Now this feels nice. That was the first thought that went through our minds when we unboxed this keyboard. For its price point compared to its direct competitors, it feels much more premium with the aluminium top plate and chamfered finish. The chamfered edge was a nice touch and one that we appreciated even though Glorious didn’t have to include it. And personally, this starts to separate it from its direct competitors. But what made a deeper impression was the weight and solidness of the design. It didn’t have the plastic flimsy feel, and the weight felt like you were holding a solid block in the hand. For a budget entry custom board, there wasn’t much more that we could ask for.
We chose the barebones GMMK TKL kit which meant that we had to purchase the keycaps and switches separately. However, there are options to purchase a complete board with switches and keycaps included. Setting up the keyboard was extremely easy and painless. Open up the pack of switches and then press them down in each slot. After that, it was put on the keycaps. The definition of plug and play.
The beauty of hot swap keyboards is, you don’t like the switch you are using, pull it out and then insert a new one in. Now you have a brand new keyboard and typing experience. The world is your oyster as they say.
Please note though, some swtiches will have 5 pins at the bottom and cannot be directly inserted into the keyboard. You have to clip the 2 plastic stabiliser pins on the side and then they can be used with the GMMK.
Switches and Keycaps
We opted to go for a bit of different path and chose to go with Glorious’ recently released Panda switches, their take on the notorious Holy Panda switches of the keyboard community. Super tactile compared to Gateron Browns and Cherry MX Browns. Their cream coloured housing did mean that we lost a little bit of the brightness of the RGBs but we found that it did not make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. Using the switches straight from the box will give you a very tactile experience but the you will hear and feel quite a bit of ping and scratchiness coming from the switch. While acoustically, this does detract from the typing experience, it will have no impact on the physical experience.
Being a keyboard enthusiast, we decided to go above and beyond and lubed the switches. For those not in the keyboard hobby, this involves opening the switch, and then lubing the parts up to reduce the friction and the pinging and scratchy noises heard when using switches stock. While this may not be for everybody, this changed the typing experience completely. It became smoother and much more pleasant to type on while still retaining the distinctive bump as you press each key. Acoustically, it was much more pleasant, not as loud and gaining that “thoc” sound profile that the keyboard hobby chases after.
Keycaps, we went with Glorious’ doubleshot ABS keycaps. They did feel and look to be on the thinner side. But for their price point, it was what we expected them to be. It certainly didn’t detract from the typing experience and we had no issues or complaints with them there. The RGB shine through on these caps were still quite bright despite the cream housing of the Glorious Panda switches. We had no issues using the RGBs even under brighter lighting. Do note that, as these are on the thinner ABS plastic side, you may experience shining on the keycaps much faster in comparison to other keycaps that you may have typed on.
Okay, we’re not going to lie about this part. The stabilisers are not the best. They will rattle and with the frequncy that you are hitting the space bar, they will drive you mad. The saving grave is, they are plate mount, which means they are easy to remove and modify. Once you have tuned your stabilisers, the rattle pretty much disappears and they typing experience is much more pleasant to the ears.
Once more not much to say here. The RGB light show is adequate and not intrusive. Under most lighting you will see the RBG shine through the keycaps. It has a variety of effects that you can control directly from the keyboard, tailoring it to your personal tastes. Whether you are a full on effects person or just a mono-colour person, there a setting and colour that will appeal to you.
As hinted previously above, we are going to split this into two parts, physical experience and acoustic experience. Physically, typing on this keyboard was enjoyable. The switches are held securely by the plate and hot swap sockets and there is a solid feel when you press each key down. For those that like to press down hard on their keys as they type, the experience may be a bit harsh as you will feel the switch “bottom out”. But this may be a good thing for those that enjoy the tactile feedback. Acoustically, the GMMK does not perform as strongly. The board does sound a bit hollow and you will certainly hear the ping from the switch leaf and springs. Due to the top plate being metallic, this sound is transferred much more strongly and you will notice it. You can dampen some of this sound by adding a layer of foam to the bottom case underneath the PCB and this is a relatively easy task to do.
The GMMK keyboard does a lot for its price tag. It gives you hot swap sockets, per key RGB and premium finish on the case. It comes in 3 different sizes allowing you more freedom to pick the layout that best suits you. While it is not a full custom keyboard, it certainly opens the door to the keyboard hobby and allows you to experience a brand new world. For its price and features, there’s little to not like and we would definitely recommend this keyboard to anyone looking to improve their setup.