Mechanical keyboard fans seem to undergo a metamorphosis. They start with keyboards that are massive, festooned with macro and media keys and sporting a numberpad. Over time, their tastes change, and their keyboards get smaller and smaller. First it’s tenkeyless, where the number pad is dropped, and then it’s on to smaller and rarer form factors: 75%, where the navigation keys are compressed into a column on the right side, and 60%, where these keys (and the F keys at the top) are left out altogether. As you get more interested in these unusual forms, you can abide by some loss in function, using fewer keys to accomplish the same goals.
The consequence of this, at least in my experience, is that new mechanical keyboard fans will feel it’s too limited to pick up a tiny mech right away. Instead, the best choice is something that mirrors the layout they already have, but feels better to type on — and that’s exactly what we’re looking at today. The Aukey KM-G8 sports clicky mechanical switches across a full UK / ISO layout, and is available at a very reasonable £30 price. Here’s our review!
The KM-G8 is a very industrial-looking keyboard, well-built but lacking any soft edges or design flair. Instead, you get a full-size keyboard in the traditional black colour scheme, complete with a number pad. A function key in the lower right, combined with the keys F1 to F12, give you volume and media controls, plus quick access to common tasks like locking your computer.
The ABS keycaps are raised above the metal chassis, making it easy to shake out crumbs and other detritus that will otherwise accrue. The white legends are easy to read, even in low light, and a trio of LEDs alert you to Caps, Scroll and Num Lock.
Four holes drilled into the keyboard at regular intervals allow water and other liquids to flow (hopefully harmlessly) through. Meanwhile, the bottom of the keyboard includes the standard flip-out legs, allowing you to choose from flat and gentled angled positions.
As well as the keyboard, the box includes a key puller that will allow you to more easily remove and replace the default keycaps without damaging the switches underneath. The KM-G8 has a standard ISO layout, so finding replacement keycaps shouldn’t be a massive challenge — although a US / ANSI layout would be even easier.
The Aukey KM-G8 is a fun keyboard to test, with its clicky Outemu (Cherry MX style) Blue switches providing a heaping helping of tactile and audible feedback.
These clicks and clacks might be a bit much for a quiet office, but they make it feel like you’re really getting stuff done while you’re typing away. Combined with the standard layout, and the G8 is exceedingly easy to use, with no learning curve whatsoever — just a better typing experience than you’ll find on a rubber dome keyboard.
As mentioned earlier, the keyboard is easy to keep clean thanks to its elevated keycaps and integrated drainage. The keyboard’s switches are rated for 50 million actuations, so you’ll be able to use it for years and years without any mechanical issues.
If this keyboard has one obvious weakness, it’s the keycaps. The legends on oft-used keys started wearing away quickly, a consequence of the ABS material used for the keys and the cheap pad-printing method used for the legends. Happily, as this is a standard layout then you can swap the keycaps for something more durable without spending more than £20 or so. (Tai Hao keycaps might be a good choice here, which are available in a lovely range of colours and styles.)
The Aukey KM-G8 is a simple but effective mechanical keyboard available in a full UK layout — a rarity for a low-price mechanical, which are often only offered in compact and/or USA layouts. Its switches and chassis should offer years of delightful service; the only weakness are its mediocre keycaps which can wear quickly. Happily, it’s easy enough to replace the keycaps inexpensively down the road, and you’ll be left with a great all-around keyboard. For £32, you’re unlikely to find much better!