This is my top recommendation if you’re looking for a super budget entry level mech
Redragon Kumara on Amazon
The Redragon Kumara is arguably one of the best bang for buck mechs on the market. The board has enjoyed mainstream success for an extended period of time, and with a price tag of only $30 it’s the perfect entry-level mech for newcomers. I noticed Takealot were selling the white version for R800, and being a big fan of the white aesthetic, I was naturally interested in doing a revisit of this classic mech. The Kumara offers undeniable value with features you’d expect from a board double its price.
According to the Takealot listing the Kumara has Outemu Optical switches, however these are just the normal 3-pin mechanical switches with the contact leaf mechanism. The Kumara is currently available with the linear Reds or clicky Blues. Blue switches are of course a popular entry-level choice because of that ASMR clicky sound, and the Outemu Blue is a more than passable Cherry MX clone. As with most budget MX style switches, there is noticeable rattle and metal ping, but it should be adequate for the newcomer. Many beginners don’t quite realise how loud these clicky keyboards are, so that should be an important consideration. Make sure everyone around you is agreeable! With an actuation force of 60g, the Outemu Blue offers a medium to heavy typing experience with some decent tactility.
Although the stabilisers aren’t pre-lubed they offered satisfactory stock performance, and believe me when I say, I’ve seen much worse at this price. With this being clip-in stabilisers, it’s very easy to take them out and do some tuning. One of the reasons the Kumara is such good value is that it is hot-swappable, and just remember that these Outemu sockets will only take Outemu switches. With that said, I was actually able to get the Akko Ocean Blues to fit, and they went in quite easily. The metal ping isn’t really perceptible on the clicky version of the Kumara, however on the linear version you might want to apply some lube. There were four or five keys where it was pretty bad though.
The Kumara features Redragon’s thicker stylised font, something you don’t see so much on their newer boards anymore. Considering the target market, I can’t really be too nitpicky about this font, and you can always throw on a third-party set. As a matter of fact I’ve seen some very stylish modded Kumaras. The super thin bezels give this board a sleek and streamlined appearance, and the Redragon branding is emblazoned between the arrows and Nav cluster. Another feature that makes this such good value is the fact that it has full RGB, as you normally only get rainbow backlighting at this price point. While I’m not personally a fan of the font, the RGB was really eyecatching on this white aesthetic. There are a whopping 18 colour modes, which are accessible through Fn + the Nav cluster. You can also choose from 8 preset single colours when the static mode is activated. Then we have all the usual RGB controls, including speed, brightness and direction.
The build quality is what I’ve come to expect from Redragon: the keyboard feels compact and sturdy. The Kumara is a tray-mount board with 9 screws holding the assembly in place. We have double-shot ABS keycaps with a thickness of around 1.1mm. On the bottom of the case there are two rubber-tipped fold-outs that offer an additional typing angle. When these feet are not in use I did find that the board slides around quite easily, so something that Redragon can improve on a future iteration.
This is of course a tenkeyless mech with a total of 87 keys. On the Fn layer you will find a set of media controls as well as RGB controls, and then there is a Windows Lock option. I would’ve liked the volume controls to be on the F9-F12 segment, making it accessible with one hand, but it’s just a personal nitpick.
The Kumara still offers uncontested value at $30, and this is my top recommendation if you’re looking for a super budget entry-level mech. This is also a great board to mod, and you’re saving enough money here to justify buying an extra keycap set and maybe even some Outemu switches. I’m planning to do a mod with the Akko Matcha Green switches and Honey Milk XDA keycaps, using some PE foam between the PCB and plate.