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Enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard recommendation: Jris65 by IRISLab

By Mark Yeong - 27 Sep 2022

Enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard recommendation: Jris65 by IRISLab

The Jris65 Maroon 65% keyboard. (Image source: Jris65 Sales Info page)

More custom mech keyboard recommendations that don't break the bank

Earlier in March 2022, I shared about the QK65, which I would say is an excellent board for getting started in the Custom Mechanical Keyboard hobby. That's because it ticks the boxes for a good custom keyboard on a budget.

I got wind of an upcoming budget custom mechanical keyboard when I visited the Mecha booth at the recent Comex. One of the staff introduced me to the Jris65, a prototype board being seeded to various vendors and content creators to check out. When I tested out the board, it felt good, the switches felt smooth, and typing on the keyboard felt really comfortable. The case also had some heft to it and the PVD-coated weight made it look really nice.

Now, more details have been made available for this board. A group buy phase will run from 26 September to 3 October 2022, and they have 2,000 units available for this run. It is unsure if a future group buy will be conducted after this run. The local vendor for Singapore will be Mecha.Store. You can check out their website or join their discord to be updated the group buy details if you are keen on purchasing the board.

Jris65 Pink with PVD Chroma Stainless Steel Bottom Weight (Image source: Jris65 Sales Info page)

From the current early enthusiast reviews, the colour coating on the Jris65 seems to be of high quality, producing a smooth and even finish. This seems to indicate that the Jris65 utilises some manufacturing processes usually found on higher-end boards to achieve these traits. Furthermore, the Jris65 uses two external weights, individually manufactured and attached to the full CNC aluminium case. One plus point about the Jris65 is the wide variety of colours IRISLab offers and you can choose from the following options that best resonate with you:-

Apart from case colours, there are also some colour options for the weights. Note that there will be price differences when choosing your preferred weight and style. For example, stainless steel is usually more expensive than aluminium, and you would have to pay a premium if you want stainless steel in a PVD mirror finish.

  • Anodised Aluminium weight colour options: Black, Silver, and Gold
  • PVD Mirror Stainless steel weight colour options: Gold, Silver, Black, and Chroma


Aesthetics

The Jris65 has a better-looking external weight compared to the QK65, if the looks of the underbelly matter to you. The QK65 has a stamped PVD-coated stainless steel weight, which in my opinion does not give it such a premium look, especially with the bend. To save costs, the bottom case of the QK65 is made from die-cast aluminium compared to CNC-machined aluminium on the Jris65. CNC process requires more time and effort as each part has to be machined from a solid aluminium block, giving it a nicer finish.

Here's the QK65 Black with Chroma Stainless Steel Bottom Weight (Image source: QK65 Sales Info page).

Here's how the Jris65 Black appears with PVD Chroma Stainless Steel Bottom Weight (Image source: Jris65 Sales Info page). This certainly looks classier.

I also know that IRISLab has included screen protectors to keep the shiny PVD stainless steel weights scratch free. Yes, and they have been custom cut to size for a perfect fit.

 

Internals and Mounting System

In recent years, gasket-mount has been a very popular choice in the custom keyboard scene, and the mounting style of both the Jris65 and QK65 are rather similar. The main difference between them is that for the Jris65, the gaskets are on the PCB itself, while for the QK65, the gaskets are mounted on the plate. For those that may be wondering about its significance, the main benefit of having the gaskets on the PCB is the ability for the keyboard to support a plate-less build; this means the switches sit directly on the PCB without the need for a supporting plate. Do note that if you intend to do a plate-less build, a soldered board is a better choice as switches tend to pop out if you do plate-less hot-swap.

Jris65 has gaskets on the PCB (Image source: Jris65 Sales Info page).

As a general guide, a plate-less build will allow more flex, giving the typist a bouncier or softer feel when typing. Some find the flex to provide more comfort when typing for longer durations, however, it’s subject to personal preference. Both gasket socks and jackets are also provided so you can tune the board to increase or reduce the amount of flex.

 

Pricing and Details

With increasing interest in custom mechanical keyboards, studios such as IRISLab are finding ways to bring higher quality products to the masses without breaking the bank. The Jris65 is a good example of such a product with premium parts, yet keeping prices relatively affordable. During the group buy phase, the Jris65 will be priced from US$155 and go up to US$240, depending on the finish and weight configuration chosen. You can access the breakdown of prices here (which goes to a read-only shared Google doc).

In comparison, the QK65 was offered from US$149 to US$179 during its group buy phase.  While the base price is similar, the top-of-the-line configuration for the Jris65 will demand a lot more out of your wallet, such as when selecting a board with PVD stainless steel weights.

What’s Included with the Jris65 custom mech keyboard set?

  • Full CNC Aluminum Case
  • Weight( Anodized Alu/ PVD Mirror)*
  • PCB (Hotswap/ Soldered/ Bluetooth)*
  • Plate (PC/ FR4/ Alu/POM)*
  • Type-C Daughterboard
  • IXPE Foam
  • Poron Plate Foam
  • Poron Case Foam
  • Masking paper for PCB
  • JST Cable
  • 10 x gasket jackets
  • 20 x gasket socks
  • 1 Set of PCB Shims
  • 1 Set of Footpad
  • 1 Set of screws
  • Battery(Only for the Bluetooth version)

*Do note, that you will need to choose one of the following as part of your kit configuration.

It also includes two 'free' gifts; a USB-Type C keyboard cable and a carrying case.

The technical specs of the Jris65 are as follows:-

  • Typing angle: 6°
  • Front height: 21.3mm
  • PCB GASKETS structure
  • PCB with USB-C daughterboard
  • Both PCB and plate adopt flex cut design
  • PCB gasket jackets or socks (included as default)
  • QMK/VIA Supported (Note: The Bluetooth PCB doesn't support VIA/QMK)
  • Support PCB stabiliser

 

Closing Thoughts

No guesses for which colour I’m interested in. (Image source: Jris65 Sales Info page)

Personally, I prefer the aesthetics of the Jris65 to the QK65. Plus, it also helps a little more that the Jris65 is available in a colour scheme that I’m currently quite keen on adding to my growing collection of custom mechanical keyboards. The PVD Stainless Steel weights also all to the overall aesthetics of the board nicely.

I’m also attracted to its full CNC aluminium case. While it might not matter to some, I appreciate the added machining work put into the production of the case, giving it a slightly more premium feel.

If you've not hopped on the QK65 group buy previously, this is something worth exploring as the next keyboard build. Based on conversations on Reddit, it seems the fulfilment will be about three months from the group buy end date, which is pretty quick considering some can take up to a year or more to fulfil. If all goes well, you can expect to have the keyboard before 2023 commences.

For more Group Buy information and local pricing, head over to Mecha discord server or check out their product listing here. You may also check out the Jris65 Sales Info page for details on purchasing the product if you do not reside in Singapore.

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