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Enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard recommendation: The QK65 from Qwertykeys

By Mark Yeong - 22 Mar 2022

Enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard recommendation: The QK65 from Qwertykeys

The QK65's custom-made mechanical keyboard PCB.  (Image source: QK65 Sales Info page)

If you’re been following the custom mechanical keyboard scene, you would have heard of enthusiast-level custom mechanical keyboards that can cost quite a bit. In fact, some boards are so difficult to get your hands on that they command a hefty price on the reseller market.

So when I heard that Qwertykeys (a sister company of OWLab), is going to drop an entry-level enthusiast custom mechanical keyboard starting from US$149 all in, it got me really excited. For context, Owlabs produces enthusiast-level keyboards that cost upwards of US$390 and these include the Owlab Mr. Suit and Spring.

Qwertykeys is able to do this as they have the shared experience that OWlab has gained in designing and manufacturing high-end keyboards. Using this expertise, they are able to strategize and create the QK65, a pocket-friendly 65% layout keyboard. Adopting design experience from OWlab, Qwertykeys utilised the same mounting system that you would find in OWlab keyboard designs as well as flex cuts in the PCB to deliver a consistent typing experience.

Apart from this, they were able to bring costs down with some manufacturing ingenuity. Instead of machining the bottom case out of an aluminium block, the bottom case is cast aluminium. To improve aesthetics and weight, Qwertykeys includes a bottom weight made out of a stamped 304 stainless-steel and L-shaped plate with a PVD coat that is attached to the bottom case to give it a beautiful finish and adds some heft to the overall board.

QK65 Black with Chroma Stainless Steel Bottom Weight (Image source: QK65 Sales Info page)

The entire kit comes with almost everything you need for the keyboard - minus the switches and keycaps. Since personal preferences vary greatly, it is common for manufacturers to leave it to builders to choose their preferred switches and keycaps.

Based on the QK65 sales information page, the contents are as follows:-

  • Qwertykeys 65 Pre-assembled case, including CNC top, die-casted bottom case and PVD - Stainless-steel weight
  • Qwertykeys 65 carrying bag
  • Customized-moulded Silicone dampener and Poron Case foam
  • Gaskets (jackets and socks)
  • Qwertykeys USB-C cable (as gift, not eligible for replacements)
  • Rubber case feet
  • A set of Liquidmetal Owlstabs - 80% (as gift, not eligible for replacements)
  • PCB, including PE sheet and Poron PCB foam (available upon purchase)
  • Plate (available upon purchase)
  • Tri-head screwdriver (as gift, not eligible for replacements)
  • All necessary screws for assembly (stand-offs set only provided with Hotswap PCB)

To be honest, at about US$150, this is a very good deal considering that a coiled cable and protective case can typically set you back by US$30. I really do appreciate these companies working hard to bring more high-quality custom mechanical keyboards at an affordable price into the market. While you don’t get the cream of the crop, you do get their essence and technology that has trickled down to their more affordable variants. While this board does not have RGB (I know this can be a deal-breaker for some), it is a board that would deliver a superior typing experience after being put together with minimal modifications to make it look, sound, and feel good.

Gasket Socks. (Image source: QK65 Sales Info page)

If you’re in the market for a really well-designed keyboard that you can build and get started in the custom keyboard scene, this is an offer that you should consider. From their sales info page, Qwertykeys seem to suggest that they will continue to supply if there is a demand for the QK65. They have tied up with local vendor Qwertypop to bring the QK65 to Singapore so if you’re keen do keep a lookout for the drop on https://qwertyqop.com/.

To keep up to date with the latest information on the sales, do check out the QK65 Sales Info page.

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