Reviews

Epomaker EK68 Review: Affordable Mechanical Keyboard

Epomaker is trying to dominate the 65% keyboard market by releasing a series of keyboards with this layout style. Recently, we reviewed the TH66 and MC66, which had some shortcomings, such as an awkward layout and a lack of features. However, Epomaker has a history of taking customer feedback seriously and making improvements to its products. The latest addition to their lineup, the Epomaker EK68, is their best effort yet, with the issues from previous models addressed and improved upon.

The Epomaker EK68 is a budget-friendly custom keyboard with keycap and switch pullers included in the package, making it a great option for those new to the world of custom keyboards. The pullers will come in handy for swapping out keycaps and switches. Thanks to the Epomaker who provide us with a review unit, let’s start the review:

Unboxing

  • Keyboard: The keyboard is the first visible item upon opening the box. It is packaged securely to prevent any damage during shipping. The keyboard looks sleek and well-built, with a sturdy frame and a smooth finish.
  • Instruction Manual: The instruction manual is located beside the keyboard. It is a comprehensive guide on how to set up and use the keyboard, complete with illustrations and troubleshooting tips.
  • Type-C Cable: The Type-C cable is located beneath the keyboard. It is a durable cable connecting the keyboard to a computer or other device.
  • 2.4G Receiver: The 2.4G receiver is a small device connected to connect the keyboard to a computer wirelessly. It is packaged securely to prevent any damage during shipping.
  • Keycap/Switch Puller: The keycap/switch puller is a small tool used to remove the keycaps from the keyboard. It is made of durable plastic and has a comfortable grip.

Design & Build

The keyboard may look made of metal, but it’s crafted with a durable plastic case painted with a sleek gunmetal gray finish. The keyboard also features two-stage tilt feet on the back to adjust its angle, making it comfortable with just a palm rest.

Additionally, the back edge of the keyboard has a USB port for convenient connectivity options, and switches to control the Windows or Mac settings. And the connectivity mode between Bluetooth, 2.4GHz, and USB. The keyboard also has a cutout to hold the USB dongle when it’s not in use, which is a great feature as it prevents the dongle from getting lost when it’s not being used.

The EK68 mechanical keyboard is a standout option for those looking for a high-quality typing experience. One of the standout features of this keyboard is its set of Doubleshot PBT keycaps. These keycaps are made from a second piece of plastic bonded to the outer shell, resulting in a durable and crisp legend. Unlike other keycaps that may chip or fade over time, the Doubleshot process ensures that the legends on the EK68 will remain clear and legible for years to come.

Gateron Pro 2.0

In terms of switches, the EK68 allows you to choose between Epomaker’s original switches or Gateron Pro 2.0 yellow linears. My sample came with Epomaker’s linear Flamingo switches, which were smooth and consistent with a lightweight, clacky sound profile. Additionally, tactile Budgerigar switches are available for those who prefer a different feel. All three types of switches come pre-lubed, ensuring that the typing experience is as smooth as possible from the moment you start using the keyboard.

The Gateron Pro 2.0 Yellows are also an excellent option for budget-friendly switches. These are considered among the best budget switches available on the market today, offering a smooth and consistent typing experience at a fraction of the cost of other high-end switches.

Swap Switches

The Epomaker keyboard offers a user-friendly feature that allows you to easily swap out the switches. Thanks to its support for hot-swapping. The keyboard comes with a tool that enables you to unplug a switch and press another into place without the need to unplug the keyboard. This is an excellent feature, especially for users looking to explore the world of mechanical keyboards and the hundreds of custom switches available on the market today.

In addition to its user-friendly features, Epomaker has also paid close attention to the keyboard’s structure. The keyboard features a gasket mount system, which leads to a smooth typing experience. Additionally, there are several layers of sound-dampening foam between the plate and PCB, between the switches and the PCB for added pop, and a final layer at the bottom of the case. These layers help absorb any bounce or flex when typing, resulting in a much more comfortable typing experience.

The sound-dampening foam also helps to bring out the unique sound of each key without ever sounding generic. Compared to earlier models from Epomaker, this keyboard has a much lighter sound due to the Cherry profile keycaps and the gasket system. The Epomaker keyboard is a great choice for a high-quality, user-friendly mechanical keyboard that offers a smooth typing experience and excellent sound dampening.

Stabilizers and RGB

The Epomaker EK68 is a high-quality mechanical keyboard that offers a number of advanced features for users looking for a top-of-the-line keyboard experience. One of the standout features of the EK68 is the quality of the stabilizers. They come pre-lubed, meaning there is no rattle or unwanted noise when typing. Additionally, the stabilizers are plate-mounted, which makes them very tight and eliminates any wiggle that could cause noise. While some users may want to add a bit of extra Krytox to make the keyboard sound even smoother, this is not necessary and is more of a personal preference.

Another great feature of the EK68 is its programmable RGB lighting. The keyboard supports full key remapping, which allows users to customize their keyboard to their specific needs. There are 19 lighting presets onboard, keeping brightness, speed, and color adjustments. Additionally, there are three modes for first-person shooters, League of Legends and just illuminating your main typing keys. The keyboard’s software is rough around the edges, but it will get the job done. However, it is less advanced than other software options like Razer Synapse, which offers deeper programming options.

Functions

The EK68 keyboard boasts a compact 65-percent layout, perfect for gaming and productivity. The keyboard features a sleek design, with a dedicated arrow key cluster and a column of navigation and editing buttons. Additionally, all missing buttons are still accessible as secondary commands by holding down the Fn button on the bottom right. For added convenience, the EK68 also includes a clickable volume wheel located just above the cluster, allowing easy control of your system audio. The 65-percent layout is quickly becoming a popular choice among keyboard enthusiasts, and the EK68 is a prime example of why.

The EK68 keyboard by Epomaker is an exceptional value for its price point. At just $79.99, it offers a top-of-the-class typing experience that rivals even more expensive custom keyboards. Some may argue that the software could be more polished than other options on the market, but the overall performance and quality of the keyboard more than make up for it.

Flamingo

One of the standout features of the EK68 is the Flamingo switches. These switches are incredibly smooth and provide a satisfying typing experience. Additionally, the factory lubing on the switches is consistent, ensuring that no random keys sound different from the rest. When paired with the double shot PBT keycaps, the sound and feel of the keyboard are truly exceptional. The sound is on the clacky side but not thin or high-pitched. Instead, it offers a satisfying and enjoyable typing experience.

Gasket

Another highlight of the EK68 is the gasket mount implementation. Epomaker has improved upon previous models, and the EK68 offers the best gasket mount for any of their keyboards. Prior models tended to be stiff, but the EK68 provides a more flexible typing experience similar to custom keyboard kits. Epomaker has truly learned from its past experiences; the EK68 is a prime example.

However, there are a few areas it needs to improve compared to other custom keyboard kits. Specifically, it lacks support for QMK/VIA firmware and does not support screw-in stabilizers. These two features are becoming increasingly popular among custom keyboard enthusiasts, and it would be great to see them added to the EK68.

Despite these shortcomings, the EK68 still offers much value for gamers. The software is easy to use and allows for the programming of key functions, and the stock keymaps cover most of the needs of the average gamer. Additionally, the plate-mounted stabilizers are quite good and provide a solid typing experience.

Battery

The EK68 gaming keyboard is a great option for gamers, but its battery life leaves something to be desired. With a 3000 mAh battery, the keyboard must be charged frequently, especially if you use the RGB lighting feature. To extend the battery life, turning off the RGB lighting can make a significant difference, allowing for multiple weeks or even months of use. A battery indicator next to the arrow keys helps keep track of the battery level. However, charging the keyboard overnight is still recommended to ensure it’s always ready for gaming sessions.

Verdict

If you’re in the market for a new keyboard, the Epomaker EK68 should be at the top of your list. As someone who has used multiple Epomaker keyboards, the EK68 was a pleasant surprise. Epomaker is known for bringing enthusiast-level features to affordable prices, and the EK68 is no exception.

One thing that sets the EK68 apart from other keyboards in its price range is the combination of switches, keycaps, and sound and feel tuning. The switches are tactile and responsive, providing a satisfying typing experience. The keycaps are also high-quality, with a comfortable texture and a nice weight. And the sound and feel tuning is spot-on, giving the keyboard a premium feel without being too loud or distracting.

The Epomaker EK68 is an exceptional choice if you’re looking for a keyboard for around $80. It offers a great combination of features, performance, and value that you won’t find in other keyboards at this price point. So, if you’re keyboard shopping, push the EK68 to the top of your list. You won’t be disappointed.

Read Also: Epomaker TH96 Mechanical Wireless Keyboard Review

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