Mechanical gaming keyboards are a dime a dozen these days, and even the worst of them offer better tactile feedback and build quality than even premium rubber dome alternatives. As competition continues to build, we’re starting to see an increase in quality even at the lower end of the market, and it’s into this space that the KM-G12 arrives.
Priced at $50 in the US, this keyboard costs less than half that of a traditional mechanical keyboard, yet includes a full set of mechanical switches in a completely standard layout, full per-key RGB backlighting and solid build quality including an aluminium frame. We’ve been testing the keyboard for the past week; here’s what we think.
The KM-G12 exhibits considerable restraint compared to the usual “gamer” designs that have proliferated on Amazon, with an aluminium top plate, a band of RGB lighting and a plastic base. The USB cable can’t be detached or routed, instead simply emerging in the centre of the back side of the keyboard.
Inside, there are Outemu Blue switches. These Cherry MX clones are clicky and tactile, as you’d expect, with a slightly larger variance in actuation force than more premium examples from the likes of Kailh or Gateron but otherwise a very characteristic feel.
These are an extremely loud switch, thanks to that click, so we wouldn’t recommend this keyboard for people working in a quiet home or office, or people looking to stream their games online.
As we mentioned earlier, the layout is entirely standard here, with a Function key between Alt Gr and Menu, so you can swap out the default ABS keycaps with a new set if you prefer. However, you would lose out on the secondary functions, including volume controls on F2 to F4 and media controls from F5 to F8. Other functions include quick links to the calculator and search, RGB lighting adjustments and a Windows key lock.
Overall, it’s a polished package that is better than we expected for a mechanical keyboard at this price point. The build quality of the body and its mechanical switches suggest that this keyboard should continue working for many years to come, given a little bit of care.
In use, the Aukey KM-G12 doesn’t disappoint. The clicky switches are incredibly satisfying to use for typing, although their slightly higher actuation force does make them a little more fatiguing than keyboards that use softer Brown or Red switches. In games, the clicky switches provide a ton of feedback that a certain key has been pressed, making them a good choice for games where single commands have big consequences – think real-time strategy titles like StarCraft or MOBAs like League of Legends rather than games with lots of repeated inputs like shooters or action games.
The backlighting ensures that the keyboard can be used at night, and there are enough modes to keep things interesting. The one downside is that the lights can’t be synchronised with other peripherals, which is a nice benefit to choosing a range of peripherals from a major manufacturer like SteelSeries, Razer or Corsair.
The Aukey KM-G12 isn’t the first affordable mechanical keyboard, but it is certainly a great example of the genre. If you’re after a high quality mechanical keyboard in a full format with clicky switches at the $50 mark, you should consider this one without a doubt.