So one of my friends talks hella loud.
But do you know what could be worse than a friend who’s super loud?
A friend who’s super loud AND has the obnoxious sound of mechanical keyboard switch presses coming through their microphone during calls
Yeah… so anyway, said friend sort of wanted a mechanical keyboard but had no money to buy one, so I thought that it would be nice to buy one for them.
Now I didn’t want to buy a sub-par Kmart mechanical keyboard (Has anyone bought one? Let me know of your experiences!), but I also didn’t want to burn yet another hole in my pocket, so after some deliberation, I had settled on the Skyloong GK64S keyboard (w/ Gateron Yellow switches) for AU$100.
I had also purchased a Kangawa Wave theme keycap set (~$30) because -said friend- had remarked that it looked cool (We had a look at the Varmilo x Ducky Panda keyboard but $$$, and also was out of stock pretty much everywhere, so we settled for this one)
- $130 spent and a few weeks later, the keyboard arrived! *
What’s In The Box
- The keyboard itself
- Instruction Manual
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Keycap Puller
The keyboard is a 60% layout keyboard (Which dictates the size and layout of the keys on the keyboard). As you can see there are no dedicated keys for the numpad, operation keys, and function keys - these are accessible through key combinations (that you can configure yourself).
In terms of the layout, I’m not a big fan of the placement of the directional arrow keys, where they’re squished into the lower right corner, with a… delete key right next to it??? I personally think that the delete key might be accidentally pressed alot (although of course you could always disable that key)
Compared to the GK64, the GK64S had wireless connectivity over Bluetooth - something that I thought -said friend would appreciate as they didn’t have
many available ports on their MacBook (Apple 😒)
Out Of The Box
You can immediately use the keyboard without any configuration required; and the shortcut combinations were simple enough to figure out with the markings on the keycaps. Paring the keyboard to a Bluetooth device was also quite simple, switch to BT Mode with Fn + Space, then Fn + 1/2/3, depending on which (of three) device you want to connect to.
In terms of usability, I would think that it is rather easy to accidentally switch between USB and BT modes, given that the Fn and Space keys are literally next to each other. One accidental thumb press of both keys could effectively temporarily stop you from interacting with what you’re doing (i.e. a game, etc).
I reckon that the mode switch should be switched to some other key combination where the keys are further apart. Fn + Tab maybe?
Or even a dedicated button at the bottom of the keyboard - it’s not really a function that you would need to constantly press during the same seating
The RGB LEDs are pleasantly bright, although the lighting did not seem entirely uniform - with different parts of the switch being brighter or darker than other parts of that same switch (mainly due to the physical placement of the LED)
There’s a bunch of preset lighting modes that you can use by pressing Fn + [ or Fn + ]. They were pretty decent I guess…
There’s actually a microphone on-board (or should I say on-keyboard), which I found kinda trivial.
(With the custom keycaps installed)
Overall, the keyboard does feel quite decent!
The keyboard base is made out of a quite sturdy aluminium frame that did quite a good job in resisting flex and torque. It also had a nice weight to it.
The included USB-A to USB-C cable was braided, but it didn’t really feel amazing - it’s just a cable of course, and can easily be swapped out.
Speaking being able to be swapped out, the GK64S allows you to replace the switches (if you want) with other hot-swap compatible switches. Unlikely (like 0% chance) that my friend would do this, but a nice capability nonetheless. I had ordered the GK64S with the Gateron Yellow switches, which we decided upon after listening to a few keyboard switch sound tests - borderline annoying but tolerable :)
The keys are pretty stable too, and don’t wobble too much around the keyboard when pressed.
Pretty good, solid build quality.
Hardware / Software Configuration
The configurator tool is available [here], but it’s a mess. (It’s also Yet Another Electron App)
To be honest it’s less of the software, and more of the way that the keyboard was designed.
I got confused and closed it, so no screenshots here.
The keyboard has five different modes / “layers”. Standard, Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 3, and Driver 1.
No way am I going to remember the key combinations for each mode (luckily this keyboard isn’t for me huh!)
I’ve also found out that there’s a bunch of GitHub repos to help facilitate the configuration of these keyboards
SHOW ME THE FISHIES 🐠
🐋 FYI - A whale is a mammal not a fish 🐳
As with any keyboard, to swap out the keycaps you just need to pull them out (either with a keycap puller, a pair of pliers, or even just your fingers), and then push the new keycap over the switch stem / mount / pole / thing that sticks out.
The keycaps complement the white keyboard base quite nicely.
Whilst the keycaps are completely opaque, the surrounding space allows the RGB LEDs to still illuminate, giving it an arguably better look.
EDIT: 19th September 2021
I personally own the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB (Cherry MX Browns), which I purchased for around AU$180 in late November 2018. For the heck of it, I had also bought some keycaps for myself, as I had some issues with the lower Control key being abit sharp (which bruised my pinky) - and that the Escape key kept popping off.
Fun fact. Prior to this mechanical keyboard, I had been sporting a Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard for ten plus years. The Alloy Elite is great and all, but from time to time I still use my Multimedia for the nostalgia
I found it difficult to find decent keycap schemes which I liked that would suite a dark keyboard base, because I pictured that a bright keycap scheme wouldn’t complement well. Everything kinda just looks better with white…
I eventually settled for some black pudding keycaps (the top surface is opaque, but the rest of the keycap is translucent), as well some blueish gradient keycap set
Which one should I pick?
So before I go on about pulling all my original keys out, here’s a picture of how my keyboard originally looked (with the W A S D swapped out for the included FPS keycaps)
Yeah cool whatever. Show me the new caps
(10/10 sharp photo, would take again)
I first replaced the keys with the pudding keycaps (keeping my FPS caps on).
Personally though, I didn’t really like it. There was too much white from what is an otherwise fully black keyboard (minus the RGB). It’s much more pleasing if you look at it from top-down - except that’s now how people position their keyboards when they use them.
“The majority of keyboard enthusiasts aren’t programmers,
They’re all flash but no
- Andrew Wong 2021
In an attempt to reduce the amount of “white-ness” of the keyboard, I tried to replace some of the keycaps with the blue set I had bought (I didn’t try an entire blue set replacement because… ceebs..). I felt the blue was actually kinda nice.
I had also changed the a few of my numpad keys to the blue set, like a sort of border highlight 🤷♂️
So yeah, now my keyboards looks like this:
I’m not sure how much I like it yet, but the keycaps do feel quite nice - They have a sort of rough texture to them which is quite pleasing.
But here’s to me spending on a whim again 🥂