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Varmilo MA87G Sea Melody EC Mechanical Keyboard : REVIEW

January 30, 2019

Many of us use a keyboard everyday, so why not get something a little bit personal, or something that looks a bit cool. One thing that Varmilo have done, especially in recent times, is have keyboards that bring out that playful side. And we’ll  also check out their electrostatic capacitive switches inside.

 

So today we check out the Varmilo MA87G, Sea Melody Edition. A big thanks to mechanicalkeyboards.com for providing this keyboard for review.

CONTENTS

 

- Varmilo MA87G EC Mechanical Keyboard

- Wire keycap puller

- Blue mini USB cable

- Extra keycaps (caps lock / scroll lock / esc / left shift

- 8 Varmilo Sea Melody postcards

- Dust cover

 

DESIGN & BUILD

 

I said it with the packaging, but this is a soothing keyboard to look at, as the name suggests. We have that pale blue exterior plastic case, which has a nice flat coloured surface. And for the keycaps we have the same coloured modifiers, but with dark blue legends. They’re very close, but the keycap plastic is slightly lighter.

 

And for the alphas we have white keycaps with lightish blue legends. Varmilo do have the ability to pretty much dye sublimate whatever they want, but they’ve kept it pretty simple which does tie in with the theme of it, with some subtle bubbles going across the board. We also have what I’m hoping are jellyfish on the Window’s keys. And finally the beautiful blue whale on the spacebar.

 

We do of course have those extra keycaps, and if you’re gonna have this board, you better use them.

 

I really like it. It’s not too out there, like it’s pretty simple actually. Besides the actual colour of the keyboard, the only artistic additions are the few bubbles, and the sea life art. But yeh, it’s clean and while it does have all that blue, and the pieces of art, it doesn’t shout in your face or anything.

 

Anyway, this is a tenkeyless keyboard, so we don’t have the numpad on the right. And being from Varmilo, it basically is just a modified VA87M which is their classic tenkeyless keyboard, which is widely loved and I have done a review on that already.

 

So we have a pretty slim case, like it’s pretty much a floating key design, so the keyswitches are exposed from the sides, but that plastic top shell does give it a bit of coverage, and makes it look like a high profile design.

 

On the bottom we have a couple of flat rubber feet for non slip, and two flip up feet that are also the same. As always, we have that touch of quality with the metal info plate. Always a nice touch even though you never really see it. And we have a mini USB port, so yeh, detachable cable which is great.

 

Varmilo keycaps have always been good quality. They’re made from 1.5mm thick PBT plastic, and are dye subbed, so they’ll be very durable over time.

 

ELECTROSTATIC CAPACTITIVE KEYSWITCHES

 

So why isn’t it just a VA87M. Well that’s because of what’s under the keycaps.

 

These are Varmilo’s own Rose or Rosery electrostatic capacitive keyswitches. But when you think of electro capacitive, you think Topre and them sweet rubber domes. But these are far from them, and are more just like a standard mechanical keyswitch in regards to feel, as they are an MX style switch.

 

This is a llinear keyswitch, so it has no tactile bump or click, just smooth all the way down, and has an actuation force of 50g. So this would be somewhat similar to a Cherry MX Black, but just slightly lighter.

 

So what’s the difference? A standard keyswitch has a cross point where the 2 metal contacts meet to actuate the keyswitch through conduction. And they say that in time, albeit a very very long time, the metal contacts will degrade. This EC switch however is described as a non contact design, meaning that you remove that particular point of failure, and in theory have a more consistent feel for a longer period.

 

So just by looking at it, it’s quite difficult to tell if they touch or not. But the 2 contacts just have flat faces, and as they come together that’s when the capacitance comes into play.

 

Therefore, these keyswitches are not compatible with a standard PCB. Although everything besides the metal contacts, can be used in other keyswitches, so the stems and springs are swappable.

 

But in the end, how do they fair? Naturally these feel pretty close to Cherry MX Blacks, but are slightly lighter, so a much closer comparison would be with the Gateron Blacks. They feel extremely similar in all aspects. But I personally feel, purely on actual use, nothing scientific, that they feel just like Gat Blacks.

 

I do have the lighter version which is the Sakura Pink EC keyswitch, and I really liked those, and found them to be impressively smooth. So I was expecting these to be smooth as well, and yep they’re pretty smooth. I’d say they’re quite comparable to Gateron smoothness, perhaps slightly better. Keep in mind that I’m not much of a switch connoisseur, but that’s just how I feel.

 

So if they feel the same, and traditional mechanical keyswitches last a really long time anyway. Then, what’s the point? And really, there’s not much to it. But I still do appreciate something different, and innovation is good to see. But it is a nice keyswitch, but just not too different in what’s already available.Hasu has a great technical review on Geekhack which I’ll chuck in the description if you want to check it out.As you may have heard, there’s a bit of rattle in the spacebar. I’ve always praised Varmilo for the top notch stabilisers, so that’s unfortunate, but I guess an easy fix.Additionally, it just doesn’t feel as dense and as solid to type on, in comparison to older Varmilo keyboards. And we’ll see the reason why, when we open it up. These 2 seemingly small things do make a small difference in how the keyboard feels to type on. I’ve always felt that Varmilo keyboards are right up there for retail boards in how they feel, but this is just that half a step down.

 

CONCLUSION

 

So all up, I love the look of the keyboard. It’s calming and may potentially lower your stress. I love the direction that Varmilo have taken with their Keyboard Artist series. They’re coming out with a bunch of really nice looking keyboards like the Greenery one, and also their boards with Ducky, like the Sakura and Panda Miya Pros. But yeh, it’s just basically a modded VA87M which has always been such a great mechanical keyboard over the years. I don’t like that there’s no more foam under the PCB, as I think that’s what put Varmilo keyboards right up there for me, but yeh, hopefully they bring that back.

 

While the electro capacitive switches are innovative and are something different, which I love to see, and may potentially be more durable. When it comes to real world use, they’re very similar to existing keyswitches in how they feel. So there isn’t much of an upgrade in that regard.

 

But it still is an amazing keyboard, and you can’t really go wrong with a Varmilo keyboard.

 

Thanks to mechanicalkeyboards.com for providing this keyboard for review

 

Full size: https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=4353&mkref=wxzmj39

TKL: https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=4352&mkref=wxzmj39

 

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