Logitech G13 Review

I'm definitely not a hardcore gamer. The only serious game I play is World of Warcraft but for the last six years it takes about five-six hours of my life every single week and I regret nothing. So, if you think that the gaming device should be reviewed by the pro-gamer, read it somewhere else.

Logitech G13 gamepad is indeed a pure gaming device. Of course, you can bind the Photoshop, or Vim, or whatever hotkeys to it and even emulate mouse with the joystick but there are solutions that fit that goal much better for less. With its 22 keys and a joystick (with its own two keys) Logitech G13 is also an overkill for the simpler games where WASD and a couple of keys for weapons, abilities or something like that are enough.

MMORPGs are games where all those keys could come in handy. 22 keys is barely enough to bind the most frequently used abilities of the average World of Warcraft character, but even those 22 keys makes player’s life a little bit easier. So here the review of the Logitech G13 gamepad from the viewpoint of the casual WoW player.

Logitech G13
Logitech G13 gamepad

Two months ago I broke my right arm. For the right-handed person who uses computer 16 hours a day it was a disaster. Getting used to move mouse with the left hand was slow and almost painful.

With my dominant hand in cast I suddenly got a bunch of free time I was able to spend playing games, but the only game I am interested in is way too complicated to play with just one hand, especially the left one.

Yes, I know, it sounds funny. Everything about playing games with only one hand sounds funny until somebody fractures his Radius bone.

Most of the time in World of Warcraft you need both mouse and keyboard to do stuff. Even the simplest tasks like farming require to switch from mouse to keyboard and back several times a minute. If you love to snack in front of your computer you know that feel. Everything becoming much more complicated when your other hand is not available either due to the bone fracture or due to being busy with handling a taco.

That's why I started to search for the solutions which would allow me to do more staff without switching between keyboard and mouse.

Well, actually, the idea of getting an MMO-optimized mouse was dismissed in like several minutes since the all such mice (like a Razer Naga, for example) are crafted for the right-handed people and I was a left-handed person for the next month. Even if the local store would have a left-handed version of similarly designed mouse I wouldn't buy it, because buying a very expensive peripheral to use less than a month and than put aside most probably (I hope so) forever is a little bit out of my league.

Logitech G13
Logitech G13 gamepad

So getting a dedicated gaming keyboard become a natural choice. And this is when the so called gamepads have caught my attention. There were two models readily available in the local computer stores: Razer Nostromo and Logitech G13. After the dozen of reviews the latter was chosen and immediately purchased.

First thing I should note about the Logitech G13 is its built quality. I changed quite a lot Logitech's top of the range mice in the past so I am pretty much accustomed to the company's standards but the G13 gamepad is undoubtedly exceeds them. This thing is heavy, solid and makes a very good initial impression. There are at least five different types of plastic on the G13's exterior: glossy, mat and somewhere in between. The Logitech logo on the silver plate under the palm rest is subtle and unobtrusive, and the palm rest itself is covered with soft rubbery plastic that fixes your wrist in the proper position.

Logitech G13
Logitech G13 gamepad

Joystick is soft and smooth and the its buttons are easily accessible with a thumb, but there is no way it can replace mouse in the fast paced games like WoW. With the current version of drivers—3.06—there is no reasonable way to bind camera control on it either, because you can’t bind right-click mouse moves. So the really adequate option is to bind WASD on it (and not on the G4, G10, G11, G12, since they are better for the core abilities). Even if you are moving properly—with your mouse—WASD will come handy in some situations, especially if the A and D are your strafe keys.

In my quest to replace mouse as much as possible I also tried the configuration when the movement was bound to G13’s G4, G10, G11, G12 keys (as WASD, obviously) and 3D turning (up and down) was bound to the joystick. For the camera control I have used the WoW feature that allows to predefine some camera setting like distance and angle and bound them to the keys for later use. It wasn’t a great experience either. However, it could be the best way to use this gamepad when not only one of your hand’s disabled but the other hand’s mobility is also restricted for some reason.

So the best setup I came up with was binding the WASD to the joystick to use rarely, mostly for backpedalling in some situations, Jump and TAB came to the joystick buttons and nothing bound to the joystick press since it’s practically impossible to press in real life situation. The keys from G1 to G22 was bound to special abilities with the most often used ones closer to the center of the board and the home G4, G10, G11, G12 keys.

To make things more intuitive and easy to remember I have installed the Bartender4 WoW plugin and rearranged the action bars in a shape of the Logitech G13 keyboard.

Logitech G13
WoW action bars rearranged by Bartender4 add-on to be in the shape of the Logitech G13 keyboard

This setup was more comfortable and more productive (if you can use this word for gaming activities) when my right arm was in cast, and this is even more comfortable and productive now, when I can handle the mouse with my right arm again.

Logitech G13 is a great device that can multiply the fun you are getting from games trifold, but it has some flows. First of all, the keys. Despite the pretty steep pricing for the quarter or the standard keyboard, inside Logitech G13 is a usual membrane keyboard with the keys being quite stiff and mushy. If you got used to the good laptop or Apple Aluminum keyboards, or even if you are a diehard mechanical keyboard fan, this stiffness and mushiness will annoy you pretty much.

LCD on the top on the top side of the gamepad is turned out to be solely for the wow-factor sake. It looks cool and adds a lot to the device futuristic design, but when the wow-factor will wear off you will not find it really useful and I bet you would trade it for a slightly better price without remorse.

On a Mac the uselessness of the Logitech G13’s LCD is even more obvious. The thing is in the G13 OS X drivers which are terrible to say the least. First of all, there are two independent drivers, one for keypad and one for LCD. Both of them can’t autostart. Every time you reboot your Mac (thankfully, this is not the daily choir) you need to start the logitech’s configuration utility to make your keybindings work, and, if you want the LCD to display something other than the big G13 on it you should go to the System Preferences and activate the LCD driver manually from over there.