Review unit provided by Epomaker
The Epomaker EK68 is a 65% gasket mount hot swappable 2.4Ghz/Bluetooth/USB-C wired/wireless mechanical keyboard priced at US $89.99.
My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who creates art, graphic design, edits photos and videos. So in this review I will also be talking about the workflow with this keyboard and graphic design apps.
Note that my experience with mechanical keyboard is limited and the only other mechanical keyboard I've tested is the US $149 Logitech MX Mechnical Mini.
- MODEL: EPOMAKER EK68
- LAYOUT: 65%, 66 Keys
- MOUNT TYPE: Gasket
- SWITCH: Mechanical Switches
- KEYCAP: Double shot PBT, OEM profile
- CASE MATERIAL: Plastic
- PLATE MATERIAL: Steel
- HOT-SWAP: Yes, 3/5 pins
- STABILIZER TYPE: Plate-mounted
- BACKLIT: RGB
- CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4 GHz and Type-C
- BATTERY CAPACITY: 3000mAh
- N-KEY ROLL OVER: Support
- SIZE: 325*117*41mm
- WEIGHT: about 0.8kg
This is a beautiful mechanical keyboard with solid build quality. The keyboard works with Mac and Windows. Typing experience is very satisfying with the tactile and audio feedback of the keys. There are numerous backlight options to choose from. Downside is since this is a 65% keyboard layout, it is not as convenient to hit certain keyboard shortcuts, e.g. there's no Ctrl/CMD button on the right side, and there are no dedicated function keys. And there's no numpad but you know that already.
This keyboard gets a 5/5 stars for me since it looks good, is well built and performs well. And the pricing is reasonable.
The main limitation is the 65% keyboard layout, so this keyboard is certainly not for everyone. I don't think this keyboard is suitable for visual content creators like me, and I'm also a heavy user of keyboard shortcuts and numpad.
A white label product?
On the box, it says the keyboard is designed and manufactured by Epomaker. There's one Youtube reviewer who had an issue with that claim and he said that this keyboard is a white label product that's marketed but not made by Epomaker. And that white label product is actually the ZUOYA GMK67 gasket mechanical keyboard DIY kit which can be found at US $53 or less on AliExpress at the time of this review. And there are many sellers for this ZUOYA GMK67 DIY kit with or without the switches and key caps.
So I'm not sure what to think about this white label issue. E.g. Apple designs and manufactures their iPhones but they don't make every single component in the iPhone. White label products are extremely common in China.
The main difference between the ZUOYA GMK67 and the Epomaker EK68 is the latter comes assembled or pre-built. The price difference isn't significantly different compared to buying all the separate parts and building your own keyboard. I personally prefer having the keyboard pre-built since I'm not really a DIY type of person. And I have nothing against white label products as long as the quality is good. E.g. Look at all the similar looking iPad magnetic stands, Apple or Surface keyboard alternatives, Apple Pencil and Microsoft Surface Pen clones.
The items included in the box are:
- 2-in-1 switch and key cap puller
- USB-A to USB-C braided charging cable
- 3x extra switches
- Key caps for Escape, Enter, Spacebar and Backspace
There's also a manual with the keyboard shorts listed. The PDF manual is available too.
Below are listed shortcuts. There are shortcuts for the function keys and lighting effects. It's not easy to remember all these shortcuts as there are so many.
Since the ` and ~ keys are not beside the 1 button, you'll have to use FN + ESC and Shift + ESC for those keys.
If you're using Adobe Illustrator and you're creating multiple objects while trying to draw shapes, it's because you have activated the ~ key.
The width of the keyboard is actually wider than the Logitech keyboards and Apple keyboard that I have. My muscle memory occasionally causes me to hit the wrong keys on the slightly wider EK68. As with any keyboard and layout, you'll get familiar with time.
Body of the keyboard is mostly plastic but the build quality is solid. This keyboard does not feel hollow in anyway. It's also quite heavy at 0.8kg.
The keyboard is much thicker than I expected. But the height is still alright for me and I do not need a palm rest.
The keyboard can be propped up to two heights. This is the lower height.
And this is the higher height.
The pull-out plastic feet has rubber on them and these have good grip on the table.
This keyboard is available with three types of switches:
The gasket mount setup used here has foam above and beneath the printed circuit board (PCB). The foam dampens the typing sound to something that less sharp and less noisy. And I really like the sound.
The keys have good feedback. The overall typing experience is excellent for me.
On the top side of the keyboard, you can find
- USB-C port for charging. The keyboard can be used while charging
- Mac and Windows switch
- Switch for Bluetooth, wired and 2.4Ghz connection
- A removable USB-A wireless receiver
This is a keyboard that can be used Mac and Windows. For connection, you have the option of Bluetooth, cable and 2.4Ghz.
The 2.4Ghz receiver is a USB-A adapter. I wish there's also USB-C adapter included as that would be move convenient when using this keyboard with devices that only have USB-C.
Keyboard can be paired with Bluetooth to 3 devices, and switching is easy.
Here's a look at the keyboard layout.
There are no dedicated function key buttons. To use function keys, you have to press FN with one of the numbers. I wasn't able to get the media shortcuts to work with Mac.
There's no numpad. As someone who uses a numpad often, this is a dealbreaker for me for the type of work I do.
There's no ` and ~ button beside the 1 key. You have to use FN + ESC and Shift + ESC for those keys.
There's no Ctrl/CMD button on the right side. This is another deal breaker for me since I'm a heavy keyboard shortcut user. No right-side Ctrl button means I can't hit shortcuts on the right side of the keyboard, e.g. Ctrl+O, Ctrl+Alt+Del with one hand.
Caps lock button has no light indictator.
Note the light indicator for the connection and battery life. Battery life percentage can be seen with MacOS and WIndows, but not on iPad or Android. Battery life with RGB lighting is just one week. The battery can last for weeks without the lights.
If you use function keys (F1 to F12) often, I feel like it's better to get a keyboard with dedicated function keys. And Epomaker do sell other keyboards with dedicated function keys. but those keyboards will be bigger of course.
There's the dial that can be used to adjust the volume. Pressing the dial will mute or unmute audio.
These buttons are for Windows, but they will switch to Ctrl, Alt and Cmd when keyboard is in Mac mode.
The RGB lighting on this keyboard is gorgeous. The lighting options are too long for me to list. Switching between the different lighting options real easy with the FN shortcuts. The lights look so beautiful at night.
The key caps are not translucent so light does not pass through so the key caps cannot be seen in the dark.
This is a good looking mechanical keyboard that has excellent typing experience and many features, e.g. RGB light, Mac/Windows switch, wireless/wired connection. The limitation comes down to the 65% layout.
While I enjoyed using this keyboard a lot, it's not really suitable for my type of work where I use lots of keyboard shortcuts and the numpad.
If you're not sure whether you can get used to a 65% keyboard, I recommend you use your current keyboard without the right-side Ctrl key and numpad for a few days and see how you feel.
Mechanical keyboards can be very expensive. The Epomaker EK68 selling at US $89.99 is reasonable and is worth the money.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Solid build quality
+ Compact design
+ Two adjustable height
+ Excellent typing experience
+ Gasket mount foam dampens typing sound well
+ Beautiful RGB keyboard lighting
+ Numerous lighting options to choose from
+ Has Bluetooth, cable, 2.4Ghz connection
+ Bluetooth pairing to three devices
+ Windows and Mac compatibility
+ Reasonable price
+ Dial for volume control is convenient
- Caps lock button has no light indicator
- Key caps not translucent, keys can't be seen in the dark
- No Ctrl/CMD button on right side
- Not suitable for heavy keyboard shortcut users
- Function key row sacrificed for compact design
- No numpad, but you know that already
- Battery life with RGB light is just one week
The Epomaker EK68 keyboard can be found on Epomaker online store and Amazon USA. Check out more reviews on Amazon, and make sure the reviews are of the correct model because Epomaker sells too many keyboards models.