Mechanical Keyboards - Anyone here a fan? Can anyone recommend a good 75% keyboard?

I’m sending back the FiiO KB3. Top reasons in no particular order:

  • RGB keyboard refuses to produce red or orange outside of preset modes. Firmware issues I assume.
  • DAC is just “in the way” when making sure the right output device is selected for Windows if you frequently switch like I do.
  • Bottom case is not a great design aesthetically.
  • $150 and no wireless at all.
  • VIA support, but QMK was a question mark. I didn’t think I should need to flash CFW to make advertised features like RGB work properly so I don’t care if QMK flashing is possible or not at this point.
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BTW, here are a couple of weird keyboard designs that I like in theory but not practice. I’m convinced I would be hitting those extra macro keys by accident since I use the edge of my keyboard to guide my hand up the board to the ESC key at times.

I’ve officially decided to spring for two keyboards, one specifically with gaming in mind, the other for productivity. One benefit of this is if my gaming keyboard has gotten a bit grimy and I don’t have time to clean it, I can just put out the office one for company :smiley:

Razer BlackWidow V4 75% is almost perfect :


  • no wasted real-estate. (no empty spaces begging for buttons) This is worth a lot to me, and makes me want to overlook the downsides.
  • north facing rgb
  • hotswappable
  • software designed for gaming use
  • low latency
  • genuine attempts at sound deadening
  • volume control looks bespoke, and probably isn’t a 15 cent off-the-shelf rotary encoder.


  • wired only (for $200 :nauseated_face: )
  • rgb profiles NOT stored on device (keymaps are I believe)
  • orange switches have bad longevity, high rate of failure. Early batches known to fail within WEEKS

Shame it didn’t work out.

Assume you’ve come across

I found it’s missing a few newer boards eg. Keychron, and I suspect there have been some minor revisions to boards that appear as north facing in the filter, that when you look on the manufacturing website, are actually south, (cidoo v75), so take the list with a pinch of salt.

Not sure this link to a Reddit post will work, but it’s a comparison of north and south RGB boards, apples and oranges comparison but I didn’t realise “side lit” keycaps were a thing, perhaps if you have to settle on a south face RGB board, these caps might help?

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In case you were still looking: This PCB from YMDK store on AliExpress is programmable with Via or Vial, and has N-facing RGB switch LEDs.

They have links in the product description to cases. It’s not wireless unfortunately, and it’s obviously the DIY option. No affiliation or experience with that AliX store.

I saw they have a 98% format with North RGB and went digging for something smaller.

If link doesn’t work, the description is “YDMK YMD75 v4 RGB VIA VIAL Hot Swap Hot-swappable Kailh socket 84 PCB Fully Programmable Support ANSI ISO replaceable YMD75 V2 V3”.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve been to but gave up on it when the filter was wrong in several cases. I did follow up on every board it thought fit my criteria though.

I’m aware of the side shine-through, but I think I want at least one keyboard with pudding keycaps and those are designed with north-facing switches in mind.

BTW, I probably would have tried out a Keychron Q1 Max by now, but the black was out of stock. Also, I don’t like how they totally have room for 4 keys on the right below the knob, but opted to only include 3.

I actually considered YMDK heavily for hitting most of my criteria, but I decided that their cases are probably not worth the money. So if I made one it would have to be a really custom job which is more than I want to do right now.

Their wood cases are advertised as walnut, but is something else (probably bamboo) with walnut stain. Reports indicate the staining color is inconsistent and the product description backs this up. Their aluminum cases are not shown in high res photos or from many angles. I decided I don’t have a ton of trust in a company that can’t even accurately list product details and can’t be bothered to get proper English descriptions on their website.

I might still try building a custom around one of their PCBs some day, but I want something to use now, not after I buy a soldering iron and learn how to use it. (I wanna solder white leds to one of their boards)

BTW, learned another downside of the BlackWidow V4 75%. The product page says “aluminum top case” but the actual truth is there is a very thin frame that couldn’t really even be described as a case. It’s so scummy, it turns me off of their brand.

Whatever else is wrong with the FiiO KB3, it actually has a pretty badass top case. Very sturdy.

I hate that I seem to have the choice of good build quality OR the features I want. (barring building what I want myself)

Wired is better for gaming in terms of latency and reliability.

IMO wired is just better anyway.

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I have always used wired for gaming and in general, but I think when you start paying $150+ for a non-custom board then wireless should be included as an option for flexibility. I mean, if the $60 RK84 can have wireless, then there isn’t any real excuse for something like the Razer BlackWidow V4 75% at $200.

I understand the latency of a 2.4Ghz connection can be really quite low at this point, it really just depends on the board whether it is a good enough for games.

Apparently the Asus Rog Azoth is great at registering keystrokes quickly, but it has a weirdly long delay in registering key release-- far beyond what a mechanical switch normally displays. Here is the Azoth compared to the wired Blackwidow V4 75% which has the best latency for gaming out of all the keyboards Rtings has tested.

Bit of a glaring issue with the Azoth IMO. No wonder there is a market for hall effect switches for faster release detection lol


Oh, here is the Blackwidow V4 75% vs the Keychron Q1 Max. It’s not as fast on the initial keypress as the Azoth, but it is really not too bad for latency and doesn’t have the weird key release issue.

BTW, I would assume many wireless keyboards are much slower than the Blackwidow V4 75% as it has a ridiculous 8000hz polling rate and is intended to be fast for gaming as a major selling point. I bet a lot of untested wired boards out there are probably slower than the Q1 Max in 2.4Ghz mode.

I’m rubbish at soldering compared to some on here, but find successfully building an electronics kit or modding an LED to be extremely satisfying. I’m looking forward to building the macro pad kit I’ve ordered.

If you’re in the market for a soldering iron, I can recommend the Pinecil soldering iron as a “entry level” iron. You’ll need a power supply of some kind though. The USB-C silicone cables they sell are good for the price, too.

My hakko iron is feels better in hand, the stand is better (pinecil folding stand option is positively dangerous as it’s so light the weight of the cable can move it!) and is generally a superior product, however, it is expensive.

I didn’t look too close into YMDK boards, I must admit I was tempted by the price points, but I guess like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

I’ve a few saved searches set up on eBay, good condition keychrons go for quite reasonable prices. My most pressing requirement at the moment is a new mouse, probably going to go with the luxury option of Logitech MX Master 3S… Keyboard budget out the window :sweat_smile:

Yeh, seems like version revisions have moved from North to south, I don’t know if that’s a fairly “recent” trend in the keyboard world, but most of the newest versions advertise south facing RGB.

I can’t quite get my head around how cherry profile is incompatible with south-facing RGBs, but other profiles are okay? I suspect it would make sense if I had a mechanical keyboard to hand though.


I hear a good soldering iron makes it easier due to better temp control, so I’d probably jump to something in the ~$100 range. Probably Hakko or Weltool.

The YMDK PCBs are probably fine, I just think their cases are probably wack. There’s has to be a reason they don’t upload better pictures for the aluminum one and put disclaimers up for the wood ones.



My brother had a really nice Logitech, I want to say it must have been in the $80 range. He started getting double clicks (chatter) within a year or so on the left click. He bought a barebones Razer and hasn’t had any issues now for years. Maybe he just got unlucky with one brand and lucky with the other though, who knows.

South vs North facing switch clearance

People mostly focus on the Cherry profile keycaps, but I think any of the low profile caps also have a possiblity of not clearing.

I have a Hakko 888, a Weller station from yesteryear and a clone of one of these.
It’s the one I go to first.
heats up so darn quick. Easy to adjust. Uses T12 Hakko tips.
Clone is not available any more.
When soldering flux is your friend.
I did a review of the clone here

All the Best,

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This one may perhaps be of interest?

It’s cheap, 75% with 4 keys in the right column, hotswap, QMK+VIA, comes in black or white, and they have a wide selection of pretty good switches available as add-ons.

I’d probably get the purple, penguin, or wine tactile switches.

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Was poking around and came across this.
logitech mec KB on amazon
Red, brown, or blue switches. Lightup keys.
Flat low profile style keys. Programmable with logictech software.
Will pair with 3 BT devices. Has WiFi dongle too - Logi Bolt USB Receiver ? .
75 or full size.
All the Best,

They also have a laptop looking one.
Compact and full sized.

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The Akko Purples caught my eye too, they look like a good switch.

Thanks for the keyboard suggestion but after testing the KB3 I’ve realized that I prefer to have a metal top case/frame. My old magicforce68 has a metal top plate so I guess I have become used to a very rigid keyboard. I might try for a bouncier board later but for my daily driver I’ll probably go for the familiar.

Thanks for the suggestion! Those logitech mechs check a lot of boxes but they do not have hot-swap sockets and I’ve decided I need hot-swap. Initially I wasn’t as concerned about hot-swap sockets and thought they were just a nice-to-have. But after learning more, I’ve realized it is the single best feature a keyboard can have. It makes replacing faulty switches a breeze and changing switch types completely changes how the keyboard works/feels. I’m excited to choose not just a tactile switch, but one with the specific actuation force and bottom-out force that I prefer. I can also select for smoothness and lack of rattle. There are a number of different switches I really want to try now :smiley:

I guess my goals have changes a little since I initially posted. I’ll update the main thread.

This is a disease :stuck_out_tongue:. In my renewed interest in mechanical keyboards, generated from this thread, I’ve got about 6 different kinds of switches on their way to me, various profile keycaps (individuals or WASD keys rather than a full set) and signed up to a bunch of re-stocking notifications on various websites!

Maybe I’ll try to sell some of the switches as tester sets on eBay, the minimum order quantity from AliExpress is 10!

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6 more kinds of switches? Egads!!

Oh yea, the tester set thing crossed my mind too. I mean, unless you have a full sized keyboard you’ll always end up with a bunch of extras due to the increments they sell switches in

Keychron do a low profile tester, so I’m counting that as 3, despite having a bunch of others on. Had to find a Durock Silent T1 “shrimp” and a Boba U4 Silent to try out on recommendation of TK. Also inbound is a sample of Kailh Deep Sea Pro box Whale (not quite sure the official order those words should go in :sweat_smile:).