Price: Russian Federation in January 2017 from M.Video Saint-Petersburg was 3,790₽  (~$85AUD)

DESIGN

The RED SQUARE Old School gaming mechanical keyboard uses a skeletal ten-keyless design with a sandblasted metal base-plate which makes the keyboard feel more premium than it is. The variant I am reviewing uses Gateron Blue mechanical switches. The cable is 1.9M long according to my measuring tape and has a unique USB2.0 plug design which helps differentiate it from all of the other USB devices that are plugged into your computer (see picture below). The cable is braided and is not removeable from the keyboard. Although it would have been nice to have a removeable cable, RED SQUARE has incorporated 3 cable management channels into the bottom of the keyboard allowing the user to route the cable to exit to the left, right or back of the keyboard.

wp_20170301_17_15_12_proNote the 3 cable management channels (left, right and centre) and the grippy rubber feet.

The layout of the keys is traditional international (US English) but it also features a Cyrillic layout allowing you to type in Russian without having to use a virtual keyboard – or worse, estimating where each key is.

wp_20170301_17_14_01_proKeyboard layout.

There a no dedicated media keys but RED SQUARE has included a ‘Fn’ and given the F-keys different functions such as media controls, volume and some application shortcuts. RED SQUARE has also given it a lock key allowing you to lock the keyboard meaning that will not accept any inputs until the keyboard has been unlocked again.

BUILD QUALITY

Overall the build quality is very solid for the low price of the keyboard. There is very little flex in the keyboard chassis thanks to the metal base-plate – though it should be noted that the bottom of the keyboard is made of plastic. The metal and plastic edges of the keyboard chassis are finished nicely and I couldn’t find any defects.

The keycaps feel a little cheap and the height of the keycaps are not consistent along the keyboard but it hasn’t caused any issues with my typing (e.g. some keys are a little higher than others even if they are in the same row). When typing, the keys do not feel any more wobbly than Western brands and the stabilisers used in the larger keys such as space-bar and shift feel solid. The bottom of the keycaps are not as nicely finished as the keyboard itself as they have rough edges.

wp_20170301_17_16_10_proThe side profile of the keyboard with raised rear feet. Note the inconsistent keycap height (scroll lock sits marginally higher than PB).

TYPING EXPERIENCE

This Red Square Old School keyboard uses Gateron Blue mechanical switches that feel very similar to Cherry MX Blue switches (clicky and tactile with 55g actuation force). They emit a similar clicky tone to the Cherry MX Blue switches too. I don’t recommend a clicky style switch if there are other people nearby in your workspace as I can almost guarantee they will dislike it.In games I found that my teammates who I spoke to through Discord mentioned that my keyboard was particularly noisy and distracted them in-game. However it should be noted you can get around this by activating push-to-talk.

wp_20170301_17_16_47_proThe Gateron Blue mechanical switch. Note the Cherry MX compatible stem.

I normally type on a CoolerMaster MECH Mechanical Keyboard that uses Cherry MX Brown switches and I found myself typing at a similar pace using the Old School keyboard and not making any more mistakes than usual. There is no wrist rest so for those wanting a wrist rest should look elsewhere or find themselves a third-party wrist rest (I use a small bean-bag style wrist rest). In-game I found the keyboard to be quite comfortable and the audible ‘click’ of the switch helped to button mash accurately. Though I found that my teammates who I spoke to through Discord mentioned that my keyboard was particularly noisy and distracted them in-game. However it should be noted you can get around this by activating push-to-talk.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND RATING

When I first saw the keyboard siting in its garish box on the shelf at M.Video I thought it was going to be poorly built and uncomfortable to use. I was wrong. This little TKL keyboard has been a delight to use providing you know what you are getting yourself into when buying ‘clicky’ style mechanical switches.

Build Quality 7.5/10

Comfort 8.5/10

Performance 8.5/10

Value 9/10

OVERALL 8.5/10

              If you need a mechanical keyboard with Cyrillic keycaps and don’t mind a TKL design then this is an amazing little keyboard for an amazingly little price.

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