Optimus Maximus review: Optimus Maximus

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.3
  • Installation and interface: 6.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Service and support: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Innovative OLED-based keys; completely customizable key layout; powerful configuration software; built-in SD card slot lets you transport custom layouts.

The Bad Expensive; not enough practical benefit.

The Bottom Line As impressive as we find the Optimus Maximus keyboard in concept, the $1,600 price tag overwhelms its real world benefits. We can only recommend this keyboard to those most charmed by this unique keyboard's novelty.

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Despite its innovative approach to keyboard design, the OLED-based Optimus Maximus keyboard is best considered an expensive novelty. Its $1,600 price tag keeps it out of the hands of the average consumer, and we also question the practical benefit of using 113 customizable OLED screens as an input device. There is something undoubtedly unique and appealing about the degree to which the Optimus Maximus gives you complete control over its keys' appearance. But even for gamers, designers, and others who tend to demand more from their input hardware, the Optimus Maximus offers insufficient utility to justify its high price.

The Optimus Maximus is a product of the Art. Lebedev Studio, a design firm in Russia. To purchase a board you can order directly from the Art. Lebedev store, or you can refer to one of five U.S.-based retailers listed on the Art. Lebedev Web site, of which ThinkGeek is perhaps the best known. Ordering from the Art. Lebedev Studio appears to be the most expensive option, presumably because your order will come from Russia directly, rather than through a U.S. distributor.

Physically, the Optimus Maximus is a bit clunkier than a standard keyboard. Its 6.75-inch depth and 1.25-inch height isn't that extraordinary, but at 21.25 inches wide, the Optimus Maximus is only one quarter of an inch less broad than Logitech's older G15 gaming keyboard, which is the widest modern keyboard we're aware of.

The Logitech board crams in 125 keys compared with the Optimus Maximus and its 113 keys. Considering that each key is in fact a small OLED display wrapped in a transparent plastic enclosure, it's perhaps easy to understand why the Optimus Maximus has a less efficient key density-to-width ratio. If the tiny screens were any smaller you'd lose visibility, and the plastic surrounding each display must be thick and durable enough to offer adequate protection. The keys are also removable, which makes for easy cleaning and replacement, but which also requires sturdy construction so that the connective parts hold up. The unfortunate side effect of such bulky keys is that the Optimus Maximus is terrible for touch-typing. The tightly packed keys make for lots of mistaken presses, and the mushy responsiveness slows down your words per minute.

Clunky plastic keys impede fast typing.

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Where to Buy

Optimus Maximus

Part Number: Optimus Maximus

MSRP: $1,600.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Compatibility PC