Roccat Vulcan II Max mechanical keyboard review: A staggering amount of RGB

These multi-colored mechanical switches were made for RGB-loving gamers.

Roccat Vulcan II Max
(Image: © Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Roccat seemingly has no intention of relaxing efforts to push RGB into every possible corner of its peripherals, with the Vulcan II Max proving it. Dual-LED switches light up the slick keycaps, and the comfortable silicone palm rest, too. Well suited for gamers, but only if they have the desk space to spare and two USB ports to power this colorful beast. Creating custom macros isn't as straightforward in the Swarm companion app as it could be, but there are plenty of available keys for it to be a non-issue.

Pros

  • +

    Spectacular dual-LED RGB.

  • +

    Illuminated silicone palm rest.

  • +

    Choice of linear or tactile switches.

Cons

  • -

    Glossy keycaps.

  • -

    Overwhelming at full brightness.

  • -

    Roccat Swarm app has a learning curve.

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Mechanical keyboards are becoming more mainstream for gamers and less of a niche for perfectionists looking to customize every part of their setup. With variants of the same keyboards available directly from manufacturers featuring a choice of switches and keycaps, consumers can focus on what matters most and make a simple purchase.

Roccat is moving closer and closer to the edge of what's acceptable for RGB, pushing an absurd amount of multi-colored LEDs into its peripherals. This gigantic keyboard is the latest entry into its range of gaming hardware, packaged with a soft silicone palm rest that, yes, also illuminates. I spent the weekend typing and gaming for our Roccat Vulcan II Max review to see if there is such a thing as too much RGB.

Vulcan II Max: Price, availability, and specs

Roccat Vulcan II Max boxed (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Roccat sells the Vulcan II Max mechanical gaming keyboard on its official store and through third-party retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, for a $230 MSRP. Available in black or white with linear or tactile switches, it comes packaged with a detachable silicone palm rest.

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CategorySpecification
Connectivity1.8m braided 2 x USB 2.0
SwitchesRoccat Titan II optical linear red or tactile brown
LifespanUp to 100 million presses
Polling rate1,000Hz
LightingPer-key dual LED
Dimensions18.23 x 9.29 x 1.32 inch
Weight1300g with palm rest

Vulcan II Max: What's good

Roccat Vulcan II Max unboxed (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

It's not hard to tell this keyboard is gigantic; the clue is in the name, after all. I've recently gravitated toward compact keyboards, especially with the rise of mechanical variations, which usually adhere to the smaller form factor. Although it's a nice treat to have a physical num pad and arrow keys, there's no denying that the Vulcan II Max is an absolute beast.

RGB lighting catches your eye, whether you want it to or not, beaming out from the crystal switches visible from every angle and the translucent jelly-like palm rest. Sharing its feature set with the smaller Vulcan II Mini, this chunkier sibling sees the return of Roccat's easy-shift[+] key.

It works with the Swarm companion app to offer an extra layer of programmable macro keys and modes, similar to Roccat's multi-button Kone XP Air mouse. The main attraction for this multi-function key is usually navigating the limitations of smaller keyboards with missing keys.

However, you can still assign plenty of powerful shortcuts to practically anything you want, with a series of numbered macro buttons helpfully assigned to a cluster above the arrow keys.

Roccat Vulcan II Max dual-LED switches (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The silicone rest easily attaches to the Vulcan II Max with a series of molded notches, with dedicated LEDs hidden inside the keyboard to illuminate the semi-transparent plastic. It looks beautiful with the black model sent to us by Roccat, but the promotional images make the white variant seem somewhat of a better match for the silicone's matching color.

Anyone looking for the biggest and brightest keyboards will find no disappointments here.

Typing and gaming are immensely comfortable with this bright and squishy mat, but you'll need plenty of desk space to accommodate it. The colors will still project onto your desk if you go without the palm rest, but I recommend making the extra room. The Swarm app can control all of the RGB lighting effects in individual zones, so if the vibrant palm rest feels a little overwhelming, you can at least tone it down.

Naturally, it's easy to assume anyone interested in this keyboard has no intention of toning down the RGB. With the brightness turned up to maximum with accompanying animated effects activated, the Vulcan II Max provides a vivid light show. Anyone looking for the biggest and brightest keyboards will find no disappointments here; Roccat has crammed rainbow colors into every possible nook and cranny.

Roccat Vulcan II Max dual LED (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

The smooth linear red switches included with our review unit are just as comfortable for gaming as the Vulcan II Mini, all laid along an aluminum top plate for a sturdy build. Fitted with shallow, skinny keycaps to fully demonstrate the vibrant RGB switches, they can be easily replaced with any standard cross-mounted caps of your choice.

As with the Mini, the show's star is the dual-LED Titan switch. The doubled-up lighting isn't just for show, although it certainly puts the RGB aesthetic into overdrive. Roccat has solved the most frustrating issue of multi-function keyboards by illuminating secondary commands in a unique color through its semi-transparent keycaps. It might sound minor, but seeing where the macro buttons are located in a dark environment is invaluable for usability.

That being said, media controls are usually my most frequently used secondary keys, and the Vulcan II Max has a dedicated volume knob alongside playback control buttons. Taking full advantage of the AIMO intelligent lighting engine is undoubtedly the most fun you can have here, especially if you have a Roccat mouse to synchronize for an incredibly vibrant light show.

Vulcan II Max: What's not so good

Roccat Vulcan II Max palm rest (Image credit: Ben Wilson | Windows Central)

Since the Vulcan II Max uses the same parts as its Mini variant, the same problems linger. The standard low-profile keycaps that Roccat includes leave huge gaps around the keyboard, which are prone to gathering dust. These skinny caps intend to demonstrate the super-bright multi-LED switches, but seeing the inner workings of the support springs won't appeal to everyone.

The keycaps are still made from the glossy material as its miniature sibling, which feels fine for gaming, but a tad too slick for day-to-day typing. Since they use a standard fitting, you could replace them with any keycaps you like, but you'll be paying for a complete set that will likely be missing the semi-transparent secondary functions. If you're comfortable with glossy keys, this won't be an issue, but since I prefer something rougher, it prevents either of the Vulcan II variants from becoming my new favorite.

Typing angles are shallow even in their most elevated position, leaving the double kickstand slightly underwhelming. Roccat markets the Vulcan II toward gamers first, and that's where it shines, but extended typing might become uncomfortable for some at these shallow angles. Even with the soft palm rest, I found myself looking for something to prop the Vulcan up on, perhaps too accustomed to sharper angles in my usual keyboards.