With just three-fifths of the keys of a full-size keyboard, 60 percent keyboards are becoming popular with gamers looking to declutter their desk or find a more comfortable solution for long gaming sessions.
Most 60 percent keyboards will feature mechanical switches, which are “clicky” and responsive. But not all keyboards are created equal. Glorious PC Gaming Race’s GMMK Compact stands out among the crowd of 60 percent keyboards as a shining example of what every company should be striving towards.
To kick things off, let’s talk about options., sinc there are quite a few. The Compact launched February 2019 with two main options, pre-built for $109.05 or DIY starting at $59.99. It’ll be hard to get your hands on one of the DIY kits and we’ll go over why later. For now, let’s focus on the pre-built option that ships with Gatreon Brown switches.
Gateron Browns are classified as hybrid switches, which means the user will feel a slight bump when they press each key, but the bump will barely be noticeable after a few gaming sessions. If a user were to gently and slowly press on a key, they would feel the bump at which the key press is registered—referred to as the actuation point. The point of actuation takes about 55g of weight to register and has 4.0mm of travel before it’s registered by the keyboard. The term “hybrid” refers to these switches hitting a balance between linear motion while also retaining the aforementioned tactile bump. Think of Cherry MX Reds—the switch type commonly used on Corsair keyboards—but a bit beefier when it comes to resistance.
Gatreon Browns are the only switch option for the pre-built Compact, which might be off-putting to some gamers. Although consumer choice is limited, Glorious has built in a solution that only adds value to the Compact.
The Compact is hot-swappable—meaning all of the switches can be removed and replaced with the user’s choice of switch. This is a huge added bonus and is seen in other keyboards, but at a much higher price point. That’s the case with the most popular hot-swappable 60 percent keyboard—the Massdrop ALT. Having hot-swappable capability ensures that users can try out new switch types without having to invest in a second keyboard just to try out a new switch feel. For newer PC gamers, or gamers new to mechanical keyboards, this keyboard has you covered while you search for the right feel for your desired performance.
The hot-swappable feature is also why getting your hands on a DIY version of the Compact will be difficult. Glorious gives consumers the option to simply purchase the keyboard without keycaps or switches, which drops the price drastically. So, if you’re fortunate to have some keycaps and switches that work for you laying around, then you might be able to pick this 60 percent keyboard up on the cheap.
There is one drawback to the hot-swappable design, however. When I received my Compact, it had a loose switch that would come out when I was trying to pull the keycap off. The solution was an easy fix: just press it firmly into place. After making sure the switch was securely fastened in place, I have had no issues in this area.
You may have noticed the lovely braided red cable in the photos of the Compact. This is another area where Glorious needs to improve. The keyboard ships with a black braided micro USB cable with a gold plated tip. Sounds solid enough, right? Well, not so much. When I went to adjust my keyboard at an angle‒which is how I prefer to game‒the keyboard disconnected. I contacted Glorious about this issue, and instead of having me send back the keyboard, they offered me a 15 percent refund, which was more than enough to buy two braided cables from another trusted brand-name company. No harm, no foul, and I have to give Glorious props for the quick responses and willingness to make it right without interfering with my work and play.
Another plus is the fully programmable RGB lighting on the Compact. While a lot of 60 percent keyboards offer RGB lighting, the Compact has some of the strongest and most unique RGB presets in the game.
Glorious’ approach to RGB lighting is a bit more subtle than most keyboards due to the sandblasted black aluminum backplate, which is a plus for some and a minus for others. All of the preset RGB options can be accessed via a few keystrokes, but can also be accessed through the GMMK Keyboard Editor software. Glorious’ software is some of the best on the market when it comes to 60 percent keyboards, although programming macros can be a little confusing if you’re not an advanced user.
A couple more bonuses include the sturdy build quality, adjustable rubberized feet, and under-mounted keycap puller. This keyboard is also an absolute unit, weighing in at about 1.7 pounds. The Compact is one of the heaviest 60 percent keyboards I’ve gotten my hands on thus far.
Since I’ve been using the Compact I’ve noticed that the shoulder pain I’ve experienced since an injury has drastically gone down, and wrist comfort isn’t even a thought that crosses my mind while gaming. The inherent bonus of being able to angle and adjust my keyboard freely due to its small size is a massive plus. For players who are struggling with any pain or discomfort, I highly recommend giving the Compact a try since it is one of the best values on the market in terms of 60 percent keyboards.
The Compact is an affordable keyboard that has a lot of built-in value, especially when considering its hot-swappable capability. If you’re in the market to experiment with switch types or just need something a bit more comfortable, then the Compact is a great place to start. It has a solid amount of bells and whistles with a few minor issues that are easily resolved through basic troubleshooting or reaching out to customer service.
- Minimalist design
- Sturdy build
- More than fair price point
- Intuitive RGB control
- Great customer service
- Limited pre-built options
- May ship with a bad USB cable
- Need to check if switches are secure