When you think of serious gaming accessories you probably don’t think of office supplies, but that might change after taking an honest look at what Velocilinx is offering with their Brennus Gaming Collection, a vivid lineup of keyboards, headsets and mice with a distinct “warrior” motif that appears to be sold exclusively through office superstore Staples.
It might sound a bit odd to buy gaming accessories at the same place you’d pick up copy paper and ink toner, but in this increasingly competitive market it’s possible to find a quality experience just about anywhere. Velocilinx is a fairly new company on the scene and everyone has to start somewhere, I guess Staple is an untapped retailer ripe for gaming dollars.
Boudica and Brennus bundles are nearly identical, save for some color differences and their mechanical gaming keyboards (which are completely different). Either way, you’re not only getting a respectable gaming bundle of quality accessories but a history lesson as well. Boudica is named after the Celtic queen who led a revolt against the Romans while the Brennus gets its namesake from a Gallic king who invaded and – ultimately – defeated the Romans. Historical badasses through and through, and – despite being dead for centuries – ideal brand ambassadors to help conquer the gaming landscape.
Brennus Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Easily the most expensive of the Brennus lineup is the gaming keyboard, a solid option for serious typists / gamers who want a sturdy set of keys, colorful backlighting, and a high-quality base that looks great sitting amongst its colorful brethren. This is a full-sized keyboard complete with a numberpad and row of function keys on top, each hiding dual roles when used in conjunction with the single Function key at the bottom.
The Brennus keyboard sports the same stripped down style that’s become familiar in other high-end (and even some budget options like the Philips G614 Keyboard). This means all keys are attached to a slick brushed aluminum body with a cool gunmetal black coloring that looks pretty nice and feels every bit like a solid keyboard should. The only other accompaniments are two small extendable legs on the back that allow the keyboard to be raised slightly, but that’s about it.
As we’ve come to expect from most “gaming” branded keyboards the Brennus is all about lighting – and what a lightshow it makes. Velocilinx touts their lighting array as exclusive “prism lighting technology”, but this is just another term for chromatic lighting effects, but at least the Brennus has true LED lighting for every individual key. If having a dazzling RGB lightshow is critical for your typing experience, here’s a keyboard for you!
Whether you spotted them on the box or when curiosity got the best of you and you couldn’t help pulling off one of the keys, the Brennus keyboard uses blue mechanical switches – just not the pricier Cherry switches. Instead, Velocilinx opted for the cheaper, just highly capable Outemu blue mechanical switches instead. A sub-brand of Gaote, these Cherry Chinese clones offer a typing experience that’s on par with Cherry – with all the loud clicks and punches you’d expect. I’ve used Outemu switches in the past and never had an issue with them – some “experts” find they produce a slightly quieter click, but to these ears they’ve always been just as noisy as anything. Personally, I prefer the softer Brown switches, but Blue does the trick when you need them.
The Brennus lighting array is impressive but can be overwhelming at first. There’s DOZENS of different lighting styles to choose from, including preset gaming modes, that can be cycled through or activated using a combination of Function+ key combinations. If you’ve seen other lighting effects on other high-end gaming keyboards than the lighting effects here will appear similar, which is great as they pair great with other accessories in the Brennus lineup like the Headset and Mouse.
In all fairness, this keyboard should come with an epilepsy warning as some of the strobe effects pulsate to such a degree that it’s not hard to imagine them having an effect on some users.
Like any good gaming keyboard you’ve got your anti-ghosting keystrokes, media controls, Windows-lock and even several keys to program to your hearts content. Controlling some of these options, however, is a bit clunkier than it should be as many require several multi-button key presses to use properly. Or you could just opt to install and use the Velocilinx software, which lets you play with and customize some of the keyboard’s more “colorful” features and program macros.
My only real complaints with the Brennus’ look and build are the text overkill on the keys themselves and cheaper plastic USB cable – a braided cable would’ve been nice. While I appreciate the thought of having individual keys’ secondary uses labeled, they just look ugly in practice. Did we really need keys to be sub-labeled FPS, CF (crossfire), or tied to specific games like COD (Call of Duty) and LOL (League of Legends)? I’m also not a big fan of the Tron-esque font on the keys themselves, which makes the O, D, and B keys look like cheesy sci-fi lettering. Plus, the secondary number/symbol keys look confusing with their new styles – if I’m having to continually glance down to pick out letters and symbols, that’s not a good thing.
Brennus 7.1 Surround Sound USB Gaming Headset
Next up is the Brennus Surround Sound USB Gaming Headset, and Velocilinx doesn’t stray from the formula for most gaming headsets. You can expect steampunk-like aesthetics, materials that incorporate pieces of aluminum for the frame and hard plastics everywhere else, with leatherette earpads and a floating headband for maximum fitment and comfort. Of course, it wouldn’t be hardcore without LED RGB lighting that pulses on the exterior grille of the earcups. Oh, and because it’s all about branding, you also have both a “Velocilinx” and “VX” logo displayed on each side.
The differences between the Brennus and Boudica headsets are purely cosmetic, as the touches are more about flourish and whether you like your headset finished in strong black or elegant white hues. Everything else from the 50mm drivers, 21 Ω impedance to even 20Hz-20kHz frequency is completely identical.
The omnidirectional microphone is hardwired into the left module, but it does reach your mouth and lights up when enabled. The same goes for wired USB connectivity and its generous 7.2 ft of braided cord, and the inline controls offer basic functionality for volume and to mute/disable the mic and lightshow. It’s a simple solution, but it would be nice to have a clip for the controller to hang off a shirt and not dangle.
The Brennus will sit nicely on most heads with its weight and feel isolated to the inner earpad. The fact that aluminum, though marginal, is used as the headband frame reduces strain for sessions more than a few hours. I was surprised that Velocilinx did their homework on ergonomics and didn’t charge more for this luxury and was pleased to find the earpads have memory foam to relieve some of that pressure on the ears. Again, these are features more commonly found on higher-priced headsets but the Brennus has them, too.
Usage is going to be centered around the PC, but that’s where the advertised surround sound and extended filler options such as EQ/effect customization come into play. Yes, you’ll need to install the necessary software from the Velocilinx website and deal with some trial and error getting it to launch. When it does though, you’re treated to a simple layout and a couple setting tabs, the highlight being the virtual 7.1 configuration which can be switched on the fly and even tweak listening positions.
Virtualized surround is tricky and the Brennus does benefit somewhat. After switching between stereo and the peusdo-7.1ch mode the noise coming from the headset was noticeable and opened things up a little bit. However, it was simply louder rather than emulating individual channels outright. Is it a bona-fide representation of true surround sound? Nope. Is it still a passable substitute for budget-oriented headsets? You bet.
The Brennus is a gaming headset so, naturally, gaming is what most users will be interested in. For the most part it delivers acceptable performance, with an emphasis on producing a brighter sound profile without breaking any new acoustic ground.
Bass on Tetris Effect was mostly composed and consistent at the midrange while ambient music and nuances heard in Control portrayed the unsettling atmosphere well. The main criticisms are depth and high-end balance as the Brennus attempt to punch above their class, you can often hear minor driver distortion beyond medium volumes and a flatter tone for higher-pitched sound.
Compatibility between anything else besides PC is very limited, but, surprisingly, at least the Nintendo Switch gets some needed love. Direct USB connection via the dock or (if you’re clever with a USB-C to male USB-A adapter) to a Switch/Switch Lite itself will grant you stereo sound, which is a step up over basic TV or the internal console speakers. Don’t expect any of the optional surround sound perks though.
Much of the same thing can said when enjoying music. Obviously, the Brennus doesn’t reach levels of sophistication (or even a blip on the radar) for self-proclaimed audiophiles, but they do a good job if you casually listen to music. From U2, Seal, George Thorogood to Beastie Boys I wasn’t disappointed with its performance as far as non-enthusiast headsets are concerned. If Spotify, Apple Music or MP3s are you’re thing, the Brennus should do nicely.
Brennus Optical Gaming Mouse
To round out the Velocilinx lineup of PC gaming peripherals, we saved the most interesting of the bunch for last. What makes the Boudica / Brennus optical gaming mouse so special isn’t just its unique design or quality build – both are true – but that it’s able to offer all of this plus all the blinking RGB lighting you wouldn’t expect an otherwise budget mouse to offer. As we saw with both the gaming headsets, the Boudica / Brennus mice are identical in function and performance, the only differences being its outer styling.
At first glance it’s obvious the appearance is very non-traditional, and there seems to have been a lot more thought put into its appearance than either the keyboard or headset; its rare that we see a mixture of material combinations on gaming mice at this price, but that’s what we have here.
A solid piece entirely machined out of aluminum makes up the baseplate and side grip, while the left side (forward/back) and center DPI buttons are also cut from the same metallic components. The shape also aides as a thumb rest of sorts thanks largely to the way its formed, a minor accommodation for most hands but there’s also superficial marks and laser-cut pitted and arrow-like openings for good measure. The Boudica is wired but at least the USB cable is thoughtfully braided for durability.
Equally interesting is how well the rest of the body is designed and incorporates liberal amounts of matted plastic which has a highly textured feel even in slippery hands (a common occurrence when sessions get intense). Even then, the plastic is stylishly contoured without feeling weak and/or brittle, an uncommon trait belies its cheap price.
The Boudica mouse is a product of shocking exterior quality with a see-through body and two “prism LED lighting” modules with a large pulsing rainbow orb and connecting the frame and showing through the brand logo on top, while a mostly transparent notched scroll wheel shows off another beacon of LED goodness. That predominant gap gives the Boudica a very open lightshow that everyone will gawk at, which may be the biggest reason you’ll want one.
It’s also relatively lightweight for its size at 5oz., the mass is centered on the business end where buttons are, so your palm is able to move the mouse quickly as far as forward momentum is concerned and immediately know this on feel alone. This is good if you’re into top-heavy pointer games and precision. and the lower partition has some lift for faster movement in a pinch. Sadly, the ergonomic bliss doesn’t extend to the sides due to the aluminum and position of side buttons that had to be moved up to accommodate those fancy aesthetics, resulting in a some relearning of the old muscle memory.
We’re used to high-end gaming accessories needing additional software and the Boudica is no exception. When installed you’ll be able to customize features such as specific DPI sensitivity, sensor precision speed and adjust strength and static color of the prism LED lighting to name a few. The layout is simple enough and allows you to map buttons to whatever macros you want and the ability to skip over the preselected DPI locks for any value between 200 to 10,000. We at Popzara usually groan at addition software since we prefer to keep our systems free of superfluous bulk, but if you want to do simple things like turning off those blinding lights, it’s a necessary evil.
Overall, the Boudica Gaming Mouse performs great and sits near the top of its class within its price bracket, especially when taking the locked DPI adjustments into account. By default, the 1000DPI mode is more than adequate for most people and matched the fluidity and accuracy of an normal mouse, so nothing special but also nothing bad either. The Boudica (obviously) make more sense for gaming and that’s where the DPI button comes in, though I never experienced any of the unresponsive or lag in optical sensitivity that plagues lesser mice, so that’s a plus.
Conclusion: Tough ‘n Bright
Nothing in the Brennus Gaming Collection stands out in any significant way, but considering their budget-friendly pricing that’s not a bad thing. Both packages offer users a trio of solid gaming accessories built with quality materials and dazzling RGB lighting effects. When choosing just make sure to look extra carefully at their keyboards as both offering slightly different designs and functionality. Velocilinx may be an unfamiliar name right now but they’ve definitely produced a solid trio of accessories that merit a closer look, especially if price is a concern. The next time you’re at Staples to restock your cubicle and coincidentally want to upgrade your gaming kit, the Boudica and Brennus bundles might be a worthy impulse buy.