Get a Leg up on the competition with the tactile, responsive, colorful mechanical Keyboard from AUKEY.

According to a March 2017 story “Gaming Keyboards: what’s the deal with actuator distance?” (03/2017), there are three elements to evaluate before choosing a gaming keyboard (actuation distance, USB polling rate, and keystroke signal processing KSP).  When high-speed, exciting gameplay requires split-second action, you want a responsive keyboard with less travel distance.  Luckily, you can get a quality keyboard without breaking the bank. Whether you are looking for a COD setup or a way to improve other FPS like Borderlands or Fortnight, a keyboard upgrade will likely provide a quick boost to your abilities. WIth Aukey, you can conquer the competition while enjoying a dazzling light show.

The Aukey Model KM-G12 Keyboard arrived in a stealthy-black 17 7/8 inches long by 7 inches wide by 2 1/2 inches tall retail package.  Except for a flat black pyramidal shape on the main cover, the top, side, and front panels were all unadorned.  The bottom panel had a subdued matte-black inscription of the KM-G12 model number, the address, the address, product manufacturing labels, an SKU code, and their Chinese address information.  I was a little disappointed with the outer packaging due to the lack of information.  I was not able to learn about the product without rushing into the testing phase.  I lifted the front flap to access the product and removed the opaque-plastic-wrapped device and the AUKEY user manual.  Based on the bag’s shape, I determined that the device was a keyboard and that it was a mechanical keyboard based on the key sounds.  I removed the protective foam bands at each end of the keyboard and then slid the device out of the bag. To learn more about the keyboard, I turned to the AUKEY RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard user manual. 

The manual was broken up by language into English (1-4), UK English (5-8), German (9-12), French (13-16), Spanish (17-20), and Italian (21-24) sections.  The first and second pages of both English sections proved to be my favorite.  The manual provided a brief paragraph thanking me for purchasing the device and recommended that I read the entire manual before proceeding.  Beneath this section, I found the packaging contents, an ink-outline overview of the keyboard, and a very long keyboard specifications table.  The manual noted that the RGB Gaming Keyboard had 104 ABS-material keys.  Each key had a 4mm-0.5mm actuator travel and a pre-travel of 1.90mm + /- 0.5mm.  Each key has been rated for ~50,000,000 keystrokes, and the keyboard has both a standard QWERTY keyboard, function row, and a Numpad.  The 17.05” wide by 4.96 inches tall by 1.46 inches thick keyboard weighed in at an astonishing 2.2.b (1kg).  Set at the back of the keyboard, you will find a 60 1/4 inches long (5.25 feet) cable with a USB 2.0 end.  Designed for Windows XP, Windows 7/8/10, macOS, and Linux, the only limitation you may find is a MacBook Pro without a USB input port.  Luckily, a USB-C hub should solve that problem for you.   

The second page of the instruction manual detailed the function key layout (please see picture below).  As far as I could find, these were preprogrammed and not swappable.  For example, if you press and hold the FN button and F2, the volume will decrease.  Similarly, pressing the FN button and the F3 will increase the volume.  The F6/F7/F8 keys will allow you music/video features such as previous track, play/pause, next track.  You can access the internet browser by pressing FN+F10, adjust the brightness with FN up/down arrows, adjust the lighting speed with FN left/right arrows, and more.  The lighting effect controls were not as intuitive as I would have liked, and thus, you may either need to tape a key to the bottom of the keyboard or make a file to remind yourself later.  FN + PrtSc will allow you to cycle through the 12 lighting effect presets.  FN + Home will allow you to cycle through the 7 color settings.  FN + Ins will let you turn off or cycle through the 3 surround lighting effects, while FN + {gUp will allow you to cycle through the surrounding color settings.  My favorite feature was the FN + ESC option, which allowed me to turn the lighting on/off.  You can cycle through the 5 gaming lightning effects (FPS, CF, COD, LOL, racing games) by using the FN + PAUSE buttons for the game-centric crew.  If desired, you can edit/save up to 5 custom settings using the FN +ScrLk combination.  If you have ever accidentally pressed the windows key and lagged/died in-game, fret no more.  You can lock that button by pressing FN + Windows.  Lastly, you can rest all settings to the factory default by pressing FN + DEL and then holding them for 3 seconds. 

I pressed FN + PrtSc until the keys were solid. Pressing the FN+ Home changed amongst purple, white, red, green, blue, yellow, light blue.  Pressing FN and PrtSc again allowed the keyboard to pulse the color that you selected.  As an example, if the red color was selected, the keyboard would dim and then brighten. Pressing FN+PrtSc again caused a chasing effect. Pressing FN+PrtSc again turned off the lights.  Following the same pattern, the keyboard followed a rainbow effect, which resembled flashing Christmas tree lights.  Pressing FN + PrtSc again created a ripple/wave effect.  When I typed a key, the entire row illuminated. The next cycle brought the light in from the top left and bottom right and swirled around the “9, 0, I, O, P, K, L, ;, <, >. and ? Keys and then pulsed outward. Pressing the FN+PrtSc again caused the keyboard to pan between the colors.  If desired, you could press the FN + arrow Keys to increase/decrease the speed of the panning effect.  Pressing FN+PrtSc again caused a matrix-like effect on the keyboard.  I particularly liked this feature in the green color scheme. Pressing the FN+PrtSc on last time, the keyboard created a rippling effect, like a stone being dropped into water.  The next two cycles flashed colors for each key.  I did not find a key for these steps and had to test them one-by-one.  Amazingly, there are at least 84 combinations to enjoy, without even considering the surrounding effects.  If you add the four surround features (off, rainbow, color pulse, solid color) and the 7 surrounding light colors (white, racing/gradient, red, green, blue, yellow, light blue, purple), simple math suggests that you could have 2352 different combinations to enjoy.  If none of these suit your fancy, you could still create your own custom scheme. 

As I delved deeper into this review, it was a breath of fresh air not to have another battery-draining device. I know I cannot be alone in feeling like I regularly deplete pallets of AA and AAA batteries.  With this keyboard, you only need to plug the USB connector into a USB port on a computer or into a powered USB hub.  I tested the keyboard with my Kensington SD4700P Universal USB-C and USB 3.0 Docking Station with my MacBook Pro 15”.  Excitedly, I did not experience any lag while typing/playing.  The keys were firm and had a great recoil.  They may have been a touch on the louder side, but I actually like the mechanical keyboard’s sound.  After reviewing all of the beautiful color features, I turned to a speed test.  I used various online typing tests and repeatedly scored in the 99-116 range with accuracy from 90-100%.  I wanted to break the 120 WPM mark, but alas, fatigue set in, and I did not want to type anymore.  Somehow a user named APackOfSmarties achieved a 206 WPM score, and my 116 WPM did not even break the top 20.  Despite these humbling scores, I was pretty proud of my speed and the quality of the keyboard.  If you get a moment, check out the typing test website to see where you fall in the rankings.  Like the other keys on the 104 keyboard, the function keys worked very well and were incredibly responsive.  I liked that each of the function keys had a little indicator along the bottom edge.  Most of them worked on my MacBook Pro, but some did not (FN + F11 calculator did not open as an example).  The little indicators underneath the color changing options were vague and did not do as well as the instruction manual.  

To test the remaining features, I plugged the keyboard into my desktop and my wife’s laptop.  I do not typically mind typing on a laptop, but my wife does not like it at all.  She loved the performance upgrade when she plugged this peripheral into her laptop.  We played “Typer Shark,”  she played some Zuma, and we tested various other steam games. We typed, changed the colors of the keys, and truly enjoyed the experience. Despite the plethora of options for the colors, the Keyboard does not allow you to change individual keys’ colors. There were some inherent issues with using the Mac device, but the windows key did double as the Mac Command Key. Some may not like the fixed cable, but I preferred it over another battery setup. . If you are looking for high-end quality but at budget prices, look to the Aukey website. The keys feel remarkably similar to other keyboards I have tried, including those with coveted cherry MX switches.  You can use the included key removal tool to separate the key from the actuator. When you remove the keypads to clean, you will notice the blue-cross shaped button.  Many sources have claimed that you can swap out other “+” shaped keys with those from this keyboard.  However, I did not try that for this review. For under $70, this device is a steal.

Learn more about the AUKEY 104 button LED keyboard.
Follow Aukey on Facebook and Twitter