Preface Official Specs Versions Price Short Review Long Review What's Included Manual and Packaging Size Build Quality and Durability Plate and case PCB/Controller Layout and Keycaps Switches Connectivity User Interface and Operation Programmability RGB Random Comparisons and Competitive Options…. Conclusion What I like What I don't like Parting Shot Up Next Notes
I have a short history of reviewing keyboards, and a growing collection. I tend to like smaller boards, and I’m pleased that GearBest sent out this Motospeed CK61 for review. Here’s the review, including teardown and thoughts! Also, my first box switches!!
· Support 14 kinds cool LED backlight
· Full keyboard without conflict, fast response
· All mechanical switches, professional e-sports players standard equipment
· Multimedia function key combination, work game balance
· Free of EEPROM memory, adopt Flash memory chip
· Quick WIN, avoid fighting game by accident and cut out the desktop
I can really only find one version of this, but it wouldn’t be unusual or unheard of for Motospeed to have multiple switch options, and at least black (seen here) and white case/keycap options too. (I’m just not seeing them anywhere at the moment.)
$45.99 at GearBest, where my sample is from.
I didn’t have high hopes for this board, to be honest. I figured it’d just be another one to put on the shelf. But I have to say, I really love it. It’s a fantastic little board, and the Kailh BOX White Switches have helped me know I love box switches! Buy this board just to try out these switches!!
- Motospeed CK61 RGB Mechanical Keyboard
- Keycap Puller
- USB to USB-C cable
Package and Manual
Motospeed has a standard packaging, and this keyboard uses it. Black box with red logo embossing, and a yellow product-specific sticker. There’s a GearBest inventory sticker on my box, too. The keyboard is well protected, and supported by foam (as seen above).
The manual is ok. It’s a pamphlet, with many languages. I’ve included the English parts below. The manual is just ok though. There are a few sections I’d love to have clearer direction on. More on that later.
Officially 290 x 100 x 40mm, and weighing 465g±20g.
It’s a small board! Of course the mechanical part is standard sized, but notably the bezel and case don’t add much size at all. The case also isn’t very tall, in the front or back (though there is a slight rise toward the back).
Build Quality and Disassembly
This CK61 includes a simple plastic case, and doubleshot keycaps. The build quality is nice, by which I mean the board is structurally sound. There aren’t any rattles, and the board does not feel cheap.
The back of the case has a couple of stickers – a Motospeed logo, and the product details, too.
Both covered by a plastic protector, which is oh-so-fun to remove. 🙂
Here’s a better look at the rise that the case provides. There are no feet to flip out. There are four little rubber nubs that keep the case off your table, though.
All in all, for a $45 keyboard, the build quality is fantastic. Build quality feel could likely be improved by having a bit of weight added somewhere, or even a metal case.
The case is fully plastic, as stated above. I am not sure if this is a standard layout (that is, screw hole location) but I do not believe it is. It’s certainly different from the Anne Pro, and looks to be different from most of the other common 60% boards, too. So don’t buy this one as a parts bin.
Interestingly, at top left there, note the cutout. This cutout makes me wonder if there’s a Bluetooth version of this board in the works, or if this is just good planning, or what. Because that bumpout looks big enough for a lipo pouch cell, and then charging / Bluetooth might be added to this board.
PCB / Controller
The PCB is red. Woo red! All the solder work looks just fine, and indeed, my keyboard works perfectly.
Here you can see the board details: EP-K61RGB-K816, VER1.0, 2017.09.19.
And here’s how the USB-C attaches.
The switches mount to the plate, and are soldered to the PCB. AKA “plate mounted” switches.
The plate is metal, and the same thickness as the PCB.
Layout and Keycaps
The keycaps are doubleshot (most likely) ABS. I can’t see that officially, but that’s what they look and feel like, and probably are. One very nice thing about this budget board is that the font isn’t horrible. I won’t claim it’s my favorite, but it’ll do.
The stems are also Cherry MX compatable, so you’re free to replace the caps with many custom caps available today.
The layout is fairly standard, with a couple of exceptions. Most people immediately note in reviews that there is no tilde (~) key. That’s a pretty huge deal to me since I use that often. Also the arrow keys are hidden under a layer, which is also a huge deal to me. Those are things you’ll just have to accept. Both the tilde and arrows are hidden under a function layer, and fairly easily accessible. Edit: See the “Programmability” section below!
Above, you can see the keycaps, with their doubleshottedness. The longer keys all have these type stabilizers. As you can see on the caps above, the stabilizers came out with the cap.
Worth mentioning is that part of the caps are double shot, but part (the first Fn layer, at least) is screen printed. So the main letter (“L” for instance) will be shine through, and you can see the LED, but the “HOME” below the L is not doubleshot – it’s screen printed – and the LED will not shine through. Some keys have multiple screen prints – the numbers for example.
Life ain’t nothing but Switches and money
Here’s the kicker for this little, inexpensive board. Kailh BOX Switches! In this case it’s BOX Whites, thought I believe the listing says BOX Blues. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as BOX blues, and the Whites are in fact clicky….
This is my first experience with BOX switches and I. am. a. fan. I love these things. It’s hard to describe what’s going on with them exactly, but they feel more stable on the press. Not that there’s really any wobble with traditional Cherry MX stems, but this just feels…. better.
How great they look naked, too. Granted they’re nearly impossible for me to expose correctly, but some of the shots are ok. 🙂
The only option for connecting this board is the USB-C port on the back. The port is dead center of the board. For some this is a downside. I don’t mind it. The board will still rest on my Macbook Pro’s keyboard without the cable touching the screen, and also without covering the trackpad at all. I call it a win. (Note however, that the keyboard is too narrow for this to work out well – you’ll need a shelf or something to rest the board on so your laptop keys aren’t getting pressed.)
Motospeed includes a USB to USB-C cable.
It’s a very nice braided cable.
And that’s it for connectivity. There’s no Bluetooth, or any other means to connect to the board!
User Interface and Operation
You’ll interface with this keyboard through the keys and no other way. There isn’t any software to install on the attached computer, nor any way to modify the RGB or Fn layers by computer or mobile device.
What you’re left with is a series of Function key presses to achieve your desired result. The one you’ll want to be most familiar with is the Fn+ESC, which restores factory settings. I found myself just playing around with the Fn key and seeing what things do, since the manual isn’t always all that clear.
The manual, when describing the color options, always says “Fn+App”. Well there is no “App” key. The key meant here is the Down Arrow/M2 key, with the little App icon. MOST of the manual actually covers lighting. There are gaming modes, ripple effects; lighting can be brightened and lowered (5 levels); the effect may be sped or slowed, etc.
Most importantly, the Fn key + 1, 2, or 3, modifies which layer you’re typing on. The manual covers this too, though it’s easy to miss, with the poor formatting of the text.
Fn+1 switches the numbers to F1-F12 keys. This is an off/on switch. If you press Fn+1 and turn F1-F12 layer on, it’ll stay on. Pressing Fn+1 again turns this off, and you go back to numbers.
Fn+2 switches the keys to the left of the enter key. That is, Page Up (PG), Page Down (PGDN), INS, Del, Home, End (and maybe one more?) Same as above, this is on/off. Press Fn+2 and all those keys will keep doing Del, Home, PG, etc, until you press Fn+2 again.
Fn+3 switches the lower right arrow keys. They’re marked, but it’s the Alt, App, Ctrl, and / key for arrows.
Finally, the Fn+4 switches the WASD to arrows.
Incredibly it’s possible to have all of Fn+[1-4] active at any time. So you can set up to use either or both arrow sets, all the F row, etc in any combination you want. That’s a nice feature, that I didn’t expect to work at all!
As stated, Fn+Esc resets to factory shipped condition. This sets things back to a “typing” board, but also resets the RGB settings (to “Stars”). I would like to be able to keep my RGB, but reset to “typing” mode.
One more note: Fn+Win key locks (or unlocks) the win key. I hear this is important in gaming, but I have no experience with that.
It’s not possible to program any keys. It is possible to program some backlighting settings, but to be honest, I can’t find that covered in the manual. Since I can’t find it, I am not going to cover it. It’s theoretically possible, though.
Update! While still writing this review, I found that there is a new driver for this board, which can be found here:
This driver actually allows fully programmability of the board!
The software is very self explanatory, so I won’t cover how to use it. But if you find yourself in need of the tilde (~), then this is your way to get it! Just remap some key and you’re all set!
Programming persists if you unplug the board, and persists in the board to other computers. Ie the board is actually flashed with new firmware when changes are made with this software!
There are a bunch of RGB modes built into this board. Switching through them is done by pressing the Fn+App button. The “App” button isn’t labeled, but is bottom right, between Alt and Ctrl. It’s possible to adjust the lighting mode speed by pressing Fn+[O/P], too. And to control the lighting brightness, press Fn+[U/I].
Below is a sampling of the RGB options. Probably not all of them, but at least some, to give you an idea.
Colors are vivid, and great, and it’s nice to be able to adjust the brightness. I didn’t get the sense of PWM in the modes, either, which is very good.
What I like
- Size and shape
- Has legitimate BOX switches, which make it a great (cheap) tester for those switches!
- Fully programmable with a bit of software!
- Function layers could be deeper
What I don’t like
- Better access to arrows and tilde
- More thorough (or at least better written) manual
Tomorrow I hope to have a flashlight- the Lumintop ODL30C finished. And I have the XTAR PB2, which I hope to finish this week as well! Like I’ve said, busy week!
- This keyboard was provided by GearBest for review. I was not paid to write this review.
- This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com. Please visit there for the best experience!
- Whether or not I have a coupon for this keyboard, I do have a bunch of coupons!! Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. Note I’ve upgraded that sheet so that now, you may subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!