I have a special mechanical keyboard up for review today. The Vortex CORE could end up being a pioneer for 40% form factor keyboards and the future mech market. What makes it so unique? The CORE is not a kit that requires soldering skills for a complex assembly process. It’s not a custom you design and build yourself from the ground up based on a specific PCB. The Vortex CORE is the first mass produced, fully assembled 40% mechanical keyboard for the “mainstream” retail market.
Until now, these ultra compact 40% layouts have been mostly relegated to a hardcore niche audience, even among keyboard enthusiasts. Does the Vortex CORE have what it takes to invigorate the 40% market the same way its predecessor, the Poker series, did with 60% mechanical keyboards? We shall see… Continue reading
The ability to program your mechanical keyboard and assign different functions to specific keys may sound like a luxury feature, but in some cases it becomes a necessity. Anyone who’s ever used a tiny, space-saving form factor keyboard — I’m talking 60% and smaller — knows their default key layouts can be a challenge when the number of dedicated keys is limited. Having the option to customize a key to your desired function can alleviate these shortcomings, making your typing experience more intuitive. Taking the time to choose the best programmable mechanical keyboard according to your own personal preferences will result in comfortable and faster typing with less errors.
Not only that, but many programmable mechanical keyboards allow the user to setup macros. A macro key can initiate and perform a series of multiple recorded inputs with a single keystroke. This feature is popular among gamers, as it allows advanced combos to be successfully pulled off with 100% accuracy. They have practical purposes too. Any tasks that requires the same repetitive input can be programmed to a macro key. Even something as simple as having your email address bound to a specific key to quicken logins and the process of filling out forms. Continue reading
Vortex’s next “big” product comes in a tiny package. The Vortex Core 40% mechanical keyboard was just recently made available to order from Amazon (sold by Corus but fulfilled by Amazon).
The Core is a ultra-compact mechanical keyboard with only 47 dedicated keys. It uses multiple function layers and programmability to provide functionality similar to that of larger keyboards, but with a much smaller footprint for improved ergonomics and space-saving ability. Continue reading
Mechanical keyboards are expensive, especially when compared to typical membrane based keyboards. A high quality mech with solid build quality, durable PBT keycaps and switches from a well known brand (Cherry, Matias, Topre, etc.) will generally set you back in the neighborhood of $150. Over the past couple years a barrage of low-budget mechanical keyboards have hit the market. These boards are very economical, but they typically cut a few corners with build quality. They usually make use of MX style clone switches, not genuine Cherry switches. You’re also not paying a premium for the name brand.
This type of product has made mechanical keyboards a more viable option for the budget conscious crowd. The Drevo Gramr 75% mechanical keyboard I’m reviewing today is one of those economical options. Let’s test this cheap mechanical keyboard and see if it’s possible to provide good build quality, attractive design, reliability, and performance for under $50. Continue reading
Are you looking to try a mechanical keyboard for the first time? Everyone has to begin somewhere, but for newcomers to the hobby it can be overwhelming if you’re not aware of a few basic attributes associated with mechanical keyboard switches. Let’s start by ignoring the many different brands and variations of mechanical keyboard switches and just focus on the three main switch types you’ll most likely encounter in your search: Clicky, Tactile and Linear. Continue reading
An interesting development has occurred today as Cherry, who are well known for their popular line of MX mechanical keyboard switches, now has new ownership. Cherry was previously a subsidiary under the control of technology group ZF Friedrichshafen AG. They have been acquired by GENUI. GENUI is a private investment firm who specifically targets medium-sized businesses in German-speaking countries. Continue reading
Here I am again, reviewing another TKL (TenKeyLess) mechanical keyboard. A few weeks back I reviewed the Redragon K553-RGB USAS, a low-budget TKL mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting. It was a decent mech, but I did encounter complications with it. There was also some obvious corner cutting in build materials and design to reach such a low price point.
The same can’t be said for the next TKL mech I’ll be discussing below, the Max Keyboard Blackbird with blue ambient side lighting and Cherry MX Red linear switches. Continue reading to learn more about this high-quality TKL and determine whether the premium price is justified. Continue reading
If you haven’t noticed by now, the two most popular trends in mechanical keyboards among gamers and enthusiasts are compactness and RGB backlighting. A compact keyboard has one huge advantage over full size boards. Ergonomics. Fans of small form factor mechanical keyboards appreciate how much space they free up the for their mouse, allowing for greater range in mouse positioning and less hand movement to input data.
RGB backlighting, on the other hand, is less practical and mostly in demand for aesthetic purposes. The goal being to appear as flashy as possible so they might draw attention from potential buyers. Today I am reviewing the Redragon K553-RGB USAS, a TKL (TenKeyLess) mechanical keyboard that follows both these trends with omission of the numpad and addition of per-key RGB LED backlighting. Continue reading
There are certain words, phrases and acronyms used by mechanical keyboard enthusiasts that will leave the average person who’s unfamiliar with the subject scratching their head. As with most hobbies, the terminology can be confusing and it continues to evolve as the hobby grows. The purpose of this glossary is to provide a quick, easy way to find definitions for the terms you don’t know and expand your mechanical keyboard vocabulary. Continue reading
I recently bought the new RGB version of the popular Redragon USAS K553 mechanical keyboard for testing and review purposes (look for that in a couple weeks). I connected it to my Windows 10 machine and watched as the LED lights went through a “boot up” pattern. I opened up Firefox and tried typing a URL. Nothing happened. I pressed down the Windows key. Nothing. Uh-oh. Not a single key on the keyboard would input a character once pressed. Was my shiny new mech dead on arrival? Read on to find out. Continue reading