Glorious GMMK Pro Keyboard Kit Review
Wonderful has been on a roll currently, growing merchandise that PC gaming fanatics have clamored for just like the Mannequin O Wi-fi Gaming Mouse. It was one of many first corporations to deliver hot-swappable switches in its authentic GMMK keyboard. The GMMK Pro takes issues a step additional. It is a full customized keyboard equipment that goals to ship on the entire newest developments on the earth of mechanical keyboards: a full aluminum case, gasket mount, hot-swappable switches, and a compact 75% format (with a quantity knob!), in addition to Wonderful’ personal GOAT stabilizers. At $169.99, it is some of the reasonably priced kits you should purchase however can it ship on so many large guarantees?
- Present Worth: $169.99 (GPCGR Store)
- Format: US (ANSI) (83 keys, together with clickable Rotary Encoder)
- Keycap Puller Device: Included
- Plate Mounting Kind:Gasket mounted design
- Swap Puller Device: Included
- Case Materials: Aluminum
- RGB: 16.8 million shade RGB LED backlight (south-facing) and LED sidelights
- Stabilizers: Pre-lubed Wonderful GOAT stabilizers (screw-in)
- Twine Size:6 ft
- Detachable Keycaps: Sure
- N-Key Rollover: Sure
- Detachable USB Twine: Sure
- Interface: USB-C 2.0
- Modular (Sizzling Swap) Switches: Sure
- Open Supply Firmware Compatibility: QMK
- Switches: Not Included
- Typing Angle: 6 Levels
- Weight: 3.3 lbs (barebones – estimated)
- Dimensions: 332mm x 32mm x 135mm
- Guarantee: 2 Years
Overview: Taking Customized Keyboards Mainstream
The Wonderful GMMK Pro could be one of the best ways to hitch the world of customized mechanical keyboards. At $169.99, it gives rather a lot and is an effective worth in comparison with different customized kits with related options and even piecing collectively your individual. Buying an analogous equipment from one other firm might simply lengthen to $250 or extra, largely as a result of manufacturing price. Wonderful is without doubt one of the few corporations capable of pull a equipment like this off: produced at scale to maintain costs low and with sufficient of a foothold within the fanatic group to promote sufficient to make it worthwhile. In each publicity and accessibility, Wonderful is pushing customized mechanical keyboards mainstream. That does not imply it is good, nonetheless.
Earlier than we get to it, let us take a look at what this keyboard gives. The largest function is its full aluminum case, which is offered in Black Slate or White Ice (which is silver). And by “aluminum case,” I do not simply imply a prime plate or skinny steel shell. The GMMK Pro is manufactured from two items of thick, milled aluminum. Unbuilt, it weighs 3.3 kilos or about 1500 grams – roughly the burden of a heavy, full-size, fully constructed pre-made. The GMMK Pro is a 75% compact keyboard, nonetheless, which makes that weight really feel all of the extra substantial as a result of its smaller measurement.
The GMMK Pro, and 75-percent keyboards generally, is slightly small however options the entire core performance many avid gamers want, saving desk house. It retains the perform row and arrows, however chops the numpad and condenses the navigation and modifying cluster to a single column on the fitting aspect of the board. It is wider than a 65% keyboard however about the identical size, giving you extra space in your mouse hand.
Aside from type issue, it’s clear that Wonderful had its ear to the bottom for what has been well-liked within the mechanical keyboard group. Gasket mount, rotary encoder, case foam, plate foam, hot-swap, pre-lubed, screw-in stabilizers, help for customized QMK firmware… In case you’ve watched keyboard YouTubers or Twitch streamers and questioned what all of the hype is about, this equipment will present you.
Earlier than happening, let’s break down a few of these phrases:
- Gasket Mount: Many keyboards screw the PCB, or circuit board instantly into the underside half of the case. This could make the typing expertise stiff (not one thing you’re more likely to discover if you happen to’re coming from regular pre-made keyboards) and transfers the impacts from typing by means of to the case, producing noise. The GMMK Pro’s gasket mounting system makes use of poron foam strips on the highest and backside case and sandwiches the PCB between them, muting the sound. Many keyboards obtain a softer, cushioned typing expertise with this mounting system.
- Case and PCB Foam: These skinny foams dampen sound and cut back reverb all through the case. PCB foam goes between the swap plate and the circuit board. Case foam goes between the PCB and backside case.
- Sizzling-Swap Switches: Switches that may be pulled put in or eliminated just by pulling them out, no soldering required. Nice for making an attempt new switches.
- Rotary Encoder: The amount knob, which is clickable on this keyboard. Must be programmable sooner or later.
- QMK: Open-source keyboard programming software program that’s saved to the keyboard itself, permitting you to take your adjustments to any PC with out software program. Helps a number of layers and superior keymaps.
- Stabilizers: Dummy switches linked by a wire to both aspect of the actual swap below the bigger keys, together with Backspace, Enter, Spacebar, and Left Shift.
Along with these, Wonderful additionally helps the keyboard with its Wonderful Core software program. It’s nonetheless in beta however permits you to remap keys throughout three layers, document macros, shortcuts, and management the GMMK Pro’s lighting. The software program may be very tough across the edges at present however is practical to get your keyboard up and working.
And sure, that does imply per-key RGB lighting that’s totally customizable with 18 preset lighting results or your individual customized lighting scheme.
One extraordinarily essential notice is that, like most customized keyboard kits, the GMMK Pro doesn’t ship with keycaps or switches. You should buy these individually when shopping for the keyboard from Wonderful or load it with your individual switches and keycaps from elsewhere. Whereas this might sound odd, it’s fully commonplace observe for DIY keyboard kits.
One factor customized keyboard builders love is customization and Wonderful is able to meet that demand. It’s providing a wide array of accessories to help your construct, together with thick, dye-sublimated PBT keycaps, Wonderful Panda switches (Wonderful’s tackle Holy Panda switches), Gateron and Kailh switches, customized swap lubricant, a lubing station, swap pullers, keycap pullers, coiled and braided aviator cables, alternative swap plates in aluminum, brass, and polycarbonate, alternative knobs, alternative USB Kind-C daughterboards, wrist rests, o-rings, and extra.
In essence, Wonderful is making a system the place it may be a one-stop store for newcomers to the passion, permitting them to actually dial within the really feel of their keyboard. For instance, altering swap plates isn’t one thing many individuals would contemplate however it may undoubtedly affect the typing expertise. Brass is tough and dense, resulting in a high-pitched sound and agency typing really feel. Polycarbonate, however, is extra versatile below the finger and results in a deeper sound when typing.
For the time being, you’ll be able to solely purchase the GMMK Pro instantly from Wonderful, and the keyboard builder walks you thru the completely different equipment you’ll want (or need) to purchase on the identical time. With a set of Gateron switches and PBT keycaps, the full price jumps to $254.97.
With that out of the way in which, let’s get into my impressions of this keyboard.
Reviewing the Keyboard Correct
The GMMK Pro arrives principally pre-assembled. Contained in the field, you’ll discover the keyboard constructed and able to obtain switches and keycaps. Beneath it’s a keycap puller, a swap puller, a fundamental braided USB cable that’s really fairly good (so there’s no must pay further for a coiled cable past aesthetics), and a set of additional poron gaskets to extend the flexibleness of the board and add further damping. In case you have switches and keycaps, you’ll be able to press each into place and be able to go, however this can be a board clearly meant to be tinkered with, so it’s price opening it up.
Doing so is straightforward, and also you’ll need to do it so as to add a layer or two of additional gaskets to the highest and backside case. The inventory gaskets are fairly skinny and compress simply as soon as the keyboard is constructed. Including a second layer to each halves improves the damping impact and provides a bit extra flex to the keyboard. The general typing expertise remains to be stiff, nonetheless, because of the method the swap plate connects to the PCB. There could also be a minor damping impact, and you may see a little bit of flex if you happen to actually press on the keys and look from the aspect, however with regular typing, the gasket mount implementation is a little bit of a misplaced trigger. But, I say that as an fanatic who has used different gasket mount keyboards. In case you’re used to regular gaming keyboards, you’re going to search out the typing expertise to be an enormous improve out of your common Logitech or Razer keyboard.
That’s as a result of the 2 layers of froth and the density of the milled aluminum case completely do dampen the typing sounds and result in a way more stable and satisfying expertise general. There actually isn’t any competitors to even an costly gaming keyboard. The GMMK Pro is an improve, full cease. That’s very true if you happen to’re utilizing a set of PBT keycaps. Wonderful’s personal PBT keycaps are respectable, with thick partitions and dye-sublimated legends that gained’t fade over time. I used to be despatched the Ocean themed set to check however the look wasn’t for me. I swapped out to a different set referred to as Heavy Trade from RAMA Works. If that is your first full, thick aluminum keyboard, you may be in for an absolute deal with.
I like the quantity of small touches Wonderful has utilized right here. The USB connection, for instance, is on a separate circuit board that may be changed if it ever breaks. The place it connects is recessed into the case, so that you don’t see any uncovered steel on the cable. The rotary knob is steel with knurled sides so it’s simple to grip and has a refined tactility when turning it, so it’s registering. The RGB is brilliant and vibrant and there are diffusers on both aspect to make it look higher in your desk (they’re not brilliant sufficient for underglow, although).
For newcomers, I additionally love that they included hot-swappable key switches. This is a superb function as avid gamers making the soar to a nicer keyboard for the primary time may even be discovering the large array of latest switches which are accessible. Attempting one thing new is quick, simple, and doesn’t require buying a brand new keyboard. Plus, what newcomer desires to solder? I examined the GMMK Pro with its Wonderful Panda switches, lubed with the corporate’s personal G-Lube grease. They’re very tactile and enjoyable to sort on, although are costly at $24.99 for a field of 36 switches ($74.97 to fill out the entire keyboard). You should buy these pre-lubed however that bumps the value to a greenback a swap or $104.97 for the required three packing containers).
Wonderful even included customized stabilizers that ought to have been nice however sadly weren’t. They daringly referred to as these stabs “GOAT” stabilizers however they’re removed from the best of all time. The truth is, they have been a number of the most irritating I’ve used. They’re screw-in stabilizers, which means they screw instantly into the PCB and are extra secure consequently, and are manufacturing unit lubed to do away with rattle. New boards even have dampening pads beneath the stabilizers to kill clack additional. Superb, proper?
Not a lot.
One of many downsides to producing a equipment like this at scale is that there may be inconsistencies. My equipment had an excessive amount of lube on the Enter equipment and too little on the Spacebar (Backspace and Left Shift have been good). After addressing that and swapping keycaps, I got here throughout one other drawback: each of these keys began sticking. I’m undecided if it’s due to the keycaps (that are premium, costly caps) or the stabilizers themselves, however when pressed off middle, the stabilizers would press in opposition to their housings and never return accurately. I mounted this by utilizing a screwdriver to stretch the housings a contact — however ought to a $170 keyboard equipment with all of those premium options have two keys that don’t return accurately? I believe not.Stretching this stabilizer with a screwdriver prevented it from sticking however the outcomes aren’t precisely fairly
There are additionally another oddities, like lacking keys that don’t have apparent mappings. The proper column, by default, is mapped to Delete, Web page Up, Web page Down, and Finish. No Residence? Most keyboards would merely map that perform to an Fn mixture, comparable to Fn+Finish. Right here, it’s solely lacking.
The GMMK Pro is pretty full-featured exterior of that, nonetheless. You will have perform combos for controlling media, launching the browser or My Pc, altering layers for a number of keymaps (nice for having a number of maps for various video games), and controlling lighting. To get across the above, I remapped my very own Residence button and pushed Print Display screen to a second layer. Downside solved.
Software program: Useful however Unfinished
Then there’s the difficulty of software program. The GMMK Pro makes use of Wonderful’s Wonderful Core software program. It’s at present in beta and, whereas practical for remapping, macros, and different customization, it’s clearly removed from being full. There are easy oddities, like needing to pick key remaps from an extended, scrollable listing or having to hit save after each change to not lose that remap.
Then there are others, like not having the ability to set a layer button to work solely when held. To get Residence again on the highest layer, I moved Print Display screen to a second layer. On most keyboards, like Razer with its HyperShift performance, you could possibly set one key to entry these secondary features when held. Right here, you must faucet to entry the second layer, hit your command, then faucet one other key to return to your prime layer. For gaming, this might probably be a problem; nonetheless, it appears workable if you happen to create profiles or layers particularly for video games with intensive remaps.
Wonderful additionally promised QMK help and, extra excitingly, VIA. QMK is a customized remap device and it’s admittedly cumbersome. You must go to a web site, change your keymaps, obtain a file, after which undergo extra steps to flash your keyboard. Keyboard builders like myself love VIA as a result of it removes all of these further steps. You’re given a diagram of your keyboard, you modify your keymap, and it routinely applies. Simple peasy.
This performance is essential and one of many key issues that units the GMMK Pro aside. Or will. Because of the chip scarcity and delays caused by COVID-19, the crew at Wonderful needed to change controller chips on the keyboard to hit its launch window. The brand new chip requires further programming to make work with QMK and VIA and it’s not performed but. The anticipated launch Window is someday this month, although it appears more likely to slip at this level.
You may be questioning why this issues in any respect when Wonderful has its personal Wonderful Core software program. Effectively, that reply comes right down to pure performance. QMK/VIA will let you change your keyboard at its core. For instance, I often set my Caps Lock key to behave as a caps lock when tapped and a layer toggle when held. Which means, with out transferring my arms from residence row, I can immediately swap IJKL to turn into arrow keys. I then encompass these with my navigation and modifying buttons. It’s a small change however has allowed me to rework even tiny 60-percent keyboards into miniaturized TKLs. I can then take that keyboard into any PC situation, even with out software program, and have that very same performance.
As soon as that is added, it will likely be an enormous profit to the GMMK Pro.
The GMMK Pro isn’t good. These stabilizers have been an issue and anybody who bought the board and had them stick or be sluggish to return could be rightfully upset. On the identical time, for customers desirous about making the soar from a gaming keyboard to a customized, this is without doubt one of the most accessible methods to try this, and fixing over-lubed or under-lubed stabs is straightforward. The gasket mount is gimmicky the way in which it’s carried out, however it’s not one thing that can have which means except you’re coming from one other customized keyboard. In case you’re coming from a traditional gaming keyboard, even an costly one, what you’ll discover is what an improve the board is as an entire. The dense, aluminum case lined with sound damping foam makes an incredible affect on the typing and gaming expertise and also you discover the improve instantly.
Although it gained’t be for everyone and nonetheless has room for enchancment, the GMMK Pro is an effective entry level for customers curious concerning the world of customized mechanical keyboards and eager to attempt one for themselves. The keyboard is in inventory, prepared to purchase, and may largely stay that method, which isn’t one thing that may be stated about well-liked, customized mechanical keyboards. I’m wanting ahead to seeing how this keyboard evolves in future revisions. Proper now, purchase it if you happen to’re not married to gasket mount and aren’t afraid to make a couple of tweaks. In case you’re on the fence, it may be higher to attend for a revision.The product mentioned on this article was offered by the producer for the aim of assessment.
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