I has been a bit of time since I have built a new custom keyboard of my own and I recently settled on building a NK65 from NovelKeys. The NK65 is a mostly pre-built 65% mechanical keyboard kit meant for people just starting to get their feet wet in the hobby. All one needs to complete the build is switches and key caps.
I usually miss out on the many, what usually turn out to be, single run group buys and so finding a quality kit that isn’t mass produced tends to be a challenge. When I ran across the the NK65 on DeckHero (a mechanical keyboard enthusiast sales website based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) I had to check it out. It ticked almost every button for me. A kit that came fully assembled with south facing RGB sounded like a fun build.
The NK65 Superuser Edition is basically the same as the base NK65 but in a special colourway including a translucent dark green/blue plastic case with teal stripes on the front and bottom. It looks even better in person though my pictures don’t really do it justice.
The NK65 comes in it’s own carrying back inside it’s product box. I had no idea it came with a case so that was really nice to see. Inside, along with the keyboard kit snuggled in under a strap and in it’s own plastic bag is a user manual and a coiled USB cable. The coiled cable was a nice touch though I personally will likely never use it.
Pulling the kit out of the case we are greeted with a beautiful translucent green case and a NovelKeys branded black PCB. You can’t see in the pictures, as I did not disassemble the kit before I finished building it, there is an aluminum plate there for some extra structure and some dampening material made of silicone to give this keyboard a really satisfying sound without any hollowness or echo present.
The hot-swappable (no solder needed) PCB included is compatible with three and five pin switches. I chose to go with some switches that DeskHero offered on the same page as the NK65 as you get a bit of a discount when you order them this way. I picked out the TTC Matrix 01 switches. They are a linear switches requiring 45 grams of force during normal use and 55 grams bottomed out. This is very close to the Gateron Yellow switches I so love. The other advantage to these TTC switches is they have a shine through window for the RGB lighting to get through easily. This windows lets the light out while also giving it a sort of slight diffusing effect. They look fantastic.
For keycaps I used a budget set off Amazon from Samgsn called Hammerhead Light. I have no idea if this is a copy of a GMK set or someone elses but this one is still pretty good quality. No shine through on these but they are high quality double-shot ABS jobs that feel great to type on. They legends are super clear as well. I really like the colourway as well as it matches the case really well. For the price and how many key caps you get with the set it really is a no brainer. The only down side is they are Cherry profile. It’s mostly okay though I typically type on OEM or ASA profile and this can make for a slightly error-prone slow typing experience.
That error-prone experience could also come from the 8 degree angle the keyboard is on. With my daily driver I am used to a fifteen degree angle so sometimes the number row and next row down can get a bit frustrating to type. This is me though and many others will not have the same experience.
The NovelKeys NK65 Superuser Edition is also fully customizable with VIA. I have had problems with VIA in the past but this time it just worked recognizing the keyboard right away. I was able to customize the keys to the right of the backspace key and below with just a few clicks. I was also able to get the RGB lighting going easily too.
The RGB lighting on the NK65 is very bright and with VIA you can set up per key profiles if you so wish. I prefer a single colour backlight so mine is set to white.
Is there anything I would like to see different? I would like to see a 75% model. I have grown accustomed to this size as it’s compact but still has access to the function keys without having to hit a function button to access another layer. The NK65 is still more functional than a 60% keyboard though. Having a dedicated Delete key is something I always miss with 60% models.
Other than that, I wish the status lights for Caps Lock and so on weren’t blue. I would have prefered white LEDs here but they do their job and aren’t too distracting.
Can I recommend the NK65 Superuser Edition? Yes, absolutely. It’s simple for a beginner and still fun for someone who wants to dig down a bit further while both will end up with a nicely simple premium keyboard.