I have a confession: I’m exhausted by the RGB keyboard lighting. Ever since Cherry announced its first MX RGB switches in late 2013, it seems no consumer mechanical keyboard has been complete without a set of lights that can twinkle like a Christmas tree. But I change them to plain white at the first opportunity. I want to be able to see my keys, not be distracted by them.
That’s the first reason I was intrigued by Logitech’s new budget keyboard, the G413 TKL SE, which has a simple design and solid white backlighting. The second reason is its price, $69.99, which is very affordable for a mechanical keyboard from a major brand. On paper it’s perfect, and one of those rare instances where removing a supposedly premium feature actually makes a device more attractive overall.
In use, however, the Logitech G413 TKL SE definitely feels like a $69.99 keyboard, with a typing feel that feels a bit cheap compared to more expensive competitors. Which is a shame because, on paper, it basically delivers everything you hope for.
The G413 TKL SE is a keyless keyboard, meaning it does away with the number pad to the right to create a slightly more compact layout without going so far as to cram everything into a laptop-style rectangle of keys. If you need a numeric keypad, there is a larger model called G413 SE, which is functionally identical except for the layout. I’m testing the keyboard with a US layout, but at the time of this writing Logitech has yet to respond about a UK layout version.
If the name G413 sounds familiar to you, it might be because Logitech originally used the name on a keyboard announced in 2017. The G413 TKL SE lacks the original G413’s USB passthrough, and it also only has 6-key rollover as opposed to 26, which means you can press fewer keys simultaneously before it gets confusing. The SE also only comes with a white backlight, while the previous G413 was available in either red or white, depending on the model. The original G413 also didn’t have a keyless model.
The most significant difference between the G413 and G413 SE models, however, is that they use Cherry MX-style switches rather than Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G switches. This means that you will be able to swap out their keycaps for a wide range of aftermarket options in case you want to change the look of the G413 TKL SE.
The Logitech G413 TKL SE may use Cherry MX style switches, but they are not original Cherry models. Instead, they are Longhua switches made by Kaihua. There’s also only one switch choice, “Tactile”, which is roughly equivalent to Cherry’s MX Brown switches. There are no linear or clickable options here, nor is the G413 TKL SE hot-swappable, meaning you’ll have to use a soldering iron if you want to change its switches.
Unfortunately, these switches just aren’t as pleasant to type on as more high-end keyboards, and are the main place where you feel the Logitech G413 TKL SE’s affordability. All in all, it might sound a bit noisy. Key presses generate hollow noises rather than crisp taps, and switches just feel right disabled somehow I find it hard to put my metaphorical, if not physical, finger. Understandable perhaps, given that it’s nearly $100 less than many competing mechanical keyboards from mainstream brands, but it’s a stark reminder that “mechanical” keyboards encompass a huge range of levels. of different quality.
I don’t think most people will be in dire need of replacing the original G413 TKL SE keys. They’re made of durable PBT plastic, their backlit legends are clean and crisp, and they have a nice bold font that doesn’t look too angular or aggressive like you find with other gaming-focused brands. The only exception is if you plan to use the G413 TKL SE with a Mac as there are no macOS-specific legends on the keys (typical for a gaming-focused keyboard).
Beyond its keys, the sleek design of the TKL SE continues. The only branding element is a silver Logitech G logo in the top right, but otherwise the keyboard is all black aside from its white LEDs. Its 1.8m (almost 6ft) long USB cable unfortunately isn’t detachable, but there are a pair of feet under the keyboard to prop it up at a comfortable angle. Media, volume, and other functions are integrated into the function row and accessed via the Fn key.
The only layout tweak I would make is to add a discrete print screen key, which on keyless boards is usually located above the insert key. But here, that space is taken up by the LEDs for caps and scroll lock. In my ideal future, we’d remove the Insert key completely from modern keyboards to avoid dealing with these sorts of issues (it’s also time to get rid of Pause Break, quite frankly), but I digress.
While you can fix these layout issues with third-party software, the keyboard isn’t natively remappable, and it doesn’t work with Logitech’s G Hub software. I’d appreciate the remapping feature, but I suspect a lot of people will be happy not to have another app running in the background on their computer.
Although Logitech calls the G413 TKL SE a “gaming keyboard,” you won’t find many concrete specs here to back that up. There’s no mention of the kind of high polling rates that reduce input lag from keyboards like the Razer Huntsman V2 or Corsair K70. Its switches also don’t have the kind of reduced travel that you’ll see gaming-focused switches marketed with. You have to squeeze them 1.9mm before they actuate, compared to 1.2mm for Cherry MX Speed Silver, for example. But, honestly, I’ve never seen much benefit from these gaming-focused features, and I certainly wouldn’t choose one keyboard over another because of them.
I have plenty of time for what Logitech offers with the G413 TKL SE. This is a mechanical keyboard stripped down to the essentials and sold at an affordable price. There are no hot-swappable switches, no detachable cable, and no RGB lighting. There’s only one switch option, one backlight color, and a reasonable price of $69.99. If you prefer tactile switches, this should be an easy choice.
I just wish typing on this keyboard was more enjoyable. It’s not broken, and it’s not hard to use; it just feels cheap compared to more premium (and more expensive) alternatives like the Keychron Q1 or the Filco Majestouch 2. That won’t matter much if this is your first mechanical keyboard, but if you know better, then you probably expect better.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge