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Feb 07, 2023

ROCCAT Magma Mini Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $49.99
We Recommend: $49.99
  • Developer: ROCCAT
  • Publisher: ROCCAT
  • Genre: Hardware, Keyboard
  • Released: Feb 09, 2023
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

The ever-expanding gaming keyboard market becomes broader with every passing month, and while there are some clear winners at the upper end of the spectrum, when it comes to budget keyboards you can practically fill a pool with all of the options and swim through them. The trouble with budget keyboards is that in a lot of cases you can’t be sure of the quality, and the average buyer may not see the difference (or care to) between your lesser-known Amazon Special brand and a $50 option from a reputable gaming hardware company. ROCCAT is clearly looking to make that easier on potential buyers with the introduction of its Magma Mini, a new feature-rich board aimed at delivering lots of functionality and durability at a price nearly anybody can be comfortable spending. Plus with its small form factor, it’s not quite the same commitment in terms of desk space as some of its larger-footprint competitors. Looking closer at the hardware, the Magma Mini makes some smart trade-offs to create an option that will be very compelling to those in the market for a budget-friendly keyboard.

ROCCAT Magma Mini Photography SideAngle Left

The Magma Mini is 60% keyboard, prioritizing small form factor to help maximize delivery of features in the rest of the board. It comes in a lightweight plastic case, with a solid translucent plastic panel under the keys that sports five distinct lighting zones which offer a nicely diffused, impressively bright and visible lighting setup. While per-key lighting is generally considered the standard for gaming keyboards, opting for under-panel illumination with shine-through keycaps helps this board look very flashy alongside some of its more expensive competitors. The caps themselves feel like soft, ABS plastic, which are comfortable to type on and prevent your fingers from slipping around.

The keys rest atop membrane switches rather than mechanical ones, which definitely gives operation a softer feel, but there is still some decent tactile feedback despite this, and the keys are extremely quiet as a result, which might be a plus if you don’t like the sound from mechanical boards or find keyboard noises in the background distracting while on-mic with friends during gaming sessions. Overall responsiveness is good, and while it’s definitely not the same as using mechanical or optical switches, this is still one of the best membrane keyboards I’ve typed or played on in ages, and it’s evident that ROCCAT put some serious thought and energy into making sure that the quality of the experience wasn’t sacrificed in order to bring spill-proofing and budget accessibility to the fore.

ROCCAT Magma Mini Photography WaterResistant CloseUp 01

One of the major features that Magma Mini boasts is IP33 water resistance, making this keyboard immediately more resilient against food and water damage than most other keyboards on the market. An IP33 rating officially protects against “direct sprays from 60 degrees vertically”, which isn’t exactly complete protection against spills, but it will very likely prevent the occasional water (or G-Fuel) mishap from ruining your keyboard. The common wisdom of course is that you just shouldn’t eat or drink near your keyboard, but let’s be honest, most of us do this anyway because hydration is important and so are snacks. So, the Magma Mini has you covered against self-inflicted damage, which in my opinion makes it an automatically more attractive option. Additionally, the Magma Mini uses a fixed cable with a rubber finish to ensure the case is well-sealed against liquids.

In terms of functionality, the Magma Mini makes up for its smaller form factor by providing not one but two additional layers; a standard layer accessed by holding the Function key (which provides access to most of the other keys you’d see on a 75% or 80% board), as well as a fully programmable Easy-Shift Layer using ROCCAT’s Swarm software for customization. This layer is activated by holding down the Caps Lock key while in Game Mode (turned on with Fn + G), and it provides access to 14 additional keys that you can assign any way you want. The implications for this while gaming are significant, as the addition of these keys can grant you a whole lot of extra flexibility and customization in your layout, especially while playing a competitive RTS or MOBA where access to as many keys as possible is vital. The 60% layout does mean you’ll need to get comfortable with entering the function layer to access common operations like arrow keys, page up/page down, or F-keys, but it’s generally easy to reach and activate owing to the board’s miniature size and the keys on this second layer are intelligently positioned so using them feels natural and sensible.

ROCCAT Magma Mini Photography ArrowKeys

Customization of the keyboard’s functionality is accomplished via the ROCCAT Swarm software, which after several months of use I am finding to be one of the better pieces of peripheral software I have encountered. Swarm includes a full-featured key customization interface that lets you easily see both layer mappings for any key you select and lets you overwrite any of the built-in mappings the board ships with (except for activating Game Mode), which offers a degree of customization not found in other entry-level offerings and demonstrates ROCCAT’s commitment to letting players use their hardware however they want. I’m actually really impressed by the degree of customization available here, as it brings something approaching enthusiast-level control to the entry-level keyboard space. Swarm also offers lighting customization for the Magma Mini, and while the options are a bit more limited than what you might find on their other keyboards, the AIMO intelligent lighting preset, as well as the five other built-in lighting effects, make for an easy to customize experience that still looks smart and frankly unique among its peers.

Overall, I have found the Magma Mini to be a delightful little keyboard. It’s not always easy to recommend a budget-friendly option to friends who are looking to get started in the gaming keyboard space, as it’s really hard to know what’s actually worth spending the money on. ROCCAT’s entry-level offering in the Magma Mini is an impressive competitor that offers features its peers can’t or won’t at the price point, and while it’s not going to satisfy enthusiast or high-end gamers, anybody looking for a good budget keyboard will be hard pressed to find a better option. Yes, the Magma Mini makes trade-offs, but every decision ROCCAT has made with it feels very well considered and done in the interest of delivering a great keyboard experience at a cost that nearly anybody can be happy with. Really the only ways that this keyboard could be improved upon would be changes that would push it up into a mid-level range board, which isn’t what the Magma Mini is trying to be. If you’re playing on a budget and you’re looking for a keyboard that won’t require you to sacrifice the quality of your experience, the ROCCAT Magma Mini is a sure thing.

A Magma Mini was provided by ROCCAT for review purposes