November 14th, 2011

QPad MK 80 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Testing

Methodology

To test a keyboard, the best way to do so is to use it for an extended period of time, so that’s what I did. Over a few days I tested the QPAD MK 80 in general typing (this review was written with it), gaming and general usage.

The games I tested the keyboard with were:

  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare II
  • League of Legends
  • Audiosurf
  • DC Universe online
  • Mass Effect
  • Trackmania

Thanks to Meroncourt for sending through this keyboard.

Results

Gaming

The MK 80 is an interesting board as it’s clearly got gaming in mind (see, that’s why I run a review site, I notice things like the giant “QPAD Pro Gaming Gear” logo), yet they chose MX Blue switches which are thought to best for typing. They’re tactile and clicky, two things you don’t really need on a gaming keyboard, because you’re going to be mashing the key all the way down and because of that you know you’ve hit a key, the click just isn’t necessary.

That said, these are still 2mm activated switches, so it’s a fast keyboard. If you’re moving from a rubber dome setup¬† you’ll notice a nice difference. It might be difficult to spot the latency reduction between you hitting the key and it appearing on screen, but it’s certainly a smoother experience. The keys feel nicer to the touch.

However, I must say that the clicky interface doesn’t do this keyboard any favours during gaming. In something like Trackmania, or Call of Duty where you might be tapping keys for short periods of time to strafe or make adjustments to your turn, the click click click as you do so becomes annoyingly loud and repetitive. It’s not horrendous, but i noticed it and I didn’t want it there. Give me the standard muted clack of a normal mechanical over this any day.

Other games like RPGs, strategies, MOBAs (dumb acronym), the MK 80 was fine, as key presses are less frequent. It’s the repetitive little taps that are agravating; slower paced games are perfect for this keyboard. The only issue there is, these types of games draw much more of a benefit from macro keys and the like, which of coarse, this board has none of.

Typing

This is a lovely keyboard to type on. Really, there’s a reason they say that Cherry MX Blue switches are recommended for typing. The keys on the MK 80 have a lovely tactile feel and the click is a great indicator that you’ve gone far enough down. It also makes it wonderfully satisfying to tap away on.

I’m not sure that I’d say this is my favourite typing board, I might still have to reserve that for the Zowie Celeritas. I really do like the feel of this one, but it’s just not the same as the Brown Switch sporting Zowie board. It’s difficult to decsribe, but this one almost feels a little sharper on the keystrokes. The Celeritas is smoother and your fingers feel like they’re cushioned more as you hit the keys. This isn’t an uncomfortable keyboard at all (I’ll cover this more in a second), it’s just that it doesn’t feel as natural as some of the other mechanical boards I’ve used. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but your fingers don’t glide across the keys in the way they do on some others.

For fun I also did a couple of typing speed tests using Speedtest. Here’s the results compared to a few other keyboards I have:

QPAD MK 80 (Blue MX switches): 107 correct words, 5 incorrect
Roccat Isku(Rubber dome switches): 111 correct words, 6 incorrect
Zowie Celeritas (Brown MX Switches): 110 correct word, 10 incorrect

Interestingly the MK 80 was the most accurate of the bunch, but also the slowest. Of course with a difference that small you could put it down to me having an off day, as this is a pretty speculative test.

Comfort

Lovely in almost every respect. The soft rubber feel of the wrist rest and frame make it a great one to lean your wrists and hands on, leaving you to tap or game away for as long as you like with little to no issue of comfort. Also, thanks to the surface type, you’ll find that perspiration very rarely builds up.

The keys themselves feel pretty nice to type and game on (apart from the click being irritating) though I would say they don’t feel quite as smooth as some of the Brown/Black MX switch keyboards I’ve used in the past. Certainly those coming from rubber dome keyboards will find this one feels a bit sharp as you tap away.

While I don’t know if I could call it a comfort issue – it didn’t really fit into the other sections – one thing that I did find a bit annoying was how poor the rubber feet were at gripping my desk surface. Either they’re far too small, or far too stiff, but a minute ammount of pressure – more so on the left hand side – would move the board around the surface. It doesn’t happen when you’re using it thank god, but at any other time a little nudge and off it goes. This isn’t a major issue, it just seems a little pointless to have underside feet if they’re not going to hold the peripheral in place.

Media keys

One final note on the media keys, I love the placement of almost all of them, except the function key. The placement of all the volume up/down, mute etc. is fine, except the function key is on the other side of the board. Now I know this is to allow quick left hand instances of Windows+D, but I prefer to lose that, than having to use two hands to adjust the volume. If I’m gaming, hand on mouse, hand on keyboard, I don’t want to have to remove my mouse hand just to change the volume, I want to do it all with my left hand.

I may have small hands, but I know that even with a giant’s mitts its an awkward movement to stretch from bottom right to top left of a keyboard.

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Keyboards . Peripherals