Are you looking for that next custom keyboard to build? The Chosfox CF81 might be a good option for you.
Coming in the highly desirable 75% layout with a knob, the CF81 is mighty attractive (if you overlook the weird keycaps we chose for this build).
The Main Takeaways
The Chosfox CF81 is a 75% custom keyboard that has entered the scene. With a sturdy aluminum build and a sleek look, this keyboard would make the perfect ally for working in an office, gaming, or to tie together a stylish setup. The keyboard offers an excellent typing experience but requires you to roll up your sleeves and build it yourself. If you want the experience of a fancy custom mixed with the fun of building a custom keyboard, definitely check this one out.
General Usage: For general usage, the Chosfox CF81 is an excellent choice. The 75% layout makes it easy to do everyday tasks such as writing emails, working, browsing the internet, etc. For some of you, the lack of a number pad may be inconvenient, in which case a full-sized or 96% keyboard would be a better fit.
Typing: The keyboard offers a satisfying typing experience that’s bouncy and soft, with a well-dampened case for a soothing acoustic experience. The screw-in stabilizers are perfect for non-rattily typing feel. You’ll need to choose the switches and buy them separately, which can be hard to choose. But ultimately it gives you a more customized typing experience.
Gaming: For you gamers out there, getting a mechanical keyboard is half the battle, so in that regard it’s great for gaming. Although if you’re really into competitive games, there are better options. I couldn’t find any information about the polling/response rate and the keyboard doesn’t have any advanced controls like gaming-specific keyboards on the market.
Programming: For programming, this keyboard will get the job done with little hiccups. The Chosfox CF81 comes with full VIA compatibility, giving it a ton of functionality and customizability. Plus you don’t need any bloated software that other keyboards require. You can assign macros and use up to 4 layers for assigning keys.
In The Box
Parts In Box:
– Coiled cable with aviator
The Chosfox CF81 is a keyboard kit, which means it comes disassembled and you’ll need to build it yourself. So after you buy the kit, you’ll additional need to pick up switches and keycaps for your build. For this keyboard, I chose to use the Oshid Amber Blue keycaps and the Chosfox Voyager switches. The kit itself comes with all of the needed equipment including the gaskets, plate, foam, plate, stabilizers, and more. The kit is fully decked out with all of the essentials you may need.
Typing Angle: 6 degrees
Power Cable: Coiled USB-C
The build quality of the keyboard is excellent. Coming with an aluminum case, the keyboard is heavy and sturdy. It would be very difficult to break this keyboard. The internal components of the CF81 are also interesting. You get a polycarbonate plate that offers a softer typing experience, gaskets to make it bouncier, and 3 layers of poron foam for sound dampening. Chosfox really did not skip any steps making this keyboard. It would be nice if this keyboard had kick-up feet, but that’s not to common to get with custom keyboards such as this one.
Layout and Size
Layout: Exploded 75%
Length: 329.2 mm
The CF81 comes in the exploded 75% layout with a knob, a highly desirable build nowadays. The exploded layout means that the arrow keys and navigation cluster are slightly separated from the rest of the keys. The keyboard does not come with a number pad, so if you do a lot of data entry, it may be a good idea to look for a larger size such as 96% or full-sized. I really like the detail of the little fox paw print on the knob, you can see it in the photo below. The knob itself is also tactile and satisfying to turn and the grip has a nice bumpy texture to it.
Keycap Material: PC
Legends: 3K Molding
Standard Bottom Row: No
Aftermarket Keycaps: Yes
The keycaps did not come with the keyboard, we picked these up ourselves. While they don’t exactly match the aesthetic of the board, they are fun and interesting to use. The keycaps are completely translucent and are a nice mix of blue and yellow. Not your everyday keycaps. If I were to make this keyboard again to fit the standard look, I would go for a nice set of doubleshot Cherry keycaps. These keycaps are OSA profile and made from polycarbonate plastic, definitely a detour from the normal design were used to.
Type: Chosfox Voyager (Tactile)
Hot-Swappable: If yes, mention if 3 or pin
Actuation Distance: 2 mm
Travel Distance: 4 mm
Actuation Force: 45 g
The switches we put in this build are actually from Chosfox, the same manufacturer as the keyboard. They are a tactile switch with a nice solid bump and offer a solid typing experience. The switches are also prelubed which gives the switches a smoother and more satisfying feel. There is zero scratchiness. I also appreciate the color combination of different shades of blue, plus the totally clear top housing.
The stabilizers in this build are screw-in, which are usually preferred over the normal plate-mounted stabilizers you find on prebuilt keyboards. They did not come installed or prelubed, so you’ll need to assemble them yourself, install them into the PCB, and lube them. The keyboard did not come with lubricant, so if you want to lube the switches, you’ll need to buy it separately along with the switches and keycaps. Once installed, the stabilizers feel very stable and have next to no rattle. So overall, the typing experience is quite nice. But you do need to put in a bit of upfront work in terms of assembling, installing, and lubing the stabilizers.
The CF81 comes with full per-key RGB that can be customized using the shortcuts on the keyboard. With the translucent keycaps we had, you could the see the full effect of the RGB. But if you were to opt for normal Cherry double-shot keycaps, you would only see the RGB poking out of the edges and the legends would not be illuminated. Overall, the RGB is pretty good, but it’s not really what most look for in a custom keyboard such as this one.
The Chosfox CF81 offers full VIA combability which is a huge bonus. Instead of needing to download software specific to this product, you can use open-source software such as VIA to create macros, setup custom key placements, and more. The CF81 offers up to 4 layers of customizability, enough for any keyboard nerd to squeal in joy.
Port Type: USB-C
USB Passthrough: No
The keyboard offers the most standard option for connectivity, a USB-C port on the top left of the keyboard. This is the best spot in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Plus you get the added flair of the coiled cable with an aviator, if you’re into that look. I appreciate the extra style it adds, but if you don’t like the extra desk space it takes up, you can easily go with a normal straight cable instead. The CF81 does not offer any wireless capabilities such as 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth, which would have been nice. Most custom keyboards with an aluminum build do not offer wireless, so it’s not a huge deal.