Optical switches on gaming keyboards are still in their infancy, but the prospect of lighting-fast actuation and the absence of metal parts are really attractive features. Bloody Gaming was the first company to really embrace optical switches in a gaming keyboard, to the best of my knowledge, although Razer was the first “big name” manufacturer to jump into the optical fray with its recently released Huntsman Elite. Now in a third-gen form, Bloody’s LK (Light Strike) Libra switches take a starring role in the company’s B945 mechanical gaming keyboard (See it on Amazon).
Bloody B945 – Design and Features
Beyond the optical switches, the Bloody B945 is not your average mechanical gaming keyboard. The build quality is exceptional, with a dense metal frame that is extremely solid. It looks stylish and sleek, but is solid enough that it feels like you could drop it off your desk and damage the floor more than the keyboard. There’s a black finish with exposed metallic accents, giving off a great industrial vibe thanks to the raised rivet-like screws holding the chassis together. The only branding on the B945 is a singular, raised metal Bloody logo that looks fantastic.
Build-quality aside, the key layout of the B945 is jarring. The numpad on this particular model is placed on the left side of the board, similar to what you might expect on a keyboard made for left-handed users. The design choice does make some sense though: swapping the numpad orientation moves the mouse closer to the right side of the board, essentially giving you a tenkey setup while still offering a numpad for macros. However, by and large, I found this setup uncomfortable and unnecessary. Far too often, even after many days of use, I found myself hitting the wrong keys because of the shift in placement.
Optical switches activate every time a light beam under the key is interrupted instead of requiring a metal switch to be tripped and reset. The result is speedier actuation and improved durability since there’s less moving parts. Bloody claims the LK Libra switch is good for a whopping 100 million keystrokes, which is about double the standard level of durability for a mechanical switch.
The LK Libra switches in the B945 work great and unlike the Razer Huntsman are thankfully offered in two varieties. The LK Libra Brown, which is the type included in my review unit, are a smooth and linear switch akin to a Cherry MX Red. Conversely, the LK Libra Orange switch is tactile and clicky, like a Cherry MX Blue. I found the LK Libra Brown switches pleasant to use and for all intents and purposes on-par with Razer’s new opto-mechanical switch.
The LK Libra switches in the B945 work great…
Bloody has also included a removable wrist rest with the B945, although it’s attached with two annoyingly tiny screws. I would have definitely preferred a magnetic wrist rest, but the build quality is certainly good thanks to a sturdy metal base and a rubberized coating. There’s no USB passthrough on this keyboard, which is a disappointment, and I wish Bloody included dedicated media keys instead of have to use function-key combos.
The per-key RGB lighting on the B945 is vibrant and bright, but contained to the iconography on the keycaps. I’m a big fan of floating keys and their increased light output, but it’s easy to appreciate how this more subtle approach too. There’s also a bit of lighting on the sides of the keyboard, adding a nice accent to the bold, metallic deck.
Bloody B945 – Software
Keyboard software is almost universally horrible, but to say I hated Bloody’s suite of tools for the B945 is an understatement. This is hands-down the most convoluted setup I’ve ever used, with an altogether unfriendly user interface. There’s essentially three different tabs in the software for assigning macros, but good luck on figuring out how any of them work. You can also change lighting effects, such as breathing, color wave, and a cool effect called “swallow” that places a multi-color bird with flapping wings on the keys.
But just like the macros, I spent 15 minutes figuring out how to change the settings. There’s bizarre menus for customizing lighting that apparently require strings of code to assign an effect. There’s no point in beating around the bush: this software just plain sucks, and it makes one of a gamer’s favorite activitices–tweaking the RGB lighting–into a painful chore.
Bloody B945 – Gaming
The LK Libra Brown switches are excellent for gaming, thanks to their swift and easy actuation. Based on feel alone, they’ve very similar to Cherry MX Reds, although it’s worth stating the LK Libra optical switch has a shorter 1.5mm actuation point (compared to a 2mm actuation point on the Cherry MX Red). Ultimately, these switches are great for playing any type of fast-paced game and they were perfect while playing multiple hours of Overwatch and Fortnite. The keys are light enough to keep things moving with little force, nad the per-key stabilization bars made sure none of the keycaps ever wobbled or felt soft.
Bloody also included not one, but two sets of replacement keycaps in both clear and red finishes. The clear keycaps in particular are very cool, as they allowed more of the RGB lighting underneath to shine through the keycaps. These looked great and functioned well in the WASD positions while playing first-person shooters. That said, while the glowing keycaps helped visually, the previously mentioned left-handed key layout made acquiring those WASD keys without glancing down an annoyance.
I don’t personally play too many MMOs or MOBAs, but I can assume having the numpad on the left could work well for accessing macros. But for me, it just meant something completely adverse to the muscle memory I’ve built up for my whole life on standard keyboards. If I wanted to bring the mouse closer to the board on the right side, I would just use a tenkeyless keyboard.
The Bloody B945 Optical Gaming Keyboard has an MSRP of $150 and it’s the same price on Amazon: