For a big company, Vortex has been one of the forerunners in the mechanical keyboard market in providing keyboards out of the realm of just full sized or tenkeyless options that 99% of the other major brands put out.
So today we’re going to check out one of their somewhat recent releases, the Vortex Vibe.
- ViBE mechanical keyboard
- Micro USB cable
- Extra Keycaps
- Aluminium feet (with rubber)
LAYOUT & SIZE
Vortex describes it as a 78% keyboard, which is relative to a normal 100% full sized keyboard, but it’s basically a 60% plus the numpad on the right. It’s not a very common layout at all, and of course it’s pretty much unseen in the mainstream consumer market.
In terms of size. It’s height is that familiar compact 60% 5 row height, which does save you just a bit of space. As for the lateral length it’s just a tad longer than a tenkeyless keyboard, disregarding bezels. So really just 1 column longer.
Compared to a full sized keyboard you do save quite a lot of space for your mouse or whatever else on your desk, just like a tenkeyless keyboard would do.
So it’s like an inbetween layout for tenkeyless and full size. But we of course don’t get the function row on top like normal.
DESIGN & BUILD
Holding it in the hands and it feels solid and somewhat hefty. It weighs in at just under 800g. There’s no flex to it, as it sports an aluminium enclosure and a steel mounting plate.
The aluminium enclosure is anodised in silver and the finish looks very clean and smooth. And Vortex have continued with their very simple and minimalistic cases with their new keyboards. It is straight up just a slim rectangular box, although the edges are chamfered just a tiny bit, so the edges aren’t sharp, and it’s comfortable to hold in the hands.
And again, the case is quite low profile. About as low profile as it gets with mechanical keyboards with full sized MX keyswitches, with the case measuring at just over 11mm thick.
I have their other recent additions to their lineup, and they’re pretty much the exact same thing, but keeps the light silver appearance of the Race 3. And this low profile case presents a floating key design, so we can see that the keyswitches are exposed from the sides. And with the fact that it doesn’t extend past the keycaps, essentially having no bezel, it’s pretty much the minimum in what a metal case can be. And you will either like it in how it looks, or feel that it is a bit lacking, especially in comparison to other metal enclosures which boast larger bezels and heftier cases.
On top we have these really nice SA profile keycaps. This is another thing that Vortex have been playing around with, being their SA keycap profiles.
These are R3 uniform keycaps. So they all have the same height and profile, as opposed to sculptured, which many people prefer especially for SA keycaps. And these are quite tall as well, being quite the opposite to their DSA variant.
They also give the keyboard a unique and classic look that will catch peoples eyes, with a classy white and grey colourway, with black legends. And these are dye sublimated legends, making them very durable, and these are also PBT keycaps. And this is a pretty unique thing in the market, having dye subbed PBT SA profile keycaps. And in turn, these are that standard normal slightly textured PBT plastic, rather than the more usual smooth feeling keycaps from Signature Plastics and MaxKey’s.
They’re also somewhat thin, at about 1.2-1.3mm thick.
As seen before, we do get a couple of extra keycaps to spice it up a bit. So we have red and blue versions for the escape, both enters, and the numlock key. However for the space bar we have these purple pinkish space bars. And these extra keycaps are an awesome inclusion for that bit of personalisation, especially in this SA profile.
Being a Vortex keyboard, the keyboard is of course programmable onboard. And looking at the manual, it literally says to refer to the POK3R manual, because it’s using the exact same onboard programming method as their other keyboards. However they’re also working on their interface which I think will be web based, and will in time support most of their keyboards.
Watch video for programming demonstration.
So overall, it’s another unique addition to the growing Vortex lineup. The keyboard looks very sleek and is very minimal. The SA profile keycaps add an alternative look to most keyboards, and it’s nice that they included some extra keycaps.
The case is very minimalistic, essentially being a bezel-less design, and is quite low profile. However I feel that you will either like it or not, as it isn’t as substantial and full like other metal enclosed mechanical keyboards. And in turn, it is quite light, however the build is solid.
We get the tried and tested Vortex style on board programming, which is limiting to some, however some time in the future, they will release their web based GUI.
But it’s main draw point is its unique layout and the ability to house a numpad in a tenkeyless sized keyboard. I personally don’t get the most use out of it, but it can be very useful for different applications, or when switching between modes of use.
I’m just happy to see more variety, and that’s what Vortex are quickly being known for.