Picture of the Keyboard
Greetings, as my old keyboard broke down I've been searching online for a decent but cheap mechanical keyboard.
My 2 requirements were a keyboard that can last a good time keyboard and one with an appealing design that looks good on my desk.
After checking countless budget mechanical boards I have found the Chinese ACGAM AG109-R, and in this review I'll tell you if it's actually a good bang for you buck after few days of use.
Let's start with the Design, as you've already seen by the picture this keyboard is in no way a TKL form, I've chose a full sized keyboard as I actually quite like using the numpad for various tasks such as using a calculator and binding commands into the num keys in certain games.
The layout is the generic ANSI layout which features 104 keys, nothing extraordinary but I am glad they haven't chose the ISO layout as some companies do, and that's due to the short 'SHIFT' key offered in that layout which caused me often miss-clicks during games due to how small it is.
The keyboard weights 907g which is quite hefty, for me that's a bonus as the heaviness gives it more of a premium feel and helps the keyboard along with the bottom rubber pads not move from its place during use. There are also front feet in the bottom that you can lift up for extra elevation while typing, if you are into that type of thing.
The keyboard uses a brushed aluminum panel and a silver colored strip which goes around the keyboard, both of these features adds to the premium feel and makes the keyboard have that 'clean minimalist look' which I am all for, good move from the company.
The font used on the keycaps got that 'gamery' look on some letters and is oddly designed, I am not the biggest fan of it but for a cheap keyboard I don't mind it.
The lighting the keyboard offers is well implemented, the RGB is displayed nicely and you can clearly see it over the transparent letters and under the keyboard. I'll expand on this part further at the review.
While not everyone is a fan of the 'gimmicky' RGB lighting most mechanical keyboards nowadays offers, personally I don't mind it, I think it adds to the looks and it's a fun feature you can play around with. To those who are not fans I am happy to tell you that you can easily turn off the lighting with a mixture of 2 key presses or change it to a static color you like.
In this section I am happy to tell you the keyboard succeed, the company sent the keyboard packed in multiple layers to protect it all the way from from China. After opening the package I can see the keyboard is built nicely, every button performs as it should and I haven't found any damaged ones. Shaking the keyboard results in no rattling sounds, which means all the internal parts are screwed properly. Well done!
The switches used at the keyboard are the Outemu Blue Switch, an identical chinese version to the more popular Cherry MX Blue. The switches have a great lifespan of 50 million clicks which means they aren't suppose to fail you even after a long time of owning the keyboard. I'll give more details on the switch and my experience with it in a different section.
Close look of the switch after removing a key cap
The keycaps are double-shot ABS, which means the letters are a different piece of plastic meaning the chances of them fading away are low, this is a good move from the manufacturer not to cheap out on this part, we all know the frustrating phenomenon of the letters fading away on a cheap board and ruining the aesthetics of it.
The typing & gaming experience
We've reached the section which is in my opinion the most important - How does the keyboard feel to use? It's important for us to feel comfortable typing and playing on the keyboard so we won't get distracted by inconveniences.
I've decided to record a short typing test so you can hear the sounds produced from pressing the switches, you can see for yourself if you like them or not.
My score in that test - 100 WPM[/center]
As you can hear the switches produces very clicky & clacky sounds and in no way are quiet compared to the regular membrane switches often found in cheap boards, the user can feel each press he's doing on the buttons as they are very tactile.
the switches offer tactile bump to prevent accidental key presses meaning there's a longer actuation point before registering a click. Personally I enjoy this feature of the switch as I hate miss-clicking while typing or gaming.
The feel of the dominant sound of the switch actuating varies from person to person, often people find the sounds produced very satisfying and enjoyable to hear, some rather have quieter boards. Personally I like having the feedback of each key being pressed and in gaming, with the audio of the game running in my headphones, I could barely hear the keyboard, so the sound doesn't bother me.
I only recommended this keyboard for home usage, as in a work environment with co-workers around you they might not enjoy hearing your keyboard constantly being pressed near them while they are trying to work.
Lighting and programming the keyboard
The lights of the keyboard are customize-able using the FN+F keys (F5-F12), which is a good thing for me as I don't need to install any external program to control the lights because it can be done quickly with some key combos.
However, for those who do enjoy having a program the company also added one where you can customize the lighting modes even more, the software can be installed using a disk located in the keyboard package or using a download link found in ACGAM's website.
In the software the lights can show lots of different modes like: The letter G, Heart, Caterpillar, Tank, you can set the colors to react to your presses in different modes or customize each keycap to it's color and more.
The software also offers button programming for different functions such as shortcuts to favorite programs, setting buttons to control the sound level of the PC, using the mouse buttons through the keyboard and etc.
For those who are interested there are also 'Macro' section in the software.
I must say I have been enjoying the keyboard more than I thought I would, the switches work well both for gaming and typing, the aesthetics are rather clean and contribute to the premium feel of the board despite being cheap, the build quality is pretty much flawless and the lighting modes are quite good looking and offer large diversity which you can test in your free time.
I definitely recommend this keyboard to replace the usual cheap office board if it's dying or you are just feeling fancy, as you can see from the review I am sure the keyboard won't fail you and even live over your standards, especially for the price, which is by the way, only $45 currently on the popular shopping site geekbuying.
link for those who are interested
Thanks a lot for reading my review! I am open to hear any feedback about my writing and interested to read your thoughts and questions if you have any on the keyboard.
Here are some extra pictures of the board including the package: https://imgur.com/a/FHIKBKA