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REVIEW : GK64 Hotswappable Mechanical Keyboard

December 26, 2017

Today we’re gonna check out one of the higher end ready made mechanical keyboards out from China.Thanks to Gearbest.com for providing this keyboard for review. 

 

Gearbest link : http://bit.ly/2zNBLPZ Price:149.99 code:GBAEWINO

 

This is the GK64, but Sewino have put their brand on this specific one which is sold on Gearbest, and possibly elsewhere. But I’m 99% sure it’s the same in every way, besides the logo.

 

CONTENTS

  • GK64 Mechanical keyboard

  • USB C cable

  • Keyswitch puller

  • Wire keycap puller

SIZE & LAYOUT

 

This GK64 is a 60% in size. So it’s the same size as the Poker boards, the Anne Pro, etc. And is approximately 60% of a full sized keyboard. But it changes a few things to accommodate mainly the dedicated arrow keys. The top 3 rows are completely standard for an ANSI layout. But then the 2nd row has a shorter 2 unit left shift, whereas a normal one would be 2.25u. And for reference, 1u equals 1 of the alpha keys.

 

And in turn, this changes the stagger of the keys by that quarter of a unit, with the whole row shifting to the left. And that gives us room to fit the 1u shift key, the up arrow key, and the delete key.

 

Ok so the non standard stagger is only a very slight shift, but it did affect my typing accuracy, as for the most part I don’t look at my keyboard. But this was only very slight, and I personally can adjust to it after stringing together a few words, but your experience may vary.

 

And then the small right shift key being just 1 unit, and also slightly to the left, does get me quite a bit, and I end up pressing the up arrow key, which does get annoying for me.

 

And the bottom row is pretty normal, but just has the bunch of 1unit keys on the right of the spacebar. But the big thing is the inclusion of the dedicated arrow keys. I personally do use the arrow keys quite a bit, so I really enjoyed using this. And this is something that can sometimes turn some people away from a 60% board, even though yes, you still have them on another layer, or can map it to other keys.

 

 

DESIGN & BUILD

 

First impressions is that it’s solid and has some good heft to it which is expected, as it’s featuring a full aluminium construction. So there’s absolutely no flex to it. And comes in at about 1.1kg. So that’s a really nice weight for a 60% board.

 

The aluminium enclosure is CNC milled, but is a bit more complex than the cheaper simple 60% aluminium cases. It is a low profile case, so we can see that the keyswitches are exposed from the sides, but the plate is a tad lower than the lip of the base. The bezels are very minimal from the top down view, and is a simple rounded rectangular design, keeping it very compact.

 

From the front there’s a bit cut out which also does make it easier to pick up, as you have something to grab onto. And this is the same for the rear as well. And here we also see the USB C port which is great to see instead of the standard mini or micro USB.

 

With the side profile we have quite a stylish design. There are no extra feet for this board, so it has it’s natural angle of elevation which you’re stuck with, but it’s at a comfortable angle. And I just like the look of it. It’s angular and adds that bit of sharpness and edge, but it’s kept simple and looks clean.

 

The aluminium case is anodised in this gunmetal grey, and it looks great for the most part. So the sides look pretty good because of its small surface area, but the finish isn’t perfect. And I also have a little scratch on mine. But on the bottom as it’s a larger surface area, is pretty bad, with some areas darker than others, especially around the rubber feet.

 

And of course on this one we have the Sewino logo, but on the normal ones it’s just blank. But it’s completely out of the way anyway, so it doesn’t matter to me. And we also have the 4 flat rubber feet.

 

KEYCAPS

 

The keycaps on top are a great inclusion to tie the look of the board together. We have a white, grey, and red accent colour scheme happening with the clean and simple black legends. These are PBT plastic keycaps which don’t shine like ABS, and are dye subbed, so the legends are nice and durable.

 

These are also Cherry profile, so they’re slightly shorter than the standard OEM keycaps you see everywhere. It’s a comfortable profile in which many people do prefer over other profiles. And on the F and J homing keys we do have scooped keys which always feel nice.

 

LIGHTING

 

Alright, so this is where things got a bit messed up for me, which really annoyed me as well, because I didn’t get to get that many shots of the lighting.

 

First of all we have the reactive lighting modes, which is referred to as the code lights. And this includes the pretty standard reactive effects. However there’s the one effect that really caught me off guard, and it’s this.

 

So yeh, this keyboard has a microphone under the spacebar, and reacts to sound. I also tried this just plugged straight into the wall, and it still works, confirming that the mic is on board. It’s a pretty weird feature to have, but I have to keep open minded, and perhaps someone may have some use for it. Useless for me, but certainly interesting.

 

And then there’s the full RGB lighting modes, which include stuff like the wave effect, and ripple effect, and all that. And this is referred to as the logic lights. But it just doesn’t work anymore for whatever reason. By pressing function and backspace for 3 seconds, it’s supposed to factory reset the board, but these lighting modes just don’t work.

 

And this happened after I tried to download and use the software. I don’t know which version I used at the time, but the keyboard could not be detected by the software. And I’ve tried everything with different devices, and I just can’t get the software to work with the keyboard. Somewhere something happened, and now it’s just like this which is unfortunate. I haven’t been able to find anyone else with the same problem, so as of now, it looks like an isolated incident, but it has potential.

 

But I also thought that maybe it’s this specific Sewino branded GK64, and perhaps it is, and that’s something to think about.

 

So now I’m missing out on all the lighting customisation, but also the key customisation. And that includes all the typical macro stuff, and just assigning keys in different places. And in my opinion this is quite important for a 60% board, as we lose a lot of that primary accessibility.

 

HOTSWAPPABLE KEYSWITCHES - KAILH SOCKETS

 

Moving on though, one of the really great features of this keyboard is that the keyswitches are hotswappable. On this particular one I had Cherry MX Blues, until I changed most of the keys to Kailh Box Whites.

 

In my opinion, this is a pretty expensive board, so you gotta step up with the keyswitches. Cherry MX Blues are a classic, and don’t get me wrong, they’re fine. But there is arguably better alternatives, and you can fill up a board like this with some other switches for not too much money.

 

These pop out really easily by using the keyswitch puller, and pressing the clips inwards and just pulling upwards.

 

And you can put whatever MX style switch you want. This includes Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, and all the other ones. And this is made possible by the Kailh hotswappable sockets which we’ll see later.

 

The great thing about hotswappable sockets, is that there’s no desoldering required which requires opening up your keyboard and then actually having the equipment to desolder the switch. So as we can see I have a mix of keyswitches, and it’s just so easy and pain free to change the switches at will, and it’s pretty fun as well.

 

CONCLUSION

 

So overall it’s a very appealing keyboard for those who like that 60% size, but also like their dedicated arrow keys and delete key. But also for those who just want it easy and don’t want to build their own boards because of the cost of actually having the stuff to do it.

 

With ready built 60% boards, the big mainstream competitor would be the POK3R RGB from Vortex. And they’re at about the same price.

 

But this offers a different case. For me it’s nicer in how it looks, but that’s a personal thing. And it’s also heftier. And you get these keycaps which are also nicer to me. We have this alternative 64 key layout, and of course the hotswappable sockets for the keyswitches are just a great inclusion. It makes everything so much easier, as you’re able to change switches with ease. If you want to try out some new keyswitches, then you could buy some for like 15 bucks and chuck em in, and it’s like a whole new board.

 

Again, I have issues with mine, which is super frustrating, but I haven’t seen anyone else have such problems.

 

Thanks again to Gearbest.com for providing this keyboard for review.

 

 

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