When I was looking for a cheap and decent 60% board with hotswap capabilities, the Redragon K530 caught my eye. But when I received the K530 in the mail I was very disappointed for two reasons.
The Redragon K530 is an entry-level budget mechanical keyboard with a 60% layout. It’s Redragon’s first attempt at a 60% keyboard dating back to January of 2020. It delivers shockingly good Bluetooth and hotswap at a decent price with some caveats.
You get a nice simple, solid plastic case in either black or white. It also features one level of height adjustment with some rubber-tipped flip-out feet.
Unfortunately, it only comes with 2 switch options. Either linear reds or tactile browns, more on this later. Lastly, and one of the more important and eye-catching features is the hotswap capabilities or lack thereof.
If you want awesome Bluetooth capabilities and a decent case then this board is perfect for you.
In The Box
In the box you receive quite a bit especially at this price point.
- The Keyboard: Obviously.
- Plastic Keycap Puller: Its a standard red puller you will get with most prebuilts. It’s not very good and will scratch up your keycaps. We recommend getting a metal one from amazon.
- Tiny Metal Switch Puller: If you do choose to remove the switches use this. It’s not very good for ergonomics but it gets the job done. By the time you’re finished with all the switches you will question why you even started taking the switches out because of how painful it is.
- USB Cable: Right angle on the keyboard side to incorporate the USB connector on the side of the keyboard. Not braided but doesn’t develop any kinks, not the greatest cable either.
- Extra Switches: This is pretty cool, it comes with an extra brown switch, but also comes with an extra Red (Linear but quite light), Black (Linear but heavier then red), and Blue (Clicky with the same weighting as browns.) This is pretty cool if you wanna try out different switches and how they feel.
- Redragon Sticker: Tacky little sticker with the Redragon logo for people who want to rep the Redragon brand.
- Documentation: Boring boring boring, except for the manual with all the key bindings and layers, that’s quite useful.
K530 features a fully rectangular case. No weird shapes like the Keychron K6 or slots for aluminum panels. The case is solid and has barely any flex. On the back, there is a pair of kick-up feet with only 1 level of elevation and a label with some information and branding. Personally, I like it using it without the kick-up feet which makes it has about a 5-degree typing angle but with the feet, it will get up to about 8 degrees.
On the left side, there is a switch for Bluetooth on and off and a 3-way switch to change between Bluetooth modes with an RGB led next to it so show what mode you are on. Another LED is also there to show the battery and when you enter pairing mode.
The USB port is on the side, which is a downside for many people. It basically cuts the use of any custom cables and can be negative towards cable management depending on how your setup looks.
The K530 comes with a set of ABS, double-shot keycaps. These keycaps don’t look very good with a significant and undesirable gamerey font. Speaking of the font it is also very inconsistent where the same letters look different on keys. While this may not be a bad thing the stock keycaps also have shiny and smooth sides which can be prone to scratching and fingerprints.
They are low-quality ABS which means they will shine up very easily and don’t feel very good when typing. Depending on how much you sweat and how much use the keyboard it will shine up in a couple months due to the natural oils and greases produced by your hands.
The keycaps are OEM profile which is common throughout prebuilt keyboards as such. The keycaps are sculpted in a way to hold your hands in place. Refer to the infographic below to see various keycap profiles and their height.
The keycaps are either full black or full white. No accents or MAC extras. The sub legends are printed on the side of the keycaps that face you for ease of access.
This board features cherry-style plate mount stabilizers that could use some work. They are neither pre-clipped nor pre-lubed but since this keyboard is hotswap both can be done very easily.
Generally, every stabilizer set needs to be lubed for a good experience so if you would like to lube your stabilizers check out this guide by keyboard enthusiast Taeha Types.
One of the defining factors of this board is that it is hotswap, meaning that you can change the switches without soldering. While this is a welcome feature in most keyboards it is most welcome if it is done correctly.
Most hotswap boards use sockets from Gateron, Kailh, and Outemu. Some higher-end boards will use millmax sockets but usually, those are the only boards that you have to build and solder yourself. This keyboard uses Outemu hotswap sockets which is a huge problem with this board and is the main reason I haven’t recommended it to many people. Outemu hotswap sockets mean that only outemu switches can be used with the PCB since outemu switches have pins that are slightly less thick compared to other switches like Gateron and JWK.
Furthermore, its only 3 pin hotswap. Meaning PCB mount switches like Boba U4 or U4ts wont work without clipping the legs. This is an easy mod that can be done with a nail cutter but is still not favored by many people since its permanently modifying your switches.
Another problem that directly affects the hotswap is the way the LEDs are mounted. Instead of being mounted flush with the PCB, the LEDs protrude a bit as shown.
This can cause switches that don’t have a SMD cutout to not fit properly. Some examples would be Cherry MX Switches with the black housings and most JWK switches.
To conclude, this keyboard has hotswap capabilities but is limited by the fact it only accepts Outemu switches. Outemu switches aren’t the greatest but they definitely aren’t the worst and Outemu manufacturers many switches that are very good like Boba U4 and U4T. Lastly, the SMD issue limits use with even more switches. For this reason, we can’t recommend this keyboard for people looking for hotswap capabilities.
Wireless is where this board shines, it sports Bluetooth 5.0 flawless connecting, a giant battery, and its super easy to connect. It has 2 switches on the side to manage Bluetooth. One for turning the board of and on, and one for changing what device the Bluetooth connects to, and lastly it has a layered button on the keyboard to turn on pairing mode.
Wireless capabilities is definitely where this board shines as it has everything you could possibly need for connecting via bluetooth
The version of the K530 that we have on hand is the black one with brown switches. These switches are meant to be tactile switches, tactile switches are a mix between linear and clicky; they have the bump of a clicky switch but also aren’t as loud as clickies.
Most brown switches in the keyboard community are known to not have the best tactility. But when I tried these switches I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of tactility they carried.
While the tactility is pretty decent, the spring ping is terrible. The scratchiness and housing and stem wobble is also considerable. The switch uses the Kailh style latches that are quite difficult to open compared to genuine Kailh switches like Box Jades or Box Blacks.
While these do feel better than your average brown switch in terms of tactility, they lose some points in the lack of smoothness and spring ping.
The Redragon software isn’t great but it is something. It is straightforward in terms of lighting and keybinds but if you want to experiment with more layers it will be tough.
RGB control is quite extensive and there are a plethora of effects. The RGB is quite bright and vibrant with very good color accuracy. While the RGB is quite bright it is not as bright as the Drop ALT but not as dim as the Keychron K6. If you are looking for a board for the main purpose of RGB i would recommend something like the Womier/GamaKay K66 or K61 since they are at a similar price point and are very RGB-centric boards.
Looks can be deceiving and that is the case with the K530. While it is a keyboard that works you won’t be very happy with what you get. The hotswap incompatibilities and the led issues are just too much and outshine anything good with this keyboard.
All in all, I do not recommend this keyboard because of the hotswap and how it does not accept most traditional keyboard switches like Cherry and Gateron switches. The only time I would truly recommend this board is to someone looking for very good Bluetooth, wants a decent tactile experience out of the box, and does not care about hotswap.
Thanks for reading!
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