Epomaker NT68: Revolutionizing Portability

Epomaker NT68 keyboard with an iPad and mug.

Epomaker has pioneered the budget side of mechanical keyboards making some of the most well-priced and well-built keyboards ever. Epomaker are responsible for the widely popular GK61 and GK68, many other starter keyboards, and even some more higher end keyboards.

One of their upcoming releases is the NT68. The NT68 is a wireless, 65%, hotswap keyboard with a few tricks up its sleeve to separate it from the other 65% keyboards.

For transparency Epomaker did send this to us for review, that being said I will try my best to not let that influence my review. Let this just be a reminder to take all subjective things I have said (like switch feel, sound, etc.) with a grain of salt.

Our Verdict

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Epomaker NT68 is a budget hotswap keyboard with wireless, it also features a kickstand making it ideal for laptop and tablet use. Some subjective problems like the unstandardized layout set it back a bit for me but your mileage may vary. Overall, a fun and good buy if you’re a laptop user and primarily work on the go.

Sign up for the NT68 by clicking here!

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In The Box

The unboxing was very textbook; the keyboard was there wrapped in its kickstand with all the other goods in a separate divided compartment.

It came with:

  • Keyboard
  • Documentation
  • Cables – They are kind of small
  • Keycap and Switch Pullers
  • Extra Keycaps
  • Some kickstand Stuff
  • Replacement Switches

Overall, pretty good stuff. The one catch is that the cables the NT68 comes with are 3 inches long, prompting me to believe this keyboard is meant to be used wirelessly most of the time.

Cables for the Epomaker NT68.
A bit small

The Case

Side view of the Epomaker NT68 keyboard.

Starting from the bottom of the keyboard, the NT68 features a minimalistic CNCd aluminum case, which is quite nice. The quality of the aluminum is that off the Drop ALT and its brethren, like the CTRL. That being said its quite light for aluminum weighing in at 572 grams. For comparison my acrylic GK61 weighs in at about 715 grams.

The entire assembly is made from one giant aluminum block sans a removable plate at the bottom made from ABS plastic.

The mounting mechanism is integrated plate which provides for a stiffer typing experience and pingy sound. Although with how thin the top part of the aluminum is, the ping is not nearly as noticeable as other keyboards that use an integrated plate mount method.

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The Keycaps

Keycaps for the Epomaker NT68 keyboard.

The unit we received came with white keycaps with gray keycaps on the modifiers and some dark red accents on the arrow keys and the escape key. Stock they have MAC modifiers but you can add windows modifiers as they are included in the packaging.

Epomaker uses PBT plastic that is semi-textured compared to other PBT keycaps. Overall, they feel quite nice and definitely will not shine up after a while.

The legends are pretty clean. They look a bit more rounded than the standard GMK font which I like since it really adds to the simplistic and modern aesthetic of the keyboard.

The keyboard features flat profile keycaps, similar to XDA except slightly shorter. It is known as GSA and is on a lot of Epomaker’s keyboards. I personally don’t really like flat profile keycaps but you may like it.

Wireless Connectivity

Be gone tangling wires, this keyboard features Bluetooth 5.1, and it’s awesome. It’s easy to connect, pretty fast, and has 6 key roll-over, meaning you can press up to 6 keys at a time.

The NT68 only randomly disconnected for me once which is pretty good compared to keychron just not connecting at all for me until I gave it a full charge.

It connects up to three devices so you can use the NT68 seamlessly between your devices as changing between the devices can be done in a matter of seconds.

To charge the keyboard there is a USB-C connector on the left-hand side of the keyboard along with an on-off switch. I am not too big on the connector being on the side but since this is designed to be primarily a take it and go keeb for laptops and tablets, it makes sense. You can also use this keyboard wired if your heart desires but I would not recommend it considering how short the cables they offer are.

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The Layout

Epomaker NT68 below a Keychron K6 keyboard.
Unstandard bottom row of the NT68 (bottom) vs fully standard Keychron K6 (top)

The layout of this keyboard might make it or break it for you. I’ll say right off the bat that it unfortunately is not standard. But it, fortunately, is not too unstandard. And most 65% keycap sets will fit this keyboard.

Now what makes the NT68 unstandard is that there is an extra function key at the left-hand bottom row of the keyboard. It is a 1.25u sized key alongside 3 other 1u keycaps with the standard control, alt, and windows keys but these are 1u. And for those who are wondering, the spacebar is 6.25u so you don’t have to worry about having weirdly sized spacebars if you want to use an aftermarket keycap set.

Now, when designing really anything, there’s a reason behind all design choices. I personally think the reason for this layout change is to match most laptop keyboards. In a lot of laptops, the function key is where it is on the NT68. This is one of the primary reasons why I believe that this keyboard is designed for laptops and why it is supposed to be used on the go.

Of course, if you don’t like this change and find it unnecessary you can always use the software to change the key mappings, mapping the fn key to control, and so on.

Switches & Stabilizers

Close up of Epomaker Chocolate Brown keyboard switches on a desk.

As far as stock switches go this keyboard comes with the standard Gateron Black, Red, Blue, and Brown switches but it also comes with Epomaker’s custom “chocolate” switches. We got chocolate brown switches which are a tactile switch with similar weighting to Gateron Brown switches. They are pre-lubed with quite good acoustics and feel. Overall, a nice stock switch experience.

Of course, if you don’t like the switches then you can replace them easily with the hotswap mechanic. Thankfully it’s good old hotswap, accepts all switches unlike the Outemu sockets of the K530 and K522 from Redragon.

The stabilizers were hit or miss. Like a lot of prebuilt the pre-lube job was alright. Your mileage definitely may vary but since this is a hotswap board, modding the plate mount stabilizers is very easy.

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Backlighting & RGB

The NT68 features per-key RGB which is quite bright and visible despite the keycaps not being shine through. The keyboard has a plethora of RGB modes saved on board but can all be changed via the software Ppomaker provides.

For now, a software has not been provided but when the keyboard does get launched there will be a software as said on Epomaker’s website.

The Invisible Kickstand

Epomarke NT68 being used as a keyboard for an Apple iPad.

This is the why of the keyboard. The reason you should buy it, its main attraction. It is a foldable kickstand that can hold tablets of many sorts, including phones. It can also prop up a laptop and your keyboard sits on the laptop while the laptop is raised with a bit of an angle.

Another good feature is it covers the keyboard when not in use which will more or less protect your keyboard if it’s stored in your backpack or something like that.

Overall, the feature is pretty cool. I used this keyboard at my desk mostly so I used the stand to prop the board up a bit since the stock typing angle was a bit too low for me. While I was using it on my laptop I used the stand for the same reason and not to prop the laptop up, I tried it but did not work out for me. Wasn’t my chalice of tea but might be yours.


Conclusion

Epomaker NT68 being hidden by its cover.
Stealthy

If you enjoyed this article and you want to talk more about tech then consider joining our Discord and as always thanks for reading!

Sign up for the NT68 Kickstarter by clicking here!

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Best Linear Switches [2021]

Keyboard switches on a desk next to flowers and headphones.

There are so many linear switches available in the big bad world of mechanical keyboards, which one should you guys choose?

A linear switch is a switch that has uninterrupted travel all the way down. There is no feedback whatsoever and really no way to tell when you have actuated the switch besides when the entry shows up at the receiving end.

Terminology

Just like in the Tactile Switch article I have included a short guide with some useful terminology that will be thrown around.

Actuation: Actuation is when the switch actually activates and outputs to the device.

Bottom out: When the switch finishes traveling and hits the bottom housing.

Leaf: The metallic contacts in a switch, these themselves actually actuate the switch. The leaf is in the bottom housing as the picture shows.

Diagram pointing to the leaf on a mechanical keyboard switch.

Ping / Spring Ping / Leaf Ping: This is a metallic reverb produced by the sound of the spring, leaf, or both. In most cases it can be fixed by lube.

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Disclaimer… Please Read!

This review is largely preference, my rankings will likely be very different from yours. Do not base your opinions based of mine, the best way to get opinions on a switch is to just try them yourself, guides like this, sound tests, and keyboard senpais like Taeha Types is not a good way to understand how switches feel. Just hit up your local vendor and buy a pack of whatever switch your fingers and ears desire to try them out. Use this guide to gain a general understanding of the switch and where enthusiasts like me stand on these switches.

Gateron Black Ink

Gateron Black Ink mechanical keyboard switch with rocks behind it.

Gateron Black Inks are a switch made by Gateron. They feature a 60g actuation and a 70g bottom out and actuate at 2 mm and with a total travel of 4 mm. They do not come prelubed and stock are quite mediocre. But when lubed and filmed they are mega smooth and have a very thoccy sound signature.

These are number 1 because of how pleasant the sound is coming in with a low sounding thocc in most cases. It also has top tier smoothness after lubing and filming.

We do recommend lubing these as in their stock form they are a bit scratchy and do not sound the best. Filming is also recommended but not required since the housings are not unbearably loose.

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C3 Equalz x TKC Banana Splits

C3 equalz Banana split mechanical keyboard switch resting on a flower.

These switches are amazing, ill say that right off the bat. They are produced by TKC and C3 Equalz and are the first addition to the fruit switch lineup. They feature a hyper smooth experience with a nice high pitch clacky sound that is enjoyed by many typists around the world. They feature the typical 2mm actuation point and 4mm bottom out. They have no long stem action. These switches come with only a 62g weight option.

The Banana Splits take the number 2 spot because of the sound and smoothness being so good. They are pretty costly and have limited availability.

These switches don’t require filming or lubing but will benefit from both. We would recommend lubing these tasty switches up. There super good looking too, which is a plus.

Bobagums

Bobagum keyboard switch on a flower.

Gazzew’s linear deriving from the Boba U4s, which are top tier silent tactiles. These switches come in 62g and 68g variations, have great silencing power, and feature awesome smoothness.

Lubing these switches is always recommended but filming is not as housings may struggle to close with many types of film since they are already so tight.

These switches are perfect for a work or school keyboard. So if you like linear with a slight mush or just don’t want thocc or clack this is a right choice for you. They are the best silent linear on the market right now.

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C3 Equalz x TKC Equalz Tangerine

C3 Equalz Tangerine switch resting on a flower.

Smooth, clacky, and did we mention its smooth? By far one of the smoothest switches out of the box. This pre-lubed switch from TKC is amazing. It features a standard 2mm actuation and 4mm bottom out. These switches come with a 62g version and a 68g version.

It is hard to rank the tangerines considering it is among the smoothest switches you can buy, but some of TKC’s problems in the past really dock this switch a few points. Its sound signature is also, if you will, boring and flat. By no means is it bad, in fact, it’s great but the other switches here do better. Again, this is completely my opinion, you may love it you may not.

If you do like a lower more muted switch then these are a great switch to consider but if you want something more lively and clacky then they may not be for you.

Lubing is not required as the returns are diminishing after lube. Lubing with a thinner lube like 3203 or 3204 is preferred since the factory lube and the 205g0 can be too much. Filming will benefit the tangies but is not required by any means.

Gateron Milky Yellow

Gateron Milky Yellow switch on a flower.

Budget, budget, budget. These switches are as it stands the king of budget linears. Standing in at about 24 cents a switch. They have a very nice thoccy sound and feature quite smooth action after lubing and filming. They are no Black Inks but they are also not 75 cents a pop. These siwtches weigh in at about 50g actuation and 60g bottom out.

These earned a spot on the list since the Milky Yellows are pretty much the epitome of budget switches and have been for a while. These switches come in many forms or revisions. The outstanding outcome or what is widely agreed as the best outcome is the black bottom and milky top housings. As they provide the best smoothness and sound but obviously that is up to you.

Do lube and film these, as without they are quite scratchy and the housings are pretty wobbly.

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PrimeKB Alpacas

PrimeKB Alpaca V2 keyboard switch sitting on a pink flower.

These JWK Recolors follow a color scheme based on Minterley’s Bliss colorway. They feature very smooth travel with a deep sort of unique sound signature that is hard to find on any other switch making it a very desired switch throughout the keyboard community. They feature 62g springs which makes it a nice middle ground in terms of weight.

These switches do not need lube or films as they do come pre-lubed with a slight layer of oil and they have pretty tight housings.

Note that the latest version was tested. The previous iteration for this switch had quite loose housings but that has since been fixed. These switches are primarily only sold on PrimeKB and they have the newer version.

KTT Strawberry

KTT Strawberry switch sitting on a green plant.

These switches are an iteration of KTT’s higher-end switches. At around 40 cents a switch, they are mid to low-end switches in terms of price. But let’s not judge this book by its cover or more this switch by its price.

The KTT Strawberries are one of the smoothest stock switches out there right now, up there with tangerines for a bit more than half the price. And as far as sound goes, dang these really hit the spot, they have a clean and non-intrusive clack similar to that of the tangerines without the harsh high pitchiness. These have a 63.5g bottom out making them slightly heavier than Gateron Yellows.

Neither filming nor lubing this switch is required as they have very tight housings and very smooth travel in the stock form.

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Vintage Cherry MX Blacks

Vintage Cherry MX Black switch sitting on a rock.

Chances are if you have even the slightest experience in this hobby you have heard of Cherry’s lineup and cherry MX Blacks. These switches are those exact things, except old. When a switch is made a mold is used to cast the plastic, so these switches use an older mold which was known to be very smooth. This paired with cherry’s magically sounding amazing housings made the holy grail of linears.

Now if there so good why aren’t they number 1? Because these switches are very hard to come by, for starters it is near impossible to get these switches through a commercial vendor like NovelKeys, Cannonkeys, etc. Second, in most cases these switches must be removed from an old keyboard (like really old) and then cleaned and sold via mechmarket or something like that. That being said, these switches follow the standard Cherry MX Black weighting which is about 60g operating and 80g bottom out.

These switches do need lube but filming is hit or miss since they have nice and tight housings from the factory.

Conclusion

All these switches are great choices for any linear build. Some switches that weren’t included which are also great are most JWK manufactured Linears such as the Durock L Series, Halu Halos, H1s, Tealios, many KTT and TTC switches, and much more. We recommend going on YouTube and listening to sound tests and finding what you like as it is difficult to make a proper decision from just words and pictures.

If you want to try or buy any of these switches then a great place to start is by looking at your local vendor. Take a look at our vendor list. A compilation of tons of keyboard vendors sorted by region.

If you enjoyed this article and you want to talk more about tech then consider joining our Discord and as always thanks for reading!

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Best Tactile Switches [2021]

A variety of switches on a desk.

There are a plethora of tactile switches on the market, but which one is the best?

A tactile switch is a keyboard switch that produces a bump somewhere in the travel while still retaining its quietness compared to clicky switches. In theory the perfect blend between the sweet sound of linears and the lovely click of clickies. Tactile switches are perfect if you prefer a feedback when typing, most membrane keyboards will have a small and round feedback when typing, so tactiles are most similar to membranes in that way.

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Terminology

To get started, when talking about tactile switches many people will refer to types of bump and cool sciency terms like pre-travel, post-travel, actuation, and much more. Well, don’t let these big words intimidate you because I will explain them all.

Tactile Event: The bump in the switches travel.

Pre-Travel: Any linear or smooth uninterrupted travel before the tactile event.

Post-Travel: Post-travel is the linear travel after the tactile event.

Actuation: Actuation is when the switch actually activates and outputs to the device.

Bottom out: When the switch finishes traveling and hits the bottom housing.

Leaf: The metallic contacts in a switch, these themselves actually actuate the switch. The leaf is in the bottom housing as the picture shows.

Diagram pointing to the leaf of a mechanical keyboard switch.

Ping / Spring Ping / Leaf Ping: This is a metallic reverb produced by the sound of the spring, leaf, or both. In most cases it can be fixed by lube.

Disclaimer… Please Read!

This review is largely preference, my rankings will likely be very different from yours. Do not base your opinions based of mine, the best way to get opinions on a switch is to just try them yourself, guides like this, sound tests, and keyboard senpais like Taeha Types is not a good way to understand how switches feel. Just hit up your local vendor and buy a pack of whatever switch your fingers and ears desire to try them out. Use this guide to gain a general understanding on the switch and where enthusiasts like me stand on these switches.

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1. Boba U4t: Fantastic Acoustics and Hefty Tactility

U4T switch with plant.

Boba U4T is a tactile switch designed by gazzew and manufactured by outemu. It’s the sister switch of the Boba U4 which is a silent switch and is mentioned below. It produces a relatively sharp bump which is quite prominent throughout the switch. It comes in both 62g and 68g bottom out.

We recommend lubing this switch but not filming as the housings are extremely tight and well built and may not close with film.

The reason Boba U4t earn such a high position on this list is because of the sound and at what price it comes at. The T in U4T stands for thocc and it definitely lives up to its name as this may be one of the thocciest tactiles I have heard.

2. Durock T1s: Bumpy and Smooth

T1 switch with plant.

Durock T1s are a tactile switch designed by Durock and manufactured by JWK. It features a roundish bump at the top of the switch with no pre-travel. It features a few weighting options ranging from 62 to 67 grams.

These are so high up because of the tactility and how it closely resembles the wildly sought after Holy Pandas at a very affordable price. They also have unrivaled smoothness since they do copy the material of Gateron Ink switches which are among the smoothest linears.

These aren’t number 1 since they don’t have the best sound and they have very loose housings. This can, of course, be fixed by film. These switches are pre-lubed with a thin coating of oil which makes lubing not required.

3. Glorious Pandas: Budget Snappiness… Relatively

Glorious Panda switch with plant.

Glorious Pandas are Glorious PC Masterrace’s attempt at recreating the wildly popular Holy Panda frankenswitch. It features a sharp P bump with a quick and sharp bump at the top.

These switches recreate the feel of the sought after holy pandas without the price and pain of having to frankenswitch. Although this switch is far from perfect, it has immense spring and leaf ping. Although the springs can be fixed with a spring swap the leaf ping is still there and still plays a large part in the acoustics of the switch.

Even though these have a similar feel to the Holy Pandas which are a staple in the keyboard world its spring and leaf ping bring it down to number 3.

4. TKC x C^3 Equalz Kiwis: Ideal if You don’t Like Heavy Tactility

Kiwi switches on a desk.
Picture Creds: Caughtquick, check him out at https://www.caughtquick.tech

Kiwis are the 2nd installment in the fruit switches by TKC in collaboration with C^3, and it does not disappoint. They feature medium-level tactility which is a nice breath of fresh air with all the high tactility switches on the market. With around a 67g bottom out the switch has a prominent P Bump with smooth pre-travel after a quick bump at the top. This switch does feature light lubing which makes it very smooth.

Personally, I think these switches are great if you don’t like heavy tactility and do benefit from gasket films and lubing.

These are number 4 because I prefer a heavier tactility and recently TKC has been having quality control issues where there fruit switches have been having actuation inconsistencies due to problems with the switch molds.

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5. Invyr Holy Pandas: Tactile Switch Royalty Sharp and Quick

Holy Panda switch with plant.

For years Holy Pandas have been the pinnacle of tactile switches, since then companies like glorious and in this case, Invyr has tried to replicate these switches. Similar to glorious pandas these switches have a sharp p bump at the top followed by smooth linear travel.

These switches benefit from both lube and film. Although the housings are quite tight the acoustics won’t be negatively affected by film. From my testing lubing these switches is a must as they are quite scratchy on the linear travel and there is quite a bit of spring ping, so lubing them is a must.

These aren’t number 1 because they have quite the hefty price tag at above 1 dollar per switch. This is quite expensive especially with the problems these switches are known for like spring and leaf ping. While you can’t go wrong with these switches they can be a bit disappointing especially with how much you are paying for them.

6. NovelKeys x Kailh Blueberries: Heavy Weight with Heavy Tactility

 NovelKeys x Kailh Blueberry switch with plant.

Blueberries are Novelkeys and Kailhs take at a tactile switch after the critical reception of Novelkey Creams. They feature a D-Bump with about 1 mm of post-travel and little pre-travel. The bump on these things is massive in duration but very round.

While filming these is optional lubing is necessary otherwise the switch will be very scratchy and pingy. These switches have the exact same material composition as Novelkey Creams which means they are quite scratchy before break in.

These switches are sixth on the list because they are very scratchy and the bump is frankly nothing special compared to the other switches on this list although it does get points for being a very long bump. Acoustics are also not very pleasant as they sound quite scratchy.

7. Zealios V2: Sharp Cheddar Cheese… Except in Switches

Zealios V2 switch on a mousepad.

These switches are like the bigger stronger and older brother too Holy Pandas, the tactility is as sharp as a knife and maybe even sharper. They boast a P-Bump with no pre-travel and about 3 millimeters of post-travel which is quite smooth out of the box. Zealios V2s are the product of a collaboration between ZealPC and Gateron.

Filming these is optional and same with lubing. From my research even lubing the stems of legs, which is not normally done in tactile switches but is common in these because of how sharp and harsh the tactility in the switch is.

These are seventh because of the price of these switches at about a dollar per switch they have mediocre sound as the tactility is so sharp you can hear the reverb from the leaf flicking back into place after the tactile event.

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8. Boba U4: Best Silent Tactile

Boba U4 switch with plant

This switch designed by gazzew is a silenced version of the U4t. These switches definitely take the cake when talking about silenced switches, they feature a nice round bump which takes up most of the switch and they have very little pre-travel. The stem wobble control is excellent with very tight housings.

Filming and lubing these is optional as they have very tight housings and quite a smooth switch. If you are lubing these to improve acoustics no need because it produces a mush sound which cant be improved much. Filming is not necessary, in fact recommended against, since they have a nice and tight housing.

These are eight because silent switches really aren’t my thing unless I’m at a public place. When you think of mechanical you think of clickity calckity and thoccity thaccity not mush mush, for that reason silent switches just got boring after a couple days of daily use. They made this list because they have quite an amazing tactile event and are a great experience for when I want to use a mechanical keyboard without disturbing others.

9. Cherry MX Clears: Solid Potential

 Cherry MX Clear switch on a rock.

This is one of three tactile switches by cherry, the others being the MX Browns and the MX Gray. These are considered to be the best out of those two. They feature a medium-sized bump with 2 millimeters of pre-travel and about 1 millimeter of post-travel. While they aren’t the greatest stock they still quite nice. Many people do swap the springs on them to something a bit lighter as the stock ones are quite heavy with around an 80 gram bottom-out force.

While filming these aren’t required they will still benefit from filming. Lubing these switches is definitely recommended since the nylon cherry housings are quite scratchy stock. As I was saying previously the springs on these switches are quite heavy and do benefit from a spring swap.

These switches don’t have the greatest stock form nor do they have very good acoustics and feel. For that reason, they ended up at number 9.

10. Cherry MX Browns: Mainstream

Cherry MX Brown switch surrounded by keycaps.

Cherry MX Browns are super common and what most people think off when tactile switches are mentioned. They are featured on almost every gaming board as the tactile option. Well, you may be asking since there on practically every mainstream prebuilt then why isn’t it number 1 on this list? It’s because these switches are not very tactile after all, especially in comparison to many other switches on this list. Wildly popular YouTubers like Glarses have dedicated their existence to hating these switches but he along with many others are joking about this, no functional switch is objectively bad and nearly everything in this hobby is up to your preference.

That being said this switch has quite a small bump and does not feel as tactile nor as smooth as other switches on this list. And I prefer more pronounced tactility over light tactility, but everybody is different and has their own preferences. These switches start out at about 45 grams of actuation and bottom out at 55 grams making it quite light especially considering how light the tactility is.

While filming this switch isn’t necessary lubing this switch is advisable since it has quite a scratchy and pingy housing. Filming this switch isn’t necessary but won’t hurt the sound nor the feel of the switch.

This switch is number 10 because the tactility is light which is not my preference but, it may be yours.

Where To Start?

If you wanna try these or any switches check out your local vendor! Who are those you may ask? Take a look at our vendor list. It’s a great compilation of all the keyboard related vendors sorted by region.

As always thank you for reading and please check out our discord and chat a little. We will happily answer any questions you have!

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Redragon K530 Review: Too Good To Be True?

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 Verdict

Redrapon K530 mechanical keyboard on grass

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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 prefect 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. Its 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. Its not very good for ergonomics but it gets the job done. By the time your 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.
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Build Quality

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.

Buttons on Redragon K530 keyboard

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.

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Stock Keycaps

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.

Comparison of different keycap profiles
Via Reddit: u/gtderEvan

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.

The Stabilizers

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.

Hotswap

PCB of Redragon K530 keyboard

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.

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Wireless

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

Switches

Outemu brown switches

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.

Redragon K530 with Brown Switches

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.

Software

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.

Redragon Draconic Software

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.

Lighting controls on Redragon Draconic software
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Conclusion

Birds eye view of the Redragon K530
How my K530 looked after thorough modding

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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Logitech G203 Review: Top Tier Mouse For A Decent Price

Are you looking for a cheap but decent entry into the PC Gaming world?

The Logitech G203 may be perfect for you. Logitech delivers great performance without breaking the bank making the G203 a very popular option.

Let’s take a closer look at the Logitech G203 and see if it suits your needs.

The Verdict

Logitech G203 next to keyboard

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Logitech G203 has a solid shell accompanied with a robust and good quality sensor.

This mouse is an ideal choice for PC Gamers on a budget. Its cheap price tag won’t dent your wallet while still won’t yield a technical disadvantage over other gamers with better mice. If you are like me and love RGB then fear not because the G203 has RGB accents on the logo and at the edge of this mouse.

The smaller size is very good for a claw grip although a palm grip will also work great for it. Its sides are very recessed but are symmetrical besides the buttons on the side which are not present on the left side. Furthermore, this mouse is fine for left-handers but they will not have use of the secondary buttons.

The main downsides of the Logitech G203 include the build quality, the lacking sensor compared to other mice in 2021, the lackluster software, and lastly Logitech’s history with double-clicking mice.

If the user can overlook these issues this mouse can objectively be one of the best budget gaming mice even in 2021, 3 years after its launch.

If you think the Logitech G203 is right for you, check it out on Amazon for a great price.


Logitech G203 Specifications

Length~116.6 mm
~11.66 cm
~29.62 in
Width~62.15 mm
~6.22 cm
~15.79 in
Height~38.2 mm
~3.82 cm
~9.7 in
Weight~85 g
~0.09 kg
~0.19 lbs.
Sensor TypeOptical (200-8000 DPI)
Sensor ModelLogitech Sensor 8k DPI (By Mercury)
Polling Rate125-1000 Hz
Cable Length2.1m (6.9 ft) Rubber Cable
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In The Box

Top view of Logitech G203

At this price point, you can not expect very many extras in the box and that trend continues with the G203.

In the box, you find nothing besides the mouse and some documentation. It does not include extra skates or more commonly a weight other mice may have.

All in all, besides the mouse nothing very interesting.

The Build

Mice in general are all subjective in terms of shape but sensor, build quality, and switches are some of the objective parts of a mouse.

Logitech mice are generally very well built and look like the same thing continues with this mouse even at its low price point.

The mouse does not feel like it will break if you drop it but at the same time its relatively light at a cool 85 Grams. That being said its is not the best quality. There is a sort of metallic springy reverb around the buttons when you press them quickly or if you put the mouse down with force.

Lastly, we can move on to the switches. Logitech mice have very good switches in terms of feel and responsiveness. Though one issue plagues Logitech mice; double-clicking. While this issue has been mitigated by new switches in all mice, thousands were still affected by it. That being said all the mice I have had from Logitech (G502 Hero, G203, G703) have not had these issues even after years of use. So, it’s safe to say all for the mice that Logitech will sell will likely not have double-clicking issues.

Logitech G203 next to other mice

Shape and Comfort

The G203 is a symmetrical mouse with two buttons on the left hand side. You can use it with your left hand but it is not recommended,

The mouse is definitely on the smaller side as it is much smaller than the Glorious Model D and Zowie EC-2. Depending on what you like in a mouse this may or may not bother you. If you like a bigger more ergonomic mouse this is definitely not the mouse for you as it is very short and small. That being said, if you are a left-handed user then this is gonna be great for you as it is symmetrical besides the side buttons which are on the right.

The mouse is very comfortable for the claw grip. but the palm grip can get a bit uncomfortable after long periods especially after long periods of use.

As for the button positioning it is all in excellent positions.

Buttons include:

  • Left Click
  • Right Click
  • Two buttons on the left
  • Scroll wheel
  • DPI adjustment between left & right click

As already stated, the mouse buttons are very comfortable and clicky. The same goes for all the other buttons sans the DPI adjust which has a ton of spring ping especially if you click fast.

Perhaps one of the best parts of Logitech mice is the scroll wheel. It has a very satisfying click and is very easy to grip. The only problem I found during testing was the low height. Some people may find that uncomfortable.

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Sensor and Polling Rate

On the bottom of the mouse is an undisclosed sensor by Logitech. It reaches 8K DPI (dots per inch) with a minimum of 200.

It features a 1000hz Polling Rate (how fast info is reported to the device). The mouse is very snappy in windows but compared to the hero sensor on my G502 there is a notable difference in responsiveness and speed at the same DPI and sensivity.

Colors and RGB Lighting

The Mouse comes in 4 colors. Lilac, Black, White, and Blue. These colors are flashy and look quite good overall.

The RGB on the mouse is great. It is exciting and bright compared to other budget offerings. There is lighting on the back and side in a strip and on the logo. This looks great especially considering Logitech’s three-zone lighting mode which looks great if configured properly.

The lighting is vibrant and supports a ton of effects.

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Connectivity

This mouse is not wireless, but the cable is quite good. The cable is not braided, which sounds like a con, but in reality, it’s a plus for this mouse. This is because the drag on this mouse is far better than it is on cables that are braided from mice like the Logitech G502 Hero.

The connectivity is flawless and the cable is long and isn’t prone to kinks. The cable is not detachable which is a standard in wired mice. It would have been nice to see a detachable cable but that would add weight.

Logitech G203 on the Amazon page.
CC: Amazon

Software

What good is a mouse without customization and what better way to have that than with software?

Logitech G Hub software works but is nothing great. The functionality is not its fault but the bugs. Users have reported seeing issues of profiles being reset, software not even loading, and much much more. While it seems they have fixed these bugs the past is still the past.

Aside from the bugs there is a lot of functionality with the G Hub software from in depth macros to lighting interactions with what is on your screen.

You can tune everything you would expect from a mouse software.

  • Polling rate (125Hz – 1000Hz)
  • DPI (200-8000 DPI, in increments of 50)
  • RGB
  • Button bindings

These are just some of the things that you can change with the G Hub software. It may have bugs but it is very powerful.

Logitech G Hub Software

Onboard Memory

The Logitech G203 has onboard memory so you can save specific settings like lighting, sensitivity, and button mappings on the mouse.

Onboard memory is helpful if you use your device with multiple devices or take your mouse to different places. It also enables you to keep all of your settings without a software running.

If you don’t want to run Logitech’s G Hub in the background or you want to uninstall it, you can quickly save your profiles to the memory.

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An Alternative/Upgrade: The G305

The bigger brother of the Logitech G203, the G305 is a wireless version of the G203. It retains the same shape while making some improvements to the inside and cutting the wire.

The G305 does cost more than the G203 but it has an improved Hero sensor that is more accurate and the same latency while being wireless.

If you do like RGB then sadly the G305 doesn’t have any but if you want a great sensor and lightspeed wireless connectivity, the Logitech G305 is a great value.


Conclusion: Is It Good For Gaming?

Logitech G203 next to a keyboard

The Logitech G203 is a great mouse for the 20-30 dollar price point and perfect for people who are new to the PC Gaming community. It packs punch in performance with great internals at a great price point and has amazing availability on amazon which is always a plus.

There aren’t many cons to this mouse besides commodities you would expect in a higher-end mouse. The accurate sensor, great buttons, and comfortable shape at around 30 dollars makes this mouse very easy to recommend.

It is a great mouse for gaming, especially if you are just getting into gaming or are on a budget. It delivers better performance and a nicer build than most of the competition at the same price.

And it has plenty of RGB, which obviously increases performance.

(It doesn’t)

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Optimizing Windows 10 For Gaming

Minecraft with shader graphics.

Do you guys game on Windows 10? It’s a great experience that can get even better!

Windows 10 is one of the most feature-packed operating systems ever and it’s great for gamers. It has more games than any of its competition. If you want to eek a bit more performance out of your Windows system you can optimize it to give you those higher frame rates.

Below are several tips that will help you enjoy gaming on your Windows 10 device to the fullest.

1. Power Plans

Power Plans are a very easy way to get extra performance out of your laptop or PC.

Power options tab on windows

Power Plans are exactly what it sounds like. They manage where the power goes when you are using your computer. There are many options and I will show which is the best option for your rig.

Now to reach this page you will want to open your power plan settings by going to the bottom right of your desktop, right-click on the windows icon, and click power options.

List of Windows apps.

After clicking this you will have a settings tab open on your desktop that will look like this.

Windows Power and Sleep settings.

You haven’t quite reached the final destination yet as now you will have to click on “Additional Power Settings”

Additional power settings option circled in Windows settings

Now when you click this you will be at the final destination.

Ultimate power performance option in Windows power options.

You may not see all these options as only Ryzen users the AMD options. You will see a balanced, power saver, and high performance. You will want to select “High Performance”. As the description says this will use more power but will yield more performance for your gaming and resourceful tasks.

Although this will affect your power consumption so if you are on a laptop and cant be connected to the power supply then I would recommend staying on balanced. But as a side note not having your charger in your laptop whilst gaming will give your performance a serious hit.

Benchmarks

I tested Rainbow 6 Siege on a Ryzen 5 3600 and a 2060 Super. Below are the before and after results.

Benchmarks in Rainbow Six Siege after optimizations
As seen above the optimized version yields a slight FPS increase
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2. Performance Settings

Windows 10 is packed with eye candy that makes the OS so pleasing to use. But these animations can cause your PC to work overtime which can take a toll on your hardware while gaming.

One thing you can do is change the performance settings of your device to disable options that make Windows look a little bit more appealing.

To do this you will want to open control panel. And click on system and security.

Windows Control Panel app.

Then you will want to click on system

System and Security tab in Windows Control Panel

When you click this it will take you to a settings page.

Advanced settings list in Windows

Then you will want to click Advanced System Settings. This will take you to another menu where you will click Performance settings.

Advanced system settings in Windows

After you click settings you will reach a page with many checkboxes.

Visual effect settings in Windows

Uncheck all the checkmarks for best performance. But you are free to experiment with what you would like and tailor these settings to your preference.

Benchmarks

I tested Rainbow 6 Siege on a Ryzen 5 3600 and an Nvidia 2060 Super FE. Below are the before and after results.

Benchmarks in Rainbow Six Siege after optimizations
The optimizations provide a 17 FPS diffrence
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3. Windows Game Mode

Windows Game Mode is a nifty setting that can be found in the gaming setting but is it actually good?

Game mode enabled in Windows

This setting is a nice addition by windows developers. In short, it limits background tasks while gaming.

To turn it on you want to open settings.

Microsoft Settings app

From here you need to click Gaming.

Xbox Game Bar setting on Windows

Then click Game Mode and the setting will be the only toggle on that page.

Now, lets find out if this setting actually yields a benefit.

Benchmarks

Game mode yields a very slight benefit in Rainbow Six Siege. It has a 3 FPS difference. Nothing too crazy but still very easy to do.

As we can see it is a bit useful and although the improvement is not game changing, it all adds up in the long run.

Benchmarks in Rainbow Six Siege after optimizations
3 FPS Gain
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4. Timer Resolution

Timer Resolution is a free application to change the resolution of the default windows timer. It is shown to lower latency and increase fps. This application changes the resolution of the timer from 15-25 seconds to 1. This can reduce latency and stuttering. Please note that this application is completely safe as it has no permissions to change system files or settings and will not be flagged by Windows Defender.

You can download it here.

Time Resolution Settings on Windows

Once you open the program you can click Maximum when you start gaming which will provide the least latency and more FPS.

Benchmarks

This also yields a very small impact but the game felt more snappy and my movements where more responsive.

Benchmarks in Rainbow Six Siege after optimizations
2 FPS Gain

5. Task Manager Optimizations

Task Manager is one of the best tool that’s packed into Windows. It is great for closing windows when they aren’t responding. But can it be used for more than that?

Simplified list of background tasks on Windows Task Manager

But, did you know that you can make optimizations within task manager?

We will be disabling startup programs which can lead your computer to slow down. To do this open task manager and hit more details in the bottom left.

Different processes in Windows Task Manager

From here click startup at the top.

Startup options in Windows Task Manager

From here you will want to disable everyone one of the programs. This will make sure that no programs will start up when you load up into Windows so your device will be faster.

Many apps that start up are not needed at most times and hog precious system resources.

If you still want some apps to start when you load into Windows you can keep some enabled but disabling all apps or as many as possible is the best way to improve the initial start-up time and improve overall system speed as much as possible.

This will yield a slight improvement on your FPS but more so how fast your PC startups and functions in daily use.

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Conclusion

These tips all provide a very nice benefit to your gaming experience. We hope this helps you to get that little extra juice out of your high or low-end gaming PC.

If you need more help please refer to the /r/lowendgaming Reddit here or our Discord here for more details or particular questions regarding your system specs or how to optimize for specific games.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more in depth tips, reviews , and guides.

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