Zalman Outs New Flagship Keyboard And Mice, Dunks One In Water

Zalman beefed up its peripherals lineup at Computex with a new flagship mechanical keyboard, a waterproof keyboard, a pair of flagship mice and more.

Two New Flagships?

We recently reviewed Zalman’s highest-end mechanical keyboard, the KM-K700M and found it of reasonable quality (though probably overpriced), but now the company has two new boards that supplant it at the top of its product stack.

We learned a little something about the new KM-900M ahead of Computex and noted that it’s similar to the KM-700M except that it lacked the latter’s left-side dedicated macro keys and, notably, it offers Kailh switches instead of Cherry MX. The KM-900M, though, offers RGB lighting whereas the KM-K700M has just white LEDs.

Instead of dedicated macro keys, the KM-K900M has a cluster of ten keys that can double as macro buttons.

Presumably intended to be a step above the KM-K900M, we’re actually not sure why the KM-K950M exists. The only real difference between the two is that the former is all plastic and the latter is all-aluminum.

It would have made more sense for Zalman to make one of the KM-K9XXM-series keyboards tenkeyless. As it is, you have the KM-K700M with white LEDs, Cherry MX switches and a row of macro keys, and the KM-K900M and KM-K950M with RGB lighting, Kailh switches and no macro keys. There’s nothing wrong with any of those feature sets, but collectively those keyboards don’t offer any kind of logical diversity.

One thing the KM-K900M does have, though, is a variety of color options, which may appeal to a number of users. Zalman’s keyboard designs tend to be black-on-black, but in the company’s suite at Computex, we also found white, yellow and dusty blue KM-K900Ms. The key caps are black on all but the white model, which has white key caps.

The big news with the KM-K9XXM keyboards is the price. Whereas the $130 price tag for the KM-K700M is too high, the KM-K900M comes in at a more palatable $99, and a Zalman rep told me that there will be likely be promos where it costs just $80. For that, you get the plastic chassis but RGB lighting (and Kailh switches); at $109.99, the ZM-K950M will offer the same specs but in an all-aluminum chassis. Both new models are arguably still a bit pricey for what they offer, but at least those price tags are more reasonable.

The KM-K900M is currently available, but we’ll have to wait until Q3 or Q4 for the KM-K950M.

Zalman KM-K900MZalman KM-K950M
Model TypeFull size (104-key)
Switch TypeKailh Red, Brown, Blue, Black
Polling Rate`1,000 Hz
LightingRGB, customizable
ChassisPlasticAluminum (backplate)
Key RolloverNKRO (USB and PS/2)
Key CapStep Sculpture 2
Cable1.7m, braided
Misc.-10 preset profiles for MOBA, FPS, RTS, etc.)
-10 keys double as macro keys
-FN / multimedia keys
Dimensions440 x 140 x 35mm (LxWxH) / 17.32 x 5.51 x 1.38 inches
Weight1.25Kg / 2.75 lbs.
AvailabilityNowQ3 or Q4

Waterproof? Waterproof!

We saw a surprising number of keyboards submerged in water in our meetings around Computex, but whereas most of those were demonstrations of optical-switch keyboards, Zalman’s ZM-K650WP is a rugged, non-mechanical keyboard that’s all sealed up and waterproof.

The lack of mechanical switches will turn off most average users, but that’s not the intended audience for the ZM-K650WP, anyway. It’s designed primarily for industrial environments, hospitals and the like where you need a device that can take anything (disgusting, moist, dirty or otherwise) that you throw at it.

The water submergence was a gimmick (and we bought in, as evidenced by the fact that we’re writing about it and showing you a photo of it), but it did serve to demonstrate the ZM-K650WP’s ruggedness. A Zalman rep typed on it while it was submerged, and the device worked flawlessly. If you work in a difficult environment (or frequently spill your coffee, or are currently attempting to parent a toddler), $25 gets you a keyboard that won’t be drowned.

The ZM-K650WP is currently available.

Squeak Squeak

Rounding out the peripherals updates, Zalman showed us two upcoming gaming mice, the ZM-GM5 and ZM-GM7. This pair will become Zalman’s new flagship mice.

Although they have mildly different exterior designs, the mice share almost identical specs save for the sensor: The ZM-GM5 has a 5,000 DPI whereas the ZM-GM7 boasts a 16,000 DPI sensor.

Frankly, 5,000 DPI should be sufficient for most users, but for a particular breed of gamer or those who have exceptionally high-res displays, the 16,000 DPI sensor offers more than enough headroom for adjustments.

The exterior designs of the ZM-GM5 and ZM-GM7 differ only slightly. They have different front ends--note that the ZM-GM5 has an angled nose that’s flush across the front whereas the ZM-GM7 has a parallel but split-nose look--and the ZM-GM5 has more lighting areas. The ZM-GM5 features an all-black design with a red-and-black braided cable, but Zalman opted for colored panels for the ZM-GM7. In its suite at Computex, Zalman showed gray-on-black and purple-on-black GM7 designs.

It’s good that Zalman has plenty of other mice in its product stack, because these two devices are rather heavy at 140g. That’s not outlandish, but you’ll find many mice in the 90-120g range. A lighter Zalman option is the ZM-600R, which weighs in at just 90g.

When they hit the market in Q4, the GM5 and GM7 will cost $42 and $47, respectively.

Zalman ZM-GM5, ZM-GM7 Gaming Mice
DPI-GM5: 5,000 DPI
-GM7: 16,000 DPI
Polling Rate1,000 Hz
Programmable Buttons7
InterfaceWired, USB
Cable1.8m, braided
Dimensions66 x 120 x 38mm (LxWxH) / (2.59 x 4.72 x 1.49 inches)
AvailabilityQ4 2016
Price-GM5: $42
-GM7: $47

Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.