This £36 keyboard is something of a marvel, coming with a compact 60% size layout, full RGB backlighting and extremely fun Box White clicky switches. The design is so modern, it even charges via USB-C. It all sounds too good to be true, but sometimes these little-known Chinese brands can produce absolutely killer products. Let’s take a closer look in our full review!
Photos taken by Stella Judd.
Specs & Features
- Kailh Box White clicky mechanical switches
- RGB lighting with 14 effects + per-key controls
- Multimedia function key combination
- Windows key lock (‘game mode’) function
- 290 x 100 x 40 millimetres, 465 grams
Kailh Box White switches
The CK61 comes with Kailh Box White switches. I’m a big fan of these switches because they provide excellent tactile and clicky feedback, without the weight that is associated with the traditional clicky mechanical switch, the MX Blue. The box design also protects the switches from moisture and other hazards, making it a more durable choice as well. Box whites have found quite a few fans since their release, and it’s great to see them as a default option in a low-cost keyboard.
I personally loved using these switches, but bear in mind that they do produce a lot of noise — I felt a little bad using these in busy offices. If you work somewhere where silence is valued, then consider a keyboard with a tactile or linear mechanical switch instead.
RGB LEDs & 14 lighting modes
Each switch comes with a built-in RGB LED that shines through the ABS keycaps. There are fourteen different lighting effects in total, most of which can have their colour, speed and brightness adjusted.
Static options include a breathing effect, a rainbow wave, a rainstorm, genre-specific gaming layouts and of course custom modes where you can choose the colour of each key. Dynamic modes are also present, with the keyboard’s keys lighting up or rippling away as you type. Of course, you can also just keep the LEDs off or keep them fully on in a colour of your choice, allowing the keyboard to be as flashy as you want it to be.
Personally, I change modes pretty often just to keep things fresh; my favourite is the pastel raindrop effect that I first discovered (and loved!) on the QPAD MK90 keyboard all the way back in 2015.
A compact 61-key ANSI layout
The Motospeed CK61 is a compact keyboard with a 60% size layout. If you’re not familiar with it, this layout drops the Function row (F1 to F12), the navigational cluster (arrow keys and insert, delete, etc.) and the number pad.
In exchange, you get a seriously compact keyboard, the width of most 13-inch laptops at 29 centimetres (about 11.5 inches) and less than 500 grams in weight. This is a good choice for anyone that likes to take a mechanical keyboard with them when travelling, or for someone that is new to mechanical keyboards and doesn’t want to spend a lot.
The compact layout is fine for most common computer tasks and even playing most games, but you’ll need to access these missing keys for some tasks like writing or editing text, or playing more complicated games. When you do, you can use special modes that remap some of the existing keys to the missing ones.
- Fn + 1 remaps the number keys to their F-key equivalents, e.g. 1 becomes F1.
- Fn + 2 turns the right hand side of the keyboard into the navigational cluster, e.g. K and L become Insert and Home.
- Fn + 3 is really useful because it remaps /? and the three keys below it to up, down, left and right. In this mode, you can press Fn + /? to get a slash or FN + Shift + /? to get a question mark.
- Fn + 4 turns WASD into their corresponding arrow keys.
These modes are well-thought out and easy to activate, although of course having dedicated keys for these functions saves a lot of time. You might consider a 65% keyboard or 75% (TKL) keyboard if you want more convenient access to the navigational cluster.
The keyboard is ANSI rather than ISO, meaning you get a small Enter key and long left Shift key. This might take a little muscle memory training for Europeans used to ISO keyboards. However, in exchange you get a much more common layout, allowing you to find custom keycaps and use other exotic keyboards in the future.
The keyboard is well-built, with a solid feel and no rattling components despite its plastic construction. I travelled with it in the soft bag that it came with, and it didn’t seem to suffer any damage despite being at the bottom of my backpack. If you’re worried about breaking it in transit, you could probably protect it further by placing it in a large sock.
USB-C charging for the future
The keyboard comes with a braided USB-C cable around one metre in length. If you are already using USB-C on your computer or smartphone, it’s pretty handy to have another device that can be used via the same cable.
In theory, you should be able to use a USB-C to USB-C cable to connect this keyboard directly to a USB-C device, but my USB-C to USB-C cable didn’t seem to work for this purpose; I think my cable may be a cheaper version intended only for charging.
The Motospeed CK61 is a really nice keyboard, with a quality of both design and execution that belies its modest price point.
There have been cheaper mechanical keyboards online, but none with the features that this pint-sized board provides. The inclusion of modern niceties, like highly-rated Kailh Box White switches, RGB backlighting and USB-C charging really push this keyboard over the edge.
In the end, we must give this keyboard our highest recommendation.