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...or you could pay $59 for a GMMK whereby you can customize it with w/e switch and keycap you want. What's the benefit for this one that excels over that?
Build quality of a Varmilo is vastly above GMMK. GMMK is mostly made of creaky plastic, it's a noisy board that needs sound dampening. Varmilo made from a heavier plastic that feels more high-quality. Varmilo stabilizers are better, and it's a quieter board. The typing experience and sound is noticeably different.
As far as the GMMK, I guess that mainly depends on how you have it set up. My GMMK is quiet, but I use modded switches (Gateron yellows, with heavy springs, lubed and quieted with aquarium sealant). Keycaps are PBT doubleshot. On the stabs I agree. I just ordered some genuine cherry stabs to hit this board. I can't speak to a comparison with the Varmilo. Sounds like a nice board, but I do find the GMMK a nicely built solid board.
Yeah, it's the stabs that undermine the GMMK. Cherry stabs can help it.
Some people use foam to dampen the interior of the GMMK to make it sound less hollow. Sounds like an interesting idea.
I've used a VA87, and it's close to my ideal of a mechanical keyboard. It uses normal materials like ABS plastic, but uses them well. The stabilizers are a cut above, and the board doesn't sound hollow. So, out of the box, it's better in those respects than many off-the-shelf keyboards.
Varmilo-profile keys are also very good, close to what Leopold keyboards use. Varmilo uses SS2 profile, which is very similar to Cherry [but perhaps slightly taller on one of the rows]. This is a very ergonomic profile for me. I put a set from Varmilo's "Summer Trilogy" on the VA87, and it felt milky smooth.
So out-of-the-box, with Varmilo, you get great stabs, solid feel, and SS2-profile PBT dye-sub keycaps. The LEDs are positioned correctly for Cherry-profile keycaps, which work and feel great. And they seem to be using quality MX switches, too.
Is that a hot-swappable switch type of keyboard? For me, that's the big benefit of the GMMK. You can simply put in whatever stabs, caps and switches you like without having to bother taking it all apart and re-soldering. Plus, I find it's very well built, aside from some of the quality issues on the CNC for the plate. At $60 + whatever you like to put in it, it seems the better deal.
No, Varmilo keyboards are not hot-swappable at all, unfortunately.
I really wish there was a factory keyboard from Ducky, Varmilo, or Leopold that has hot-swap capability, as that is all you would really need.
Gateron Yellows are popular among people who use linears. So having something like a GMMK is very handy to use those. There are only a few boards with this capability at present.
I didn't think I would like them, but after modding them with the sealant, I haven't found anything quieter, except for Aliaz switches, but they don't stay in place reliably on this board.