Glorious GMMK Pro: 75% Kit with Big Potential

There are a few issues with the GMMK Pro right now, but at its core it offers incredible build quality with a superb typing experience

The GMMK Pro has finally arrived on South African shores! Ctrl.Shift.Esc ran a pre-order on this beast and the stock was shipped out early June. The GMMK Pro is meant to be a mainstream-friendly build kit and it’s priced at a very competitive $170. Batch 1 reservations opened in November of 2020, which was followed by Flex Batch reservations, and these orders are fulfilled on a rolling basis. Eventually the GMMK Pro will be released and you’ll be able to buy it without having to pre-order or make a reservation. This kit represents a beginner-friendly entry point to custom mechs: it includes a case, hot-swap PCB, mounting plate and stabilisers. All you have to do is add switches and keycaps. I’ll be using my Gateron Black Inks which are lubed and spring-swapped. I still have a few keycap sets on the way, but for now I’ll be using my reliable GMK Olivia clone.

Package contents

Each GMMK Pro is made of CNC machined aluminium and the chassis features an anodised surface with filleted edges and rounded corners. The Glorious branding is emblazoned on the underside of the case. Colour options include Black Slate and White Ice, the latter of which looks a lot more like silver. The case has a beautiful finish and it is incredibly sturdy and weighty at 1.5kg—a standout feature of the GMMK Pro. The bezel is quite thick but I think it works well on this particular case. On the sides there are acrylic diffuser strips, and while I’m not really a fan of case lighting, this was done quite elegantly by Glorious. In the top right corner you will find a clickable rotary encoder knob. The USB-C port cutout sits in the middle at the back, and the kit comes with a braided USB-C cable. You might want to go for a coiled cable to spice things up a bit.

CNC machined aluminium

On the bottom piece there are 12 gasket tabs, and it features a cut out for the daughter board and JST connector. Here we also have the first of two pieces of sound dampening foam. The PCB supports 5-pin switches with a south-facing configuration, so no need to worry about switch interference. We have the Glorious hot-swap sockets which makes it super easy to install and remove switches. The rotary encoder knob is soldered to the PCB, and by default it matches the colour of the chassis, although you can purchase the gold and black units separately. Between the PCB and mounting there is an additional layer of sound dampening foam. The GMMK Pro comes with an aluminium mounting plate that is secured to the PCB with eight screws, plus an additional two screws for alignment, and four screws that hold the acrylic strips in place. Like the rotary knob, the mounting plate is also customisable, and the extra options are brass and polycarbonate. Each plate will have a unique feel and sound, so this largely comes down to personal preference. Last but not least, we have our top shell that screws into the bottom piece via 8 screws. This gives the keyboard a sunken key profile.

Mounting plate options

The Olivia keycap set creates a beautiful aesthetic which is complemented by the silver case and RGB underglow. The golden knob would look so good here! As mentioned earlier, I do have a few keycap sets on the way, and I’m pretty eager to try the Akko ASA Black & Pink on here. Even though the Olivia keycaps aren’t shinethrough, I got a very nice underglow effect. There is an exhaustive list of RGB modes on the Glorious Core software. This is an extremely good looking keyboard.

White Ice (more of a silver)

The typing experience was exceptional, and I got that beautiful deep and thocky sound with my Black Inks. This was exactly the sound I was hoping to get. For a gasket mount board, the typing feels fairly firm and there isn’t a lot of bend, nonetheless the bottom-out felt nice and soft. I genuinely enjoyed typing on this board and I found myself spending quite some time on Monkeytype! I’m definitely keen on a polycarbonate plate in the future, but I was very satisfied with the aluminium. It’s a nice middle ground between brass and polycarbonate.

Beautiful aesthetics

The only thing I didn’t like was the stabilisers. I immediately noticed a strange sticky feeling, as in when you press them down they stick to something. Turns out that Glorious went for a kind of band-aid mod here, but the material they used causes the stabiliser stem to stick. So I removed all the strips and applied my own band-aid mod. I only did this for space bar, as I like the muted sound. The GOAT stabs have gained a fair bit of notoriety in a short amount of time, and they were pretty average. Mine were way overlubed, so I just cleaned it off and applied my own. They’re definitely usable, but not quite on par with something like Durock or C3. If you’re looking to upgrade, just note that the aluminium and brass plates are not compatible with all third-party stabs. I had to use excessive force to get my Durocks to fit, so you’d need to do a little DIY sanding here. Even though this is achievable, it’s still a bit of a letdown and hopefully Glorious will adjust the mounting plates.

GOAT stabilisers

The GMMK Pro has a 6 degree typing angle and the front height of the case is 2cm. It felt fairly comfortable for me, using a hover style for typing and gaming, but if you don’t hover, you might want to consider getting a wrist rest. The rotary knob is held in place with friction, but it felt pretty firm so no issues with wobble. It has tactile steps and can also be clicked. By default it’s set to volume control and mute. The rotary knob is extremely useful to me, whether I’m gaming, listening to music or video editing.

Comfortable height and angle for hovering

The 75% layout strikes a great balance between functionality and small form factor, and represents a great entry point for beginners. It’s only one row wider than a 60% board, but you still have a full F-row, Nav Cluster and dedicated arrows. Just be careful when choosing a keycap set, as this 75% layout requires a bunch of non-standard keys.

Make sure your keycap set includes these extras

One major letdown of the GMMK Pro was input delay. It just didn’t feel very responsive in CSGO, and upon further investigation I learned that it has a latency of 26.5 milliseconds, which is extremely high for a wired keyboard. This might be okay for casual gamers, but for any kind of competitive gaming you want something below 5ms. The input lag is caused by the Glorious firmware and can only be fixed by flashing QMK. But there is a big caveat in doing this: right now the QMK build does not support the RGB or rotary encoder knob, so in fixing the input lag you lose these features. It does look like Glorious are on the verge of adding RGB support, so hopefully that happens soon. If you cannot wait, you should be able to find some unofficial QMK builds that have RGB support.

Flash QMK for lower latency

Alternatively you can use the Glorious Core software. It’s pretty intuitive, with key remapping, macros and RGB control. One major shortcoming is that you cannot use the Fn key as a modifier, so it’s not possible to do Fn layer bindings. Glorious are currently working on this feature. As for now, there are three dedicated layers per profile and you can cycle between these layers. This feels very awkward in comparison to just using Fn as a modifier key. The good news is that QMK does actually give you a fully customisable Fn layer, but again, this means you sacrifice the RGB and rotary encoder – at least for now. So as it stands, QMK will fix the input lag and give you a proper Fn layer at the expense of RGB and the rotary knob.

Glorious Core

To flash the QMK firmware, the first step is to create a .bin file with the configurator. Here you can create your own keymaps. I like to put my Delete on Caps Lock, and having dedicated Home and End keys is very useful. Since I lose the rotary encoder, I just mapped dedicated volume controls, and some other media keys. I also like to have a quick launch for Chrome. QMK gives you one extra layer that is accessed with the Fn key. As I remapped my F9-F12 keys, I just added these to the Fn layer. Make sure you have a Reset button here, as this will allow you to enter bootloader mode in case you need to flash again. But as a last resort, there is a reset button on the PCB.

QMK configurator

The next step is to flash the firmware, and this is done with QMK Toolbox. So you start by selecting the .bin file you created, then you hold Space Bar + B while plugging in the cable. This will put the keyboard into bootloader mode. Just note that you need to use the stock cable when doing this. Once your device is detected, you simply click on Flash. Glorious Core is not compatible with QMK and the software will not recognise the board once QMK is flashed. You can revert back to the default Glorious firmware by flashing the .bin file.

Final build

So in summary, there are a few issues with the GMMK Pro right now, but at its core it offers incredible build quality with a superb typing experience. I still think this is a good entry-level build kit, and hopefully Glorious will iron out all the issues in the near future. This kit has a lot of potential.

2021/09/23 – Update

As per the GMMK Pro Development Roadmap, RGB support was merged with the master branch on 1 September 2021, so the GMMK Pro will have RGB by default when using QMK Configurator to compile firmware, however you still won’t have use of the rotary encoder. To get the rotary encoder working, I recommend using Vial, which is an open source QWK fork. Check out this Reddit post. So what you need to do is flash this firmware onto your GMMK Pro, then use Vial to set your preferred keymaps.

2022/04/07 – Update

The latest version of the GMMK Pro has support for third party stabilisers. I had no issues fitting Durock v2 stabs on my new unit.

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