During the resurgence of mechanical keyboards, Leopold were one of those brands present, and were regarded to be on the higher end. And nothing much has changed, they’re still up there for retail ready to buy mechanical keyboards. So I’m excited to check out my first Leopold on the channel.
This however is the Leopold FC980M PD which is the mechanical version. Whereas the FC980C is the electro capacitive Topre version which is super cool, but also super expensive. And also I wasn’t able to confirm what the PD in the name meant, but this is for the newer versions.
- Leopold FC980M PD Mechanical keyboard
- Plastic ring keycap puller
- USB to PS2 adapter
- Mini USB cable
- Extra keycaps - FN / Windows / Caps Lock / Alt / Ctrl
- User guide
LAYOUT & SIZE
What makes this keyboard special is the layout and size. We usually refer to this as the 1800 layout, after the Cherry G80-1800. This is quite a well liked layout, first of all, because it looks cool, although it probably won’t be appreciated as much to others, but it combines the tenkeyless and full sized form factors.
In the past I’ve looked at the Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro M, and the Vortex Vibe, which both adopt a very similar feature in combining the nav cluster, arrow keys, and the numpad together, to give us a more compact keyboard, very much like a tenkeyless keyboard.
However with the Masterkeys Pro M and the Vibe, the numpad and arrows are combined, so that you can’t use them simultaneously, which personally, I don’t particularly like. But with the 1800 layout, we have the dedicated arrow keys, so there’s no swapping modes required.
To accommodate the arrow keys, the bottom row has been shrunk and therefore has non standard keys, although many good keysets will be compatible, and frankly keysets that don’t will probably be a downgrade on these in my opinion.
We have a shorter 1.75 unit right shift key, which again is fine. And finally a 1 unit 0 key.
I personally really like this approach, as it doesn’t compromise the greatness of dedicated arrow keys. I’m a big fan of arrow keys because of how I use my keyboard, and of course everyone’s use case is different. But I feel that this is a very flexible layout that many people will like. Because it is essentially a full sized keyboard in terms of primary functionality, with the numpad and all, but in a form factor that is only 1 row longer than a tenkeyless keyboard.
There’s also the even more compact, but again, basically the same thing, with the 96 key keyboards that are also very popular in the enthusiast community.
DESIGN & BUILD
Out of the box, and this is a nice feeling keyboard. It has some good heft to it, coming in at about 1.13kg. And there’s no flex to it, feeling very sturdy in the hands. And this just has an aura of quality. The plastic has a nice rougher than usual texture to it, and looks great, attracting no fingerprints.
The design of the enclosure is very clean and simple, with a familiar rectangular design. The Leopold logo is sleek and stealthy on the front right, and we have our lock indicator LEDs above the numpad.
There’s a couple different versions of this with either a black or white case, and different keycaps. I have this subdued grey and blue colourway for the keycaps on a black case, which I personally think looks quite classy, while still having some colour.
And finally on the bottom we have a couple of flat rubber feet for non-slip, and two flip up feet that are also rubber tipped. There’s a cable routing channel, and the mini USB port in the middle.
The typeface on the keycaps is clean and elegant, and the legends are sharp because these are double shot, meaning that the legends are another piece of plastic, so they will never fade away. And to add to that, these are PBT plastic, and have a rougher texture, which isn’t often seen with double shot keycaps, which tend to be made from ABS. And the doubleshot nature makes them a very solid 1.5mm thick.
Looking at the side profile, and these are Leopold’s Step sculpture 2 keycaps which are shorter than the typical OEM keycaps you see everywhere, and are very similar to Cherry profile keycaps, being very comfortable to type on.
And all of these changes have the appropriate keycaps to match with the extras we got in the box. I personally never really use dip switches, as I like the standard control position, and I am a caps lock user, but yeh, good to see that there’s some customisability, but that’s pretty much it, as there’s no programmability available.
Alright so overall, it’s a lovely keyboard. The build quality is solid for a keyboard of this nature, with a rigid plastic case, and internal steel mounting plate. The black case looks great with the stunning blue and grey keycaps that looks very classy, and wouldn’t be out of place in an office environment, looking very professional in my opinion.
But it is all about that layout, and I love it. First of all, that detached arrow cluster may seem unappealing to some, but this layout just looks cool, but of course, it works really well as well. For a compact keyboard with a numpad, I most prefer this style or a 96 key layout, rather than a combined nav cluster and numpad keyboard, since I don’t like switching modes.
And I think this type of layout is very flexible and can be used by anyone, giving us the primary functionality of a full sized keyboard, but the space saving benefits of a tenkeyless.
This is only available with Cherry MX switches, which is fine for many, but I’d like to eventually swap them out, since it is reaching to be that sort of board where you want a bit more out of your switches. And I wish I could put in some LEDs, but these aren’t real negatives.
This was my first Leopold review, and it hasn’t disappointed me, and I can say I’m very impressed with this beautiful keyboard. And I think it’s pretty fairly priced in my opinion, for the keyboard you get.
Again, a big thanks to Mwave.com.au for providing this keyboard for review, and their continued support.
Products link : https://bit.ly/2qrmluj