OUR STREAMERS

Disclaimer: We received a review unit, courtesy of Armaggeddon Malaysia in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not influenced by Armaggeddon Malaysia, and/or its affiliates, in any way.

What comes in the box

Computer keyboards are quite tricky devices to review. Everybody has different needs and purposes, with no one-size-fits-all keyboard out there. As someone who’s well-versed in the custom mechanical keyboards and uses many different boards on a daily basis, I decided to take up the challenge of writing about the Armaggeddon SMK-6C. I used the keyboard as my home daily driver (it’s too big to travel with), and here are my thoughts after two weeks.

Introduction

The keyboard is one of the most important pieces of equipment I own - without a keyboard, there would be no way for me to use my computer (for work or play). In this case, it is essential to my daily use, so the layout/form factor and comfort of use are what matters the most to me. Since aesthetics is a matter of personal taste, I won’t spend too much time on that aspect.

Full-sized with all the keys you need

The Armaggeddon SMK-6C is a budget-friendly, full-sized keyboard (104 keys) with RGB lighting. The model I reviewed comes with blue Outemu low-profile switches (clicky). It is also hot-swappable if you are interested in swapping the switches or replacing them with other Outemu low-profile switches in the future.

Build Quality and Form Factor

I have no complaints about the build quality of the board. For its budget price tag, I’m surprised at how sturdy it felt. There’s little to no flex on the case itself, and the keyboard is pretty heavy despite its low-profile appearance. The keyboard comes with a fixed USB cable, so no custom cables unless you intend to mod it.

In terms of form factor, it has been many years since I’ve used a full-sized keyboard. I have no use for a navigation cluster and numpad (if I do need the latter, I have an external one within an arm’s reach away), so it took me a while to get used to this layout again. As most of you would know, the length of a full-sized keyboard forces you to extend your arms to use both the mouse and keyboard at the same time. While most people won’t have an issue with this, if you’re used to having both hands close to each other while at the computer, it’s going to take some adjusting. Fortunately, Armaggeddon does offer this keyboard in the shorter TKL form-factor which removes the numpad. However, for those who need a numpad and are familiar with standard layouts, you will have no trouble getting used to this keyboard.

The keyboard also comes with a keycap puller, a switch puller, and three extra switches in case you need to do any switch replacements.

Feel and Comfort

I don’t have a single favourite switch. Because I swap around different keyboards with different switches, I tend to use what I feel like using on that day itself. I have boards with linear, clicky and tactile switches; that being said, all of them are regular full-travel switches. The SMK-6C features Outemu low-profile switches that have a noticeably shorter distance to actuate (meaning how far you have to press before the computer registers your input). 

While most regular switches actuate at around 2mm, the Outemu low-profile switches actuate at 1.2mm - though it may seem insignificant, it was very noticeable to me. In fact, I did run some tests to verify that my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me and I noticed an improvement in my typing speeds. This is probably because I bottom out while typing (I press each switch all the way until it hits the bottom) and the milliseconds saved from moving slightly less per key made a difference. Regardless, the additional typing speed didn’t matter to me because there’s no need to type over a 100 words per minute for the kind of work I do, but it might for other people out there.

When it came to gaming, I didn’t feel like I performed better than before (I’m not great at games, so I guess no keyboard would improve my skill anyway!). For what it’s worth, the keyboard was adequate for all the games I usually play.

Here's a typing test of the SMK-6C:

Looks

Aesthetically - I’m not a fan - I understand that it is a budget keyboard so I won’t harp on the looks too much. Fortunately, the Outemu low-profile switches use the standard MX-cross stem, so it’s possible to change its appearance with aftermarket keycaps, so that’s a plus point.

Usage

Here’s where I had my first stumbling block with the keyboard. The SMK-6C isn’t reprogrammable - which is fine if you’re used to standard layouts. The only thing programmable on this keyboard is its RGB modes.

In my case, I had to resort to third-party remapping software (Microsoft Power Toys) to rebind the keyboard. While this was useful when using Windows applications, the remapped keys didn’t work as intended when playing games - not that huge of a problem, but if you play many different games, the time spent configuring your keyboard adds up. Though I understand this isn’t going to be a problem for most people, it’s what I encountered - so if you use unorthodox layouts like the Happy Hacking Keyboard, you’ll have to bear that in mind when picking up this keyboard.

Conclusion

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience with the SMK-6C. Despite its minor setbacks due to specific needs, the keyboard was a treat to use. The low profile keys felt fine to type on and didn’t take much adjusting to. I had no issues working with or playing games on the keyboard. While the form factor was a bit too large for my liking, the smaller versions of the keyboard solve this issue. With a low price tag to boot, the Armaggeddon SMK-6C makes sense if you’re new to the world of mechanical keyboards and are looking for a way to dip your toes.

Armaggeddon’s keyboards are also available in two other variants - a smaller TKL version, and a full-RGB and programmable version, in a variety of switches. If you're interested in picking them up, they're available on their official Lazada store:

Stay tuned to eGG Network for more news and reviews on gaming hardware and technology!


Your guide to buying a gaming keyboard in 2020.

To qualify yourself as a legit gamer (read: keyboard warrior), you’ll need a good keyboard to go along with your  hard earned gaming stations . Akin to a beautiful katana remaining sheathed in a rusty scabbard, it would be a shame if your true performance was  hindered by a lacklustre keyboard.

If you’re serious about gaming, getting a decent keyboard is necessary. While many brands do offer a truckload of features, namely mechanical switches, anti-ghosting, metal chassis, illumination etc., your purchase decision should be based on how useful these features are to you. Additionally, gaming keyboards aren’t cheap. So if you’re looking to spend your hard earned moolah, it would be best to consider your feature preferences prior to pulling the trigger.

The essentials

How much are you willing to spend?

There is no metric for the best budget allocation for a gaming keyboard. Normally, entry-level keyboards are below RM 200, followed by mid-tier substitutes that come in at around RM300 while the premium keyboard will cost you at least RM400.

The entry-level keyboards usually have an inferior design, posessingswitches that mimic the true mechanical/optical mechanical experience that is generally found in mid-grade and high-end range of products. Most intermediary keyboards come equipped with genuine mechanical/optical switches that are well-received for their durability and great typing experience.

Premium keyboards tend to not only possess all the aforementioned perks, but also throws in a variety of bells and whistles such as macros customisation, metal chassis, illumination, anti-ghosting, PBT keycaps and more into one package. It goes without saying that it should be a joy to type on this specific range of keyboards no matter what activities you’re doing on the PC.

Major considerations when purchasing a gaming keyboard

To go full-size or go TKL?

1. Size does matter

Although full-size keyboards remain dominant for most gamers, TKL (tenkeyless) iterations are gaining more traction nowadays. As the name suggests, a TKL keyboard doesn’t come with a dedicated numeric pad, making it more compact as a result. The extra space will provide more freedom for your hand to manoeuvre the mouse, especially when you’re a low DPI gamer.

Not only that, the compact nature makes it a great choice if mobility is one of your priorities. A typical TKL only measures around 38cm (L) x 13.5cm (W) x 2.5cm (H), so it will fit in most backpacks. In addition, the price of TKL keyboards (or other smaller alternatives in general) is relatively more affordable than its full-size counterparts.

However, if you need a numeric pad to be more efficient and crunch numbers, by all means, go for it. Just make sure you don’t overspend.

2. Find your preferred switches

There are three types of mainstream gaming keyboards: membrane, mechanical and optical. The membrane keyboard is the most common and economical type that can be found on the market. However, it doesn’t share as long a life-span as mechanical or optical switch keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards, on the other hand, should be a familiar term for most gamers (except console and mobile peasants). They are widely recognised as one of the finest keyboards for casual and competitive gaming mainly due to its superior gaming performance.

Aside from evoking an admirable typing experience, there is a wide variation of mechanical switches that make up a mechanical or optical keyboard. This is where these kinds of keyboards stand out; where membrane keyboards tend to have all keys somewhat “lumped” together in the manufacturing process, mechanical and optical keyboards have individual switches dedicated to each character key.. Although brands will name these switch mechanisms differently, they are fundamentally categorised into three breeds- linear, tactile and clicky (we are aware that there are other enthusiast level switches out there, but this should serve as a good starting point for all your gaming keyboard needs).

Linear switches have the simplest movement as they move straight up and down without any tactile feedback or clicking noise, which many gamers appreciate. But its linear operation also increases the chance of misclicks since it only requires somewhat minimal force to register a keystroke.

Tactile switches have often been considered the all-rounder switch of choice for gamers and professionals alike. It’s as responsive as linear switches but provides a satisfying tactile feedback at the same time. When typing on it, you can feel a noticeable bump in the middle of the key travel to know when a keystroke has been registered.

Clicky switches are the complete opposite of linear switches. Just like the tactile ones, the “bump” is more distinct on the type of switch. They are ideal for typing (but not gaming IMO) because you can feel a noticeable indication of the keypress. The biggest downside of the clicky switch is the loud sound (many entry-level keyboards tend to mimic the clicky mechanism).

3. Software

Once you figure out your preferred size and switches, you’ll need to look into the keyboard software. It can make or break the overall user experience in a palpable way. If you plan to customise a set of particular tasks on a specific key (known as a macro), it’s best to get a keyboard with excellent software especially if it involves executing a series of complicated commands.

Keyboards that possess on-board software may sound great, but the lack of a visible and straightforward program to work with can be frustrating. In this case, installing software purely for your gaming keyboard is a necessary evil.

4. Build quality

While a metal chassis feels more premium to the touch, brands do occasionally end up charging users an arm and a leg for it.. If you can afford one, go-ahead but if the budget is tight, please save up for a set of PBT keycaps instead. The keycaps are a more worthwhile investment in our books.

That being said, as long as the frame is rigid, the keyboard should last you a good three to five years of extensive use (and abuse). Some mid-tier keyboards and most premium boards have aluminum chassis. Unfortunately, metal frames are a rare feature on entry-level keyboards.

What’s that?

1. N-key rollover

It’s a feature that registers all keystrokes no matter how many are pressed simultaneously. Imagine yourself spamming random keys on your gaming keyboard, with every key press being fully registered. It can be useful if you can type/perform extremely fast on your keyboard through “anti-ghosting”.

2. Ghosting

A term where keystrokes are "unregistered" due to the inability of a keyboard to process simultaneous signals.

3. PBT keycaps

PBT is the short for polybutylene terephthalate. PBT keycaps are a type of high-class keycap that is more durable than the ordinary ABS keycaps. It’s more sweat-resistant (in theory, the printed character/font on the PBT keycaps are impossible to fade, due to the nature of a second layer of plastic used to form and shape the keyboard characters themselves), making it a top choice for many keyboard enthusiasts.

In a nutshell

There is too much marketing and advertising for gaming keyboards, making it tricky to find the right keyboard. Dare I say, most brands are overcharging all sorts of “gaming-related” products. If you’re patient enough, there are tons of great deals during the sale period. And when that time comes my friend, it’s your best shot to grab a brand new gaming keyboard.

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