I have a confession: I’m exhausted by the keyboard’s RGB lighting. Ever since Cherry announced its debut MX RGB switches in late 2013, it feels like no mainstream mechanical keyboard is complete without a set of lights that can twinkle like a Christmas tree. But I change them to solid white at the first opportunity. I want to be able to see my keys and not be distracted by them.
That’s the first reason I was intrigued by Logitech’s new budget keyboard, the G413 TKL SE, which has a simple design and solid white backlight. The second reason is the price, $69.99, which is very affordable for a major brand mechanical keyboard. It’s perfect on paper, and one of those rare instances where removing a supposedly premium feature actually makes for a more attractive device overall.
In use, however, the Logitech G413 TKL SE definitely feels like a $69.99 keyboard, with a typing feel that feels a bit cheap compared to more expensive competitors. That’s a shame, because on paper it actually offers everything you hope for.
The G413 TKL SE is a keyless keyboard, meaning it removes the numpad to the right to create a slightly more compact layout without going so far as to stuff everything into a rectangle of laptop-style keys. If you need a numpad, there is a larger model called the G413 SE, which is functionally identical apart from the layout. I’m testing the keyboard with an American layout, but as of this writing, Logitech has yet to contact me about an English layout version.
If the name G413 sounds familiar, it might be because Logitech originally used the name on a keyboard it announced in 2017. 26, which means you can press fewer keys at once before it gets confused. The SE also only comes with white backlighting, while the previous G413 was available with either red or white depending on the model. The original G413 also did not have a tenkeyless model.
However, the main difference between the G413 and G413 SE models is that they use regular Cherry MX-style switches instead of Logitech’s own Romer-G switches. That means you can swap out their keycaps for a wide variety of aftermarket options in case you want to change the look of the G413 TKL SE.
The Logitech G413 TKL SE may use Cherry MX-style switches, but they are not original Cherry models. Instead, they are Longhua switches made by Kaihua. There’s also only one switch, “Tactile,” which is roughly equivalent to Cherry’s MX Brown switches. There are no linear or clickable options here, and the G413 TKL SE isn’t hot-swappable either, meaning you’ll need to use a soldering iron if you want to change the switches.
Unfortunately, these switches just don’t feel as nice to type on as more premium keyboards and are the main place where you feel the Logitech G413 TKL SE’s affordable price tag. As a whole, it can feel a little rattling. Keystrokes generate hollow pops instead of sharp taps, and the switches just feel from in a way I struggle to put my metaphorical, if not physical, finger on. That might be understandable considering it costs nearly $100 less than many competing mainstream brand mechanical keyboards, but it’s a stark reminder that “mechanical” keyboards span a huge range of different quality levels.
I don’t think most people will have an urgent need to replace the stock keycaps on the G413 TKL SE. They’re made from hardwearing PBT plastic, their backlit legends are clean and bright, and they have a nice bold font that doesn’t feel too blocky or aggressive like you’ll find with other gaming-focused brands. The only exception is if you plan to use the G413 TKL SE with a Mac, as there are no macOS-specific key legends (typical of a gaming-focused keyboard).
In addition to the keycaps, the sleek design of the TKL SE continues. The only bit of branding is a silver Logitech G logo in the top right corner, but otherwise the keyboard is completely black except for the white LEDs. The 1.8 m (almost 6 ft) long USB cable is unfortunately not detachable, but there are a few feet on the bottom of the keyboard to set it up at a comfortable angle. Media, volume and other functions are built into the function row and can be accessed via the Fn key.
The only layout change I’d make is to add a discrete Print Screen key, which, on tenkeyless boards, is generally above the Insert key. But here, that space is taken up by LEDs for Caps and Scroll-lock. In my ideal future, we’d be kicking the Insert key off modern keyboards altogether to avoid this kind of problem (it’s also time to remove Pause Break, frankly), but I digress.
While you could fix these layout issues with third-party software, the keyboard cannot be remapped by default and won’t work with Logitech’s G Hub software. I’d appreciate the remapping feature, but I suspect a lot of people will be happy not to have another app running in the background on their computer all the time.
While Logitech is branding the G413 TKL SE as a “gaming keyboard,” you won’t find many concrete specs here to back that up. There is no mention of the kind of high polling rates that reduce the input lag of keyboards like the Razer Huntsman V2 or Corsair K70. The switches also don’t have the kind of reduced travel you see gaming-focused switches coming to the market with. You have to push them in 1.9mm before they activate, compared to 1.2mm for Cherry MX Speed Silver, for example. But honestly, I’ve never seen much benefit from these gaming-focused features, so I certainly wouldn’t choose one keyboard over another.
I have a lot of time for what Logitech is going for with the G413 TKL SE. This is a mechanical keyboard that has been reduced to the essentials and sold at an affordable price. There are no hot-swappable switches, no detachable cable, and no RGB lighting. There’s only one switch, one backlight color, and a reasonable $69.99 price tag. If you prefer tactile switches, this should be an easy choice.
I wish typing on this keyboard felt more comfortable. It is not broken and it is not difficult to use; it just feels cheap compared to more premium (and more expensive) alternatives like the Keychron Q1 or Filco Majestouch 2. It doesn’t matter much if this is your first mechanical keyboard, but if you know better, you probably expect better.
Photography by Jon Porter / Media Today Chronicle