Epomaker has been successfully developing its keyboard for the past two years. We’ve reviewed some of them here, from all-aluminum and modular GK68XS big and in charge GK96S. Today, we’re reviewing its newest and most easily improved keyboard with the Epomaker Lite. Built on an innovative new pad mount design, it offers a snappy typing experience, full programmability, per-key RGB, hotswappable switches, and of course a case. Full CNC machine. Its now on Kickstarter. Find out if it’s worth supporting in our review!
- Current price: $119 (Kickstarter – Super Early Bird: $109)
Epomaker Lite – Overview and key features
Epomaker Lite is Epomaker’s newest keyboard but it’s easily their most enjoyable to date. That’s because the company has clearly listened to the biggest trends in custom keyboards today. The result is a board that’s affordable but includes features normally reserved for more expensive custom keyboards.
Epomaker Lite is a 60% keyboard with a very compact layout. There is no function row and everything to the right of the Enter key has been dropped and relegated to the secondary layer. It’s the same layout used by the popular Ducky One 2 Mini and has been a mainstay in the custom keyboard world for years.
If you’re used to a full-size keyboard, it may take some getting used to and require customizations within Epomaker’s suite to restore some of the missing keys. Doing so is more complicated than many keyboard software suites but still not too difficult. You can remap nearly any key, including up to three additional layers accessible with a dedicated softkey or another function key of your choice (for example, I chose Caps Lock, but you can choose whichever class suits you). The benefits here are, 1) your key set will be tailored to the way you type, 2) your keyboard and mouse are closer together for better ergonomics, and 3) your keyboard will take up Less desk space.
Unlike many recent keyboards from Epomaker, the Lite uses a fully CNC milled aluminum housing. The metal is thick and dense, unlike the thinner material used on AK84 or transparent plastic GK96S. It feels totally upscale and closer to GK68XS without being quite heavy. Otherwise, the case would be a tray mount, meaning the PCB and plate are slotted from the top into the case and screwed into the bottom, but the company has changed things up in a rather innovative way.
Epomaker has turned this tray-mounted keyboard into a stand with a pad and one at that. The keyboard uses what the company calls a shallow pad design, and it works in two parts. First, there is a silicone damping pad between the plate and the PCB. Under pressure, it deflates slightly. It’s basically a giant pad over the entire keyboard and very similar to what we’ve seen on other keyboards like Ducky One 3, RAMA Works KARA, and TKC Portico. Where things change is with the second pad system.
The second spacer works with a long series of screws that attach the plate and PCB to the case. On conventional tray holders, these screws will tighten and prevent any movement. Here, they are longer and have o-rings between the screw head and the plate. The extra length allows the PCB assembly to move up and down the axis of each screw, allowing it to bounce and bend like a traditional spacer. I think of these as screws.
When mine first arrived, they were tightened to their maximum. When fully fastened, they prevent almost any bending. I actually contacted a colleague as I was very frustrated but upon closer inspection I discovered the problem and loosened the screws. The animation above isn’t exaggeration, it’s really how flexible the table can be. It takes a hit to get there, though, so the input isn’t bouncy. Instead, it’s soft and nicely damped, improving both sound and feel. Honestly, it’s pretty impressive.
This model also comes with multiple plate options upon purchase. My device is equipped with an FR4 plate, which is the same type of fiberglass circuit board it is made of and is the default plate that comes with the kit. It is more flexible than conventional aluminum or steel plates and produces a lower keystroke sound when hitting the bottom of the keys. For an additional $30 and $27 respectively, you can opt for polycarbonate or steel panels for a softer or more solid typing experience with a lower or higher-pitched percussion sound.
Epomaker has also added a layer of foam underneath the PCB. This is to separate the PCB from the case and reduce ping. It’s thin and light, which is great for flexing but barely works to reduce the ping sound. It has an alternative value, which I will talk about in the next section, but it would be nice to include it.
In addition to these features, we also have Epomaker staples back: hot-swappable switches, per-key RGB lighting, and full programmability. Hot-swappable switches are a welcome feature, especially on a board like this that can act as an introduction to keyboard preferences. Instead of having to solder and cool down the switches, they simply plug into the PCB and are easily removed, making it easy to try new switches or replace damaged ones.
The switches are another big clue (along with the pad mount) that this keyboard is designed to cater to the enthusiast audience. You have a choice of Gateron Pro switches (blue, red, brown, black, yellow or white) or Skyloong Chocolate, each of which comes pre-mounted. I was also surprised to see that Epomaker even went so far as to install heavier tactile Rose Brown switches for the modifiers. That’s a level of consideration I haven’t seen on any other board at this price point.
About that lubrication…it’s not that great. Much better than dry switch – My red chocolate is far smoother than Cherry MX Reds – but the conduit is very light and doesn’t touch the springs at all, so there’s still a good amount of ping coming from the switches themselves. It wasn’t very consistent either, so I was forced to try again. The sound changes dramatically, so it’s worth taking your time.
Finally, the board supports wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. Given the extra weight of the board (it’s not heavy but certainly not a travel keyboard) this may be a bit less useful here but is still a nice feature if you need to get some work done on it. tablet. The board supports Bluetooth 5.1 on three devices. The connection is reliable and stable, but due to the aluminum case, it does not have the same range as the plastic keyboard like the GK96S. However, do you intend to place the keyboard further away from the screen you are typing on? Probably not, so I find it works fine.
Battery life is also good but long widely. Epomaker rates it at 10 – 80 hours depending on your RGB settings. Since the keys aren’t backlit, you won’t have to sacrifice much by disabling RGB for mobile use.
Epomaker Lite – Software
Like other Epomaker keyboards, this suite uses Skyloong’s GK software and does not support QMK or VIA. It’s a pity, as the suite is still quite confusing and unfinished – especially for RGB. You can program up to three locking classes. The standard (top) layer is not editable, so you’ll never lose your keyboard’s core functionality. However, you can change the configuration to other layers with the Quick Function command, so the transition to a custom layout is quick and easy.
The software gets the job done but it’s more complicated than most other layouts. Changing the keys is easy enough, but RGB is much harder. Programming a custom layout is handled in a separate screen and is not simple at all. There are a ton of different presets to choose from (including about 10 of them) that are also customizable in the software, but none of them are visually named and have more than a dozen options. obviously for other keyboards.
Please, Epomaker, bring QMK to your keyboard! Or at least work on polishing this one. It stays that way for so long and has never been easier to work with.
Epomaker Lite – Import Impressions and Mods
My typing experience is not very good. The pole screws are too tight, killing any bends. After disassembling and re-assembling the boards many times, I can tell you that they should not, in fact, be tight at all. It is enough to simply catch the threads and rotate them enough so that they do not fall out. Once done, my experience got much better.
The Epomaker Lite offers a smooth, moisture-free typing experience thanks to the implementation of silicone padding and padding. There isn’t much flex in actual typing but the silicone pad and a small amount of shallow pad construction make typing feel very soft under the fingers. The stock stabilizers are also quite good and are factory made out of the box. The stabilizers need a little more grease on the strings but the regulators are still working fine.
Unfortunately, the pole screw implementation allows bottom-up impacts to pass through the case and out. The bottom foam doesn’t help much. Likewise, the lack of lubricant on the springs for the switches also resounds, there is a good amount of resonance that needs to be addressed.
I started by hand lubricating all the switches, including the springs. Doing so improved smoothness but also made a big difference in the sound quality of Chocolate Reds. I’ve also added an inductive lube to the stabilizer wire for better tonal balance with the new lubed switches.
Next, I applied the temporary tape mod. This is a simple modification that can improve the sound of many keyboards. I applied three layers of Frog Tape painter’s tape, cut a hole for the battery port.
Finally, to resolve the ping, I pulled the foam underneath and replaced it with a 1mm layer of Kilmat sound canceling material. This was more of a task than I anticipated due to the many pins for the screws and the unique internal shape of the case. There really isn’t a lot of room on the bottom, so anything you replace this with needs to be thin and can’t rest on any tilt without removing a good amount of flex. I’m happy with where it landed.
See and listen to the keyboard below:
Epomaker Lite – Typing Test (Modified and Unmodified)
Overall, Epomaker Lite is Epomaker’s best keyboard. It’s trying out new ideas, which is great. There’s still a lot of room for growth here, solving that ping problem and polishing the software, but the pad implementation here works well and it’s great to see extras like silicone pads and two types Various pre-lined switches are included in this price. With a few simple mods, it sounds and feels great – and at this price point, users interested in features like a pad holder can expect to customize their keyboard on the fly. it reaches its final form. As a basic package it’s pretty good but with a little more effort it could be even better.
Learn more about official Kickstarter for the project here.
The product described in this article is provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
https://www.mmorpg.com/hardware-reviews/epomaker-lite-gasket-mount-budget-mechanical-keyboard-review-2000123928 Review of cheap mechanical keyboard Epomaker Lite Gasket Mount