The Logitech G513 RGB Keyboard and Linux – A Major Delight

šŸ“… October 6, 2018
On my quest to find a worthy successor to the recently departed Corsair Vengeance K70 mechanical keyboard (which did not last as long as I had hoped), I have encountered what is certainly the best keyboard that I have ever used so far: The Logitech G513!

Along the way, I was met with dismal disappointment regarding the Razer Huntsman Elite. Yuck. What a sorry disappointment.

Undeterred, I gave the G513 a try. It costs less than the Huntsman Elite, so can it be any good? After all, a higher price does not translate into a better product. And most importantly, how well does the G513 work with Linux?

I was pleased beyond expectations with the G513, and here are my thoughts.

Quick Question: “Will the Logitech G513 work with Linux and allow RGB lighting?”

Quick Answer: “Yes! Oh, yes! And it performs beyond what is possible with Windows by allowing Bash scripts to control the RGB lighting. Sweet!”

The Keyboard

Logitech G513 Carbon with Romer-G LINEAR Switches.

The keyboard includes a remarkably comfortable wrist rest — a feeling of typing luxury.

The keys are located above a durable slab of metal layered on top of a plastic base. The keyboard feels lighter than the Huntsman Elite, but it still feels solid and does not slide around on a desk.

RGB showing off another set of pinkish colors. The metal has a dark gray brushed aluminum appearance.

One thick nylon cable connects to the computer via two USB plugs — just like the Razer Huntsman Elite. One USB plug is for the keyboard, and the other is the passthrough for the onboard USB connector located in the top right back corner. Shown here is a mouse connected to the keyboard.

Keyboard Features

Where to begin?

This keyboard does so many things right, that is seems silly that Razer could get them all wrong with the Huntsman Elite and charge more. The more I use the G513, the more I regret wasting my time and money on the Huntsman Elite. Here is an overview of the features of the G513 along with comparisons with the Razer Huntsman Elite.

The Keys

This is a mechanical keyboard. It uses Romer-G LINEAR switches. This keyboard is available in three switch types: Romer-G Linear, Romer-G Tactile, and GX Blue Clicky. From my experience typing on this keyboard, the Romer-G Linear is impressive. It is FAR more quiet than the loud, clicky keys of the Huntsman Elite, and only slightly more quiet than the keys on the Corsair Vengeance K70.

The K70 uses Cherry MX Red switches, and the Romer-G Linear switches of the G513 feel similar. In fact, I can barely feel a difference between the two. Romer-G Linear and Cherry MX Red are nearly identical. If you have used Cherry MX Red switches, then you know what to expect with Romer-G Linear. However, neither are 100% silent. There is still a “clacking” noise, but nothing annoying. I can type on the G513 for hours, while the sound of the Huntsman Elite keys irritated me after about one hour of usage.

RGB Lighting

Each key has its own 24-bit RGB light. Well, 24-bit in that you can assign each key its own RGB color with eight bits per color channel according to the software.

Due to the Romer-G switch design, there is no light bleed between the keys like there is with Cherry MX switches. The light is contained within each key.

 

Color Presets

There are several presets (keyboard and software-controlled), such as RGB wave, ripple effects, starlights, solid colors, and color groups. Four presets are stored permanently in the keyboard. Pressing the Fn key plus F5 will cycle through them. The G513 has onboard memory for one custom preset. Create it in Windows, save it to the keyboard, and you can use that preset anywhere — even in Linux!

Yes, you read correctly. The custom preset works with Linux. In fact, the keyboard will remember the last preset and automatically switch to it upon power on no matter what system the keyboard is connected to. If you store a preset made in Windows, you can boot a Raspberry Pi or a different Linux system using that same preset. Neat!

Note that the keyboard memory applies to the simple presets, not the advanced effects described next. Advanced effects require the Windows software.

Keyboard Software

No drivers are required for Linux. Simply plug and play. RGB colors work out of the box. The special Logitech software works only with Windows, and it allows you to customize the keyboard to your heart’s content.

Logitech’s keyboard software in Windows 7. You can create any light arrangement you can think of with this software. Animation is also a part of the package. The timeline at the bottom allows you to control lighting animation effects similar to a video editor.

The software is incredibly easy to use, and it features a wide selection of lighting effects.

I found the Windows keyboard software a joy to use. What I especially liked was the Effect Selection that provided a choice from a sizable collection of premade advanced effects. For example, Caterpillar (shown) animate a green caterpillar moving through the keyboard similar to the video game Centipede. The SynchroCycles effect animates Tron light cycles from opposite sides of the keyboard until they collide. Other effects include Skipping Stone, Sunstreak, falling data, twinkling stars, and more. It is so much FUN!

The effects provided were better and more fun to use than what Razer’s Synapse software offered.

Audio Visualizer

As if the given effects were not enough, there is an included applet that turns the keyboard into an audio visualizer. Any audio, such as music or videos, makes the keys dance with happy light patterns. Wow! I ended up watching the keyboard more than the video because it was so much fun to play with.

No Online Requirement

My biggest gripe with the Razer Synapse software was the required online account and online connection needed to be able to program the keyboard. Why? Oh, WHY was that necessary?! In addition, Synapse required a massive 300MB to install. How was I supposed to use that on a computer not connected to the Internet? This made the Huntsman Elite practically useless for me.

There is none of that annoying hassle with the G513. The Logitech software does NOT require an online connection to use. Simply download it and run.

Windows-only Effects and the Linux Solution

The fancy lighting effects and audio visualizer work great with Windows, but only Windows. These appear to be software-controlled. If the Logitech software is not running, then the effects do not work. This means you cannot enjoy them in Linux.

However, there is a program called g810-led that allows you to program and customize the RGB keyboard lights. It might not be as user-friendly or as feature-rich as the native offering from Logitech, but it offers a wealth of programming possibilities not available with the official software. I have only begun using g810-led, and I have been having a blast with it writing my own Python and Bash scripts to animate and customize the G513 from within Linux. In fact, a few of my effects (so far) are equal to what the Logitech software offers, and I can set the computer to randomize them to surprise me each time I turn the computer on. Fun stuff.

Comfortable Wrist Rest

The included wrist rest feels similar to leather and is a delight to type with. This is one of the softest keyboard wrist rests that I have tried, and it is more comfortable than the wrist rest of the Huntsman Elite.

The Huntsman Elite wrist rest might have been soft too, but it had a metal border around the edges that made it uncomfortable by the metal edging digging into my wrists.

The G513 wrist rest leather(?) covers the entire rest. There are no metal borders, so nothing digs into my wrist. The result is pure comfort.

The G513 wrist rest is every bit as comfortable as it looks and more! There are no metal borders. The wrist rest does not click into or attach to the keyboard in any way, but rubber feet on the bottom help prevent it from sliding around.

Thick Cable

The cable is just as think as the cable of the Huntsman Elite, but the plastic splitter at the end is much smaller. This makes G513 cable routing easier, but not without some effort.

Key Fonts and Darkness

I like the fonts used on the G513. They look good even in a dark setting.

G513 in the dark using a custom profile from a Bash script. Any key can be programmed to any color.

Another color profile created at random using Bash.

Key lighting appears brighter in person than in photos. Shown here are the numeric keys. If you view the key straight on, the lettering appears equally illuminated, but if viewed off-center (shown here), then the tops of the keys appear to have a dark gradient.

In the pictures above, take note of the blackness between keys. There is no light bleed between the keys because the light for each key is confined within the key itself. This is a big difference from the Cherry MX keys that spill light for not having this containment.

Corsair Vengeance K70 with light bleed between the Cherry MX keys. The Romer-G switches do not do this as shown above.

Light brightness can be adjusted by pressing Fn+F7 on the keyboard. When the lights are turned off, the key lettering is almost invisible, so you had best be a proficient touch typist.

No Dedicated Multimedia Keys

There are no multimedia keys on the keyboard. Instead, multimedia functions are achieved by pressing Fn+F9 to Pause. There is no dedicated volume control. Press Fn+SCRLK or Fn+Pause to adjust the volume. This works natively with Linux.

I thought the lack of dedicated multimedia keys (at least a volume control) would be a deal-breaker given their convenience, but this has not been the case. Certainly, it took some time to adjust, but I did not miss them as much as I thought I would. However, if given the choice, I would prefer to have a dedicated volume wheel in the form of a scroll wheel similar to the smooth, scrolling control found on the K70.

Conclusion

What else can I say? This is superb keyboard, and it is definitely the best that I have ever purchased. The G513 delivers in every area, typing is great, and I can use it to its fullest (and more) in Linux.

This is far superior to the previous Corsair Vengeance K70 that it has replaced, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking an improved typing experience.

Best of all, it works great with Linux!

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