Released after release, gaming keyboard manufacturers reread the familiar ground. Dramatic advancements are always welcome but there are few brands that go against the rules to offer anything beyond the usual gamer aesthetic. Where is this Akko Fill in the blanks with diverse and outstanding designs.
While Akko ACR59 BOW aim to save as much space as possible, ACR98 Mini more concerned with finding a balance between form, form and function. But the ACR98 Mini still suffers from the same pitfalls as its smaller sibling.
Nuts and bolts
Akko’s ACR98 Mini is unlike most regular gaming keyboards in many ways but the most obvious is its 98-key, F-lineless design. Layout 1800. The 1800 design typically has the same number of keys as a full-size keyboard — 104 to 190 — but has a more compact design. Akko’s ACR98 Mini shaves off the top row to make things lighter on the desk while leaving the padding intact. Aside from the slightly outlandish form factor, the ACR98 Mini boasts a fairly traditional gaming keyboard feature set. Users get everything from built-in RGB customization to macro recording and hot-swappable PCBs.
Some of the features that immediately stand out are the USB-C connectivity via a rubber coil cable and dual shot PBT keycaps. Both of these features are found on most quality gaming keyboards, including those from Razer, HyperX, and Corsair.
Having a USB-C connection is a no-brainer at this point, but the coiled cable is a nice bonus depending on your style preferences. One problem with the cable is that it is folded instead of rolled, leading to stubborn creases that will take time to fix. The double-firing PBT keycaps feel nicely textured here and aren’t quite as textured as Razer’s but still avoid the smoothness of HyperX keycaps.
While the keycaps don’t shine like most gaming keyboards, the ACR98 Mini still offers on-board customization for its RGB lighting. On-board customization can sometimes get people wrong if it’s done carelessly, but Akko keeps it simple and makes it easy to turn on the lights quickly after a few minutes of reading the accompanying documentation.
In addition to customizing the lighting, a feature that can add great value to the ACR98 Mini is the ability to customize the feel of the board with hot-swappable PCBs. Using a hot-swappable PCB gives you the option of swapping the included switches for a different type of compatible switch. This feature can add value for those curious about non-traditional switches, or for those who don’t yet know what they like on a keyboard. For those who are sure of their preferences, this feature will add little value.
Need some support
In addition to its core feature set, Akko’s ACR98 Mini lacks one key feature: a built-in flip-out foot. Unlike most traditional gaming keyboards, the ACR98 Mini does not have an adjustable typing angle. It may not be as tall as the ACR59 BOW, but the angle can be a bit of an issue when gaming.
Akko offers double-stick feet in the box but they do not nail to the ground. Rather than being an easy solution, these pins failed to lock in place. No matter which way you glue them, the feet won’t want to stay in place when flipped up. To be clear, these stick to the board fine, but it’s the actual pins that aren’t in the right place.
Without an adjustable foot, the only viable option is to run to rest the wrist. This need is not as severe as with the ACR59 BOW, but it will likely help to make typing angles a bit more neutral for those unfamiliar with dealing with fixed angle panels.
ASA profile learning curve
If its form is not striking enough, the style of the ACR98 Mini is sure to leave an impression. But with that strong impression is one of this keyboard’s bigger pitfalls. Akko uses ASA profile keycaps located between DSA and Cherry or OEM profile keycaps. The ASA keycaps are taller and more rounded than the Cherry and OEM keycaps.
The ASA configurable keyboards make the ACR98 Mini more aesthetically pleasing than standard keyboards, but their height and shape can get in the way of gaming without wrist rest. Luckily for the ACR98 Mini, it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as the ACR59 BOW. You can skate without resting your wrist, but it’s still recommended if you’re playing competitively and want to avoid an embarrassing fat finger or two.
A big bonus of the Akko ACR98 Mini is the number of keycaps included in the box. Akko not only includes the 98 keycaps required for the ACR98 Mini, but also includes keycaps for most popular keyboard forms from 60% and up to full size. This makes it easy to port the ACR98 Mini’s look to any keyboard that supports the ASA profile.
Heavy lie switch
Below the decorative keycaps are Akko’s Jelly Black switches. Each keyboard colorway comes with a color matching switch, and this option comes with switches to match the black and pink theme of the board.
Akko’s Jelly Black switches offer a good balance for gaming and typing with slightly heavier actuation and fairly quick trigger points. The Jelly Black switch requires 50 grams of operating force and has a trigger point of 1.9 mm. For reference, the Cherry MX Reds—one of the most popular switches for gaming—have an actuation force of 45 grams and a trigger point of two millimeters.
Slightly heavier actuation force and equal trigger point make the Jelly Black switch a bit more tolerable than the familiar Cherry MX Red switch when it comes to gaming and typing. Overall, these switches feel responsive and won’t wear out your fingers despite the hefty 5g penalty. The Jelly Black switch is also less scratchy than Akko’s faster, lighter Jelly White options, which is something to keep in mind if you’re particularly sensitive to the feel of your keyboard.
Is Akko ACR98 Mini for you?
If you’re looking to move away from the standard-looking full-size keyboard, Akko ACR98 Mini is a solid starting point, as long as you have the patience to learn how to play with the ASA profile keycaps. The streamlined layout sacrifices some functionality by removing the F-row but retaining the padding, which is a divisive design choice.
Unique blend of functionality aside, there are some pitfalls to consider here like ACR59 BOW. Fixed keycaps and typing angles will be the main issue for most people, as Akko’s adjustable foot isn’t flexible enough. Additionally, those unfamiliar with other keycap configurations may have difficulty adjusting the ASA keycaps. But if you’re interested in trying something new, adding a wrist rest solves these problems.
- Unique aesthetic
- Modified 1800 layout
- Double-fire PBT
- Additional keycaps for popular layouts
- Hot-swappable PCB
- Well-balanced Jelly Black switches for gaming and typing
- The ASA profile keycaps present a learning curve
- Non-locking adhesive feet
- Missing the F row may not be for everyone
https://dotesports.com/hardware/news/saving-space-with-sacrifices-akko-acr98-mini-keyboard-review Review Akko ACR98 Mini keyboard