Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard Review

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Sidewinder X6 Review

The Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard is the ultimate gaming keyboard from Microsoft. Compared to Microsoft Reclusa (which is powered by Razer), the SideWinder X6 is truly a Microsoft product. With features made for both gaming and productivity work, the Microsoft SideWinder X6 is a keyboard that stands between the two worlds. However, it is very clear that the keyboard is more focused for gaming enthusiast as you can see from the keyboard features, especially the extensive Macro support.

microsoft sidewinder x6 review

The packaging

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Features

  • Switchable Key-Pad.
    The Keypad can be easily detached and re-attached from the right side to the left side of the keyboard (check the first screenshot). Since most games nowadays use the W-A-S-D navigation, switching the Keypad closer to your W-A-S-D controls makes much more sense. When switched to the left (gaming mode), the Keypad keys are programmable as game Macros.
  • Adjustable Backlighting.
    Through the “magic knob” on top of the keyboard (called the Lighting Dial), you can adjust the backlighting intensity of the keyboard easily. The keyboard keys will be red-lighted and the Macro keys will be amber-lighted. This way, it’ll be easy to distinguish which keyboard keys are used for Macros.

    microsoft sidewinder x6 review - keyboard

    The keyboard buttons

  • Media Control Keys
    Play/Pause, Mute, Next and Previous track Keys which are standards on keyboards nowadays.
  • Volume Dial
    Instead of the traditional up and down volume button, the SideWinder X6 has a large Volume Dial knob which is a big bonus. When you are on the Windows Desktop screen, you can see the volume bar on bottom right of the screen while you are adjusting the volume using the Volume Dial.
  • Built-in Macro Keys.
    The SideWinder X6 has built-in Macro keys (apart from the Key-Pad keys) and allows you to assign up to 90 Macro customizations!
  • Mode Switching.
    sidewinder x6 profile switch
    You are allowed to switch between the default/standard and 2 Gaming modes. You can assign different macros on different profiles/modes. For example you might want to assign Windows shortcuts to the S1 Macro Key on the Standard profile but something else in the Gaming profiles.
    If 3 profile modes don’t sound enough for you, how about assigning different profile/macros for different games? Through its included simple software, you can let it automatically detect which game you are playing on and it will retain all macros that you’ve done on the Macro keys for that specific game. Nice, eh?
  • Cruise Control.
    sidewinder x6 cruise controlGoing to take a sip of wine but don’t want to waste time letting your MMORPG character to stand idle? You can use the Cruise Control to let you release your middle finger from holding that “W” key. Some games have a Cruise Control (for example you can press the NumLock button on Warhammer Online to achieve the same thing) but other games don’t. I’m not sure whether FPS gamers will ever use this though. The button is also a bit too far from the W-A-S-D controls, in my opinion. Thankfully you can assign yourself a Cruise Control by recording it on the macro (for example, I record a macro to hold the CTRL button indefinitely to duck in FPS games). If you are feeling lazy, you can also record your journey from 1 city to the next in an MMORPG game and really feel the power of a real Cruise Control!
  • In-Game Macro Record Button.
    This is probably the best feature in Macro recording that I’ve ever encountered before. On my SteelSeries Ikari Laser mouse, I can assign a few macros to it but I have to record it first through its software. With Microsoft SideWinder X6, I can record it live as I want it to do. This makes creating Macro much easier and less mistakes will be made. For example, instead of pressing 4 and holding my left mouse button to heal on Valve’s Left 4 Dead game, I can press the Macro record button, do it once to record the presses and timing, and save it to a Macro Key. I then only need to press that Macro Key once to do the healing with the correct timing and everything.

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Macros in Detail

sidewinder x6 macro keys

Macros, macros, and more macros!

As mentioned on the features lists, you can assign sets of button presses (combined with mouse clicks) with the SideWinder X6 Macro keys. Now I’m quite a hardcore gaming geek but I never found the need of using Macros before. Since I already have a keyboard that emphasizes on having great Macro features, I’ve decided to dig in deeper and tried to use some Macros on my gaming sessions. Turns out that having Macros is not necessary but it will enhance your gaming experience much further if used correctly.

Left 4 Dead Macros examples:

  • Type “Helpppp” whenever you are being pounced by a Hunter or pulled out by a Smoker (use the application rather than in-live Macro recording to instantly display all the letters)
  • Heal up with the Health Pack/Medikit without pressing 4 and holding your mouse button and say “Wait, I’m healing..”.

Other FPS Shooters Macros examples:

  • Selecting/buying certain weapons/equipments at the beginning of the round through some keyboard presses. You can assign different Macros for different sets based on your current money in game.
  • Duck indefinitely. Tired of holding that Control button for a whole minute? Record it through the X6 SideWinder’s application and only press the key once.

MMORPG Macros examples:

  • Do a series of spells/abilities/skills in succession of your choice on certain timing by pressing a button. You can even customize each Macro button for a duel fight with different characters’ classes.
  • Auto chat messages like: “Ignore that tank, go for the healers!!”
  • The ever popular “Heal pls”. Now you can spam it in front of a Healer by simply pressing one button. Isn’t that great?  :D
  • Or how about “Thank you for healing me, you are so nice!” by simply pressing one Macro Key. Makes them think that you are a caring person by typing those words (little that they know it’s actually pre-recorded).

Or you can even use Macros in applications such as assigning a series of effects in Photo editing applications (especially those repetitive ones like resizing images, applying certain brightness fix, etc). It’s extremely useful if you are doing the same thing/effects regularly.

The Macro buttons are located at the left side of the keyboard and named “S1″, “S2″, and so on. Although the Macro keys have an amber light underneath them to distinguish themselves from the ordinary keyboard keys, there is nothing to indicate which Macro keys have been assigned and which aren’t. Would be cool if keys that have Macro recordings on them can be lighted green, for example. There is also no indication as to what a Macro Key has been assigned for unless you check it on the application. So make sure that you remember which Macro keys supposed to do what pre-recorded actions.

The Macros are unfortunately not stored on the keyboard itself so if you are bringing your lovely SideWinder X6 to a LAN party or competition, you have to install the program first (something that you may not be allowed to on public computers) and import the saved settings.

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard Review Conclusion

sidewinder x6 keyboard at night

SideWinder x6 at night

Microsoft SideWinder X6 is a macro heaven for hardcore gamers who know how to effectively use Macros in their gaming sessions (apparently if you look at my examples, I haven’t fully utilized the use of macros in my games). Apart from the full macros support, the SideWinder X6 is perfect for gamers because of the keyboard backlighting, switchable keypad, automatic disable of the annoying Windows key while gaming (on Profile 2, 3, and the auto detection profiles), and fully programmable Macro actions through the application that comes with the keyboard.

Apart from the Macros, the keyboard is not really the ultimate gaming keyboard yet. I wish the keyboard has a microphone and headphone jack so that I don’t need to plug-in my microphone to the back of my computer anymore when I’m playing games (or at least have one USB slot). I wish I can double tap a keyboard key quickly to initiate the Cruise Control. I wish the keypad has a Bluetooth connection so that I can disengage the keypad and it will still work separately. Of course, all of this are possible but at an expense of a more hefty price for the keyboard.

If you love using Macros in your games, however, you should grab Microsoft SideWinder X6 indefinitely. It has tons of macro keys that you can use and the automatically set to separate profile for different games will come in handy!

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard RRP: AU$149.95.

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Pros:
+ Lots of Macro Keys available for those Macro maniacs.
+ Red Backlighting for ultimate gaming during the night with the lights switched off.
+ Volume Dial knob to adjust volume.
+ Detachable KeyPad and can be switched to the left or right.
+ Can record Macros during gameplay or on-the-go.

Microsoft SideWinder X6 Cons:
– Take some time to get used to the smaller keyboard keys.
– KeyPad buttons don’t work while detached.
– Have to remember which Macro buttons have what recordings in them.
– No USB slot or Audio/Microphone jack on the keyboard.




Ready for the next dimension in gaming performance, custom tuning, and action? Then grab on to the Microsoft SideWinder X6 Keyboard-the powerful companion to the Microsoft line of award-winning SideWinder gaming mice. This breakthrough keyboard incorporates a host of powerful features, including a detachable key pad, in-game macro recording, a full media key set, automatic and manual mode/profile switching, two-color dimmable backlighting, and much more. Plus, at the touch of a button, it doubles as your high-performance keyboard for everyday computing.
List Price:$79.95 USD
New From:$399.00 USD In Stock
Used from:$56.95 USD In Stock

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A technology enthusiast, blogger, gamer, and reviewer. Proud owner of Craving Tech
  • http://www.blogengage.com bbrian017

    This keyboard looks amazing Michael! I’m so jealous right now hahaha! I love the way it looks in the dark all lit up with red it’s awesome!
    .-= bbrian017´s last blog ..Firefox 3.5 – The Browser Wars Continue =-.

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      Although I love blue better than red, it still looks awesome :) Thanks to Microsoft who provided me with the review unit

  • http://www.megaphase.info Megapahse.info

    That looks like a nice keyboard. I have the Saitek Cyborg and I say it’s alot cooler. It has all of those fancy media buttons, but it also has the ability to light up in 5 different colors, and it also has 6 different regions of the keyboard that can be configured for different colors. Also, the arrow keys, spacebar and wasd keys are reinforced with metal. In total it has 12 macro keys (but I never find any use for them haha).

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      5 Different colors? Dang! I wish I can have a blue light on my SideWinder X6 :)

      Yeah the macro takes some time to get used to. I guess it can be powerful but makes you lazy at the same time hehe

  • http://thenexus.tk/sitemap Donace

    Have you had a look at the logitech G15 keyboard? I currently use that as my keyboard and it is very similar to this.

    – Backlights
    – macro support
    – USB Ports
    – ‘game mode’ button (so stops window button etc)
    – Programmable LCD display

    I urge you to have a look at that also … they are ridiculously similar. Main diff being no CControl Button here and no LCD on the x6 and price wise think logitech is slightly cheaper as well.

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      I’ve seen the reviews, screenshots, and also the videos. Looking cool but the LCD is a bit overkill, I think. Unless Logitech releases great updates/software for it, there’s no point in watching YouTube on it!

  • http://Arted4life.com Evoltage

    I myself have the razer Copperhead and the Lycosa. Both are backlit blue and i couldnt be more happy with them. The Copperhead has a great grip, ultra high sensitivity and it never goes to sleep. So you dont have to wait while it “wakes up” Its on the fly DPI adjustment is really useful too. Plus both look killer at night.

    This keyboard has some pretty good features. I like the idea of a detachable keypad. Seems useful. Thanks for the review.

    ———————————
    http://Arted4life.com

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      Yeah Razer Lycosa, especially the mirror, looks so sexy :) Wish I can get a hold of one

  • matias

    Hey! I think this is good… BUT!! I have a problem with the Volume knob.. It doesnt work.. I watched in forums about it and it said something about start HID Service Device but I cant start it becouse it cant find the hid.dll file in system32.. PLEASE HELP ME!

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      Have you tried re-installing the software/driver? When I have that problem I normally restart my computer and it works again (but this happens very rarely)

  • http://dummybanker.com Haryanto

    Yay! Got one already. Love the keyboard response, macro and backlighting. I got rid of the extended numpad though. No use for gaming.

    Now I can play in the dark. Save electricity and envinrontment!
    .-= Haryanto´s last blog ..Logitech MX Revolution vs Razer DeathAdder =-.

    • http://www.cravingtech.com/blog Michael Aulia

      Yeah. I just wish the keys are softer a little bit

  • ShadowNet

    I cant macro right WSAD / Arrow keys to S-buttons.
    When I press S22 for “W” my onscreen gaming character only moves a few steps rather than continuous movement. Keyboard “W” works fine. How do I get continuous movement with the numpad “W” (for forwad movement)?

    I tried to programme it on Half-life 2, Team frotress 2, Need for Speed: Shift, Dawn of War2, Crysis and Lost Planet Extreme Condition
    Im running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit.