GAMDIAS Hermes P2 RGB mechanical keyboard review

Matt Sayer 15 February 2018 NEWS

If you're not familiar with the GAMDIAS brand, the Hermes P2 RGB is a compelling reason to change that.

Quick Verdict
Fast, responsive and reliable, the GAMDIAS Hermes P2 is proof that you don't have to be as big as Razer to build a high-quality mechanical keyboard.

The Good

  • Optical switches are fast and responsive
  • On-the-fly customisation saves you the hassle of installing yet another PC software suite
  • Sturdy and durable under even heavy use

The Bad

  • The Windows key is on the right side instead of the left, for some bizarre reason
  • I really wish the wrist rest was detachable

There's no shortage of mechanical keyboards to choose from these days. Not only are the big names like Razer, HyperX and Steelseries rolling out new models every few months, you've got smaller brands like GAMDIAS entering the fray with their own clackity-clackers designed to send your digits to typing heaven.

Based in Taiwan, GAMDIAS has been making gaming-focused mechanical keyboards for half a decade now, designing its boards with an eye towards esports and high-level competitive play. One of its latest boards, the Hermes P2 RGB, promises to deliver superior responsiveness thanks to its use of hybrid optical/mechanical switches over the usual 100% mechanical ones. Does it deliver on these claims? Let's take a look.

Design

Mechanical keyboards aren't usually the prettiest of PC peripherals. Like a lot of gaming accessories, they tend to subscribe to the heavy metal aesthetic, favouring sharp edges, imposing angles and copious amounts of neon glow. While the Hermes P2 is no different, it takes a slightly more reserved approach to the "leet" look of many gaming keyboards. Rather than resembling an artifact from the Roswell archives, it catches the eye with a sturdy yet sleek design that doesn't veer all the way into the industrialism of the more mainstream mechanical keyboards.

hermes-p2-rgb-angle

There's a good heft to the Hermes P2 as well. At 1.1kg, the board isn't the lightest travel companion, but that weight lends it stability and durability – vital traits for a device that will likely endure more than a few frustrated fist slams over the course of its life. Hammering away on the keys either while typing or managing your micro in StarCraft II doesn't bother the Hermes P2 one bit, and the firm feedback of its switches ensures there's no spillover from one key to another, even when you're mashing out commands like a Hollywood hacker.

My only small gripe with the Hermes P2's design is its wrist rest. While including a wrist rest at all puts the board ahead of many of its competitors from an ergonomics and comfort standpoint, I can't help but wish it was detachable. To be fair, I think I've been spoiled here by the Razer Ornata Chroma and its plush magnetic wrist rest, but transport and storage are just so much simpler when you just slide the rest on and off. Nevertheless, the Hermes P2's wrist rest does its job perfectly well, and odds are you're probably not as picky as I am when it comes to the portability of mechanical keyboard wrist rests.

Performance

Like the hybrid mechanical/membrane switches Razer introduced last year in its Ornata Chroma keyboard, the Hermes P2 eschews the fully-mechanical approach in favour of a new take on the technology. Optical sensors inside its switches register input, enabling the board to reduce travel distance on each key press to just 2mm. This leads to faster response times than many mechanical keyboards out there, which tend to average travel distances of around 4mm.

hermes-p2-rgb-side-on

It might not sound like a big difference, but over extended typing or gaming sessions, the shorter key presses can save your fingers a considerable amount of stress. I've certainly noticed it throughout my testing, with my digits appreciating the reduced strain at the end of a long day of keyboard clacking.

Speed is another area where the Hermes P2 has significantly upped my game. In both my general typing and my WASD mashing, I've been able to hit keys faster and more accurately than on any other board I've encountered. To be honest, I wasn't expecting this. When I first laid fingertips on the Hermes P2, I was concerned over the plasticky feel of the keys and the stiff flow from one key to another. But after spending some time with it, I've found typing to be clean and effortless. No sticky keys, no weary fingers, very few mispresses – GAMDIAS's claims of cutting-edge performance aren't just hot air.

Features

As a self-described gaming keyboard, it's no surprise that the Hermes P2 is loaded with features designed to increase your DPS, decrease your downtime and optimise your micromanagement, all while looking appropriately 1337.

Like most gaming keyboards, you can define a number of macros – a sequence of key presses, essentially – that you can then execute using a simple button combination any time you like. For example, you could create a macro that cycles through all your abilities in World of Warcraft, letting you execute as many as a dozen commands with just a single key press.

hermes-p2-rgb-sleek

Macro support on the Hermes P2 isn't as extensive as some other gaming keyboards, with only two dedicated keys for triggering macros and just six macro profiles to switch between. Where it makes up for this is with its on-the-fly macro recording, allowing you to define new macros or update old ones at any time using just the keyboard – no need to boot up a separate program on your PC and fiddle around with settings there.

This hard-wired approach to customisation is one of my favourite aspects of the Hermes P2. Along with macros, you can switch between different RGB lighting patterns on-the-fly, lock the entire keyboard if you want to rest your hands on it while playing with a controller and even swap the WASD and arrow keys around – a brilliant addition for left-handed players who don't have the desk space to play with their right hand on WASD.

hermes-p2-rgb-wasd

Of course, no gaming keyboard would be complete without RGB lighting, and the Hermes P2 RGB has it right there in the name. Along with the standard 16.8 million colours to pick from (how many shades of blue can there really be?), it supports four levels of brightness and eight different lighting patterns: Breathing, Neon, Wave, Slide in, Ripple, Responsive Fade Out, Rotation and Marquee. If you really want to stand out, you can even pick unique colours for each individual key on the board, which admittedly could be quite handy for highlighting the dozens of keyboard shortcuts that grand strategy and deep simulation games rely on.

Verdict

The GAMDIAS brand might not have the same cachet as Razer or Corsair in the PC peripherals space, but after putting the Hermes P2 RGB through its paces, I have no qualms placing the Taiwanese company right up there with its more-mainstream brethren. Firm, responsive keys and lightning-fast switch activation make it one of the best-feeling keyboards I've used, while the on-the-fly customisation is a godsend for someone with half a dozen different peripheral software suites already installed on their PC.

Whether you're an aspiring esports star looking for a trusty board to take you all the way, or you're a regular desk jockey tired of using el-cheapo models, the GAMDIAS Hermes P2 RGB is well worth considering. It's already become my day-to-day word-weaver, and I don't see it being replaced any time soon.

Pricing and availability

The GAMDIAS Hermes P2 RGB retails for AU$129.00, and you can purchase it in-store from MSY or online through a variety of eBay sellers.

GAMDIAS Hermes P2 RGB Specs

Size
458mm x 220mm x 44mm
Weight
1.1kg
Backlighting
16.8 million colours
Macro support
Two dedicated keys, six profiles
Switch type
GAMDIAS hybrid optical/mechanical
Price
RRP: $129.00

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