The GIM-KB64 boasts a list of impressive features that you wouldn’t expect from a board at this price
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Today we’re having a look at a new budget board, the GIM KB-64. This board has the exact same layout as the SK64, with the 1U right Shift, dedicated arrows and Delete key. The GIM KB-64 is currently only available with Gateron Optical Browns and Blues, however it is hot swappable so you can pop in any other Gateron Optical switch. This board features full RGB backlighting with N-key rollover, and comes with a detachable USB-C cable. What caught my eye here was the price tag of $40, which is slightly lower than other budget offerings like the DK61E and GK61. Looking at these features, this board definitely has some bang for buck potential, and finds itself in a little niche as far as pricing is concerned.
When it comes to budget switches, Gateron Opticals are right up there as one of my favourites. I especially like the linear Reds for their smoothness. These Optical Browns have an actuation force of 55g, and are a little heavier than the mechanical Gateron Browns. For me these switches felt really smooth with medium to low tactility. The tactile bump is definitely not as pronounced as something like Cherry MX, and at times it almost felt like I was typing on a linear keyboard. The bump also occurs quite high on the downtravel, which further reduced the tactile feel. The stabilisers are so-so, pretty much what you would expect from a $40 board. They do actually come pre-lubed, but it wasn’t applied very consistently. I was able to get a big improvement by doing a mod, and eliminated most of the rattle. Overall a good typing experience, especially considering the price.
The GIM KB-64 has full RGB backlighting. Most $30 or $40 mechs only have rainbow backlighting, so this feels like a bonus feature. The Fn layer RGB controls are similar to the GK and SK boards. On Fn + [ there are four reactive modes, and on Fn + ] you can save five colour modes of your choosing. A rather scant list of RGB modes on the software, so I stuck with the default ones. Then you have your usual speed and brightness adjustment on the arrow keys, and with Backspace you can switch the RGB on and off. A pretty nifty feature is that you can freeze the backlighting with Fn + \, so if there is an RGB scheme that looks really good at a certain moment, you can capture that as a static mode. The backlighting looks good, although it shines through a little unevenly on these ABS keycaps. The board has a very nice underglow effect thanks to the white mounting plate.
So this 64-key layout works great for productivity. Not only do you get dedicated arrow keys but also a dedicated Delete key. I found this very useful, especially in my video editing workflow where I do a lot of Deletes and Shift Deletes. The biggest challenge with this layout is getting used to the smaller size and positioning of right Shift. I ended up using my thumb and middle finger instead of pinky, and it took some time to adjust. The left Shift is also slightly smaller at 2U, but that’s barely noticeable. I must say, this layout is growing on me, especially as I start feeling more comfortable with that 1U right Shift. The arrow keys feel more natural than on a 61-key layout, and the dedicated Delete is a huge time-saver. If you’re interested in putting on custom keycaps, just remember that there are a bunch of non-standard keys, however there are plenty of sets out there that support this 64-key layout. The Fn layer has all the bells and whistles, featuring the F-row, Nav Cluster and complete media controls. Also a Windows lock for gaming.
The GIM KB-64 has a layered design, featuring a Standard Layer, Layer 1-3 and Driver layer. With the software it is possible to customise all layers except the standard layer. You can switch between layers on the fly using Fn + Q, W, E and R. If you’ve used boards like the GK61 and SK61, the software will look very familiar. There is single key remapping and macro recording functionality, and you can also switch between the Windows and Mac layout. A bit of an underwhelming list of RGB modes, but I don’t change RGB modes that often anyways. You can also create your own colour modes with the RGB studio.
The GIM KB-64 features a plastic enclosure, and it has some good thickness to it and feels sturdy. Really loving the hot swap feature, as it gives you the ability to replace the switches and mod the stabs without the need to do any soldering. You are limited to Gateron Optical switches, but there are quite a few options nowadays, including the Silvers and lightning quick Yellows. It’s not going to burn a hole in your pocket either, as Gateron Opticals are very affordable. There are four fixed rubber feet on the bottom of the case, and the keyboard has a nice ergonomic angle and felt comfortable during extended use.
I wouldn’t say that the GIM-KB64 has cracked the system, but it definitely offers good value at $40. It boasts a list of impressive features that you wouldn’t expect from a board at this price, and is a great place to start if you’re looking to get your feet wet with 60% keyboards.