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Review: Gigabyte Force K85 gaming keyboard
by Edward Chester | Jun 6, 2017 | Comment Now
Review: Gigabyte Force K85 gaming keyboard
Rating
Overall:

A full set of keys and RGB backlighting make the Force K85 a great value keyboard, but you notice the lack of genuine Cherry MX switches.

Price
$105 AUD *

> Pricing info

* Price at time of review
RGB-lit, and mechanical, full size... and really cheap!

The Gigabyte Force K85 is among the cheapest keyboard on test, but it loses out on very little compared with its more expensive competitors. In fact, it’s the only keyboard in this Labs test to feature RGB backlighting. 

That lighting is a significant boon, as RGB keyboards generally demand a premium of at least $40 on top of the standard price. What you don’t get, though, is full control over the backlighting. You can choose from any static RGB colour for the whole keyboard, or select one of two lighting effects.

The pulse effect slowly dims and brightens the lighting, and lets you choose up to two colours between which it can cycle. Alternatively, you can set it to pulse between random colours, and there are options to adjust the speed and brightness. The cycling option steadily changes colour as though travelling along the spectrum, cycling back around to red from purple. You can adjust speed and brightness via Gigabyte’s software, or by using secondary functions on the keyboard.

Lighting aside, the Force K85 about as conventional a keyboard as you can imagine. It’s a full-sized model, so it includes a numeric keypad, but it misses out on the four extra keys found on the Roccat Suora. Instead, you get a selection of secondary functions, most of which are the usual multimedia and audio options. 

However, you also get the above lighting options as well as keys for features such as cycling through RGB backlighting colours, switching off backlighting altogether, opening a web browser or music app and the choice of Nkey/6 or Nkey/64 rollover. We’re not sure quite why you’d want a choice of either six or 64-key rollover, but the option’s there if you want it. 

Otherwise, the design of this keyboard is very much in line with the Roccat Suora, with a simple base and the keys standing proud. As with the Roccat, this setup means the keys aren’t as well protected as with a keyboard that surrounds the keys, and the backlighting doesn’t spread out quite so evenly. However, it still offers a tidy, simple look. The base is also solid and sturdy. It has a metal top and plastic bottom section that are slim but impressively stiff. There’s also a reassuring weight to the whole unit. The non-braided cable has a decent 1.8m length too, although it was noticeably more kinked than most of the other keyboard cables on test.

As for the overall typing experience, like Razer, Gigabyte uses switches made by the Chinese company Kailh, rather than using true German-made Cherry MX switches.  
These models are supposed to be the equivalent of Cherry MX Reds, but they do feel different. The overall typing experience is still decent – keys are responsive and the operating force feels solid, the Kailhs have a mushier initial feel that seems to get stiffer, whereas the Cherry switches have a much more even resistance to them. As always, it’s worth trying a couple of different keyboards with different switch-types to see which you prefer, but in this case we prefer the Cherry MX Reds to these models. 

Conclusion

It’s quite astonishing that Gigabyte has managed to make a full-sized RGB-backlit mechanical keyboard for near $100. It’s a well built, decent looking bit of kit too. However, the use of Kailh rather than Cherry MX switches means you compromise slightly on typing feel. There’s a certain amount of subjectivity here, though – if you want RGB backlighting and mechanical keys, the Force K85 is still a good step up from membrane keyboards for a very reasonable price.



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