The AUKEY KM-G3 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review: A Basic Budget Mechanical Keyboardby E. Fylladitakis on October 23, 2019 8:00 AM EST
Per-Key Quality Testing
In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high-quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users. It is worth noting that there is typically variance among keyboards, although most keyboard companies will try and maintain consistency - as with other reviews, we're testing our sample only.
The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduce the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typically sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.
Although we previously received good results from virtually identical OUTEMU switches, the performance of the switches on the KM-G3 is mediocre. There is significant disparity across the main keys of the keyboard, to the point that users with sensitive fingers may discern the difference between certain keys. The average force at the actuation point is 42.5 cN, a rather low figure for a Cherry MX Blue clone, making the keys feeling a little too light for people who are used to a tactile mechanical switch. On the positive side, they should reduce long-term use fatigue.
I always try to use every keyboard that we review as my personal keyboard for at least a week. My typical weekly usage includes a lot of typing (about 100-150 pages), a few hours of gaming and some casual usage, such as internet browsing and messaging. I personally prefer Cherry MX Brown or similar (tactile) switches for such tasks but the audible tactile Blue switches are also close to my personal preference. The OUTEMU switches are quite good for professional use, traveling easily and solidly while offering great tactile and acoustic feedback. The problem here is that the acoustic feedback is rather loud, making the keyboard very likely to annoy anyone else nearby. Most users will find the audible feedback to be a boon, allowing for better sense coordination, but those who type long texts in quiet environments may become weary of it.
When it comes to gaming, the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB keyboard has very few extra features that will be of much use to gamers. The macro recorder is very basic and the vast majority of users will not be able to make practical use of it, reducing the list of gaming-related practical features to the RGB lighting profiles. It is also a rather noisy keyboard, as the loudness of the switches makes it absolutely impractical for night gaming for users in a shared household and may even be bothersome during the day in some cases. For users who live alone or game in well-insulated rooms, this will not be a problem, but everyone else will need to steer towards another kind of keyboard.