get a pop-up palette. That lets you choose colors from a picker or by typing in R, G, and B numbers. But it appears there’s no way to save your custom color such that it’s available; to apply it to another key, you’d have to write down the R, G, and B numbers manually somewhere and then enter them for every LED. Plus, I couldn’t find a way to apply lighting effects to lighting profiles. In other words, I could change the LEDs to any colors I wanted, but I couldn’t then apply a wave or ripple effect.
Much of the software works just fine, but it otherwise looks amateurish and operates commensurately.
There are 17 total Philips screws holding the V765 together. You can find 12 of them on the top plate, hidden beneath the keycaps. There are five more under the keyboard. With the screws removed, the top and bottom parts of the chassis pop right off. I missed one of the screws at first; when I was trying to separate the top plate from the bottom chassis, something was holding on. I thought the volume roller was the sticking point. I found that to be the case when I reviewed the 1stPlayer Bullet Hunter MK6, so I figured it was the same here. Nope. It turned out to be one more Philips screws that was hiding, and I ended up breaking the roller cover for nothing. Alas.
Looking at the bottom chassis, you can see that there are mysterious holes to the right of the four dedicated media buttons. Those are available for additional dedicated buttons, like on the V770. It’s likely that the two keyboards share a bottom chassis. The PCB is reasonably clean, although there’s an alarming giant glob of what appears to be hot glue whose purpose seems unnecessary or perhaps just kludgy. There are two translucent plastic inserts for displaying the side lights, and the LEDs that light them are on the underside of the PCB, aiming downwards. There are six per side. The MCU is a a Holtek HT32F52352, and there are four Macroblock MB15124GP LED controllers.
It’s nice to see Kailh Box White switches on more keyboards, even if it’s just as a change of pace from what gaming keyboards often have on board. I’m suspicious of the long-term quality of the stabilizers, though. The LEDs on the V765 look especially bright and rich in color to me, and I like how the lighting interacts with the textured look of the metal top plate. But it’s troublesome how the colors look different when reflecting on the top plate versus through the translucent legends. The red and black braided cable adds a bit of pizzazz where Patriot could have easily just rolled with the same old black that’s so common.
There’s so much more here that gives me pause, though. The PrtSc key’s LED was stuck on white when I first started using the key V765, and it went away only after I was in the weeds of fiddling with the onboard color controls. I don’t know how I fixed it; I couldn’t repeat whatever I did, anyway. (It sometimes turns itself white again when when I play with lighting profiles and refuses to be changed. A rogue LED, it seems.) The racing stripes on the sides of the keyboard remained dark, even though they’re supposed to light up in RGB. It was only after I’d finished my evaluation and checked for a firmware update one more time just in case that they came on–and even so, I had to spam Fn + Ctrl to do it. The volume roller never worked, although that’s being fixed. There was a huge glob of hot glue on the PCB. Issues, issues, issues.
For what it offers in terms of features and its sometimes questionable quality, I would categorize the Patriot Viper V765 as a “budget +” keyboard. Fortunately, the street prices are more or less in accordance. One of the worst mistakes some gaming brands make is pricing their keyboards too high. It’s tough to convince someone to spend $200 on a gaming keyboard that has no standout features, when you can get the same thing for (sometimes) a slightly lower price and from a more familiar name. In other words, you can’t out-Corsair Corsair, and you certainly can’t do it without severely undercutting the price.
Patriot got smart, though, and priced its keyboards under $100 to start. The Viper V765 is listed at $99 on Patriot’s web store, but it’s just $70 on Amazon. That’s not too shabby for the features you get. Inexplicably, the V760 is listed on Patriot’s site for the same price as the V765, and at $80, it’s actually $10 more than the V765 on Amazon. The V730, which trades RGB lighting for red-only LEDs, is just $50 on Amazon.
At seventy bucks, the presence of Kailh Box White switches and RGB lighting may make the V765 reasonably attractive to gaming keyboard buyers, especially if you’re willing to live with headaches and roll the dice on the prospect of longevity. But if you are, there are other budget mechanical keyboards out there that cost less. Tread carefully with the V765 and know that you’re getting what you pay for, for better or worse.
|Kailh Box White switches||Broken or misbehaving features|
|Aluminum top plate||Rough software UI|
|Bright LEDs with rich colors||Color mismatch between keycap legends and top plate underlightings|
|Cool underlighting effect|
Where To Buy
You can get a Patriot Viper V765 directly from Patriot’s web store, but you’ll save a lot of cash if you just go directly to Amazon, where it’s only $70.