Tesoro has been manufacturing computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, headsets, and chairs for quite some time, but they don’t seem to be mentioned as often as I’d expect during peripheral discussions. However, they seem to offer some fully-featured and innovative products such as the keyboard we have for review today. That keyboard is Tesoro’s Gram Spectrum TKL which is a low-profile, compact (tenkeyless), RGB, mechanical keyboard designed to be portable while still competing with high-end gaming keyboards.
Specifications & Features
|Tesoro Gram Spectrum TKL|
|Switch Type||Tesoro Agile Slim Red Switch|
|Actuation Distance||1.5 mm (±0.5 mm)|
|Operating Force||45 g (±15 g)|
|Travel Distance||3.5 mm (±0.5 mm)|
|Processor||32 bit ARM Cortex Processor|
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz|
|Backlight||16.8 million RGB colors|
|Cable||1.8 m detachable braided cable|
|Dimensions||365 x 136 x 25.6 mm|
- Compact Tenkeyless Body
- Optimized Low-profile Design
- Tesoro’s Agile Slim Switch
- 6-key and N-key Rollover
- Six Multimedia Keys
- Five gaming profiles
- All Keys Fully Programmable
- Instant Macro Recording
- Versatile Lighting Effects – Individual Key Customization
Packaging & Accessories
The front of the box has a nice isometric shot of the keyboard itself. Tesoro branding is in the top left corner of the board that also mentions the Gram Spectrum TKL is a low profile mechanical keyboard. In the bottom right there are a few more details including a mention of customizable 16.8 million color RGB lighting, low-profile keycaps, and Tesoro’s own low-profile Agile switch.
The inside of the box is standard keyboard packaging with a separate compartment for the USB cable. A manual is also included that details features of the board in multiple languages.
A close-up of the USB cable shows us that it is removable (obviously), uses a micro USB connection, has gold plated connectors, sports a ferrite bead, and is braided along its length.
TESORO Gram Spectrum TKL
The Gram Spectrum TKL is made with a steel plate and plastic case. The finish on this sample is matte black, although Tesoro also makes a white version. The branding above the arrow cluster is very minimal and blends well with the rest of the board since it’s black as well.
The bottom of the Gram Spectrum TKL is plain with triangular rubber feet in each corner of the board for when it’s laying flat. There are also two feet that can be flipped out to incline the board.
The USB port is on the top right side of the board between the F12 key and Print Screen key.
When taking a look at the side of the Gram Spectrum TKL the main feature I notice is the keycaps’ profile. The keycaps are identical regardless of which row they are located, which adds to the board’s low-profile. Standard keycaps will have different heights and angles depending on the key row to provide a more ergonomic typing experience.
I had to take the board indoors to get a decent image of the RGB lighting. The default lighting effect is a spiraling change of color throughout the board, but this can be changed within Tesoro’s software.
Tesoro 360 Software
Tesoro provides their own software for controlling all aspects of the Gram Spectrum TKL. Once loading the software, we’re given the option to choose between Quick Start and Advanced modes. Quick Start only allows basic lighting control for all of the profiles, including PC mode. Digging into the Advanced mode is where we can customize every aspect of the board. The lighting and function of each individual key can be changed to whatever you like. Some of the possible key function assignments include standard keyboard inputs, mouse inputs, launching an application, opening a file, media controls, and even custom macros. The possibilities seem almost limitless when it comes to programming this board.
Tesoro’s Agile switch is designed to be physically shorter than the standard MX style switch. These switches combined with the shorter keycaps gives the Gram Spectrum TKL a much lower height than typical mechanical keyboards. I would describe it as between the flat, laptop-style keyboard and a standard mechanical keyboard.
The Gram Spectrum TKL uses the Agile linear red switch which can be compared to other linear red MX-style switches from other companies. The Tesoro Agile, Cherry MX, and Gateron red switches all have a 45 g actuation force. However, the Agile red has a shorter actuation travel distance of 1.5 mm versus 2.0 mm.
Here’s a shot of the Gram Spectrum TKL Escape keycap along with a standard Escape keycap.
We can see that both keycaps are scooped, but the Gram Spectrum TKL’s keycap is only around half the height of the standard keycap.
The second layer of the F1-F5 keys allows quick and easy profile switching without going into the Tesoro 360 software.
It’s always nice to see media keys included on a keyboard for a quick and easy way to control your in-game audio, music, or movie. On the Gram Spectrum TKL, the media keys are on the second layer of the F7-F12 keys and provide play, pause, skipping, mute, and volume control functions.
The keys in the upper right cluster are used to provide additional functions with a second layer. The Insert and Delete keys offer a choice between 6-key and n-key rollover. Page Up and Page Down control the brightness of the RGB lighting. End can be used to lock the entire keyboard. Pause switches between game mode (last used profile) and PC mode (basic default profile). Lastly, the Home key can be used to start recording custom macros while outside of the Tesoro 360 software.
Linear switches are my favorite type of mechanical switch, so I was excited to try out Tesoro’s low profile Agile switch. I’ve used a variety of linear switches including Cherry MX Red, Gateron Black, Gateron Yellow, and Kailh BOX Yellow. The Agile switches definitely feel most like the Cherry MX Red because of their light actuation and bottom out weights. However, since I usually bottom out my keystrokes, I don’t really notice the ~0.5 mm shorter actuation distance of the Agile switch.
The switches are smooth throughout the travel distance; no scratchy feeling. As with most mechanical switches, there is a little bit of wobble between the stem and housing, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The typing sound is a little deeper than most of the custom keyboards I’ve tried. The noise is close to how my old RACE with Cherry MX Red switches and o-ring silencers sounds. So the noise is definitely easier on the ears when bottoming out.
Tesoro forgoes an ergonomic keycap profile in favor of a low profile for a portable, compact design. With all the keycaps being flat, I did notice having to reach a little further to hit keys on top two rows, especially the F row. I personally don’t find myself using the top row very often except for when using the pre-programmed media keys on F7-F12.
The Tesoro Gram Spectrum TKL isn’t just a compact and sleek keyboard, it’s built well with a sturdy steel plate which is paired with a floating keycap design that helps protect it from spills and debris. The board also has a huge list of notable features, but the standouts for me are the custom switches and keycaps, fully programmable keys including macro recording, per key RGB lighting, and multiple profiles for saving different setups. As far as price goes, Tesoro’s Gram Spectrum TKL has an MSRP of $99 ($99 @ Amazon), which, in my opinion, is pretty cheap considering all of the features built into the board.
The possible downsides would come down to one’s personal preferences, such as the keycap profile being less ergonomic or the font used for the keycaps. Hitting on those two points, the keycap profile is a non-issue for me. However, I’m not really a fan of the keycap font and would prefer something more standard without gaps in the letters and numbers.
Overall, Tesoro’s Gram Spectrum TKL is a relatively cheap, fully-featured, and innovative TKL keyboard with a low profile design thanks to custom switches and keycaps. There really isn’t much else one could ask for in a mechanical keyboard. Saying the Gram Spectrum TKL is “fully-featured” is definitely an understatement.
– Matt Green (MattNo5ss)