Apologies for lack of photos, all can be seen in the video.
LAYOUT & SIZE
The Magicforce 68 as named has 68 keys. So 68/104 = 0.654. Making it a 65% mechanical keyboard. This is only very slightly larger than a 60% keyboard like the Poker keyboards, but includes what many people can't discard - the dedicateddirectional arrow keys. This is a feature that often stops people from going to a more compact form factor.
On the flip side however, if the function row (F1-F12 etc) is not extremely important to you, that you need them to be primarily accessible, then this is essentially a tenkeyless keyboard. But it save a bit of space at the top, and a bit of space on the side. This has a few space saving benefits, and also allows a more ergonomic position, as you mouse can move closer towards the centre.
The keyboard fortunately uses completely standard sized keycaps, so if you wanted to replace them, then that would be very easy. So the standard row has equal sized keys. Also, this only comes in the ANSI layout, but that's good for if you want to replace keycaps.
DESIGN & BUILD
The keyboard looks quite minimal, and has gone with a very typical Chinese design. It has an aluminium plate, with the classic shiny chamfered edge. Although what I typically find with these shiny chamfered edges is that they’re easily scratched and dented. That’s just my experience though, so let me know if you have that problem too. The Magicforce branding is quite large, and is in that section where I absolutely dislike anything in that area. Many keyboards use that area above the arrow keys to put some branding, but I always prefer it to just be blank, and the branding to be elsewhere. But this may not bother you.
I fixed this in my vinyl video.
The plastic bottom is plastic, and is probably ABS, but I can’t confirm that since it doesn’t label it on the shell. And it features a very good amount of ribbing on the bottom for reinforcement and good rigidity. However, this is mainly due to the tapered off front of the keyboard, and leveling the electronics.
Probably the most annoying feature on this board and many like it, is that ever prominent edgy gamery font or typeface on the keycaps. I honestly hope that if we keep complaining about these then somehow they’ll fade away. A simple font is multiple times nicer, and would help the keyboard look so much better in my opinion.
The keycaps used are ABS caps, but are doubleshot, so that’s cool. So there won’t be any problems with letters fading away, since it’s just another piece of plastic. They’re of a reasonable thickness, I’ve definitely seen thinner, but nothing much of note.
The biggest advantage of this keyboard, and why it is so heavily recommended, is that it comes in so many different brands of switches. Therefore, it's at all different price points, so the lower the price is, the lower the quality of switch will be. Naturally the Cherry MX versions will be higher priced, while the Outemu or Kailh versions will be lowest. I personally recommend going with Gateron keyswitches, as they're good quality, and not as expensive as the Cherry MX versions.
They also come in most of the different colours, so you can choose exactly what you want.
There's the 2 main versions. There's the one that lights up only in white, and that's the best looking one in my opinion - but that's just personal taste. The other one lights up predominantly blue, but with the WASD and directional arrow keys are orange. So they're using a complementary colour scheme, so at least it's thought out a little bit.
As for the lighting effects, there's only the breathing/pulsing mode. And you can also control the brightness, in which all ins controlled via the function key and the directional arrow keys. So there's not much there, but as always, most people don't use the other modes anyway.
And with that we can see why this is so heavily recommended. It’s got a great compact size, which isn’t very common. It features quite a good build and finish, with the aluminium plate. It also uses completely standard keycap sizes, which is an unfortunate absence with 75% boards, so replacing keycaps will be easy.
And that’s probably something that you may want to do, since it is brought down by the font on the keycaps, although your tastes may vary. But other than that, it’s one of the top picks for budget boards, especially for those who can’t adjust to the 60% layout.
So do I recommend this? Absolutely. Especially if you can find some nice Gateron versions.