Red Magic Mechanical Keyboard review: Going all out
Red Magic Mechanical Keyboard review: Going all out
Putting the gaming in gaming keyboard
Red Magic is entering the gaming peripherals space in a big way. Alongside its recent gaming mouse (which we've reviewed), it has released a 4K gaming monitor, mouse pad, and of course, a gamer's keyboard. Like its mouse, the Red Magic mechanical keyboard is a new entrant in a very crowded and competitive space. But this also means plenty of examples to learn from. The Red Magic keyboard is packed with a ton of features, leaving you almost wanting for nothing.
The TL;DR version:
The right idea in terms of features and checks all the right boxes. However, with its price tag, customers expect a flawless product.
You get linear TTC Speed Silver V2 switches, which offer faster actuation because of the shorter travel distance, better durability, and smoother operation compared to their predecessor. This is an esports-oriented switch, with a 1.08mm operating point for faster actuation and a reset point at 1.0mm.
This is not quite the same as the Rapid Trigger feature on the Wooting 60HE keyboard, but the concept is similar. Once the switch is activated, it resets almost instantly when you start to release it and can then be triggered again, allowing for rapid presses. However, to take full advantage of this, it would mean not fully bottoming out with each key press.
The overall travel distance is noticeably shorter than regular Cherry MX switches, at 3.4mm. These are also relatively light switches, with an operating force of 45g. The gaskets help dampen sound, creating a softer landing when you bottom out and less harsh typing. The switches are excellent in terms of stem wobble as well, with minimal movement along both axes. Here's a quick feel of them in our typing test capture:-
The switches are hot-swappable, which means you can replace them with any MX-style switch of your choosing. PCBs that support hot-swap functions are generally less durable than soldered PCBs, and I unfortunately ran into issues right out of the box. There were certain clusters of keys that were simply not working, even after removing the switch and installing it again to check that the connection was secure.
It's possible that the hot-swappable sockets themselves were not soldered on properly or had degraded, and I probably got unlucky with my unit. That said, this does illustrate the pitfalls of a hot-swappable PCB and issues with quality control that Red Magic may need to iron out.
That aside, the keyboard layout is interesting, sitting somewhere between a TKL and a full-sized board. You still get a number pad, but the home key cluster has been compressed into a single row. I still prefer more compact 60% boards, but this is as functional a layout as any. However, the non-standard layout may mean that you will have more trouble finding a set of compatible third-party keycaps.
The good news is that the default keycaps are durable PBT, so they should resist shine and hold up over time. The gamer-esque font and aggressive detailing are not for everyone, but they are without a doubt in line with Red Magic's brand aesthetic.
And then there's what is by far the highlight of the keyboard — an LCD display in the top right corner. The display is actually incredibly crisp, going far beyond the pixelated displays you usually find on tiny screens like this one. You can cycle through a series of default images using the knob, including a couple of Red Magic's anime mascot, Mora.
Pressing down on the knob takes you to a customisation menu, where you can choose between various controls, including volume, brightness, and lighting speed and effects. There is even an option to display system information, such as your CPU and GPU speeds, temperatures, frame rates, and memory usage.
You can also customise the lighting effects using Red Magic's Cloud Smart Control driver, with effects like Spectrum, Neon, Flowing, or Ripples. However, instead of backlit legends, Red Magic has opted for keycaps with translucent sides instead, creating a more diffused lighting effect.
The driver is also supposed to let you upload a custom image to display, but I couldn't seem to get it working. When I clicked on the Screen option, it only displayed a message that told me that my firmware was up to date.
There is support for tri-mode connectivity, including wired, 2.4GHz, and Bluetooth modes. Its 4,000mAh battery is good for up to 200 hours with the light off, according to Red Magic, a number that drops to roughly 28 hours with the lights on. There is a dedicated niche at the bottom of the keyboard to stow the dongle, in case you need to transport the keyboard.
In a nod to the enthusiast market, the keyboard ships with a black coiled USB-C cable, reminiscent of the custom-sleeved cables that often go hand-in-hand with custom keyboards. The coil isn't quite as immaculate and tight as the ones I'm used to, but it's a nice touch that more companies should look into.
Overall, the build quality feels pretty robust, with minimal flexing or twisting despite its size. Much like its mouse, the Red Magic keyboard is a decent first attempt for the company — potential quality control issues aside.
The Red Magic keyboard is not at all a budget offering, coming in at a hefty S$270. It's got a ton of features to justify the price, but you'll want to make sure you have a valid warranty in case you receive a lemon.
I can appreciate the keyboard's design choices and functional layout, including the nifty LCD display. Where the keyboard needs work is its driver, which appears to have a couple of bugs and could use a bit of polish.
The company has the right idea in terms of features, checking all the right boxes. However, with that price tag, customers will be expecting a more or less flawless product, and it just isn't quite there yet.
If its plus points and interesting design choices perk your interest, the Red Magic mechanical keyboard is available to buy on its website.