EVGA Gaming Z15, Z20 and X17 Peripheral Review

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EVGA recently launched three new peripherals: two mechanical gaming keyboards, the Z15, and the Z20, and a versatile gaming mouse, the X17. I got to spend a week or so with each and unpack what makes each of them unique and worthy additions to your desk.

EVGA Z15 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

EVGA’s new Z15 mechanical gaming keyboard is the most instantly recognizable of the three. It's fairly unassuming, only slightly larger than your average membrane keyboard, clocking in at a sleek and simple 5.94”x17.52”x1.48”. But don’t let its modest appearance fool you, the EVGA Z15 comes prepared to work.

Built on top of a solid chassis, the metal plating under the keys offers both an unbendable base for heavy gaming sessions and a great reflective surface for the Z15’s per-key RGB lighting. And since it is per-key RGB lighting, you can make the Z15 uniquely yours by customizing each and every key with EVGA’s RGB Unleash Software (we’ll get to that in a bit), even adding patterned color shifting and reactive lighting.

The EVGA Z15 feels built with convenience in mind. The wrist rest that it comes with is magnetic, so it’s not sliding away from the keyboard with every keypress. It has onboard dedicated media keys and a volume scroll wheel. No more closing Warzone to change Spotify songs. And if you, like me, get killed from hitting the “Windows” key every other game, you can turn on gaming mode with a quick FN+G to disable it and save a life.

I got to work with the clicky version of the Z15, which means that at its actuation point, or where the keypress registers for the computer, there’s an audible “click.” That actuation point sits at 1.1mm of the total 3.5mm travel distance and requires 50g of force, enough to not accidentally press a key, but not enough to fight back. These clicky-style mechanical switches tend to be the preferred style for gamers, as the tactile “click” helps increase response times. I spent most of my time with the keyboard typing at work, where the click is a bit less appreciated by my coworkers, but I still loved it - when you’re typing all day, that satisfying “click” is a nice, constant reminder of progress.

The clicky Z15 comes with Kailh Mechanical Speed Bronze Switches, but EVGA also offers a silent linear version of the Z15 with Speed Silver switches. The Speed Silvers offer the same responsiveness and durability (70 million keypresses!), but without that click that’ll annoy your coworkers and housemates. And if your roommates do complain about the clicky Speed Bronze switches, the Z15’s switches are easily swappable for any of Kailh’s other 3pin mechanical switches thanks to the included switch puller and easy swap design.

EVGA Z20 Gaming Mechanical Keyboard

The EVGA Z20 Gaming Mechanical Keyboard takes everything great about the Z15 and just adds more. The metal plate and media keys are still there, but now so is a USB and headphone pass-through - no more reaching to plug in headphones or flash sticks. Much like the Z15, the Z20 comes in both a clicky and linear variety, but the Z20 ups the switches to LK Light Strike Optical Mechanical Switches. Where traditional mechanical switches use mechanical elements throughout the whole switch, optical-mechanical switches add a sensor to each switch. 

While optical switches are still mechanical, and will still provide that same tactile feedback (or silence, depending on your switch type), the optical sensor reduces wear from daily use, increasing their lifespan to a whopping 100 million keypresses. Optical-mechanical switches also decrease reaction time from keypress to response, making every movement feel more instantaneous. Plus, the EVGA Z20’s switches are a bit shallower than the Z15, with a total travel distance of only 3.0mm, though the actuation distance is a bit further, 1.5mm. They’re also lighter, requiring only 40g of force, making it slightly snappier than the Z15.

But let’s not bury the lede too much - the big thing the EVGA Z20 brings to the table is the Time-Of-Flight sensor, or ToF sensor. The Z20's ToF sensor is proximity-based and can pull off some pretty neat tricks, like locking your computer when you step away and waking it from sleep when you sit down at your desk.

The EVGA Unleash RGB software offers an impressive range of options for the ToF sensor, allowing you to set time and distance requirements so that you don’t accidentally put your computer to sleep when you casually lean back at your desk. And if you really want to make a splash when you return to your desk, you can have it create a cascade of light across the Z20.

But the ToF Sensor is far from the only thing the EVGA Z20 adds to the Z15 base. The left side of the keyboard has been extended to make room for five fully programmable dedicated macro keys and a game mode button - no need to hit FN+G, now a single keypress disables the Windows key. These extra buttons bring the Z20’s size up to 5.94”x18.58”x1.48”, adding a fairly noticeable (but worthwhile) inch to the length of the keyboard. 

Also in that added inch are light bars on either side of the keyboard. They’re purely aesthetic, but if you’re looking to light up your whole room with your keyboard, the EVGA Z20 is the way to go. Like the rest of the keyboard, the side lightbars are fully RGB and aren’t constrained to a single color - multiple LEDs on each side allow the sides to be pink up top and deep blue on the bottom.

The X17 Gaming Mechanical Mouse

EVGA’s X17 Gaming Mouse is, arguably, the most unique of their new peripherals. While it might not have a ToF sensor or optical switches, The X17 stands out thanks to a deep slope to the right side of the mouse and a large hump at the back left. This shape creates a natural cradle for your hand, rising to meet your palm and angling your wrist in a way to rest more naturally. And while a claw grip is theoretically doable on the EVGA X17, it’s definitely more comfortable with a palm grip, fully resting your hand on the mouse.

Despite the gaming mouse moniker, the EVGA X17 is fairly low-key. It does have by-zone RGB and a slew of programmable buttons, but it keeps a minimal look. It integrates and hides its plethora of macro buttons and tools across the mouse. On top of the conventional left, right, and scroll-wheel click, the X17 has the still-fairly-common dual side buttons, perfect for both gaming and casual use. But hidden in the scroll wheel is tilt scrolling - pushing the scroll wheel to the left or right - and both directions are completely programmable. Tucked above the two side buttons is the gamer-focused “sniper button,” which drops your DPI while it’s being pressed. But, like everything else, it’s rebind-able for daily use or more personalized gaming.

If your EVGA X17 gaming mouse is moonlighting as a working mouse, directly under the scroll wheel is a profile selector, offering a hot-swap through up to five programmable profiles. Set up one for Warzone, one for World of Warcraft, and one for Excel spreadsheets, then swap between them with a single press. And don’t worry - there’s a DPI swap button underneath it as well.

It’s still a gaming mouse first and foremost, though. The EVGA X17 comes with three discreet sensors, a main Pixart 3389, and two LOD, or lift-off-distance, sensors. The Pixart 3389 is the X17’s main sensor and delivers up to 16,000 DPI, while the LOD sensors disable the Pixart as soon as you lift it up (as little 0.279mm of elevation!) so you don’t miss your shot adjusting your mouse. And while the X17 weighs a fairly standard 103 grams out of the box, if you find yourself lifting it too easily, it comes with five 5 gram weights to add some heft.

Of course, it’s not a gaming mouse without RGB and by-zone RGB lights up the scroll wheel, EVGA logo on the palm rest, and the front of the mouse. And, like the Z15 and Z20 keyboard, it’s adjustable with the EVGA Unleash RGB software.

The Software: EVGA Unleash RGB

If you’re decking your desk out in EVGA keyboards and mice, you won’t have to worry about cluttering your PC desktop as well; the Z15, Z20, and X17 all use the same EVGA Unleash RGB software. 

Unleash RBG is minimal and easy to use. All attached peripherals are shown at the top of the program for easy swapping. The majority of the space is filled with easy-to-understand diagrams of your mouse or keyboard, so you know exactly what you’re changing when you make your sniper button open your email instead of DPI Shift.

Macros carry over between peripherals, meaning you only need to program a macro once and you can use it on any EVGA keyboard or mouse. And it is easy to use - simply create an empty macro then hit the record button. It’ll pick up every action you make, including mouse clicks and how long you held a key. No more mistimed ult drops when you time every keypress to be perfect!

The RGB editor is just as simple to use but also offers some depth. All three peripherals come with several color profiles pre-loaded, but if you want to make your own, you have a swath of options. Not only is it by-key RGB, but also by-key RGB effects, meaning you can set your WASD to flash rainbow colors while the rest of the keyboard maintains a static white hue.

Final Word:

The EVGA Z15 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is an easy recommendation, offering an incredibly solid and satisfying standard-issue keyboard. The EVGA Z20 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a bit more niche, but if you’re looking for a niche keyboard with neat tricks like a ToF sensor, you can’t go wrong with it. Lastly, the X17 Gaming Mouse is a great mouse for work and play, but I would recommend stopping by a Micro Center store to feel it before you pick it up, just to make sure it fits your grip.

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