The most affordable gaming mechanical keyboard
Mechanical keyboards are expensive and most of them are priced above Rs.8,000. Cherry MX switches have been the standard when it comes to mechanical keyboards. But we’re seeing third-party switches such as Kailh, Outemu and Gateron, making their way into the market, thus, drastically lowering prices. The launch of Zebronics Max was indeed surprising because of the shockingly low price of just around Rs.2,400. In our Zebronics Max review, we give you the low-down on what great and what’s not so great with this device.
ZEBRONICS MAX REVIEW
The Zebronics Max is a ‘Ten-Key-Less’ (TKL) keyboard so there’s no numpad. On the bottom, you have a hard plastic base with rubber pads on all four feet. Having rubber feet ensures that the keyboard doesn’t slide while typing. The metal frame housing the keyboard has a matte finish which is quite sturdy and there’s little to no flex. The open design also makes it easier to reach all the keys while cleaning the keyboard. It has double-shot injection-moulded keycaps, and as we subjected it with a lot of scratching, the font didn’t wear off except the bottom icons on the top row keys.
The keycaps are compatible with Cherry MX keys, so you’ll be able to swap them out with different accented keycaps. It has a braided USB cable of about 1.8 m in length, with velcro straps for cable management if you have a small workspace. On the left, you have an LED indicator panel for the Scroll and Caps Lock, and the illuminated Zebronics logo. It would be nitpicking, but they could have removed the panel since the Scroll and Caps Lock keys already toggle on and off according to their state. But if you are using the keyboard without the backlighting then the panel becomes useful. However, taking out the section or moving it towards the usual spot on the upper-right corner would have further reduced the length of the keyboard.
Mechanical key switches
The Zebronics Max uses Outemu Blue clear switches which are similar to Cherry’s Blue switches. Fundamentally, the colour across mechanical switches depicts similar functionality so the Outemu Blue should have the same tactile feel similar to Cherry MX Blues. The differences are considerable, especially the harder actuation force and the louder, clicky noise. While the Cherry MX Blue has an actuation force of 50g, the Outemu Blue registers a click at about 60g, and both have the same travel distance of around 4mm. It feels more tactile to type, the only downside being it’s louder than the Cherry equivalent.
The higher actuation force could also be a letdown for many users. On Typeracer, we was able to hit a maximum of 79 words per minute (the reviewer’s average words per minute being about 85) with an average accuracy of 94.33%. This wasn’t on the first try though, since it took time to get familiar with the layout and key switches. It all depends on the previous keyboard you were using, factoring in the distance between every key and also getting used to the missing numpad.
The switches have a single LED colour, with each row having a different colour in the keyboard. The clear switch type used on Cherry encloses the LED light inside but in this case, the clear Outemu switches have the LED light placed on the outside. The lights are immensely bright and the keycaps are translucent enough to diffuse the light to a favourable brightness level. Using combinations of the function key, you’ll be able to toggle between the normal and breathing mode for the lights, along with three brightness levels.
Zebronics Max Review – CONCLUSION
As we went about our Zebronics Max review, we came up with one huge concern that might bother users looking for a budget mechanical keyboard would be the absence of the numpad since often you’ll find mechanical keyboards in this segment not having one in order to save money. If you’re accustomed to using the numpad frequently, then you might find yourself out of place, and it will require some time to get used to with the smaller form factor. Another thing to consider is the use of Outemu switches instead of the industry standard Cherry MX switches. They are louder and feel more clicky as mentioned above, and the more clicky it feels, the lesser premium it feels compared to original Cherry MX switches. But then again, the choice of keycaps is highly subjective. The keycaps aren’t of the best quality and wobble too much.
Another feature that’s frustrating is the absence of an LED indicator for the Windows lock button. As far as pricing goes, it’s a little bit more than the Cherry MX Blue TVS-e Gold keyboard. Comparatively, the build quality and backlit LEDs are strong points for you to consider buying this keyboard over the Gold. Considering the cons mentioned above, if you wish to go mechanical for the first time on a seriously tight budget, then you should definitely go for the Max.
Zebronics Max Specifications:
Keyboard size: Ten-Key Less, Numpad missing
Keyboard backlighting: Multi-coloured LED
Switch type: Mechanical keyboard (Outemu Blue)
Key-rollover: 10-key rollover
Polling rate: 1000 Hz
Strong Aluminium backplate
No LED indicator for Windows lock key
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Abhijit "BabuMoshaaye" Dey
This ape-descended life form believed that coming down from the trees was a bad idea until he was introduced to video games. Has spent endless hours playing Prince of Persia, Hitman, Assassin's Creed, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life and Left 4 Dead. This makes it three sentences, Half-Life 3 confirmed.