Put a donke on it
Sure, James Donkey. A relative unknown on the planet of keyboards, recognized extra for some questionable gaming mice than it’s for gaming keyboards.
Regardless of this, we had been fairly excited to check out the RS2, the Retro styling is one thing we haven’t seen loads of not too long ago, and hot-swap switches are all the time enjoyable, so let’s see what James has to supply.
Amusing identify apart, this keyboard guarantees quite a bit. Not solely is it a full-size hot-swap board, nevertheless it makes use of a gasket-mounted design too, and we haven’t seen loads of these roll by means of the WePC workplace. So, let’s see how Jim’s stallion fares.
James Donkey RS2 specs
James Donkey RS2 mechanical keyboard
USB Sort-C, 2.4GHz
Sure, with 3 or 5-pin Cherry-style switches
Cool retro syle
Labels round change sockets are very handy
Gasket-style mounting makes for a softer bottom-out
Tactile and thocky typing expertise
Quantity wheel mutes audio, as a substitute of pausing it
Sure, with 3 or 5-pin Cherry-style switches
What’s within the field & setup
- James Donkey RS2 mechanical keyboard
- 2.4GHz USB dongle
- USB type-A to Sort-C cable
- Person Guide
- Keycap puller
- Key change puller
Most small-brand wireless mechanical keyboards are often restricted to Bluetooth, which is completely practical however tends to be a bit of annoying to make use of on a PC.
It’s because not loads of PCs have Bluetooth built-in, often necessitating a Bluetooth USB dongle or a PCI-E expansion card. So it’s all the time been a pet peeve of ours, so you possibly can think about our delight once we noticed a very good old style 2.4GHz dongle within the field, that means that we didn’t should fiddle with pairing a brand new gadget.
Apart from the joy on the sight of a dongle, the unboxing expertise was excellent, particularly whenever you keep in mind this board prices lower than $100.
The James Donkey RS2 got here in a stylish white field, with a form of lithograph-looking shiny define of the keyboard on the entrance, with among the options listed across the sides, and a totally annotated picture on the reverse.
NOW READ: Corsair K70 RGB Mini review
Opening the field we’re greeted by the keyboard, shrouded in a delicate plastic bag that capabilities as a mini guide because it has diagrams displaying the right way to use the fundamental performance of the board, like pairing it and the way the multimedia controls work.
By way of packaging security, James Donkey has carried out OK right here. We had been initially involved as whenever you open the field, the keyboard is simply there, nestled in a plastic shell, within the aforementioned bag, with no further padding in sight.
These considerations had been remedied once we realized that there was a layer of dense foam on the within of the lid, so when the field is closed and sealed, this foam immobilizes the board, stopping harm.
That is the place loads of the curiosity for this particular board will come from, because it has a reasonably distinctive design that marries a retro colorway with trendy keyboard options.
It’s troublesome to explain, however the visuals of the James Donkey RS2 are form of ‘off retro’. Which means that there are a few refined variations that set it other than the common IBM Mannequin M keyboard knock-off.
The brown accent keys and form of brown/grey legends on the lighter keycaps gave this keyboard a coffee-esque general coloration scheme that we love. Although some may say that we’re past retro, we discover it exhausting to agree once we have a look at this board.
One other factor that retains the James Donkey RS2 wanting traditional is the 100% full-size format. Whereas we typically favor small form factor keyboards right here at WePC, they don’t look proper in an old-school retro coloration scheme.
There are different hints of modernity right here too. The amount wheel above the Numpad has a silver knurled border that feels satisfyingly tactile, and the on/off change and USB Sort-C port on the again of the keyboard hidden across the again additionally assist convey this board into the twenty first century.
James Donkey, maybe displaying some self-awareness, has stored the branding to a minimal for the RS2. The one instantly seen occasion is beneath the Numpad on the entrance of the keyboard and it’s in that very same grey/brown coloration we talked about earlier. You get one other emblem on the sticker on the underside of the board too.
One other subtly that we didn’t discover instantly was the distinction in legend coloring between keys. The brown keys have black legends contrasting the lighter beige keys’ brown/grey coloration.
By way of lighting, the James Donkey RS2 is certainly missing. That is made painfully apparent as we’ve develop into spoiled by copious quantities of RGB, and when sitting the RS2 in opposition to different trendy boards, it simply doesn’t maintain up.
The RS2 solely has white LEDs. They’re per key, which permits for some enjoyable lighting results, nonetheless, you may be underwhelmed because the lighting isn’t very shiny, and there aren’t any clear keycaps or different gaps by means of which it might shine.
That is the best-looking gaming keyboard we’ve seen in a very long time, and we see loads of keyboards right here at WePC. Nonetheless, appears could be deceiving, so we have to look a bit of deeper.
Construct high quality
This keyboard feels good within the arms, excellent in reality, particularly whenever you keep in mind the $100 value. Nonetheless, it’s not with out a few points, fortunately none have an effect on the consumer expertise, although they may be trigger for concern in the long term.
There’s undoubtedly some flex to the highest plate, and much more from the gasket-mount design, although it’s solely noticeable whenever you press a key down with appreciable drive.
NOW READ: Cherry MX Switch Guide
We suspect this can be a results of pushing exhausting sufficient to max out compression of the gasket, which then makes the PCB itself flex. Fortunately, this isn’t detectable throughout regular use.
Transferring to the keyboard nerd stuff, we have now double-shot PBT by default, making for strong and long-lasting keycaps. That is notably good to see for a keyboard like this, the place a particular aesthetic is way of the rationale for buy, that means that it may be tough to retain the look with aftermarket replacements.
Talking of which, our mates over at Mechkeys will type you out with replacements when you’re in want.
Typing & gaming efficiency
Right here’s the place the James Donkey RS2 actually hits its stride, because it’s among the best mechanical keyboards we’ve examined, tied for 1st place with the implausible Mountain Everest 60.
We had been supplied with Gateron Brown switches in our pattern, however you will get the RS2 with Gateron Reds, or no switches in any respect, as this keyboard is appropriate with 3 or 5-pin Cherry-style switches.
Within the strategy of swapping a key change out, you’ll discover the gasket on which the switches are mounted, this can be a large contributor to the texture and sound of the James Donkey RS2.
We’ll begin with tactility, this may fluctuate relying in your change selection, however the expertise of a Gateron Brown switch mixed with a gasket mount is not like the rest, with 2 distinct tactile factors, the second being a far softer bottom-out than you’d in any other case have.
The sound isn’t fairly what we’d name thocky, extra like a mild clack. It’s nonetheless properly audible, nonetheless, with just a few individuals within the WePC workplace commenting on how good it sounds, which doesn’t occur typically, regardless of the frequency with which new boards arrive right here.
In the event you determine to swap out the switches, you’ll discover a function that’s so criminally underutilized and straightforward to implement that we don’t know why that is the primary time we’re seeing it: A labeled change plate.
Anybody who’s swapped the switches or keys on a keyboard is aware of how a lot of a ache within the ass it’s to get all of the keycaps again in the proper place, with most of us taking a photograph earlier than disassembly and utilizing that as a information.
James Donkey has carried out the courtesy of truly printing the identify of the important thing beneath every socket, eradicating the possibility for errors and making the method manner faster.
The amount dial can also be a fantastic addition, and one thing we’d prefer to see extra of on future keyboards, however for some motive, it mutes the audio as a substitute of pausing it when clicked in, regardless of the instruction guide claiming the opposite.
For gaming, the James Donkey RS2 is completely cromulent, nonetheless, these of you pro-FPS low-DPI gamers may discover the 100% kind issue to eat into mouse house an excessive amount of.
James Donkey RS2: Remaining phrase
What James Donkey has carried out right here is implausible. A completely hot-swappable, gasket-mounted wi-fi keyboard for $100 is a uncommon present, and one which we extremely advocate.
The sound, tactility, and upgradeability are all top-tier right here, making for among the best keyboards for typing/normal use that we’ve ever examined.
The retro theme received’t be liked by all people, nevertheless it’s a robust look so it was by no means going to be universally preferred. Regardless, it’s good to have one thing new that isn’t simply matte-black or brushed aluminum.