As the Computing Editor for TechRadar, I have the luxury of being able to use pretty much any gaming keyboard that comes out. Keyboards like the Razer Huntsman or the SteelSeries Apex Pro have kept my attention in the past, but as I get to use more specialized keyboards like the Akko 3068B that I just got in for review, I've realized that I want to go all in on the keyboard nerd life.
I want to build my own keyboard.
I already have a pretty good idea of what kind of keyboard I would prefer. I want to stick to a 60% board, with Kailh Brown Switches (or equivalent), and would like RGB lighting and a pink frame (sue me).
Finding all of the components to build my dream keyboard is going to be a chore to be sure, but with Black Friday deals coming up, it might be an interesting time to dig around the internet to sniff up some deals that would otherwise go under the radar.
To kit or not to kit
Just taking a quick look over at Toms Hardware's guide (opens in new tab) on building a keyboard, building my first keyboard from scratch is probably going to be a stretch. I mean I could probably do it, but just keeping track of all the components that go into a mechanical keyboard sounds like a nightmare.
I'd have to buy a Keyboard Case, a PCB, a Switch Mounting Plate, switches and keys - and way more. That's definitely a project I want to dive into some day, but for right now, I think it's a bit safer to look into buying a kit to start.
Luckily, there are plenty of sites that offer some pretty good deals from what I've seen. One of them is Drop.com, a site that I used to use back when it was still called Massdrop. Definitely haven't used it much recently, but I have friends that keep linking me super cute keyboard stuff from that site. And I want it.
Just look at this Lord Of The Rings Artisan keycap (opens in new tab). I mean it's $65 for a single keycap, but it would look pretty damn cool on a keyboard. There's also this gorgeous light blue and pink keycap (opens in new tab) set, and if you know me at all, you know that I'd buy this in an instant.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of adorable pre-built keyboards out there, especially once you reach out beyond the Razers and Corsairs of the world. I have two keyboards that I absolutely adore. One is the KEMOVE DK61 Snowfox Halloween Edition (opens in new tab) that I bought last year for Halloween, and is one I have plugged in throughout most of the year.
And again the other one is this Akko 3068B World Tour Tokyo Edition (opens in new tab). A pastel pink masterpiece that I'm absolutely in love with. And it even has hot-swappable switches.
That's kind of what started to get me sold on the idea of building my own keyboard. Because one of my favorite things about building my own PC is that if something breaks, not only will my PC allow me to repair it, but because I put it together myself, there's nothing that I'm shy about diving in to service.
Prebuilt keyboards die all the time
When you buy even one of the best keyboards from Razer or Corsair, if one of the switches goes out, it's not like you can easily pull one out and replace it, because it's soldered down to the PCB. So, while you might find some amazing Cyber Monday deal that cuts the price way down, there's no guarantee that keyboard will still be fully functional a couple years from now, and even if some extremely minor problem surfaces, you're still out of luck.
I have had so many keyboards die on me, and I'm kind of over it. I am crafty enough to build a keyboard, so it's time to sit down and do it, even if it's a bit more expensive up front.
OK, it's definitely more expensive up front
Especially with Black Friday coming up, mainstream gaming keyboards are going to be relatively cheap, especially compared to enthusiast, custom-built boards. Going back to the Toms Hardware guide, they spent something like $472 to build an amazing-looking 60% keyboard.
And I used to look at the Razer Huntsman Elite like it was a luxury item.
But when I sit down and think about it, while it may be more expensive up front, it's more likely to last much longer, and even if a problem surfaces, it's going to be a simple hardware swap to fix it. And I can swap hardware - that's basically what I write about on this website every day.
So yeah, while a keyboard might end up costing me upwards of $400, it could end up saving me much more than that over the lifespan of it. Especially if I fall in love with it.
And that's the beauty of building something yourself. You can build the keyboard of your dreams without having to wait on a gaming company to make more colorful peripherals. So, I'm pretty sure I'll fall in love with the keyboard I build, just like I've fallen in love with every PC I've built for myself.
I'm gonna do it.