The Hermes E3 is a budget 60% board from Gamdias. Good news for South Africans: this board is available for purchase locally with a typical selling price of R800. So the E3 is available in black and white, and features the clicky Outemu Blue switches. It has full RGB backlighting with N-key rollover. We have a plastic enclosure with a detachable USB-C cable that is 1.8m in length.
The typing and gaming experience was surprisingly good. Outemu Blues are a very popular choice for budget mechs, and they’re just very solid clicky switches with a nice tactile feel, albeit a bit loud. I honestly don’t have a preference between Cherry MX Blue and Outemu Blue, so I always feel like you get good bang for buck with budget Outemu boards. The performance is comparable with Cherry MX at a much lower price. These Outemu Blues have an actuation force of 60g with an actuation point of 2mm, and are rated for 50M keypresses. The stabilisers are decent. There is some moderate rattle on the bigger keys, but I’ve seen much worse on budget mechs. The space bar stabs are actually pre-lubed, but it could’ve been done more thoroughly. There is a little bit of metal ping, but it wasn’t loud enough to be an annoyance.
I was easily able to hit over 130WPM on the Aesop typing test, so this keyboard works great for faster typing. Just note that this board is not hot-swappable, as the switches are soldered to the PCB. The keyboard has an OEM profile, however the bottom row keys have an outward curve. This doesn’t make much of a difference for me. It doesn’t really add or detract from the ergonomics. Overall a good typing experience considering the price tag.
There is no software for the Hermes E3, so no remapping or macro recording is possible. There are two Fn keys. The F-row, WASD arrow keys and Windows Lock can be accessed with Fn1, and then the Nav Cluster and RGB controls work through Fn2. So the only way to access arrow keys is via Fn1 and WASD. This means you have to use two hands, which isn’t great for me. At the very least, I want to be able to access arrows with one hand if I cannot get dedicated arrow keys. Having Caps Lock as a Magic Fn would’ve been nice here. Also no media controls on the Fn layer, which is always a nice bonus feature to have. But the Fn layer has all the bare essentials, and should get the job done for general use and some light productivity. There is no manual included in the packaging, however you can download the manual in PDF format from the official website.
Great to see full RGB backlighting at this price point, and there are plenty of modes to choose from with a total of 19. We have the usual candidates such as wave, colour cycle and breathing. You can cycle through the modes with Fn2 + 9, and you also have control over the brightness with Fn2 + – and =. Then there is the option of switching the backlighting On or Off with Fn + 0. One thing that is missing here is the ability to control the speed of the RGB modes, but for me the default speed was just fine. On most of the RGB modes it is possible to set a single colour with Fn1 + ]. There are a total of 8 different single colours. The E3 has an attractive design. The case has a matte black finish with some glossy areas on the side and bottom.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get my hands on the white version, but the black version is easy on the eyes. You get that thick stylised font that looks similar to some Redragon keyboards, and the Fn text is quite out there. The Space Bar features some Gamdias branding. The RGB is nice and bright, I just found that it doesn’t shine through very well on the edges. The board does have a white mounting plate, so there is an underglow effect that is more prominent in the dark. Not really a fan of this font and big Fn text, but that’s just my preference. The keycaps are ABS and they have that slightly grainy finish, and I like this finish as it doesn’t develop shine so easily. I also like that slightly textured feel. The E3 has the standard ANSII layout, so keycap customisation will be straightforward. No need for any non-standard extra keys. The backlighting really came to life when I popped on my HyperX White Pudding set.
Build quality is good. We have a full plastic enclosure, and the plastic is quite thick so the case doesn’t bend easily. There is a metal mounting plate with some good thickness to it. Underneath there are four fixed rubber feet. The case has a natural incline and the tilt felt just right for me. The USB-C port sits on the back left of the case. Good to see a slightly longer cable of 1.8m, as I feel that many 60% boards come with really short cables of 1.4 or 1.5m. The cable isn’t braided unfortunately.
There is a lot to like about the Hermes E3 at R800: full RGB backlighting, detachable USB-C cable and Outemu blue switches. As far as 60% boards go, the $50 price point is very competitive. I wouldn’t say the Hermes E3 blows the competition out of the water, and there are a few areas where it can be improved, such as the stabilisers and arrow key functionality. I would also like to see Gamdias make this available with red and brown switches, and adding hot swap wouldn’t hurt either. But this is definitely a solid choice if you’re looking for an entry level mech – and it’s not every day that you can buy a budget 60% board from a local retailer in South Africa!