Windows Central Verdict
Roccat is going all-out on RGB lighting with its most recent accessories, and the Vulcan II Mini is the perfect example of its LED obsession. Dual lighting in each switch provides spectacular visual elements, including illuminated secondary functions to prevent fumbling in the dark. The glossy keycaps might be too slick for all-night gaming but perfectly comfortable for extended typing. The most intense RGB fans will love this, but others might find it overwhelming.
Dazzling dual-LED RGB lighting.
Smooth linear switches.
Swarm companion app has a learning curve.
Slick glossy keycaps.
Almost too much RGB.
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Mechanical keyboards started as a niche choice for the ultra-obsessed, who wanted to personalize their experience at every level. These days, there are plenty of approachable options for clicky-clacky modular keys and switches, with less DIY knowledge needed. Space-saving often comes hand-in-hand with mechanical keyboards, pushing the limits of how small you can get before missing keys become too inconvenient.
Roccat looks to expand its extensive range with the new Vulcan II Mini, a 65% form factor mechanical keyboard loaded with RGB lighting and customizable parts. There are plenty of competitors appealing to the same audience, and Roccat has impressed me with its mice in the past. I spent a whole week with this compact keyboard to see how it performs under intense gaming and extensive typing for our Roccat Vulcan II Mini review.
Vulcan II Mini: Price, availability, and specs
Roccat sells the Vulcan II Mini mechanical gaming keyboard on its official store and through third-party retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, for a $150 MSRP. Available in black or white, it comes packaged with a detachable USB-C cable.
|Connectivity||Detachable 1.8m braided USB-C to USB-A cable|
|Switches||Roccat Titan II optical red|
|Lifespan||Up to 100 million presses|
|Lighting||Per-key dual LED|
|Dimensions||12.75 x 4.57 x 1.22 inch|
|Weight||542g with cable|
Vulcan II Mini: What's good
My first impressions of the Vulcan II Mini were pretty good, remarking on its compact form factor despite being only 5% larger than my usual 60% keyboard. I've become so used to hitting a function button to access arrow keys, so this was a welcome return of a dedicated set. The crystal switches are visible from any angle, with Roccat's default keycaps hovering just above, leaving plenty of space for the RGB lighting to shine through.
Above the regular left-shift key, occupying the same space as the standard caps lock, is the easy-shift[+] key. Anyone familiar with Roccat's mice like the Kone XP Air will know it opens up an extra layer of programmable keys when using its game mode, all defined within the same Swarm app. I'll get into the specifics later, but for the most part, the layout on the Vulcan II Mini is reasonably standard, and the braided cable is super lightweight for easy management.
There's a single vertical row with standard keys like a page up and down along the right side. The return key is double-wide but not so tall, which took a little getting used to but having a dedicated delete key is a worthy trade-off. A quick typing test showed the Titan II optical switches to have a smooth, linear action, just as you would expect from any red-style variation.
Naturally, the primary attraction to Vulcan II Mini is the dual-LEDs nested inside each switch. They help with highlighting secondary functions like controlling music playback, and it's something I have to applaud. One of my main complaints with other RGB-backlit keyboards is that the unique functions of some keys are usually painted on and can't be seen in the dark.
Using the Vulcan II Mini at night sold me on the super-colorful switches since I never needed a lamp to figure out where the volume controls were, and I could mute my games quickly during interruptions.
Some simple quality of life improvements come with the RGB, like a separate icon for caps lock activation, preventing any guesswork during typing and separating it from easy-shift. It might seem minor, but having every function illuminated by dual-LEDs is a fantastic convenience and a massive improvement over many alternatives I've used.
If you're looking to match up your peripherals, the AIMO intelligent lighting system in Roccat's Swarm software can synchronize the colors of Roccat mice and keyboards. It looks fantastic on my desk, even if I occasionally get comments about the extreme amount of rainbow lights blasting out of the office.
The Swarm app can help with OS-specific commands, too. If you want to have a keyboard shortcut to sleep, hibernate, or shut down your PC without pressing it by accident, you can create a simple macro for it there. Using the easy-shift key allowed me to set up shortcuts to opening common locations in Windows, like my downloads folder, but I will admit to often forgetting which keys they were assigned.
Like any software-enhanced keyboard, most of the learning process is just repetition. Although some of the most common shortcuts are in different places from what I'm familiar with, it doesn't take too long to become acquainted with the Vulcan II Mini.
Vulcan II Mini: What's not so good
The Vulcan II Mini does a lot right, but Roccat has made some curious design decisions that will prevent it from becoming my daily driver. It's understandable to package it with compact keycaps to show off the beautiful dual-LED switches, but the gaps left between each key have allowed dust to accumulate in barely a week.
Underneath the spacebar is an exceptionally spacious area since there's only one switch to balance on, and it measures the width of six regular keys. Any mechanical keyboard owner will know that cleaning is par for the course, but there is much more visibility underneath the keys from the user's perspective, and some might find it too dazzling.
A glossy plastic finish on the default keycaps feels too slick for my liking, though it doesn't cause too much slipping during gaming. Luckily, the Titan II switches use a standard cross-shape fitting, so you could use any replacements you like. Keycaps from the Steelseries Apex Pro Mini slot into the Vulcan II Mini, for example. The smooth caps aren't enough of an issue to cause significant problems; they are more of a user preference, but it's worth considering.
The folding stands create too shallow of an angle, even with a two-step choice for height. Even at its max setting, the Vulcan II Mini is barely elevated off a desk, which could be argued is better for ergonomics but feels too low down. It's perhaps another feature that would take some getting used to, but even during my last day with the keyboard, I couldn't stand the overall flat feeling.
Compared to Roccat mice, the feature set for the Vulcan II Mini in the Swarm app is somewhat overly complex in some areas and strangely lacking in others.
Although it's simple to adjust the illumination setting, and there are some beautiful animated effects to play with, setting up macro shortcuts might be a little tricky for beginners. A lack of region selection is disappointing, too, especially for a keyboard that allows you to replace any keycap you wish. Switching to different keyboard regions without resorting to Windows' control panel is sorely missed here.
While I still prefer Swarm over some competing companion apps, it could be improved with a simple introductory tutorial during setup, especially when understanding how its game mode can disable certain Windows-centric OS commands. There are many possibilities for streamlining your gaming experience, but you'll need patience.
The most confusing addition to the app is the choice to enable a slightly delayed fake sound feedback played through your headphones or speakers on top of the already audible keys. Selecting 'beam' sounds like you're inside a retro arcade cabinet, with obnoxious laser blasts firing with every keystroke. I was baffled by trying to understand who would want to hear this awful noise for hours.
Vulcan II Mini: The competition
The closest comparison to Roccat's Vulcan II Mini would likely be the cheaper HyperX Alloy Origins 65 due to its size. However, it uses simple printed keycaps instead of the illuminated equivalents here. Razer's Huntsman Mini drops the arrow keys for a 60% form factor and offers a choice of linear or clicky switches.
Corsair's K65 features Cherry MX mechanical switches and a similarly vibrant collection of RGB LEDs, but with a plastic backplate, a downgrade from Roccat's aluminum. No current competitors can offer the same dual-LED switches, and the visible secondary functions on each of the Vulcan II Mini's keycaps sweeten the deal.
It's not perfect, but any RGB-loving gamer looking for a mechanical gaming keyboard to play in dimmed lighting will love this rainbow-colored offering. Removing the need to shine my phone torch over keys to remember exactly where the print screen button is hiding is something I sincerely appreciated.
Vulcan II Mini: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
- You're a fan of RGB lighting.
- You want a customizable mechanical keyboard.
- You prefer linear red switches and smooth keycaps.
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You're not confident using software for key customization.
- You don't like vibrant RGB peripherals.
- You prefer clicky mechanical switches.
The dual-LED switches are the star of this vibrant show, and Roccat should be applauded for illuminating the secondary features of every key. Competitors should note that even some of the best gaming keyboards miss this seemingly obvious feature. Customizing the keycaps is easy enough, thanks to a standard cross-style connection on the Titan II switches.
Unfortunately, you can't swap out the switches themselves, but they're the standout reason to buy the Vulcan II Mini, so it shouldn't be much of an issue. Roccat's companion Swarm app might initially be a little intimidating for beginners, but the lightning engine synchronized effortlessly with its range of colorful gaming mice. If you're not a fan of RGB, you'll be blinded by the glorious rainbows on offer here.
The Vulcan II Mini is one of the most colorful compact mechanical keyboards you're likely to find. Everything is customizable, with Roccat's companion apps unlocking an extra layer of programmable keys.
Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another. Find him on Mastodon @firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or share opinions.