Designer Review: Epomaker RT100 wireless mechanical keyboard

Review unit provided by Epomaker

The Epomaker RT100 is a 97-key gasket mount hot swappable 2.4Ghz/Bluetooth/USB-C wired/wireless mechanical keyboard priced at US $115.99.

My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator who uses both Mac and Windows and a lot of keyboard shortcuts.

This is the second keyboard from Epomaker that I've reviewed. The first one was the Epomaker EK68 which is a well made compact 66-key mechanical keyboard but that has several dealbreakers for the type of work I do. The EK68 does not have function keys, numpad and a right-side Ctrl button. The RT100 is better than the EK68 in many ways with the main highlight for me being having all the necessary keys.

Bottomline
The Epomaker RT100 is a beautiful retro-looking mechanical keyboard. The build quality is excellent. The typing experience is extremely satisfying. The keyboard can be paired to 4 devices (3 Bluetooth + 2.4Ghz) and connection is good.

Downsides. The detachble mini display isn't that useful and only exists to make this keyboard look unique. Programming the macros can be intimidating at first due to the lack of instructions. Battery life is 2+ days if you use keyboard lights at max brightness for 8 hours a day.

There's one downside for MacOS users. When switched to Mac keyboard layout, the extreme right key beside the spacebar is a Ctrl instead of Opt like with an Apple keyboard. If you change that key to Opt with the driver, and switch to Windows keyboard layout, that key will be Alt instead of Ctrl. So this keyboard is unlike Logitech keyboards where you get Cmd & Opt with Mac and Alt & Ctrl with Windows.

The pricing of US $115.99 is reasonable and competitive. It's cheaper than Logitech and Nuphy, but slightly more expensive than Keychron.

Specs

  • Layout - 95% / 97 keys and a knob
  • Hot-swappable - 5-pin Hot-Swappable Kailh Socket
  • Keycap material - PBT
  • Keycap profile - MDA
  • Connectivity - Bluetooth 5 / 2.4Ghz / USB-C
  • Battery capacity - 5000 mAh
  • LED direction - South facing
  • Ghost keys - NKRO / anti-ghosting
  • Dimensions - 397 x 147 x 30mm
  • Weight - 1.35kg

Things included

  • Keyboard
  • 1.8m long USB-C to USB-A cable
  • Keycap puller
  • Manual
  • Mini display with USB-C connector
  • USB-A wireless receiver

The USB-C to USB-A cable is thick, long and flexible. Quality looks good.

Design


The keyboard only comes with this warm colour palette.


Design of Epomaker RT100 is retro, timeless and beautiful and kinda reminds me of keyboards used by old IBM computers. This keyboard of course has been updated with the latest keyboard features.


The top plate is slightly recessed from the edges


There are subtle curves on the side. The height is much taller than low profile keyboard, but still comfortable for typing without the need for a wrist rest, at least for me.


The area around the feet are recessed and there are more design curves.


The feet has good grip and there are three heights to choose.


Behind the top left area is the USB-C connector hidden behind a removeable cover. Under the cover is a housing to hold the USB-A wireless receiver.


The mini display is about 1.25 inches, or 2.5 x 2.5cm. The resolution is not mentioned but it looks sharp with no noticeable pixelation.

The mini display can show day and time, battery life, light adjustments, connection type and an image or animated GIF. There should be readings for temperature and CPU load but those did not work for me, nor for others based on the reviews I've found online.

The keyboard can be paired to 3 devices with Bluetooth and one more with 2.4Ghz. When switching between the connection, specific LED lights (Q, W, E, R) will light up with the corresponding connection but those are not as obvious as the status shown on the mini display.

I'm not sure how useful the mini display is though since you can already check the wireless connection from the key lights, battery life from Fn+Backspace keyboard shortcut and day and time from your taskbar.

Downside to the mini display is it doesn't always come on after sleep. To wake it from sleep manually, I use the Fn+Arrow keys to adjust the lights.

After mini display wakes from sleep, it may show the keyboard is connecting wirelessly when it's actually already connected. After waking from sleep, the battery life status, date and time may be wrong.


The mini display attaches to the back of the keyboard with its USB-C connector. There's no support beneath the USB-C connector so it is very possible to accidentally hit the mini display and break the connector.

Another downside to this design is when you're using the mini display, you have to find another place to store the removeable cover and USB-A receiver.


Near the top right are toggle switches for power and wireless connection, Mac and Windows keyboard layout and the dial with button for volume control, pause and play.


Status lights for NumLock, CapsLock and battery charging are located between the Enter and Numpad.

Battery light will flash red when battery life drops to 20%. Light for NumLock works with Windows but not MacOS.

The arrow keys are full-sized and extends up besides the Shift key and right beside the 0 key making that half the width. There's a gap separating the arrow keys with other keys to make it less likely to hit the wrong keys.


You can zoom in to the photo above to get a clear look at the keyboard layout.

The keyboard layout is pretty standard for a compact 97-key keyboard.

The function keys are F1 to F12. There are pre-programmed function shortcuts which are customisable. You can see all the RT100 keyboard shortcuts in this PDF.

Keys for PrintScreen, Home, End, ScrLk and Pause are located on the numpad and have to be accessed with function key shortcuts.

Delete button is above the Num key.

The modifier keys on the right are Ctrl, Winkey and Alt. On the right they are Alt, Fn, Ctrl. When in MacOS layout, the buttons on the left are Ctrl, Opt, Cmd and on the right are Cmd, Fn, Ctrl.

One downside for MacOS users is in Mac mode, the right-side Ctrl does not work, and Mac driver v1.2.65 is not able to assign a right-side Ctrl to that right-side Ctrl key. Even if you assign a right-side Ctrl, you'll still get a left-side Ctrl. This is a driver bug.


Typeface looks nice.

The keyboard uses 5-pin hot-swappable Kailh socket.

Available options for switches are

Each switch has its own features so do some research to find the right one for you. Here's a guide on choosing switches.


The switch included with my review unit is the Epomaker Sea Salt Silent Switch. The tactile typing experience is satisfying. Typing noise is very low. I love how quiet this keyboard is. The low noise makes this keyboard suitable for use in quiet environment or when there are other people around, eg. colleagues, babies.

I would describe my initial reaction with typing on this keyboard as jumping into a really soft sofa that goes "poof" softly.

Driver

The drivers I've tested are Windows driver v1.2.65 and Mac driver 1.2.65.

Mac driver was not able to detect the keyboard with wireless connection.

The categories on the left are:

  • Main - Customising keyboard shortcuts and assigning macros
  • Lighting - Customise the LED light effects
  • Macro - Create your own macros
  • Sketchpad - Customose the mini display
  • Share - Find macros created by others
  • Share pictures - Find pictures and animated GIFs shared by others
  • Personal
  • Support


Under Main, you can assign selected keys with keyboard shortcuts and macros.

When FnLayer toggle is enabled, shown in light teal colour are the customisable keys, namely F1 to F9, 0, ., 1, 3, 7, and 9. When you press Fn with those buttons, the shortcuts will activate.

Shortcuts can be assigned to the F1 to F9 function keys as well as the Fn-pressed function keys.

4 groups (called layers) of shortcuts can be created for the function keys (F1 to F9 and not the Fn-pressed keys). You have to switch between the 4 groups of shortcuts manually though, as they will not load automatically based on active apps like what's possible with other drivers.


Under Lighting, you can choose from the 22 lighting effects, direction, brightness and speed of the effects.

Below are the keyboard shortcuts for adjusting the lighting effects:

PROGRAMMING MACROS
Macros are sequences of keyboard shortcuts created for repetitive tasks.

Programming the macros is intimidating if you don't understand the three main controls provided:


Touch Repeat - Macro will run for as long as the button is held down. It runs only 1 loop.
Button Control On/Off - When shortcut button is pressed, macro will run repeatedly until the shortcut button is pressed again. This is a toggle.
Loop - Macro will run the number of loops that's set after shortcut button is pressed.

To program the macros, hit Start to record, use your keys in sequence, then press Stop, then Save. The macro programming is precise and records up and down of keys including how long the keys were held down.

If timing is not important, you can checkbox Fixed to have all keys activate after 1ms, or whatever time you like. If timing has to be specific, you can click on the boxes with time and enter your own value. E.g. Good for time specific key combos in fighting games.

After programming the macro, you need to save, and re-assign the macro to a shortcut button. Save and re-assign. If a macro has already been assigned to a function key, just saving/updating the macro will not automatically assign that new macro to the existing function key.

CUSTOMISING THE MINI DISPLAY

This is where you can set the date and time for the mini display. But the date and time always seems off when the keyboard is off to sleep.

Uploading an image or animated GIF to the mini display requires a wired connection, and the transfer speed is extremely slow even more small file sizes, think KBs.

I wasn't able to get the mini display to show the temperature and CPU load. Anyway those details are useless to me.

Battery life

Battery capacity of 5000 mAh is higher compared to other mechanical keyboards.

When I used the keyboard lights at max brightness for 8 hours a day, battery life can last for only 2+ days. So to lengthen the battery life, I only use the keyboard lights at night. I don't actually have any issues with the battery life as long as I don't use the lights that often.

Conclusion


This keyboard is great for graphic designers. This keyboard has the function keys, right-side Ctrl/Cmd buttons and numpad that I need for work. But the right-side Ctrl for MacOS does not work. The driver also allows you to customise keyboard shortcuts and macros to function keys.

The tactile typing experience is satisfying. The Epomaker Sea Salt Silent Switches are so quiet and pairs well with my Logitech MX Master 3S with silent clicks. Of course if you like the thic-thoc typing sounds, you can always choose other types of switches.

The Epomaker RT100 is a good looking keyboard that performs well. The main downside for me is the mini display doesn't work as advertised but that's not a deal breaker, and if you use that mini display, you have to find somewhere to keep the USB-A receiver and its cover.

The price of US $115.99 is quite reasonable to me as it's cheaper and better than the US $149 Logitech MX Mechanical Mini I've reviewed months ago.

Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful classic timeless design
+ Solid build quality
+ 22 customisable beautiful lighting effects
+ Can be paired to 4 devices (3x Bluetooth + 2.4Ghz)
+ Fast re-connection
+ 5000 mAh battery capacity is on the higher side (but see con)
+ Macros can be programmed
+ Knob for volume control, pause and play
+ Silent switches are great for quiet environment
+ Cute display that shows time, connection and battery life
+ Works with Windows, MacOS and Android
+ Can work when charging
+ Two additional heights provided by the fold-out feet
- No PrintScreen button but that can be assigned
- For Mac keyboard layout, the extreme right modifier is a Ctrl instead of Opt
- Battery bar instead of battery percentage
- Battery life when using lights at full brightness is about 2+ days.
- Mini display does not show temperature and CPU usage
- Mini display takes long to wake from sleep or don't wake
- Mini display can display wrong battery life, date and time after wake from sleep
- No where to store USB receiver and cover when using the cute display
- Driver should have showed all keyboard shortcuts
- Uploading of GIF is slow, and can only be done through wired mode

Availability

You can find the Epomaker RT100 on Epomaker online store, Shopee SG, Lazada SG

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