Redragon Kumara K552 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review

Front view of  Redragon K552
Front view of Redragon K552

Redragon is a commonly known brand for producing high-quality budget mechanical keyboards. We bought 3 Redragon mechanical keyboards for over $100, and the Kumara K552 was one of them. This mechanical keyboard is $36.54 on Amazon currently. It was a 4.5-star rating with 6,350 ratings. That’s a ton of reviews, and many of which are very positive.

Before, we start jumping into the details and all the review things, we would not recommend this keyboard. For $20 more, we can get a much higher-quality keyboard. Let’s look at why we don’t recommend this keyboard and what other keyboards we can use instead.

Quick Snapshot

  • Compact tenkeyless design with 87-keys
  • Non-detachable USB cable
  • Oetemu Blue clicky switches (a Cherry MX blue equivalent)
  • Black case
  • RGB lighting with 5 pre-programmed lighting settings
  • 5 brightness levels for backlight, adjustable breathing speed
  • N-key rollover
  • 12 Multimedia keys in the function row by pressing FN+F# key
  • 2 rubber feet
  • 2 rubberized kickstands for an incline typing angle
  • Metal base and ABS plastic case with plate-mounted switches
  • ABS Plastic keycaps

Appearance: Size, Design, Build Quality

The Redragon K552 is a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard. This means that it doesn’t have a number pad, which makes it convenient for gaming. Your arms get to be closer together on your desk, allowing you to play with a better posture.

It has 87 keys. The keyboard has a base incline to promote typing naturally. The case is all black. Redragon states that the base is made from metal and then covered in ABS plastic. This can be felt by how heavy the keyboard is in comparison with mechanical keyboards with full plastic case. It is a sturdy keyboard with a simple design.

Back view of Redragon K552
Back view of Redragon K552

On the back of the keyboard are two rubber feet at the bottom of the keyboard. It has a kickstand on either side of the keyboard with rubberized coating for additional grip when crazy things are happening in-game. Without the kickstands being out, the keyboard moves around easily.

Kickstand of back of Redragon K552
Kickstand of back of Redragon K552

The grip is one of the things that I noticed first when I start typing and using this keyboard. It was moving around everywhere on my desk. Only when I pulled out the kickstands did the moving become minimal.    

Rubber feet of K552

However, this limits the adjustability in typing/gaming angle. For it to be still, I must have the kickstands down.

It has a non-detachable USB cord that attaches to the middle top of the keyboard. It’s a 6-foot rubber cable. Out of the box, it has many kinks that needs to be manually bended to straighten out.

Gold-plated USB cord
Gold-plated USB cord

On the front, there is an extruding box above the arrow keys with a non-subtle branding. On the box is where the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock lights are.

Protruding Readragon branding above arrow keys
Protruding Readragon branding above arrow keys

The side walls of the keyboard are relatively short, and the RGB lighting can be seen easily. Many of the single keys such as the arrow keys and function keys have a small exposed area where you can see the switches and the RGB lighting through the switch.

Side angle of Redragon K552
Side angle of Redragon K552

For quick reference, the keyboard size is:

  • Length: 14 inches (355mm)
  • Width: 4.875 inches (125mm)
  • Highest height: 1.5 inches (35mm)
  • Lowest height: 1.125 inches (30mm)

The font for the legends is questionable, but it can be attractive. The arrow key legends are aligned to the left of each key. We go more in-depth in the keycaps and legends below.

Redragon offers this keyboard in different colors and backlight options:

There is no USB pass-through, audio jack, detachable USB cable, or braided cable, but all these special features are not expected of a mechanical keyboard with this price.

One feature that we are not testing is the waterproofness of this keyboard. They boast splash-resistance, but there is no IP-rating. If you’re drinking water and have a little splash or soups, the keyboard will probably be fine.

The switches have some gaps in them that will let water into the keyboard’s electrical components, so definitely don’t dunk this keyboard into the bath or wash it in the sink.

I’ve splashed it with a little bit of water on my fingertips, and that’s easily wipeable. Stay away from large amounts of water that would rise over the switches and enter them.

There are multi-media keys on the function row. Other cool features are that you can start a new window, open the internet, open a calculator, and open search on your PC using some of the keys in the function row. For gamers out there, it’s possible to lock the Windows key, so that when you’re gaming, you won’t accidentally exit out of the game window.

Legends and media keys on function row
Legends and media keys on function row

The Function keys are:

  • F1: Launch the music player. I got Groove music.
  • F2: Volume down
  • F3: Volume up
  • F4: Mute
  • F5: Stop
  • F6: Last track
  • F7: Play or pause
  • F8: Next track
  • F9: Opens email. Mine opened another internet window.
  • F10: Homepage
  • F11: Calculator
  • F12: Windows search

Switches and Sounds

The Redragon K552 offers only one switch option: the Oetemu Blue variant. They are Cherry MX Blue clones. These switches are very similar to Cherry MX in terms of switch rattle, sounds, and typing experience overall.

The Oetemu switches tend to be more cost-efficient. They’re common on budget keyboards, but they still offer the same switch performance as Cherry MX. Perhaps the durability is not as good because Cherry MX boasts 100 million keystrokes for their switches.

Cherry MX Blues have a total travel distance of 4mm with an actuation at 2mm and an actuation force of 55g. The tactile even happens at 1mm.

Oetemu Blues have a total travel distance of 4mm with an actuation at 2.7mm and an actuation force of 46g. The tactile even happens at 2mm.

Oetemu blue switches
Oetemu blue switches

Oetemu Blues are a bit slower than Cherry MX Blues in terms of the tactile event and the actuation. They are lighter, however, so that make them easier to press.

This keyboard is loud. We’ll include a typing test at the end of our review video below. It’s not the best keyboard if you’re planning on gaming late nights with people around or trying to sleep. The stabilizers are a bit rattly, but it’s like many other keyboards. They are Cherry-style stabilizers and easy to take off with the included keycap puller.

The switches are very reliable. There were no missed keys. The tactile feedback is very accurate.  One gigantic complaint I have is the ringy sound that occurs when the keys bottom out. It echoes off the case and rings through quite loudly. This occurs louder for bigger keys such as Enter.

Keycaps and Legends

The keycaps and legends are a common complaint among other buyers of this keyboard. The keycaps are made of cheap ABS plastic. Compared to our Razer Blackwidow that’s over 6 years old, these seemed more matte and less shiny.

Over time, though, ABS plastic is expected to get shiny. Compared to our HyperX Alloy Origins Core, the keycaps are much smoother and less grippy.

The legends are a simple font. They’re geared towards gamers. The 2nd symbols on the numbers are aligned side-by-side instead of the number being on top of the symbol. This makes it easier to see the symbol with the backlight on.

RGB lighting and legends
RGB lighting and legends

This keyboard has a standard layout, so changing the keycaps out is no problem. That could increase the price though.

The RGB lighting shows through nicely on every key. Even with the backlight completely off, the keycap legends are easy to read, unlike the Drop CTRL with the backlight off.

The Verdict

ProsCons
Price is low and affordable at around $35.Non-detachable USB cable.
Tenkeyless compact designRubber feet don’t keep keyboard in place when on flat incline
Adjustable height with kickstandsBranding is not subtle, protrudes from board above arrow keys
6 pre-programmed lighting effectsRingy switches due to plastic case, echoes
Decent stabilizers, minimal rattleGamer-focused fonts for the legends
Different functions built into function row and Windows lockArrow key legends are aligned to the left instead of in the middle
Sturdy build with aluminum baseplateVery generic keyboard design, not special.

The Redragon K552 is a popular first mechanical keyboard for many people. It offers the mechanical switches sound and feel at a low-cost budget price tag of $35.

We do not recommend this keyboard because at about $20 more (about 3 hours of work at minimum wage in Texas OR 1.33 hours at minimum work in Washington state), you can get better mechanical keyboards such as the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition that currently is on sale at $55.99.

The Blackwidow X Tournament Edition is worth it and has awesome features and benefits. They feature clicky Razer green switches which last forever (my 2014 Blackwidow TE has lasted me more than 6 years) and are super clicky if you like that.

It has no backlight, however, but does have 10-key rollover and anti-ghosting. There’s a gaming mode, on-the-fly macro recording, and a braided fiber cable (non-detachable).

Another good recommendation is the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, at $69.99. We’ve bought, reviewed, and kept a close version of this keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core.

The difference is that the HyperX Alloy Origins Core has a USB-C detachable cable, HyperX linear red switches, and RGB lighting. The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro has a detachable micro-USB cable (braided, which is cool), a choice between Cherry MX red or Cherry MX blue switches, and only red backlight.

HyperX Alloy Origins Core with aluminum case, HyperX red switches
HyperX Alloy Origins Core with aluminum case, HyperX red switches

They both feature a tenkeyless design with a full aluminum case, which makes it very sturdy and beautiful to look at. It has N-key rollover and anti-ghosting for gamers.

The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro also comes with a keycap puller and 8 additional red colored keycaps if you’re into that. And a carrying case to bring your keyboard to the office, work, tournaments, or your friend’s house.

Kinesis Freestyle Pro: Completely Frustrating to Use

Kinesis Freestyle Pro Review: So Uncomfortable on Switch and Click Mechanical Keyboards Blog

First thing first: I typed for over ten hours on this keyboard with a typing speed of about 20wpm and pressing backspace every word to type out this review for you guys. I hope you really appreciate all the effort we put into our reviews. If there is any way that we can improve our quality and content, please let us know by hitting up our email address at theswitchandclick@gmail.com or in the comments down below. Let’s get into it.

Another note: Our site is not monetized, and we make no money when you click on any of our links. Any links that are affiliated, we will write that in parentheses right next to the link themselves. We just want to give you guys the best information we can objectively. Yes, we did spend a whole lot of money on this keyboard just for me to be really frustrated.

Kinesis Freestyle Pro with the Palm Rest and Tenting Kit
Kinesis Freestyle Pro with the Palm Rest and Tenting Kit

Introduction to the Kinesis Freestyle Pro Mechanical Keyboard

The Kinesis Freestyle Pro is a mechanical keyboard made by Kinesis, and it is a split keyboard. It comes with Cherry MX Brown switches. You can also purchase the Quiet version of this keyboard for the same price with Cherry MX Red switches.  It is meant to be an ergonomic keyboard with many ergonomic features such as splitting, tenting, palm rests, mechanical switches, and multiple keyboard layouts.

The keyboard lets you switch instantly between Windows, Mac, and Dvorak layouts. It’s also fully programmable using the Kinesis firmware to switch to whatever layout you need. It comes with Windows and Mac keycaps for the control, option, command, windows, and alt keys. It also has onboard shortcuts that do not require installation of the firmware.

Let’s talk about price. It’s expensive. At full price on the Kinesis website, this keyboard is $179. But that’s not all. If you also want the tenting kit and palm rests that make this keyboard ergonomic, you’ll also have to purchase the additional VIP PRO3 kit, which costs and additional $40. So, the total of this keyboard with all the bells and whistles would be $219.

Currently, on Amazon, this keyboard by itself is currently selling for $169, which is $10 cheaper than on the Kinesis website. However, on Amazon, it doesn’t come with the 60-day guarantee or the 2-year warranty. It is currently rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with a total of 37 reviews.

It has a keyboard layout very similar to a 65% keyboard except they have extra keys such as the entire function row on its large forehead. It also has 8 macro keys that are currently programmed to productivity keys. A benefit of this layout is that the keyboard has all the arrow keys as well as buttons such as Home, PgUp, PgDn, End, and Pause and Delete. There are no dedicated media keys, but they do exist on a second layer on the Function row.

Design

Flat typing slope

When your first take this keyboard straight out of the box, it doesn’t come with a tenting kit. It has no natural slope to the typing angle unlike keyboards such as the Dierya DK61 or the Anne Pro 2. This is meant to prevent wrist extension while typing. You are supposed to float your hands over the keyboard while typing.

Flat slope of the keyboard without the lift kit
Flat slope of the Kinesis Freestyle Pro without the lift kit

20” Length Cord in Between Keyboards

The cord that connects the two halves can extend to as much as 20 inches. The extra cord length is hidden within the bottom of the keyboard, so it doesn’t clutter up your desk space. If you look at the bottom of the left side, there is a slide out lid that will reveal the extra cord.

The minimum length is at 12 inches. Unfortunately for me, there is still excess cord between the halves. When we talked about shoulder external rotation within the original ergonomic keyboard article, we found out that split keyboards allowed you to increase the distance between your hands, encouraging an open chest rather than a closed one, preventing a tight chest and shoulders.

Tenting Kit

Kinesis Tenting Lift Kit
Kinesis Tenting Lift Kit

The tenting kit costs extra, but without this kit, it would probably not be worth buying this keyboard. The accessories that come inside the kit are the palm supports and the tenting adjustments, which let you have three different slope settings: 5, 10, and 15 degrees.

The Size of the Keyboard

The keyboard is quite big. It has a full function row at the top, arrow keys, call of the keys on a tenkeyless layout basically, but in a different design. The far-left side has eight macro keys that you can change because this keyboard is 100% programmable.

Different Layouts

This keyboard offers three different layouts with a simple way to change between them. The first two are obvious: Windows and Mac. The last one is less known, and that is Dvorak. We’ve recently wrote an article comparing Colemak and Dvorak, so if you’re interested in more, then click the link to Dvorak.

Dvorak was created in 1936 and is the 2nd most popular keyboard layout after QWERTY for the English language. Its purpose is to make typing more efficient by reducing finger fatigue, lessening finger motion, reducing errors, and muscle fatigue.

It places the most common keys in the home row and the least common keys on the bottom row, allowing the base position to be used more often.

The Upsides: Why This Could Save Your Body

Ergonomics is an important thing to me due to my background in occupational therapy. It’s also very close to home because we do so much typing on a regular basis and do suffer from overuse injuries or strains from typing in an uncomfortable position.

We’ve touched on many of these topics in our article on ergonomic keyboards, but we’ll do a quick rundown here. Having the ability to split up your keyboard lets you type with shoulder external rotation or neutral. The problem with being constantly in internal rotation is that your front shoulder and chest muscles get shortened over time.

If you have wide shoulders, this keyboard can be spread up to 20 inches and will work for anybody. Another benefit is being able to tent the keyboard. When you type on a typical keyboard, your forearms are in constant pronation. Over time, this also encourages shoulder internal rotation as well. By tenting your keyboard to up to 15 degrees, you are facilitating the opening of your chest and shoulder position. It also encourages a neutral wrist position with the palm rest and ability to angle the keyboard to your liking.

And of course, there’s a benefit to typing on mechanical keyboards. Using individual switches that are easy to press lets you use less pressure to press the keys than if you were typing on a rubber dome membrane keyboard. Unfortunately, the switches are not hot-swappable, but they do offer Cherry MX Browns or Reds. These switches have a total distance of 4.0mm, a actuation distance of 2.0mm, and an actuation force of 45g each.

Split with lifting kit to facilitate shoulder external rotation
Split with lifting kit to facilitate shoulder external rotation

First Impressions

Decreased Typing Speed due to the layout of the keyboard

I could type at a rate of about 18 words per minute due to my typing style. I do not type by keeping my fingers on the home row keys. I also never use my left shift keys.

Currently, I am writing this review on the Freestyle Pro and it is going slow. I basically must change the way I type completely. It’s like learning how to type all over again.

However, despite this difficulty, I find this keyboard very ergonomic. It’s making me feel for those bumps that are right under the F and J keys. Almost like learning a new layout such as Dvorak. It might be easier to switch to a split keyboard if the layout is ortholinear because the staggered keys are difficult to remember the exact distance between each key.

So far, I’m noticing less stretching of my fingers when I’m typing despite all the typos. It pretty much forces you to keep returning to the home row keys or else you will lose your spot on the keyboard.

I’m also not sure where to put my mouse so that it’s not too far away. I just realized I never use my pinky finger when I type regularly, so there is a little bit of fatigue. Keep that mind if you do the same.

The cool features that are dedicated to productivity

On the far left of the keyboard, there are productivity macros. It has 10 additional keys on the left side of the keyboard, which makes the Escape button big.

Let’s talk through each of the macros. The first one is the Desktop button. Alright, the only function I can think of for this one is if you are doing something inappropriate in the workplace, and suddenly your boss walks in, and you press this button, which hides everything open and reveals only your desktop.

Just kidding, it’s probably great if you want a clear screen and want to start messing around with your open windows. To be honest, although the idea behind the macro keys are really cool, I can never see myself pressing them because I would have to take my left hand off the keyboard.

Okay, onto the next one, the Last App key. Pressing this key allows you to jump back to the previous application you had open. I can see this being really convenient if you are working on video editing or writing blogs and opening another window to do research.

The next one is Select All. We all know what this does. This would probably be convenient for word processing or doing office work. To be honest, I’d rather press Ctrl+A. In addition to Select All, the keyboard also offers the following keys: Undo, Cut, Delete, Copy, Paste, and Menu. It is very great to use those keys in combination with the mouse to do video editing or photo work. I actually found myself using the Last App button instead of reaching to use my mouse to use the internet for a quick Google search and then switch back to Microsoft Word to continue typing about the topic.

Kinesis Freestyle Pro Macro Keys
Kinesis Freestyle Pro Macro Keys

The Numlock Feature

But, wait there’s no number pad though. You’re right. The right side of the keyboard has an extra layer that simulates a number pad when you turn Numlock on.

This is very convenient for number entry, however, I have yet to use this feature at all. Keep in mind that I do a lot of typing, but almost no number entry.

Kinesis Freestyle Pro without any accessories

SmartSet Programming Engine

This program allows you to completely customize the keyboard’s layout without installing any software. This is in the keyboard itself, and the keyboard has up to 4MB flash memory. You can record macros of up to 300 characters long and choose different playback speeds.

If you prefer to use a graphical interface, you can launch the SmartSet App from your keyboard. Maybe I didn’t have the keyboard connected properly but I could not get the App to open up at all.

My Biggest Complaint: Took Some Time to Get Used To

One thing that I keep noticing is that when I go to press Ctrl+ something, I’ll always keeping going to the macro keys. It does take some time for your fingers to figure this keyboard out. For me, the most difficult part was getting my fingers used to where the keys were in relation to the split. I type weirdly and I jump around the keyboard a lot, so keeping them on each side was a bit difficult at first.

After a few hours of typing with the keyboard, it started feeling natural. I am impressed about my ability to adapt to such a different layout, and now I must use the left shift key, which is weird feeling as well.

For anyone who types using the home row keys, meaning you will always return to it after extending your fingers to type far away letters, it will be quicker for you to adapt to this kind of keyboard. It is not impossible for others to adapt though. The first hour or two, I was really frustrated and typed at a speed of about 15 words per minute. It was extremely frustrating compared to my usual 100+ words per minutes. After learning where the keys were, the speed quickly went up, although keys such as comma, period, apostrophe, and numbers are difficult.

Second Complaint: Why is it so big?

The ergonomic aspect of this keyboard is nice, but I think that it does have too many keys. I understand that it was meant for someone working in an office where they type a lot and need the productivity keys and the function keys, but it just seems like too much to have on your table.

This keyboard could’ve been made much smaller. The palm rests are huge and almost double the size of my hands. Each side of the keyboard can fit four of my hands…The forehead is very large and extra with the branding on the left top side.

Third Complaint: The Stabilizers

The stabilizers on this keyboard is especially rattly, especially the right shift key. It wouldn’t register for me sometimes since it clicked all funny when clicked from the far-left side.

I also occasionally find myself pressing Ctrl instead of Shift due to the placement of the keys. It is a regular layout, so nothing weird there, but I just wasn’t used to typing on a tented keyboard.

Summary

In conclusion, it’s the end of the review, and I type a little faster. It’s definitely possible to switch from a regular keyboard to a split staggered keyboard, but your productivity will drop for a couple of days while you sit there screaming every time you make a typo typing something you could breeze through a few days ago.

Despite all of that, I really enjoy this keyboard. For me, my hands are too small and feel uncomfortable and slight discomfort and fatigue typing on this keyboard for too long. It almost puts my fingers in an abnormal position. Perhaps with the cushioned wrist pad, my wrist will be in a better position. Due to my inability to jump around keys on this keyboard, it’s really fatiguing for my smaller fingers, especially the pinky finger.

So it doesn’t work for me, but it works great for my husband. He almost had no adaptation period because he does type on the home row. He also has big hands, which helps on a big keyboard.

This is a difficult decision to make, but I do not think I would recommend this keyboard. It is a great idea, but the execution of it is not the best. I’ve tried typing on keyboards such as the ErgoDox, MiniDox, Iris, Quefrequency split keyboards and have enjoyed those typing experiences much more due to how small the keyboards themselves were. They also did not have extra keys that I could accidentally press.

Another thing that I didn’t go into much was little finger fatigue. Reaching far with my pinky fingers to type Enter, Backspace, and both Shift buttons was very tiring.

However, Kinesis does offer a 60-day guarantee, so if you’re not like me (typing style or hand size), I would recommend you go out and try it. Another reason I don’t recommend it is because of the price tag. The keyboard by itself isn’t very ergonomic without buying the tenting kit. That means to get all the benefits, the total cost would be about $220, and they charge another $20 for shipping. Returns are paid for by you, so keep that in mind too.

Keeb.io Iris Split Keyboard with DIY Tent Kit
Keeb.io Iris Split Keyboard with DIY Tent Kit

In the end, I do plan on returning this keyboard. It’s not what I expected, and the price is too crazy for me to keep it and type uncomfortably. I’m moving closer to building my own ergonomic keyboard such as the Iris or the Quefrequency by Keeb.io.

Keychron K1: Mechanical Keyboard Review

Keychron K1 keyboard review

Today we will be reviewing the Keychron K1, we will discuss the features and specifications along with what we like and dislike about this keyboard. We’ll also go over our experience typing and using this keyboard as well.

Whenever we review a keyboard, we force ourselves to write the review with the very same keyboard. Sometimes the keyboard is smoother or better than others, but writing this post with the K1 was a pain the butt.

We’ll go more into why it’s so difficult to type with, this was just a little preview into what we think of the K1. Anyways, we hope you enjoy the review and learn some valuable information about this product.

What is the Keychron K1?

Forward facing photo of the keychron k1

The K1 is a low-profile mechanical keyboard designed and produced by Keychron, a company based out of China. The K1 is a slim keyboard that has wireless & wired capabilities and is easy to use to both Mac and Windows computers.

The K1 comes in either tenkeyless or full-sized layout, with the full-sized layout costing an additional $20. We went for the full-sized layout for the purpose of our review. You also get to pick between Gateron Low Profile Red/Blue switches, depending on if you want clicky feedback or a linear switch.

In addition, you can also pick between white back lighting or full RGB lighting. The RGB lighting comes with 18 different settings, so there are a lot of options to get the perfect light set-up for you.

The price comes out between $74 – $94, depending on if you want TKL or full-sized, and if you want RGB or white backlighting.

What is a Low-Profile Keyboard?

A low-profile keyboard is usually slimmer and is easier to pack and take on the go. Low-profile keyboards are usually designed with a different type of switch that is thinner and has a smaller travel and actuation distance. The thinner design makes the keyboard lighter, and easy to travel with.

Picture of Gateron low profile switch on Keychron K1
Low Profile Gateron Blue Switches

The switch design are low-profile as well. The keyboard we ordered today came with Gateron Blue low-profile switches, which are basically a cheaper version of the MX low-profile Blues. Overall, the switches are very similar to MX switches.

First Impressions

Upon opening the box, we saw that the keyboard case was slightly open and had been damaged. We were surprised to see the keyboard was shipped in such a sloppy way, but after doing some research apparently a lot of people have experienced shipping problems from Keychron.

Sloppy shipping by keychron

Although the box was damaged and the shipping looked unprofessional, the keyboard was in good condition.

Included with the keyboard was a keycap puller, instruction manual, and a few additional keycaps.

The keycaps are for switching between Mac/Windows, so your keyboard layout can match the proper operating system you are working with.

Overall, the keyboard is very thin but feels quite sturdy. It’s also surprisingly heavy for how light the keyboard looks. There is a light in the top left-hand corner that shows how much battery is remaining, it’s green when the battery is charged and red if battery is low.

In the top right-hand corner, there are three blue lights that show whether num lock or caps lock is engaged, along if it’s in Windows or Mac mode.

On the back of the keyboard there are 4 rubber circular studs to keep the keyboard from slipping when used. There are no adjustable legs, so you can only use this keyboard flat.

4 rubber studs on back of keychron k1
Small non-adjustable rubber feet

On the side of the keyboard there are two sliding switches, one is to alternate between Mac/Windows mode, the other is to activate Bluetooth or wired mode.

Wired/Wireless & Windows/Mac sliding button.

The USB-C port is located in the center of the keyboard. I like placement of the port, most keyboards usually place this port on the left or right side. The nicer keyboards will usually have a port on both sides to accommodate different setups, but placing the port in the middle is a nice compromise.

I’m impressed by the overall look of the keyboard. It looks very professional, it feels sturdy, and has the nice thin profile that you would expect from a low-profile mechanical keyboard.

However, all my opinions changed once I started to use it.

The Typing Experience

A quick disclaimer before we go into the next section, this is the first low profile mechanical keyboard we have ever used or reviewed, so we’re not sure what to expect in regard to performance, feel, etc. That being said, we did NOT enjoy the typing experience of the K1.

First Complaint: The sound of the switches

From the first keystroke, we knew this keyboard was NOT for us. The Gateron low-profile Blue switches emit a high pitched, horrible clicking sound. Perhaps lubing the switches would improve the sound, but these are almost too bad to be salvaged.

The switches are not satisfying to type on, the actuation pressure feels quite low and the click sound is unbearable. The normal Gateron blue switches sound much better than the low-profile ones.

If we had ordered the red switches, it’s possible we would have enjoyed using this keyboard more. We would not recommend the blues to anybody. I need to wear headphones while typing with this keyboard because I cannot stand the noise.

Check out the Youtube video if you would like to hear how the switches sound.

Second Complaint: The flat keycaps

The keycaps are extremely flat. They make it incredibly difficult to figure out where your fingers are when typing. You really need to focus to type accurately on this keyboard, I find myself consciously slowing down my typing speed so I can type without mistakes.

Keychron K1 angled view

Having a slightly rounded keycap would make the typing experience easier. A rounded keycap helps guide your hands to let you know if you’re properly over the correct key or not. The flat keycaps are very difficult to use, especially for prolonged periods of time.

Third Complaint: Grease central

Since the keycaps are so flat, black colored, and made of ABS plastic, these keycaps develop a greasy shine as soon as they are touched. After typing with this keyboard for five minutes with clean hands, it looks like I was eating a bag of potato chips and wiped my hands off on the keyboard.

Greasy keycaps
The shiny grease marks after five minutes of use

Many other keyboards have this same issue, but generally it’s not this bad. These keycaps instantly develop a shine and look very greasy.

Summary

We really like the features of the Keychron K1. Wireless/wired capabilities, Mac/Windows compatible, 18 RGB light settings, and the fact that it’s one of the few low-profile mechanical keyboards on the market. The amount of features is pretty impressive for a keyboard that only costs $74.

In addition, the keyboard has a nice aesthetic. The K1 is thin, feels solid, and looks professional.

We have a lot of complaints, and although this keyboard is packed with features, we did not enjoy our typing experience with the K1. Some of our main complaints were the noise and feel of Gateron low-profile blue switches, the flat keycaps, and the greasy shine the keycaps develop almost instantly.

Keep in mind, the shipping of this keyboard is generally very sloppy. Our box was already partially opened when it arrived in the mail and the box had been damaged. Keychron needs to work on their shipping or else that will continue to be an issue.

Overall, it’s really hard for us to recommend the K1. Mainly because it’s just not enjoyable to type on. If you are in desperate need of a low-profile mechanical keyboard, maybe try it out and see if you like it. But we do not like it.

HyperX Alloy Origins Core Review : $200 Build Quality for Less than $100

HyperX Alloy Origins Core Review on the Switch and Click blog

Basic Information About the HyperX Alloy Origins Core

Let’s start with a disclaimer first. I absolutely love HyperX. My brother has owned the original HyperX Cloud headphones, which let me to get the Hyper X Cloud II headphones. And I’ve also convinced my husband to get himself a pair of the HyperX Cloud II headphones as well. They’re super comfy, and I will recommend them to anyone that is gaming or listening to music or podcasts for an extended period.

Okay, first let’s go over some basic information that we need to discuss with this keyboard. The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a Tenkeyless mechanical keyboard that uses HyperX’s proprietary red switches. These are quiet linear switches, and they’re very similar to Cherry MX Reds.

This keyboard is priced at $89.99 on Amazon, on the HyperX website, and at Best Buy.

HyperX Alloy Origins Core
HyperX Alloy Origins Core

The Looks

The case is made of aircraft-grade aluminum. It is a matte black on the top plate and base. It is sturdy and has a hefty weight to it. Despite this, it’s still extremely portable. Just throw it in your backpack.

If someone is breaking into your home, you can probably grab this keyboard, disconnect it really quick, and slap the criminal with your keyboard base. It will sustain it.

The base has four rubber feet. It offers 3 different angles for personalization of typing/gaming angle. The kickstands have dual-adjusting feet. The three angles are 3 degrees (which is flat), 7 degrees, and 11 degrees.

It has a USB-C connector on the right-hand side of the keyboard. There is no USB-passthrough. The USB-C cable is braided, but it is very rigid and can accumulate kinks easily.

One downside I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t fit all USB-C type cables. I tried using it with the USB-C cable that came with my Drop CTRL keyboard, but it didn’t fit into the hole extending out of the port. Only the HyperX USB-C cable fit through it. So, unfortunately, using a custom-made USB-C cable might be difficult with this one.

The legends are super clean. The space bar has a simple HyperX logo (HX) on it. Despite this, it’s still very nice looking. The keycaps have a matte black finish, although they are ABS plastic with double-shot molding. The legends are laser etched. Feels great on the fingers but can pick up finger oils easily. Same with the matte black aluminum plates.

Front profile of HyperX Alloy Origins Core
Front profile of HyperX Alloy Origins Core

All the legends are capitalized, including modifiers. It doesn’t have dedicated media keys, but the media functions are integrated within the function keys.

It has RGB lighting that is completely customizable using Ngenuity, which is an app on Windows. There are multiple pre-programmed effects that you can customize. Because the switches are red, when you use solid lighting effects, you will notice the red coming through.

It works great with a yellow color, looks like the sun. Also, very delicately, HyperX has their complete logo in a glossy black above the arrow keys.

HyperX Alloy Origins Core red tint under keycaps
The red tint you see despite having yellow lighting

The Functions

This keyboard is made for gaming. It has game mode, which prevents you from hitting the Windows key and exiting out your game accidentally.

It has onboard memory for three profiles, so if you change settings on one computer, you can take your keyboard and bring it to another one without worrying about it resetting on you.

The keys have 100% anti-ghosting and N-key rollover so you can button-mash away without any worries.

The bottom row is completely standardized. Feel free to switch out the keycaps depending on what you want your keycaps to look like.

The space bar has a bit of rattle, but it is still relatively quiet. The right shift key probably has the most rattle and noise. I might be bias because I mostly use my Right Shift key. The other keys that require stabilizers feel good. They are Cherry-style stabilizers, which means just easily pop out your keycaps without messing with those wired stabilizers.

Hyper X Red Mechanical Switches

HyperX Red switch with Cherry-style stabilizers
HyperX Red switch with Cherry-style stabilizers

These are linear switches designed by HyperX themselves. They do not tell us which switch designs they based off their builds from.

The total travel distance is 3.8mm, and the actuation distance is at 1.8mm. The actuation force is 45g, and they boast a lifespan of 80 million keystrokes.

HyperX has a great information page with plenty of charts and information regarding these switches.

First Impressions

I’m starting to grow fond of linear switches. Compared to the Corsair K68 that had Cherry MX switches, this keyboard feels much sturdier and much more fun to type out. The better build quality means that the sounds that comes out of the switches and the case sounds dampened. It doesn’t echo off the plastic case because it’s not a plastic case.

The RGB lighting is very bright, and the red tint to every color doesn’t turn me off in any way. The legends are clean. It is a bit strange that the numbers and symbols are next to each other on the number row instead of stacked on top of each other. It does help the lighting show through all the legends.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t just connect this keyboard to the USB-C cable that I already had connected to my computer. I had to disconnect that cord and plug in the braided USB-C cord that came with the keyboard.

This is personal, but I did not like that the USB-C port was only on the right side of the keyboard only. My keyboard sits on the right side of my desk relative to my PC, so that was inconvenient having to route it behind my monitor and then to my PC.

Side profile of HyperX Alloy Origins Core keyboard
Side profile of HyperX Alloy Origins Core keyboard

For the price, honestly, this felt like a $150 keyboard at least. The build quality is amazing. I love the aluminum top plate and case. The black matte is nice compared to the silver of my CTRL.

The firmware that is used to customize the lighting and keys is very easy to use. It’s called HyperX Ngenuity. I installed it easily, but it did require me to have a Microsoft account because it was a Windows app.

My husband customized the colors on his PC, and then I transferred it to my PC. No problems since the colors were stored within onboard profiles.

I didn’t need the rubber feet since I prefer to type on a flat keyboard. The feet are a plus though, because I love options.

I’m used to using a TKL mechanical keyboard, so no complaints about the lack of dedicated media keys. I don’t mind using the FN key with some function keys. You can also change the onboard color profiles via the FN key with F1, F2, or F3. You can change the brightness settings to 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, and 0% via the FN key and the arrow keys.

Compared to Cherry MX Red switches, I prefer these a lot more. The total distance and actuation distance are less than the Cherry MX Reds. These are fantastic switches. They’re light and fast.

Design

As I’ve said before, this keyboard looks like a $200 keyboard. The only thing that would make it better is to have more open access to the USB-C port.

The keyboard has a floating keycap style design, which I absolutely love. Some people may not prefer this, but I think it’s cool to be able to see your switches and RGB lights. It really lights up on your desk. Also, it makes it easy to pull off the keycaps (which might be a bad thing if you’re traveling with your keyboard often) without using a keycap puller.

One problem with the design is that the keycaps are ABS plastic that’s just sprayed matte. It looks cool and feels good and grippy, but I don’t like the idea that my finger oils are slowly accumulating on this keyboard as I’m typing right now.

The keycaps can be easily replaced though, since it does have a standard layout. HyperX also offers their own lineup of PBT double-shot keycaps in white or black. How nice of them. They’re also affordable as well and makes the RGB lighting stand out even more. Currently, they are $21.25 for a set of 104 keycaps. This TKL keyboard only has 87 keys, so you got some extras.

In the associated YouTube video, we will go over the design, RGB lighting pre-programmed effects, and more.

Typing

Despite being linear switches that I don’t prefer to type with, I haven’t had that many typos with this keyboard.

While typing, even quickly or harshly, there is no pinging or tinging sounds. They feel great, I am not as fast on these as on tactile switches.

That’s it, really. They feel awesome. No noises, no shaking keyboards, just great performance in general.

typing test of 15wpm
Very few mistakes, which is good for typing on linear switches.

Complaints

I only have two complaints. One is that the USB-C port is on the right side and that you MUST use the HyperX USB-C cable, which is stiff and can get kinks easily. The second is that the keycaps are sprayed a matte black and made of cheap ABS plastic which accumulates some nasty nasty over time.

These both could be personal preferences, since the keys do feel great to type on. Not slippery at all. They sure don’t feel like the shiny plastic of other keycaps.

Summary

For a keyboard of this high of a build quality to be under $100 is amazing. This keyboard is only about $90. The HyperX red switches are great, they’re like Cherry MX reds but shorter and faster. They boast a long lifespan of 80 million keystrokes, not as good as the 100 million of Cherry switches, but you’ll never get there anyways.

The keycaps feel good but may be the downfall of this keyboard. Good thing the easy solution is just to get a new set of PBT double shot keycaps and put them on since it has a standard layout.

My primary love for this keyboard is in the aircraft-grade aluminum frame. It has rounded edges; it looks like a black stealth jet. Flying in the night sky. All in all, HyperX is absolutely winning! They’re killing the gaming headset game and now they’re branching into the mechanical gaming keyboards arena as well, and with a winning chance at that.

Sources

HyperX Alloy Origins Review – Are These NEW Switches Worth It? YouTube.com

HyperX Alloy Origins Core Mechanical Gaming Keyboard HyperXGaming.com

Anne Pro II 60% Mechanical Keyboard Review: Excellent keyboard for a decent price

Anne Pro II 60% Mechanical Keyboard Review

Overview

The Anne Pro II is a 60% wireless/wired mechanical keyboard that is loaded with features. A popular choice amongst mechanical keyboard owners, this keyboard has many customization options including the choice between several Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh switches. We ordered our Anne Pro II with Gateron Red switches.

Included with the purchase is a keycap puller, a red detachable USB-C cable and several colored keycaps you can use to customize and swap-out the keycaps that come standard with the Anne Pro II. It is also possible to order a black version of this keyboard.

Coming with Bluetooth capability to connect to four devices, the Anne Pro II makes it easy to connect to a device and start typing away.

Specifications:

  • $89
  • 60%
  • 1900mAh battery (8hrs)
  • Wireless or wired
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Switches: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Silver, Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Red, Kailh Box Brown Kailh Box Red, Kailh Box White
  • RGB backlight
  • Programmable keys

First Impression

Upon opening the box, you are greeted with a very sleek, sturdy, and compact keyboard. The keycaps have a nice font although the top row looks a little bit crowded since it includes the F1-10 keys as well. That’s just standard for 60% keyboards though.

I’m impressed the keyboard comes with a keycap puller and several different colored keycaps. Those extras thrown in really add to the excitement when opening the box and opens up the possibilities to hundreds of different customization options. The keycap puller makes it effortless to remove and swap out the keycaps that came already-installed.

The detachable red colored USB-C power cable is also a nice touch. The red cable really looks agreeable with the all-white keyboard. Most keyboards come with a black power cable but the Anne Pro II sets itself apart from the competition by offering it in red.

The walls of the keyboard case are high profile, making all the keys look secure and safe. Upon doing a few quick key presses I’m really excited by the sound the keyboard makes, but we’ll test that a bit more later.

The backside of the keyboard has the Anne Pro logo and the number 01. On a side note, I have no idea why the number 01 is on the keyboard since the model name is Anne Pro 2. Shouldn’t it be an 02 on the back? The 01 may represent something else and I’m just unaware.

Back of Anne Pro II
Hard to see, but there is an 01 on back of case.

There are four rubber legs to keep the keyboard from sliding while typing which seem to do their job quite effectively so no need to worry about the keyboard moving around when you frantically type during a typing test. There is also a switch on the back to turn on the wireless capability of the keyboard. Overall, it seems like a standard mechanical keyboard configuration with a little extra aesthetic to it.

Design

The Anne Pro II is a 60% keyboard, meaning there is no num pad, arrow keys, or F keys. To access the F keys and arrow keys, you need to press more than one key at once to activate the lower layer. Overall, it has a clean aesthetic with white-colored keys and case.

Anne Pro II design

The keycaps are PBT plastic, giving them a grease-free look. But even though the keycaps are PBT, they do not have much of a textured feel and are quite smooth and slippery. I would’ve liked a more textured key, but that is just personal preference. I am a sucker for textured keycaps.

With several lighting options, the Anne Pro II makes it possible to change between different backlight colors so if you enjoy a fresh new color background every time you type with the keyboard, this feature is great for you. The different RBG backlight colors can be a little difficult to configure since the instructions are translated from Chinese and are a little difficult to follow.

Typing

The typing on this keyboard feels good. The keyboard is quite sturdy and secure even though it’s a smaller keyboard, which makes typing feel better. Although I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of 60% keyboards because I struggle to type on smaller keyboards due to wrist pain. My wife on the other hand really enjoys typing on the keyboard and recommends it.

The Gateron Reds have a nice acoustic when pressed and give the keystrokes a nice feel. Although, it was a little difficult to get used to typing with this type of switch since both of us are used to tactile switches, not linear. An improvement would be to lube all of the keys to make for an even-smoother switch.

What Makes it Special

If you enjoy customizing the features of your keyboard to get the look and feel you enjoy, the Anne Pro II is an awesome keyboard for you. The several different switch options, keycap customization, lighting options, and programmability allow you to really make this keyboard fit for you.

The fact that you can connect to four different Bluetooth devices and switch between them with ease is another nice feature. This feature is great if you want to connect your keyboard to your PC, cell phone, TV, or work computer and switch between all of them whenever you want. In addition, the Bluetooth feels reliable and there are no missed keystrokes, so the software is doing its job correctly.

Complaints and Problems

Complaint #1: Lighting Issue

On one specific lighting configuration there is an error where only half of the top row lights up and the rest of the keys flicker. I’m not entirely sure what causes this issue, whether it’s the PCB or perhaps the software. The keyboard is fully functional regardless of this issue, but we expect better quality when it comes to buying a brand-new keyboard.

Complaint #2: Bad instructions

The instructions we’re very poor and there’s very little available about the keyboard on the company website. The instructions look like they were written in Chinese and then plugged into Google translate, stuck inside the box, and shipped off. It took a lot of tinkering to figure out exactly how everything worked on this keyboard. Seems like it wouldn’t have been that difficult to put a little extra effort into the instructions and it would have made using the Bluetooth and figuring out all the different color options easier.

Anne Pro II lighting issue
Only part of top row lights up

Complaint #3: Skips lines while typing

My wife noticed this issue while typing up a blog post. While typing, the keyboard will sometimes move her cursor up a line. It’s almost as if the layered arrow keys were getting activated in some scenarios when it shouldn’t have been. It only happened twice and we we’re not able to recreate the issue, so we’re not entirely sure what caused the issue or how to resolve it.

Complaint #4: Battery life

Another downside to this keyboard is the relatively short battery life. The battery is a 1900mAh which will only last for eight hours. Considering how this is a smaller sized keyboard, it does make sense that they would not want to install a larger battery to avoid weighing the keyboard down. But eight hours is a little on the short side and will require you to recharge frequently. Other wireless keyboards on the market with rechargeable batteries can last up to 72 hours.

Summary

By sheer popularity amongst mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, the Anne Pro II 60% keyboard is definitely a community favorite, so we had to review it. With both wired & wireless connection and a rechargeable battery that can last up to eight hours, this keyboard offers some of the best customization options out of the box without needing to assemble it yourself.

While there are some areas the Anne Pro II could improve in, such as battery life, lighting issues, and crappy instructions, overall this is an excellent keyboard for the price.

We’ll go over the click test in our YouTube video review, so make sure to check that out as well.

Colored Anne Pro II

Thanks for reading, and as always, happy typing!

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020
Photo by u/goldfish_memories

So, it’s 2020 and you’re having some trouble picking out a wireless mechanical keyboard. We understand the struggle, there are so many wireless keyboards out there, how on earth do you choose just one?

Well, today we are going to take our best shot at picking out a short, exclusive list of the best mechanical keyboards available. We will also go over some of the pros and cons of each keyboard to help you pick out the right keyboard for you.

Before we jump into the keyboard list, we feel it’s important to go over the most important factor we use to rank the keyboards. With a wireless keyboard you’re looking for several things when it comes to reliability and quality of the product, but there is one thing that will really determine the long-term quality of the product.

Reliable software

When searching for a wireless mechanical keyboard there are several important qualities to consider. The main thing to look at is reliability, especially when it comes to the keyboard software. The physical components of mechanical keyboards are often rated to 50+ million keystrokes and it’s not uncommon for a mechanical keyboard to withstand a decade or more of use.

The keyboard software does not have these same standards, there are in fact, no industry standards or any sort of regulation when it comes to the keyboard software.

In order to connect and send the keystrokes to your PC, wireless mechanical keyboards rely on software to send the data with a very fast response time and zero lag. Which is something wired keyboards don’t need to worry about.

 So, you’ll need a keyboard with really solid Bluetooth or quick connect functionality that will last just as long as the switches on the keyboard itself.

Based on research, looking at dozens of wireless keyboards and hundreds of reviews, it looks like the software tends to stop working properly after about a year of usage, which conveniently happens to be right as the warranty runs out.

Planned obsolescence much?

Reliable software is the single greatest factor when it comes to the keyboard ranking, as it is often what kills a wireless keyboard faster than anything else.

With that out of the way, let’s jump into our favorite keyboards of 2020!

Our top favorite

Anne Pro 2

Anne Pro 2
Photo by u/MegaZucc

By sheer popularity amongst mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, how could this keyboard not make the list? The Anne Pro 2 is a 60% keyboard with both wired & wireless connection with a rechargeable battery that can last up to eight hours. Coming in white or black with RGB backlighting, the Anne Pro 2 has a nice overall, compact look to it. This would be a great option if you need to take your keyboard on the go as the 60% size is portable, light, and smaller-sized.

PBT keycaps is also a nice plus, they have a better texture than standard keycaps and tend to look less greasy.

If you’re really picky about switches, you’ll be happy to see that the amount of switch options on this keyboard is quite impressive. You can choose between a variety of Cherry Mx, Gateron, and Kailh switches to get the exact keystroke feel you’re looking for.

The only downside to this keyboard is the relatively short battery life. The battery is a 1900mAh which will only last for eight hours. Considering how this is a smaller sized keyboard, it does make sense that they would not want to install a larger battery to avoid weighing the keyboard down. But eight hours is a little on the short side.

Specifications:

  • $89
  • 60% keyboard
  • 1900mAh battery (8hrs)
  • Wireless or wired
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Switches: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Silver, Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Red, Kailh Box Brown Kailh Box Red, Kailh Box White
  • RGB backlight
  • Programmable keys

Second favorite

Keychron K2

Keychron k2
Photo by u/WitoldLutoslawski

Our second favorite keyboard is the Keychron K2. A 75% keyboard that is slightly larger than the Anne Pro 2 but would still be a good keyboard to take on the go. It has both wired and wireless options and an amazing battery life of 72 hours. If you are a busy person and have difficulty finding time to charge your keyboard, it will be difficult to find another mechanical keyboard with a battery that will last as long.

The Bluetooth functionality on this keyboard is ahead of its time, it can connect to three separate devices and switch between them with ease. This feature makes it easy to switch between connecting to your laptop, home computer, and work station without having to fiddle with the settings.

The only downside to this keyboard is it’s only available with Gateron switches. Gaterons are essentially Cherry MX clones that are produced in China to save on cost, so sometimes the quality isn’t always the best.

The Keychron K2 is an excellent choice for someone looking for a reliable, relatively cheap, wireless mechanical keyboard. This keyboard is loaded with features that make it exciting and interesting to use.

Specifications

  • $74
  • 75% keyboard
  • 4000mAh battery (72 hrs)
  • Wireless or wired
  • White backlight with option to upgrade to RGB
  • Bluetooth to up to 3 devices
  • Switches: Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Red

Honorable mention

Logitech G613

Logitech G613
Photo by u/XaVierDK

Although it did not make our favorite list, the Logitech G613 is still a decent full-sized keyboard with some interesting features. Equipped with Logitech’s Lightspeed technology (basically faster Bluetooth), this keyboard will give you slightly better response time when gaming. Making it one of the better wireless keyboards if you plan on playing competitive video games or can’t stand the feel of any input lag.

The keyboard comes with six programmable keys and switches that are rated up to 70M keystrokes.

The main downside to this keyboard are the lack of rechargeable batteries, this keyboard is powered by AA batteries. In addition, there is no wired option so if the batteries die, you’re out of luck. If you run out of batteries, you either need to run to the store and buy some more or steal them from the TV remote.

Although I’ve never personally used the Romer G switch, I do not like that the keyboard only comes with one switch option. I think Logitech could benefit from accommodating different switch preferences. However, if you are a fan of silent and tactile switches, the Romer G’s might work for you.

Specifications

  • $70
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Switches: Romer G
  • Wrist pad
  • AA batteries
  • Lightspeed wireless connection
  • Six programmable keys

Conclusion

That does it for the reviews! I scoured the internet to find the absolute best wireless keyboards on the market that did not have the software problems that tend to plague wireless keyboards. Please let us know if you don’t agree and leave your thoughts about wireless mechanical keyboards in general. Today we looked at the Anne Pro 2, Keychron K2, and Logitech G613. Which one is your favorite?

In case you were wondering…

Can I convert my mechanical keyboard to wireless?

Converting your keyboard to wireless can be a time-heavy investment and should be reserved for those who are more DIY inclined. In order to do the wired-to-wireless conversion, you will need to be equipped with some basic soldering skills and a few extra components and tools.

After your soldering kit is ready, you will need to install a rechargeable battery and bluetooth to usb converter. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video below.

DIERYA x KEMOVE 60% DK61 Mechanical Keyboard Review: Probably one of the best budget keyboards in the market

DIERYA x KEMOVE DK61 blog title by the Switch and Click

Overview

Let’s talk about a budget mechanical keyboard that you can get for $49.99 on Amazon with free shipping. This is the DIERYA x KEMOVE 60% DK61.

This keyboard’s exact name on Amazon is DIERYA x KEMOVE 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, RGB Backlit Wired PBT Keycap Waterproof Type-C Mini Compact 61 Keys Computer Keyboard with Full Keys Programmable(Gateron Optical Brown Switch). Let’s see if its worth all those descriptor terms.

This keyboard has a 60% design, it has no arrow keys, function row keys, or number pad. I am typing on it with my Glorious keyboard wrist rest. For the past few days, I’ve been using this keyboard without the wrist rest to keep this review objective and without outside factors affecting it.

It has PBT plastic with doubles hot injected keycaps. Thank goodness for no shine or grime after long term use.

It also comes with 5 pre-programmed RGB lighting modes, but there is software that allows you to personalize you color settings.

DIERYA x KEMOVE DK61 top down view
DIERYA x KEMOVE DK61

Performance

First Impression

Alright, first impression. It is really small. I’ve never owned a 60% keyboard although it is my goal to someday make my own custom 60% keyboard or 65%. We’ll see.

Already, I can say that I hate the stabilizers on the right shift key. It makes a loud clack every time I initially press it.

On the legends, underneath the see-through letters are the FN legends, but they’re matte and difficult to see under low light.

I’ve attempted to pull off some switches, but they’re very stuck on there. It’s cool that this keyboard is hot-swappable though. The keys are a lot lighter to push than my Massdrop CTRL with Halo Clears.

keyboard with one keycap pulled off
Switches

Design

Visually, it is a simple keyboard. The legends on the alphabet keys are the perfect font. However, the number row is a little cluttered with the number of the symbol. The font of the modifier keys is a bit larger than the alphabet keys, making it look like they don’t belong together.

It has 5 different RGB pre-programmed effects that can be switched by pressing the FN + ] button. The 5 different modes are:

  • Full green (like Razer’s green)
  • RGB (changing from one color to another, what I’m using right now)
  • Cycling spectrum, a left to right spectrum
  • Windmill – spinning around the middle as an axis, like an umbrella
  • Glorious waterfall – top to bottom

The PBT keycaps feel good under my fingers to type on. They’re oil resistant.

The case itself is made of ABS plastic. It’s very lightweight. There are four rubber feet on the bottom of the keyboard. It comes with a braided USB-C cable with a right angle. I’ll show it in the pictures.

USB-C cable that comes with the keyboard

Typing

I got this keyboard with Gateron brown switches. The total travel distance of these switches is 4mm with an actuation distance at 2.65mm. The actuation force is 36g while the spring force is 52g.

Left: Massdrop CTRL keycap, Right: DK61 keycap
Left: Massdrop CTRL keycap, Right: DK61 keycap

My Massdrop CTRL had Halo Clear switches, which has an actuation force of 52g and a spring force of 78g, so much heavier. No wonder these Gateron browns feel so light to type on. Let’s get on to the typing test.

So far, it types smooth. I’ve had zero problems with any keys. They space bar is a bit wobbly. The right shift key is much louder than the left shift key.

There are no signs of keyboard chattering. Sometimes, pressing the right key is hard, like I’ll want to press the arrow keys, but wait, there are none!

So much of the difficulty comes from never typed on a 60% keyboard yet.

Okay, I’ve had quite a bit of experience typing with this keyboard. It’s time to do a typing test.

106 wpm typing test results
Just another moment for me to show off, I know, not as good as some others.

Pretty dang good. Actually, better than on my Massdrop CTRL, probably because of the light spring force. But I love the way my Massdrop CTRL feels, every key is much more consistent. Although if I could switch to some lighter switches like this, I would go for it.

If I learn the layers of this keyboard, I can probably use if on a regular basis.

What Makes it Special

This is my first 60% keyboard, so I don’t know if other 60% keyboards do this too. They keyboard’s FN key can be used like a FN-lock, which lets you use the 2nd layer without holding down the FN key. If you’re looking to use the arrow keys, then this is convenient.

Another feature is that the circuit board is waterproof with a level of IPX4. If any spills happen accidentally, don’t be too worried. However, the interface is not waterproof. One of the pictures on Amazon is submerging the keyboard, but I would not recommend testing this.

There is also a built-in microphone in the keyboard to support an effect called Audio Visualizer, which will create a light effect to follow a rhythm.

Side view of DK61
Side view of DK61

Complaints and Problems

This isn’t a personal complaint of mine, but it is something important to note. Most of the other DIERYA keyboards can be wireless as well as wired. This one cannot. It is wired mode only. If you’re not even interested in using this keyboard in wireless mode (which I’m not), there are no complaints.

Other small problems to note are that on the bigger keys such as Tab, Caps Lk, Shift, and Enter, the RGB light doesn’t display evenly through the keycap.

Others complain that the keycaps feel low quality compared to PBT keycaps of other keyboards that they own. I would agree. Compared to my CTRL keycaps, these feel smoother. A quick visual inspection of them side by side show that they’re very similar, although the DIERYA keycaps have no textured coating on top. Again, not my personal complaint.

It’s possible to replace these keycaps with some affordable ones like the HyperX Double Shot PBT Pudding Keycaps. There are a bunch of affordable high-quality, simple keycaps on Amazon for under $20 for 104 keycaps.

Another problem is that the included USB-C cable is very short. I had to another USB-C cable because it was too short to route to my PC that sat under my desk. So if you have a standing desk or a PC that’s a little further away, you might want to think about buying a separate, longer USB-C cable.

The additional 2 switches that comes: 1 Gateron brown, 1 Gateron red
The additional 2 switches that comes: 1 Gateron brown, 1 Gateron red

Summary

For people out there looking for a budget mechanical keyboard that is exactly at $50, this is the keyboard to get. Compared to the Corsair K68 that costs about $90, this keyboard is much better in terms of feel and performance.

I get it, that keyboard was full-sized and this one is a 60% keyboard with less switches and less keycaps. It’s so much smaller.

For my small size, I loved the compactness of this keyboard. It makes me table look almost big, and it is, but there’s just so many things on it. Half of my table belongs to our cat, Indie. I’ll attach a great picture of here as well because who doesn’t love cats, especially long-haired sweeties.

Overall, after frequent use with this keyboard, I have no complaints regarding this keyboard’s performance at its price point. There are some quirks that I can get over such as the different feel of the right Shift key compared to the left Shift key. For $50, I think that this is a viable entry-level keyboard into the mechanical keyboard enthusiast world.

It would also make a wonderful 2nd keyboard for work or somewhere else since it’s so easy to transport around. However, if I was using this for work, I would be complaining that this does not have a wireless mode. Other DIERYA keyboards at the same price would have wireless mode but would not be waterproof.

One more comment, another keyboard that is widely known in the mechanical keyboard world is the Anne Pro 2. This keyboard is also 60% and sells for $89.99. It can be wired/wireless, it’s fully programmable, has double-shot PBT keycaps, and extremely sturdy stabilizers. But that’s just my 2 cents on a good entry-level keyboard or a first keyboard for beginners.

Sources

Input Club Halo Clear Input.Club

Gateron Brown Input.Club

Anne Pro 2 annepro.net

Corsair K68 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Corsair K68 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Overview

The Corsair K68 mechanical keyboard was released to the public in early 2018 on the Corsair website.

Coming in at $89.99, the K68 is a mid-level priced keyboard and overall not too expensive. It is a full size keyboard, which means it includes the arrow keys and num pad. The keyboard also comes outfitted with additional media keys to change brightness levels, sound, and fast forward/pause.

The specific model we are reviewing today comes outfitted with red back lighting and Cherry MX Red switches. It is possible to upgrade to RGB back lighting but will cost an additional $10 and allows you to swap out the switch type to Cherry Blue or Cherry Speed, but keep in mind those switches are only available with the RGB model.

The switches are not hot-swappable, making it much more difficult to take out or swap them out post-purchase unless you’re willing to re-solder back in place.

The power cable is a non-detachable USB-A port with no available option to switch or upgrade. The cable is protected by a small black sleeve.

Marketed as dust and spill resistant, this keyboard can withstand some soda or water spilled on it from time to time and is easier to clean.

Textured space bar close up

Specifications

  • 104 keys
  • Cherry MX Red switches
  • Weight: 1.12 kg
  • Wired with no wireless connection available
  • Adjustable height
  • Spill/dust resistant
  • Non-detachable USB 2.0 Type A connection
  • Media keys
  • ABS plastic keys
  • Textured space bar

Included with keyboard:

  • Detachable wrist pad

First Impressions

Upon opening the box, I am impressed by the overall aesthetic of the keyboard. The case is black with a silver corsair logo at the top. Underneath the keys is red colored rubber that pairs nicely with the black case. The font on the keycaps is large and visible, but also has a nice sleek style to it. The space bar has a nice textured feel that I really enjoy.

As I go to plug the keyboard in, I can’t help but be disappointed by the lack of detachable power cable and the fact that I’m limited to a USB-A cable with no option for USB-C. The keyboard feels outdated in this regard and would expect the next model Corsair to release to have the ability to customize this a bit more.

The K68 comes shipped with a detachable wrist pad so I decide to install it to the keyboard before using it for the first time. The wrist pad feels like it is made of cheap plastic and is quite thin so I question how much wrist support it actually provides. The only upside I can think about this part is that it’s relatively easy to install to the keyboard. 

Wrist support close up
Wrist support provides almost zero… wrist support

Corsair would have been better off not including this part with the keyboard, because it makes the overall quality of the product feel cheaper and less robust. If they want to include a wrist pad, I would expect it to be made of better material and actually provide wrist support.

After plugging this keyboard, I’m quite surprised by how bright the red backlighting is and quickly turn it down. If you enjoy typing in the dark at night without any lights I can see how this might make it easier to see the keys. 

I am not a fan of the red backlight, but this is only a personal opinion so I will not hold it against this product. Although I do have to say, the product looked more sleek and better overall before I turned it on and was blasted by the red lights.

Overall I’m not too impressed with this keyboard, yet.

Typing

The Cherry MX Reds are pretty standard for a keyboard of this price range so I won’t go into detail about them too much. Basically, they are a linear tactile switch made specifically for fast typists and gamers. You can read more about them here.

The switches are covered are in a red rubber membrane that helps quiet and dampen the sound of the switches when they are actuated. Overall, the rubber adds a nice aesthetic to the keyboard and is effective at lowering the decibels outputted. Unfortunately the rubber adds a mushy feel to the keys and a bit of friction when attempting to actuate the keys.

Side view

The stabilizers on the K68 feel a bit wobbly, the spacebar and enter keys will lean a bit if you gently press on the corners. These could really benefit from some custom modifications to improve the feel, but I’m not sure how difficult it would be to mod this keyboard considering the switches are not hot-swappable. I would look into a band-aid mod or even clipping the stabilizers.

After typing on this keyboard for a while, I noticed a clinging noise when pressing on specific keys and it slowly started to drive me crazy. The keys produce a high-pitched metal ringing noise each time they are pressed. Honestly, this is a deal breaker for me and cannot see myself using this keyboard for more than the purpose of reviewing it. I’ll try to capture that sound on camera during the click test.

What Makes it Special

Overall, I feel like this a relatively generic keyboard with decent quality, which is what you can expect for a mid-range priced keyboard such as the Corsair K68.

I am impressed by the overall aesthetic of the keyboard and I enjoy the textured space bar. The media keys are also nice to have, but some people don’t like/need them.

Complaints and Problems

I have three primary complaints about this keyboard.

Complaint #1: The Ringing noise

First and foremost, the ringing noise this keyboard produced was unbearable. I am not sure if this was a defect with my specific keyboard or if other people have experienced it as well. But I am going to give Corsair the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was a factory defect. If you have experienced this problem as well, please leave a comment below.

Complaint #2: The wrist pad

The wrist pad is thin, made of cheap plastic, and provides little to no support. While being relatively easy to install, it provides little value at all. Corsair should not have even included this with the product as it cheapens everything else.

Complaint #3: The rubber on the switches

While nice for noise dampening and improves the overall look of the keyboard, this rubber makes it difficult to feel the actuation point on the Cherry Reds. It was a good idea, just not implemented in a great way by Corsair.

Complaint #4: Non-detachable cord

As I mentioned above the power cord is non-detachable and only available in USB-A. As someone who likes to customize this part, I am not a fan of the direction Corsair took in regards to making this cord non-detachable.

Complaint #5: ABS plastic

The keycaps are made of a cheaper ABS plastic that tends to wear our and look greasy after a lot of use. PBT would have been a superior plastic to use, but considering this is a mid-range keyboard, my expectations aren’t too high about the quality of the plastic.

Summary

Overall the Corsair K68 is a relatively affordable mechanical keyboard and although I have quite a few complaints, the quality of the keyboard isn’t bad and would make for a decent first mechanical keyboard.

The keyboard has a nice aesthetic to it, with a mix of red, black, and grey colors. That being said, I would definitely not recommend this to a keyboard enthusiast or purchased as a gift for someone that already owns a mechanical keyboard.

Anyways, that it for the review.

Please mention your thoughts on this keyboard below, and let me know if you had some of the same issues as I did or if I am missing any crucial information.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video below.

The Best PCB for a Custom-made 60% Keyboard

I’ve been looking into building a custom 60% keyboard for while now and recently learned about some of the different PCB configurations. But now the question is, how the heck do I pick one out when there are so many on the market?

It was hard enough deciding the on the size I wanted, especially when there is all sorts of strange keyboard shapes and sizes.

Strange keyboard contraption
Not sure why someone would do this to themselves…

I did some research and scanned through countless other blogs and forum posts to pull out all the useful information I could find to help aid my decision. After much deliberation, I was able to find a few of the best PCBs available.

DZ60

One of the first PCBs I stumbled upon was the DZ60. It’s a relatively new model and has a nice look to it. This PCB comes standard with RGB under glow and is fully programable with QMK firmware which are some really nice features to have. The RGB alone almost made me pull out my credit card.

The DZ60 also supports a wide variety of key layouts such as a split space bar or the addition of arrow keys on the right side of the keyboard.

DZ60 PCB keyboard support
PCB key layout support

For power supply, you have the option to choose between a mini and Type C USB.

At a cheap $35 price, these are hard to beat. I also noticed the DZ60RBG-ANSI V2 which has support for hot swappable switches. The cost is slightly higher however, at $55 each.

Based on my research this seemed like the most cost-efficient option that fit my needs.

Zeal60

The Zeal60 seemed like another great option, coming with lots cool features such as individual RGB lit keys and pre-soldered LEDs, diodes, resistors, and controllers. With a nice gold/black aesthetic look to boot.

Once I saw the price tag, however, I couldn’t look at this thing without my wallet hurting.

Almost four times the price of the DZ60, the Zeal60 costs a hefty $120. But I suppose that’s what you would expect from Zeal. If cost was not an issue though, I could see this one being a good option.

Zeal60 PCB aesthetic
Rev4 Zeal60 from zealpc.net

Honorable mentions:

GH60

During my research I stumbled upon the GH60, apparently the OG of the mechanical keyboard PCB world.

This PCB was developed through community efforts with greekhack and is quite reliable.

Unfortunately, this model is now out of date and not the best option unless cost is really a factor in choosing a design. This model does not come with RGB underglow and requires you to soldier a lot of the parts yourself.

Customizable PCB

I thought this was super cool but does not exactly fit in my area of expertise. But if you’re skilled and more DIY-inclined, this option will be for you. Apparently, it is possible to build your own PCB board from scratch!

This is some next-level customizable, and if you’re willing to put in the work (unlike me) it’s totally possible to create some very unique keyboards.

Read more here.

Don’t feel like reading? Check out the video instead.

The Best Keyboard Stabilizers for your Mechanical Keyboard

The best key stabilizers for your mechanical keyboard

If you’re planning to build a custom keyboard and are puzzled about which key stabilizer will be best for your build, keep reading, you’re in the right place.

We’ll go over the best stabilizer and how to optimize it for your build so you can get that perfect sound and feel that you’ve been desperately craving.

In case you’re wondering what a keyboard stabilizer is, read here.

To kick this off, lets start with:

Cherry Stabilizers from GMK

These come in screw in, snap in, and plate mounted styles, you can read more about the different styles here. Basically, your PCB plate mounting holes determine what will fit on your keyboard. The linked posts goes more into detail about what will work for you.

Cherry stabilizers. Photo from novelkeys.xyz

These are the industry standard, so if you already own a mechanical keyboard, it is most likely equipped with these stabilizers. Coming in at $2 a pop, they are a relatively cheap option. We highly recommend you order from Novelkeys.

The Cherry stabilizers are known to rattle and feel a bit mushy. In addition, they are a bit slow. If you are willing to put a little extra work in, these stabilizers really benefit from some custom modifications (band aid, clipping, and lubrication).

The band aid modification dampens some of the sound and creates a much nicer acoustic. Clipping the stabilizer actually makes the key feel less rickety, which is a bit counter intuitive. But what works, works. Lubricating the stabilizer really helps with the friction-y slow feel of the key, and helps it feel more consistent and smooth.

After some modification, these compete as one of the best stabilizers out there. The modifications reduce the rattling and create a much better smooth and stable feel.

Click test before and after modification

If you’re not interested in modding your stabilizers, keep reading because the next stabilizer is for you.

Costar Plate-Mounted

If your looking for a stabilizer that is great without mods, Costar’s are the ones for you.

Coming in at $9, they’re a bit more expensive than the Cherry’s but still affordable.

They can be difficult to install but are superior to the unmodded Cherry stabilizers. They are smooth as butter, don’t rattle much and make a very satisfying sound on impact.

Listen here for the click test

I would place them on par with the modded Cherry’s as far as performance, feel and sound go.

Costar can be difficult to mod and swap out since to install you need to hook them into the key caps. Trying to remove the keycaps afterwards to clean your keyboard can be quite frustrating and time consuming, because of that some people don’t enjoy this type of stabilizer.

The Costars are great if you want to install them and forget about em. No modding required, very solid performance, and a decent mid-range price. However, not the best if you enjoy tinkering with your keyboard and swapping out your keycaps regularly.

ZealPC Transparent Gold Plated Stabilizers

If you enjoy sitting on a golden toilet and looking down at the rest of us from your ivory tower, these stabilizers are for you.

Picture from zealpc.net

The fanciest and most expensive on the list ($30). Gold-plated and aesthetic, these are high quality stabilizers and one of the best on the market.

Offered only in the screw-mount style, with a custom nut design to prevent stripping the threads.

Made to be durable and stylish, but only if you’re willing to shell out the dough. The price tends to turn off a lot of people, which is totally understandable. At 15x the price of the Cherry stabilizer only the truly passionate people will pay for these.

Zeal PC stabilizer click test

That about wraps it up for the list! If you have any questions, corrections or additions to the list, please let us know.

You can also check out our YouTube video if you don’t feel like reading.

Common Questions:

Where do you buy Costar stabilizers?

These can be difficult to find online, and most stores do not keep them in stock. I was able to find them on Amazon here.

How do you install the stabilizers?

We do not have a post about this yet, but you can reference this link.

Want to learn more about the Cherry stabilizer mods?

Watch this YouTube video by TaeHa Types. He goes over how to do it in great detail.