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FireCharge
103
Sep 6, 2019
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I keep seeing people debate this keyboard and I thought i'd just give you my piece right here rather than linking to any other site or whatever. TL;DR : Buy the board for cheap from AliExpress, test out the layout, then decide if you want to go for the full ordeal. However I do believe the other popular 60% boards are better (Like the Tada68 or DZ65) P.S. There is a Bluetooth version available on AliExpress for the GK64 (called GK64S), which is the one I have.
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LINKS: Boards: (Mine) GK64S (bluetooth version) on AliExpress (55-105USD) PCB = 55 GK64 (non bluetooth) on AliExpress (45-89USD) PCB = 45 Keycaps: (Mine) Moonlanding 1969 165 keycap set on AliExpress (65USD) Sakura Keycaps (129) on AliExpress (82USD) Sakura Keycaps (126) on KBDFans (86USD) You know where you like to buy your switches so on you go I was looking for something specific, so while I am going to be barking at the same tree everyone else is, I am taking a different approach as there are things here that are deal makers for me. For my new board, I had some requirements: A. 60-70% with a USB type C connector. That means I was looking on the DZ65, KBD67 and Tada68. B. I just wrecked a board (I had the RK61 from Royal Kludge, which I wanted to re-switch to Pro Burgundy, managed to burn out a connector), so I'm quite scared of doing that again to a board that costs about twice as much as that Bluetooth mech entirely, so I'll just go hot-swap here. C. Stay under 250 bucks for the entire thing, the less the better (I really want to get a DAP) D. ~ A Bluetooth option would be cool, as I've used the RK61 with my phone and laptop at work while it was also connected to my work's PC. So far, that would mean that I'm about to spend pretty much 75% of my budget for a barebones hotswap kit alone (the DZ65 with a Tofu case and aluminum plate and weight goes for around 185 on KBDfans or AliExpress). In the beginning I wanted 67g Zilents or Zealios but since I wanted a kit of 90 in case I decide to move them over to my GMMK tkl, that would mean this board is going to get to double the price I want. I settled then for the Kailh Box Royals which are slightly more scratchy with a slightly less pronounced bump but I do like them quite a lot. 90 For 45 bucks was great in my opinion so I went for that. (KBDFans) This would mean that I need a REALLY REALLY cheap 64keycap set. Honestly, the ones that come specifically for this board look way too generic and boring. I wanted to go for the Maxkey Miami SA or the Miami Nights, but the 'cheaper' options were still around 45-50 bucks (like the Tai-Hao miami set or an **etched (ew)** miami night set which did have all the correct keycaps though, but went for like 60. Heck, even getting a pre-made keyboard through KBDFans would cost around 245 bucks with ugly keycaps, so as much as this was a good option for me, I wanted to be able to swap the switches if I ended up not liking them as much or for whenever I have enough money to buy Zilents or something else that I'd like. Now, since I'm already over-budget, I started looking for a cheaper option. In comes the GK64. YES - IT IS ANNOYING, slightly, honestly, you guys should go listen to Z Reviews and instead of smacking everything bad about a product, start appreciating the things it does well. I'm used to tenkeyless. I've been using tkl boards for about 6 years now, ever since my first mech - the Corsair K60. The RK61 was the first 60% I've owned, and I was using it at work (for now replaced with the RG987 from Royal Kludge with Greetech reds) and I've grown mostly used to the 60% layout for typing, but when I used it to code (I'm studying NodeJS right now) I really missed the arrow keys - that's why I was looking for a slightly larger board. I still go over to the right too much to look for the arrow keys but I'll probably get over it in a few days. There are so many things wrong with this board, that even without being a day-to-day 60% keyboard user I can say that bother me: First of all, let's get all the frustrations about the software cleared up. It's terrible-ish. I mean, I've used purely Corsair and GMMK tools before as my RK boards didn't have software to re-configure them. The GUI is annoying and is clearly geared towards the Chinese market, but it has EVERYTHING you need, you just need to find how and where to do things. It's also quite slow to download the configuration to the board itself so it defaults to something, but to me that's acceptable. I took the time to go through figuring out the lighting a little bit, only to then disable it entirely. I mean, I'm going to use it wirelessly quite a lot, so let's just get rid of the main battery hog right away. Plus, the Moonlanding keycaps aren't even shine-through. Second, that weird 64 key layout: I thought about what could I use that weird key above the right arrow. Honestly, it's located in such a bad spot that I'll probably never use it, but I then decided to just keep it as default to delete, as I do use DEL sometimes over backspace (especially because you can't control fn+backspace as it's defaulted to the LED controls. JEEZ this software is annoying). Next, knowing that I gave up the extra 4 keys to the right which equals to home and end to me, I remapped fn+A and Fn+D to home and end respectively. One issue solved. Last but not least, the Shift keys conundrum. Left shift is a 2U. Annoying, but not a deal-breaker. It would mean every keycap set I get for this has to have a 2U shift available (so 126keys+ mostly), which is pretty much why I went with that expensive Moonlanding set instead of the Tai-Hao Miami (which was also out of stock). Also, the '1U Right-Shift' outrage needs to stop - I need one person to show up who presses it on any other key than the question mark or maybe quotation marks. And when you do press it - if you press it on the right side, man (or woman) you are a lunatic! I didn't notice a difference in my finger positioning while trying to press it so it feels natural for me. Great! Now, lets talk lighting, even though I don't use it. You have 5 different available lighting profiles on-board that you can set with the software (oh god not again). However - there are some things you can't control. First, Ralt is uncontrollable. Wait, what?! I hear you scream. Yup. Especially in connected 'offline' mode, You're bound to use this as a battery indicator. Caps lock does this as well, if it's on - LED under that key turns white, off is your designated color. Pressing function also does this, as the selected profile key goes bright while you're holding the Fn key to show you which layer you are on (Q is default, W, E and R show the 1-3 layers. OH! By the way, these are not re-mappable). Note that these are not the same layers as the lighting profiles, but function profiles. Another thing is, whilst it is good to have it available, the implementation of Bluetooth on this keyboard isn't the best. Pairing is slightly annoying, holding fn+z, x or c to pair to one of 3 devices. A short press on the two connects to said paired device, doing so again triggers it to go back to wired mode. This board doesn't use the best Bluetooth module, but at least it does have good connectivity as range within the same room for me wasn't an issue. Now, to the final question to rule them all - WOULD I BUY THIS BOARD AGAIN? Short answer: yes, but also no; for the long answer read this entire thing again. HOWEVER - I do recommend this *IF* you are limited by your budget and want a good looking, sturdy, hefty, hot-swappable board, even if you don't need Bluetooth. If not, just go with the Tada68 or something. I'm probably going to get the DZ65 in a few years to replace this one or the GMMK. Maybe I'll try a 75% instead. I don't know... The entire cost for this project tallies up to 209 bucks, however I got everything (Except for the switches) through AliExpress, so there were seller coupons and also a 7USD off coupon for each item seperately, so it ended up being 189 bucks (20 bucks less). Getting the DZ65 would've meant that I paid another 100 bucks for the board, plate, case and stabs alone. Something like that is going to come down the line, as I venture into higher end boards and higher end switches, but for now, with my limited budget, this is a good purchase in my opinion. In conclusion; just don't get it from here. Like 70% of drops since like 2016 (and I'm one of the third wavers to join MassDrop back at 2014 although I've been here even before, hiding in the shadows below the empty wallets), it's cheaper on AliExpress. If you are interested in this, go get it from there through one of my links above or just look for GK64 or 'hot swap 60% mechanical keyboard' wherever, you'll find it. As funny it sounds, note that the aluminum version does cost more than the wooden one on Drop, so please, do yourself a favor, and grab every part on it's own through one of the MANY keyboard part sites available. P.S. If Sakura keycaps are what got you interested, they are available through both AliExpress and KBDFans for quite cheap. Links up top.
Sep 6, 2019
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