GamaKay MK61 Review

Apart from the attractive exterior, the MK61 has a good typing experience with solid build quality

Get the MK61 on Banggood

We’re looking at the GamaKay MK61 today, and this is a budget 60% board that is going for only $50. This board actually comes with double shot PBT white pudding keycaps, so if you’re a pudding afficionado, this board saves you the hassle of having to buy a third-party keycap set. The MK61 features Gateron Optical switches, and it is hot swappable so you can put in any Gateron Optical switch. All the other expected features are there, including full RGB, NKRO and a detachable USB-C cable.

Gotta love those white puddings

There are a few interesting switch options for the MK61. I really wanted to try the Optical Greens, but sadly they weren’t in stock when plaving my order. This board will soon also be available with the Optical Yellow v2 switches. Then you have your usual Red, Brown and Blue options. I haven’t reviewed a clicky board in a while, so I went for the Gateron Optical Blues here. These switches have an actuation force of 55g with an actuation point of 2.3mm. I’m not really a big fan of the MX style clicky switch because of the rattly feel, and the sound isn’t quite as clean as something like a Kailh Box switch. Nevertheless these are absolutely fine for a budget, entry-level mech. The stabilisers are factory lubed, and I was satisfied with the stock performance. A tiny bit of rattle on space bar, but it was barely perceptible. I didn’t experience any issues with metal ping, and there is also a rubber strip underneath space bar to minimise plate vibration. Very good typing experience considering the price.

Gateron Optical Blue

I think a lot of people will find the white pudding keycaps very appealing on the MK61. This keycap style makes for vibrant and punchy RGB. What I like about these particular keycaps is that they actually have thicker walls than the HyperX and Glorious pudding sets, and I got a measurement of 1.2mm. So the quality is good, and these caps have a slightly textured surface. There are a few things I don’t like so much: some of the legends have a stencil-like appearance, which doesn’t quite look consistent with the other keys. There is also some jaggedness where the white area meets the transparent area of the keycap. But these are all just nitpicks, and you’re still getting really good value here. Not many $50 boards feature double shot PBT keycaps, and you can except good durability.

13 RGB modes

There are 13 RGB modes accessible via the keyboard’s Fn layer, so by pressing Fn + \| you can cycle through the modes. You have all the usual RGB controls, like brightness and speed adjustment, as well as single colour presets. I did find some of the RGB modes a little choppy and the diffusal wasn’t the smoothest I’ve ever seen. But apart form that, this is a an eyecatching keyboard. The angled USB-C cable adds a very nice aesthetic touch, and that front right branding always seems to look good on a keyboard case.

Case branding

The Fn layer is exactly the same as the GK, SK and DK61 boards. This is a very thorough Fn layer and nothing is missing. We have the full F-row, Nav Cluster, RGB controls and a complete set of multimedia controls. The bottom right positioning of the Fn key makes the Fn arrow keys fairly convenient, as you can access these with one hand. It is possible to move the Fn key with the software, so you can always remap to dedicated arrow keys as well.

Hot swap – compatibility with Gateron Opticals

You’ll find a link to the software on the Banggood listing page. It looks pretty much identical to the software of my Kemove SnowFox. You have comprehensive key remapping with the option of recording your own macros. As mentioned, you can remap Fn to another key, which is very useful if you want that bottom right corner arrow key arrangement. The software actually gives you another list of RGB modes, which you can access by clicking on Lighting setting. The Fn layer modes are under Built-in effects. Then you can also create your own RGB colour mode by going to Custom Effect. The user interface is not very intuitive, but once you get the hang of it, all the functionality is there.

Sound dampening foam in the case

Build quality is good. The case is made of fairly thick plastic, and the board feels nice and sturdy with a weight of 580 grams. On the underside there are four fixed rubber feet and some GamaKay branding. The lack of fold outs isn’t a problem, as the case has a natural ergonomic angle with OEM profile keycaps. The USB-C port can be found back left, and I really like this white USB-C cable with the angled connector.

Angled USB connector looks stylish

I don’t know if it’s only my unit, but the alignment seemed off on some keys, which is most likely caused by the mounting plate. Always nice to have that hot swap feature, as it gives you customisation options like lubing or replacing the switches. There are two spare switches included in the packaging. Just remember that this board is only compatible with Gateron Optical switches, and this is one of the trade-offs of using Opticals: you don’t have as many options as with a traditional mechanical hot swap board. The stabs are plate mounted so if you’re not happy with the stock performance, you can always doctor them a bit more.

Starlight RGB mode

So all in all the MK61 offers good value, and there is definitely a niche market for these pudding keycaps. Apart from the attractive exterior, this board has a good typing experience with solid build quality.

Wondering about Optical Switches?
The difference between Optical switches and traditional mechanical switches is that Opticals use light beams instead of metal contact for actuation. On the downpress, the shaft of the switch blocks a lightbeam (or let’s it pass through with some designs), which completes a circuit and results in a key actuation. The only reason this Optical Blue has the metal leaf inside is for the tactile feel and clicky sound. The red switch for example doesn’t need a metal leaf on the inside. Because of the lack of metal contact, optical switches have higher durability than traditional mechanical switches. On top of that, they have lower debounce, which means the time between pressing the key and the signal being sent is reduced.

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