Keyboards are becoming an art form. Today, youcan find enthusiasts that are are as passionate about their mechanicalkeyboards as anyone who collects sneakers, comic books, video games, oranything else you can think of.
Just like with any collectible or piece offashion, the most prized items are usually those with quirky aesthetics orexclusivity – if it looks interesting or is hard to find, people want it. Thesame holds true with mechanical keyboards, and there has been a surge inhipsteresque mechanical keyboard brands over the past decade.
You’ve probably heard of Razer, Corsair,SteelSeries, and Logitech for their mechanical keyboards. There are plenty moreout there that haven’t got the same attention though. Gamers, especially Twitchstreamers, are now lifting some of these lesser-known brands to popularity.
Whether it is due to the build and feel ofthese keyboards, their aesthetics, or just the feeling of finding out aboutthem before everyone else, many people are beginning to look towardsthird-party and overseas retailers for the hottest new mechanical keyboards. Inthis article, let’s talk about four brands that you should keep an eye out for.
Ducky keyboards, from Taiwan-basedDuckyChannel International Co., are probably the most recognized brand on thislist. World-famous gamers such as Tfue have been seen on stream using Duckykeyboards, and they may be known best for collaborations with other popular brands,producing loud and vibrant colorways.
For example, Ducky has collaborated with Razer to release a version of its Ducky One 2 model featuring Razer’s very own key switches. A more recent One 2 Mini collaboration Ducky has had is with Frozen Llama. The two teamed up to release a sleek 60% keyboard featuring cyan, purple, and baby blue PBT keycaps. This release was also limited to just 3,000 keyboards.
However, Ducky’s proprietary models, such as the Ducky Shine line, are nothing to shrug at. Features of the Ducky Shine 7 include double-shot PBT keycaps, support for Razer Chroma Broadcast, Ducky Macro 2.0, and Ducky’s own RGB software, three-level adjustable feet, RGB backlighting, and switch options including almost every Cherry MX color type.
Another perk that adds a bit of mystique tobuying a Ducky keyboard is that they will often ship with extra spacebars. Forthe Ducky Shine 7 model, MechanicalKeyboards.com states, “You may receivea Year of the Dog spacebar, Year of the Pig spacebar, or no extra spacebar atall. We do not know what’s in the box at the time of shipping your order.”
You can read more about Ducky keyboards and find them listed at the official Ducky website , MechanicalKeyboards.com , Newegg , and Amazon .
Anne keyboards, made famous by the Anne Pro and Anne Pro 2 models, are manufactured by Obins. Both models are known for their compact 61-key design. The Anne Pro line eliminates every key to the right of the Backspace key, as well as the F1–F12 function row, in favor of a single Function key.
Mechanical keyboards often come with areputation of being great for gaming, but the Anne Pro’s design may not be bestfor this purpose. Although with the Function key, you can use the numerical rowas F1–F12 and WASD as arrows, many games will demand easier access to thesekeys.
However, the Anne Pro 2, Obins’ flagshipkeyboard, is fantastic for basic typing purpose. It ships with PBT keycaps,support for connection via USB and BLE 4.0 (including a USB cable and Bluetoothadapter), RGB backlighting, and a key puller.
Unlike many mechanical keyboards which shipwith Cherry MX switches, the Anne Pro and Anne Pro 2 feature Gateron switches –Blue, Red, and Brown. Gateron is often reviewed as having smoother and lessscratchy switches when compared to Cherry.
You can read more about Anne keyboards and find them listed at the official Obins website (not natively in English) and Newegg .
Leopold keyboards often appeal to a niche set of enthusiasts who really love mechanical keyboards with a low-brow, retro aesthetic. Although they do feature some more colorful models, such as the FC750R Swedish Edition , most Leopold keyboards feature grays and blacks, although many of them are two-toned.
The unembellished style of Leopold keyboards carries over to its keyboards’ model names. While Ducky has the Shine and Anne has the Pro, Leopold is known for its FC750R , FC980M , FC660M , and similarly named models.
Leopold keyboards also feature a few veryinteresting layouts. For example, the FC980M eliminates the bottom-leftmost keyof the number pad for a more compact design against the arrow keys. The FC660Mfeatures a 65% layout where two keys “hang” in its top-right corner.
I’ve yet to see a Leopold model withbacklighting, and the vast majority feature PBT keycaps and Cherry MX switches– Black, Brown, Blue, and Red, although many also offer the special Silent Red,the FC980M additionally offers Clear, and the FC750R additionally offers Silver.
One of the most flashy Leopold models is the FC980C Black Dye . It features black-on-black (or very dark gray) PBT keycaps and Topre 45g switches. Leopold keyboards may not be about being flamboyant, but they come with no shortage of useful options.
You can read more about Leopold keyboards and find them listed at MechanicalKeyboards.com , Newegg , and Amazon .
Akko is one of the most versatile keyboardsbrands that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s nothing like Leopold – withAkko, you’re going to get crazy colorways and a huge variety when it comes tobacklighting, shell patterns, and other aesthetics.
Like Ducky, some of Akko’s coolest keyboards are a product of collaborations. Coincidentally, one of their closest collaborators is Ducky—for example, the Akko X Ducky 3084 , which features three shell and keycap colors (black, cyan, and pink) with engravings on the front of each key (instead of the top). There’s also the Akko X Ducky 3108S RGB , Akko X Ducky One 2 Skyline , and one of the loudest and wildest mechanical keyboards I’ve ever seen, the Akko X Ducky Shine 6 Year of the Monkey Limited Edition .
Again, though, just like Ducky, Akko’s solo models awesome. The Akko 3108 and 3087 models are its most famous, featuring versions such as the World Tour Beijing , 9009 Retro , Dragon Ball Z Vegeta , and Cupid .
The main draw to Akko is its variety, not onlyin colorways but also switches and keyboard layouts. You’ll find Akko keyboardswith Cherry MX or Gateron switches, full-size, tenkeyless, and 60% layouts, andseveral other styles. It’s difficult to fit Akko into a box due to how wide avariety of keyboards it manufactures.
However, If you’re looking for colorfulmechanical keyboards with some of the most beautiful spacebars in the industry,Akko is worth your attention.
You can read more about Akko keyboards and find them listed at the official Akko website (not natively in English) and Newegg .
Whether it’s those thick PBT keycaps, compactframes, clicky and tactile key switches, or just the beautiful assortment ofcolors, these four brands have everything you need if you’re looking to impresswith a new mechanical keyboard.