The Microsoft Sidewinder X4 Keyboard, intended for gaming, features membrane keys. While this means that it will not perform quite as well as a mechanical keyboard, it certainly will surpass most, if not all, other membrane keyboards in terms of comfort and performance. The surface of the keys is glossy and black, with transparent slots for the red back light to shine through. Sidewinder X4’s red back light has 4 modes: low, medium, high and off and can be toggled using a singe key located at the top of the keyboard. The back light is not noticeable in well lit rooms, but is easily discernible in medium to low lighting conditions. Even at the brightest setting the back light is not glaringly bright, but is still sufficiently bright for most lighting conditions.
Near it is an array of multimedia keys along with the macro record key and the bay switch key. As its name suggests, the macro record key allows a user to record a macro, or a sequence of keys which can be programmed. This can be done with the macro record key as well as through the Microsoft Keyboard software. This keyboard utilizes a multi-bank macro recording system which allows for 3 banks of 6 programmable keys each. These 6 keys are located on the left side of the keyboard and are aligned in a single column arrangement. All keys are easy to press and are separated enough so that one should not accidentally press multiple keys at once.
The tips of the keys are a gripe for some since they are smaller than the average key, but this only appears to improve accuracy since this results in more spacing between the keys. This should not be an issue for anyone with small to medium hands, but may pose a problems for people with very large hands.
Sidewinder X4 features a fixed wrist rest at the bottom of the keyboard. It is formed out of plastic with a slightly rough texture. This rest slants downward which provides a comfortable tilt for typing and gaming.
With all things taken into consideration, Microsoft Sidewinder X4 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars since the keyboard collects fingerprints due to its glossy finish and fixed wrist rest which does not offer any alternative if a user is not satisfied with it. With that being said, Sidewinder X4 is still the best keyboard under $50.