On August 8, Xiaomi released a brand new peripheral product, which is different from several keyboards that were previously launched by ‘Yuemi’ brand of the eco-chain enterprise. This product is directly named the Xiaomi Game Keyboard. Of course, the name is not the key. There are, at least, two selling points – the RGB backlight and 229 yuan (33) price tag. So what about this ‘game keyboard’? What are the main differences in comparison to the Xiaomi Mechanical Keyboard? Let’s take a look.
According to the product information on the back of the box, this keyboard is still manufactured by Xiaomi Entrusted Eco-chain Enterprise ‘Beijing Yuemi Technology Co., Ltd.’. Thus, it’s made by the ‘author’ of other ‘Yuemi’ series mechanical keyboards. However, It is a product of Xiaomi brand. This simply means that Xiaomi is confident in this product.
Xiaomi Game Keyboard Appearance
The appearance of a keyboard is very important. We can even say it’s the most important selling point of a product from this category. Moreover, we are dealing with a game product that simply means customers will pay much attention to its look. In the past, the simple design of Xiaomi ecological chain products has always had a good reputation. Obviously, this Xiaomi Game Keyboard has also been passed down on the lineage.
As for the appearance of the Xiaomi Game Keyboard, its structure comes with a narrow frame and a semi-submerged design. There is no random palm rest. Actually, the appearance is very simple, not too much modification.
The upper cover is made of aluminum alloy. According to Xiaomi’s official description, it is made of 5052 Korean aluminum after stamping, grinding, CNC, sandblasting, anodizing, and laser engraving. The process is indeed very good, and the anodized surface treatment is also more delicate and textured. This is very precious for a keyboard that costs only 229 yuan. The only Xiaomi LOGO is placed in the upper right corner of the finely crafted metal plate.
The plastic bottom case has four footpads, two of which are replaceable. They can be replaced with a high pad to raise the keyboard. No complicated foot structure is used.
In the case of the keycap, a very common OEM height keycap is used, and the arc is designed ergonomically.
You may think that a 229-yuan keyboard will not use the PBT two-color injection-transparent keycaps that are costly and difficult to make, but it is. The PBT material is not only drier than the cheap ABS material but also eliminates the annoying oiling phenomenon. Though the thickness of the keycap material is generally limited due to cost, the workmanship is fine and the font processing is good. So there is no obvious burr and uneven light transmission.
In terms of lighting, a full-color independent RGB backlight is used, and the lighting of each button can be controlled separately. However, the Xiaomi Game Keyboard does not have the corresponding control software. So you need to use the Fn+ key combination to control. A total of 14 dynamic effects can be set, including color, brightness, and speed adjustment.
In addition to lighting control, the Windows button provides some combination of keys commonly used by gamers.
There is a woven wire that is soft enough, and the connection to the keyboard is placed on the side near the upper left corner.
This kind of design can make the keyboard fit the notebook better when the player uses the external keyboard.
In terms of hardware, the Xiaomi Game Keyboard uses the Sonix 32-bit ARM master MCU, with a 48M frequency, a 1000Hz return rate, and supports 33 keys, basically covering the common combination of the game area.
Xiaomi Game Keyboard Experience
Xiaomi doesn’t promote it a ‘mechanical keyboard’, giving a very fuzzy ‘game keyboard’ positioning. So what exactly does this mean?
By removing the keycap, we can see that the shape of this ‘shaft’ is the same as that of a normal mechanical keyboard shaft. Relatively speaking, there shouldn’t be a real difference between it and other mechanical keyboards when pressing on them. But the pressing force is light, which is really suitable for game players. The 3mm keystroke is also consistent with many mechanical keyboards. But the red axis is a little different.
It is also worth mentioning that the large-key position uses a more stable satellite axis design, and there is no obvious swaying feeling of the balance bar structure. This is worthy of praise.
According to the official website, this is a new independent game feel axis developed in cooperation with TTC. The trigger strength is between the red and black axes. So what is its physical structure? Before answering the question, let’s take a look at the core of the mechanical keyboard.
It can be seen that the mechanical shaft body itself is a single physical switch, which is rebounded by the spring support switch cap. The switch cap movement causes the circuit shrapnel to contact and open, forming an electrical signal to realize text input.
Although we did not find a description on the official website of TTC, Xiaomi’s description page has unanimously released the disassembly of the shaft.
From this animation, the custom shaft body from TTC does not have an electronic switch structure itself. It is a pure spring + plastic mechanical structure. And there is no electrical component and no power supply. So how does it generate electrical signals for input? Since the shaft body has a snap-on detachable structure, we were able to remove the keycap and directly see the underlying structure. So we uncovered the mystery:
The shaft is pressed and a column of objects protrudes downward to squeeze the components on the board. It is clear that the underlying principle here is the ‘membrane switch’ we are very familiar with.
We found a schematic diagram of a typical membrane switch from the Internet. In a nutshell, the upper and lower layers are arranged separately. When squeezed, the two layers are connected to generate an electrical signal.
Now that we have decided to use the same membrane switch as the membrane keyboard, can we say that this Xiaomi Game Keyboard is essentially a membrane keyboard?
This shaft body actually uses a mechanical structure to complete the part of the hand rather than the silicone bowl structure of the membrane keyboard. The electric switch part is given to the membrane switch. Basically, it can be considered as a product between a mechanical keyboard and a traditional membrane keyboard. This is why Xiaomi only describes it as a ‘game feel keyboard.’ Of course, if you change a company that is not so rigorous and honest, the word ‘mechanical keyboard’ may actually appear on its product page.
The Xiaomi Game Keyboard is a product with a price of 229 yuan. It comes with a simple design, excellent aluminum alloy CNC top cover, PBT transparent keycap, and independent RGB backlight. Though it was discovered by our dismantling that it is not a ‘mechanical keyboard’ that people mistakenly believe, it is still worth the price as a hybrid that combines the advantages of mechanical shaft feel and thin film structure. Of course, the purchase of a very personalized product such as a keyboard is identical to buying a shoe – you should like its feel, or you need to feel it before you can draw conclusions.