With the Sidewinder X6 gaming keyboard, Microsoft aims at the serious PC gamer who demands programmable keys and customized functionality for various situations in gaming. The keyboard's unique removable keypad is definitely a luxury that some may find useful in terms of ergonomics. That said, the X6, available for around $60 online, is sure to please even the most hard-core of gamers.
The X6 is a slick black keyboard that measures 20.2 inches wide and 9.22 inches deep. It does take up quite a bit of room, so be prepared to clear some space in order for it to rest comfortably. Its thick rubber feet are sure to keep it from slipping during gaming sessions.
One of the main features of the X6 boasts is a unique, removable number pad. Depending on your preference, you can connect the keypad to either side of the keyboard via a magnetic contact. Say you're a southpaw who's more comfortable with the keypad to the left; the X6 can adjust to suit you.
The keyboard also has an adjustable backlight display that illuminates every single key. Standard keys glow red while the keypad and programmable buttons have an amber hue to them. The intensity is adjustable via a large knob at the top of the keyboard, something like you'd find on a car dashboard.
The X6 has a number of hot-key features that enhance the overall gaming experience. Once you install the bundled software, you can customize the 30 "S" keys found on the detachable keypad along with a row parallel to the left-most side of the standard keyboard. You can also store these keys in one of three save states, which gives you a way to switch between a work mode and play mode, for example. A convenient button on the top row allows you to switch through these profiles at any time. Through the included software, you can also assign specific configurations to particular games. These custom layouts will automatically load along with the game they're bound to.
Not only can the keyboard learn three "modes," it can record macros on the fly. During gameplay, you can press a button that will log any sequence of keystrokes you wish. We had great success with this feature when buying weapons at the start of a Counter-Strike match.