Vortex have been adding a heap of new layouts and form factors to their range, which has been really great to show the wider audience what else there is, and that there’s more than just full sized and tenkeyless keyboards.
- Vortex Cypher mechanical keyboard
- USB type C cable
DESIGN & BUILD
It has that classic Vortex look that the old Poker boards had. With a high profile design, so the keyswitches are hidden. Rounded corners, and just a real simple angled profile, to give that slight inclination. Unlike many of their new keyboards, this has a plastic enclosure rather than aluminium, so again, much like the old Pokers. But the plastic feels solid, and has a slightly textured finish.
The weird looking thing here is this what looks to be like a two layered case, as there is that separation line. It does make the bezel a bit thicker and more substantial, and also more solid looking. But we’ll see how it actually is when I open it.
The keycaps are the classic Vortex type, with this semi aggressive typeface or font. Not the best, but far from the worst, being clean enough. These are made from 1.2-1.3mm thick PBT plastic, and unfortunately the legends are that laser etched type.
So the legends will kind of get darker overtime, not being the most durable. And I just think they really should have moved on from these keycaps by now, to dye sub or doubleshot.
On the rear we have a USB type C port, which many new keyboards are making a move to in recent times. And on the bottom we have 4 flat rubber feet for non-slip, and there are no flip up feet, so we’re stuck at this angle which is comfortable anyway.
In the hands it feels quite solid, with minimal flex. And comes in at about 650g, so yeh, just a touch heavier than a typical plastic case 60%.
LAYOUT & FORM FACTOR
Vortex has done quite a few new layouts recently, with the 40% Core, the 75% Race 3, and the Vibe. But this is their first 65% keyboard. So it’s basically a 60%, but with an extra row on the right. And that allows us to fit some nav keys, although a weird exclusion in my opinion is the delete key. But everyone is different I guess. More importantly though, we have the dedicated directional arrow keys. And that itself is a big feature that people miss when they use a 60% keyboard. So it’s not hard to see why 65% keyboards are so popular in the community. And for me personally, 65% is my ideal form factor, as it gives me most of the primary functionality I need, in a smaller package.
And because Vortex boards usually have both the FN and PN keys, there is no right control key on here.
The Cypher is available with either a singular spacebar, or a split spacebar like what we have here. So on the left, we have a 3 unit spacebar, and the right one is a 3.25u spacebar. Where 1 unit is equal to one of the alpha keys. So replacing the spacebar keycaps can be an issue.
So why would you want a split spacebar over just a singular one? It’s basically just about giving you an extra key, in such a prime and accessible position on the keyboard. A singular spacebar, which usually takes a heap of room, isn’t the most efficient use of space, so why not have another key there.
So I exclusively use my left thumb for the spacebar, so that stays the same. But for the right spacebar I can put whatever I want. Such as backspace, delete, or whatever other key or function I can think of.
And that brings us to the programmability of the keyboard. Firstly, to make sure it’s up to date, download and run the latest firmware from the Vortex website. So yeh, there’s the usual onboard way of programming Vortex keyboards which I’ve been through a bunch of times. There’s no manual in the box, so you have to visit the Vortex website. But for programming, it reverts you back to the Poker 3 manual anyway.
Refer to video for demonstration.
KEYSWITCHES & TYPING
The Cypher is available in a solid variety of Cherry MX keyswitches, which is awesome to see. I have Cherry MX Blacks in mine, so a heavier linear keyswitch with no bump or click.
Vortex have their own Cherry style stabilisers, and I’ve heard good things about these, but honestly they’re not the best on mine, even though there is some lube in there. While they’re not bad, there is still a bit of rattle as you could hear. I still don’t think they’re up with Varmilo and Leopold, from my experience.
Watch video for typing demonstration.
Overall, it really is a classic Vortex mechanical keyboard, but in this sweet 65% layout, which acts as a great alternative to their popular Poker 60% boards.
Again, this is available with the split spacebar, or the singular. Honestly, I would just go for the split, because why not. You get that extra key, and flexibility, which can make the keyboard more efficient. But if you want to replace your keycaps or something, then I guess you’d go for the singular, but then there’s already a bunch of normal 65% boards available anyway.
This is quite a plain keyboard, but it does it’s supposed to do. They did revert to a more no frills board with this one, and the lower price reflects that. But nonetheless, this is a great addition to their ever growing lineup, adding variety in both layout and price.