Microsoft Sidewinder X6 Gaming Keyboard review: Microsoft Sidewinder X6 Gaming Keyboard

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.

In addition, there's an interesting "cruise-control" button that lets you teach the keyboard a specific keystroke (up to four buttons pressed simultaneously) which it will then repeat for you whenever you'd like. While some might call this cheating, it's certainly useful for mundane tasks you may have to do in a role-playing or real-time-strategy game.

If you're playing games in Vista, a dedicated Game Explorer button will allow you to instantly navigate and choose which game to launch. Unfortunately, this feature won't work with Windows XP.

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