Mechanical keyboards have been booming lately thanks to the ever-growing competitive gaming and esports communities. The constant war to create the perfect keyboard that looks nice, feels nice, and heavily customizable. You can find everything from your normal conventional keyboards to custom designs that are split into multiple sections to contour to the comfort of any user and for whatever task they need it for (ie, a specific game they are going up against).
No matter what you are looking for, there are usually specific traits that any user is going to look for. For example, no mechanical keyboard is popular unless the keys can be customized. Not just the color of the caps, but the mechanics under the cap as well, allowing the user to swap out to whatever switches they like best. Then you have the option of back-lighting the keys with LED and the ability to customize the colors and patterns of these keys.
Depending on what you are looking for, the price could easily range between $100-$400 easily and even climb up from there for some of those extremely customizable solutions. However, then you are talking about professional gamers that make a living off of all of this. For everyone else, you have mechanical options for casual gamers, and that is what we get to look at today.
We have been playing with the GMMK Modular Mechanical LED Keyboard by Glorious PC Gaming Race for about a week now, getting a feel for it. A unique name for a company, no question there, but a name you might become familiar with in the near future. They have a small number of models under their brand, covering mice, keyboards, and pads. However, they seem to have started off pretty strong. On the level of something like MSI, they peripherals pack a lot of quality and features for a decent price.
This keyboard, for example, gives you customizable caps and switches. You get a fully adjustable LED backlight setup, and a pleasant design. What makes the design so pleasant is the fact that it is clean. There is no complicated busy patterns running around the keyboard and between the keys. It isn’t littered with logos or anything. Just a matte-black design, keys, and three small status LEDs. It’s simple, allowing you to focus on what’s important–your typing.
The customizable LED backlighting is perfect. Right out of the box, you can choose between multiple colors and animations. You can make them breathe, wave, or remain solid, You can create waves with your typing or have them pulse at random–all of these settings coming with multiple levels of each effect. You can control their brightness and most importantly, you can manually select the keys you want lit (with limitations of on or off).
Then, you can install the software to take it so much further. You can change the color of the keys, the animations, brightness, and speed. You can change them using the many presets or customize every individual key. You can adjust the shortcut functions or assign macro, adjust the USB report rate (HZ), switch between profiles, and more.
It really does have a lot going on for it already, despite having a reasonable price tag of just $109.95 (win!). So let’s take a look at these keys!
The keys are easy to remove and they do provide the tool needed to pop them out (located at the bottom of the keyboard). So if you need to replace any or completely change them out with a new color cap, it doesn’t take much effort. The same applies to the switches underneath. They also provide you with the tool for this (provided in the accessories and not under the keyboard for some inconsistent reason), and the process is as easy as any other popular keyboard. You just want to make sure the pins on the new switches are compatible with the board.
Comfort-wise, these keys are great. They are Gateron Brown switches that feel natural to the touch and as long as you are used to the raised keys of a mechanical keyboard, your fingers just jump right into play. If you don’t have the experience with the raised keys, it doesn’t take too long to get adjusted (but there is an adjustment period like any mechanical keyboard). The keys are not the most silent keys out there, which is no surprise looking at the price. They need to give you something to be able to upgrade later on after all. That being said, the Gateron Brown switches are pretty good. A decent feel balanced with a not as noisy click.
There is a good amount of weight over-all to the keyboard, including a nice aluminum faceplate. So it isn’t going to go sliding around on you or anything (not that I have ever been able to make a keyboard slide around during use). If you choose to use this keyboard during your favorite esports tournament, it would make for a great weapon to swing around if you lose (not that we can ever recommend that you actually do such a thing of course).
The ESC key comes with a custom “ASCEND” cap preinstalled. You can choose to keep it on there, else they do provide you with a normal ESC key in the accessories. We prefer the escape key ourselves since the ASCEND cap features a laminate over it that prevents the backlight from shining through properly. Also, an ESC key is an ESC key. They also provide an extra key for your lower keys (on either side of the spacebar) that contains their company logo (which is the only branding you’d ever have on the face of the keyboard). That cap is completely optional and how you use it is up to you (if you use it). Maybe the Windows icon or Fn key?
They do include an extra set of cushions/feet in case you wear the ones down that are already installed on the keyboard. A nice variable in the mix of things.
We weren’t too happy with the font used on the caps (oh no, we finally found something to complain about). It isn’t terrible, but it does play tricks on your eyes at times making you second guess what a key says. Again, it isn’t terrible, it is just a minor distraction at times. It is a cool techy font in its own way at the same time. If this bothers you, you can always look at replacing them later on with something that catches your eyes.
Check out our review of their Model 0 Gaming Mouse here.
We loved it! It isn’t the perfect keyboard, but it is nowhere near the worst. This is actually a pretty solid mechanical keyboard with a wonderful price tag. You may have your own opinions about the keys depending on the type of switch guy you are. If you like the Cherry MX Brown switches, you will like these Gateron Brown switches as well–the reason for my saying that is obvious (hint, a copy and paste of the other). They build of the keyboard feels good, the keys feel good, the LED backlight looks good, the configuration options and software feel good, and price feels good! This has a lot going for it. Not bad as we look forward to seeing what else they come up with in the future.
It’s just too bad there isn’t an option to change the animation when the keyboard is idle. Now that would make for a beautiful finishing touch for this model. Imagine having static-colored keys that switch over to breathing or the Matrix-look when you walk away. Just saying!
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Model: GMMK-BRN-V2
- Prebuilt: Yes
- Mechanical Switch: Gateron Brown
- Keycaps: Black (with secondary multimedia functions printed)
- Stabilizers Included
- 104 Key Standard QWERTY layout (ANSI)
- 100% Anti-Ghosting
- N-Key Rollover: Full NKRO via USB, or 6KRO
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
- Backlight: 16.8 million colors RGB
- Cord Length: 6 ft. Braided
- Hotkeys: My Computer, Web Browser, Calculator, Media Player, Previous Track, Next Track, Play/Pause, Stop, Mute, Volume Decrease, Volume Increase
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 440 x 129 x 35.9 mm | 17.3 x 5.1 x 1.4 inches
- Weight: 2.1lbs (940g)
- GMMK-BRN keyboard
- Manual / Quick Start Guide
- Keycap Puller Tool
- Switch Puller Tool
- Glorious PC Gaming Race sticker
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
Don’t forget to subscribe for a chance to win cool prizes!