If Marvo can iron out a few of the issues, this keyboard can really cement itself as one of the best bang for buck build kits
MarvoDIY sent me their new Redefined68, which is a barebones 65% build kit that comes in at a very attractive $79. Having reviewed the TM680 recently, I’ve been eager to try some more budget kits, as you can really get a good typing experience and sound profile with some basic mods.
The Redefined68 comes with a plastic chassis that has an aluminium frame attached via screws. The keyboard features a hot-swap PCB with north-facing switches, and these are the CIY sockets commonly found on budget boards. I’m quite impressed to see not only a layer of case foam, but also a layer of silicone sound dampener between the PCB and plate. We have a steel mounting plate that features clip-in stabilisers. The bottom of the board has two flip-outs that will give you a 7-degree typing angle, and you even get a nice metal nameplate that you can stick on the bottom.
For our build today we’re going to be using the Tangerine v2 and Akko Midnight ASA keycaps. I wouldn’t recommend using Cherry keycaps on this north-facing PCB, as there is always the possibility of interference. Hopefully we start seeing more south-facing PCBs on budget kits in the future, as it accommodates the Cherry profile.
I was quite satisfied with the final aesthetic. The metal frame gives the keyboard a premium feel and the bezel is extremely thin. My only nitpick would be that the top finish isn’t as smooth as the sides, and it also had some noticeable marks. This does detract from the overall appearance because the top bezel is always visible. But apart from that a really nice looking keyboard. There are 20 RGB modes that can be cycled with Fn + apostrophe. Then we have all the usual backlighting controls including speed, brightness and direction. The Tangerine colourway is so strong that it basically turned the RGB into just O.
I was pleasantly surprised by the sound profile, and the silicone sound dampener makes a big difference on a tray-mount board like this. It’s quite exciting to think that you can get such a nice sound from a sub $80 kit, but also keep in mind I am using higher-end switches here in the Tangerines. Not to say that you have to use higher-end switches; something like Gateron Yellow or Akko Matcha Green will be more than adequate here. The stock stabilisers were a bit of a letdown though, and I picked up excessive rattle on all the bigger keys. But I got some good results by rebalancing the wires and applying dielectric grease, so they’re not beyond saving. Another option would be to just replace them entirely.
In addition to wired mode, the Redefined68 also has Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz connectivity, which I’m definitely liking at under $80. The 2.4Ghz is plug and play: simply plug the wireless receiver into a USB port, then hit Fn + W to select 2.4GHz mode. There are three LEDs above Q, W & E to indicate which mode is selected. The 2000 mAh battery will give you up to 168 hours of use with the backlighting off. I’ve never really found any Bluetooth keyboard usable because of input lag, but on the 2.4Ghz connection this keyboard is definitely viable for me. I was perfectly happy playing CSGO and experienced no issues with input delay. A keyboard is actually one peripheral where you want a cable because it’s part of the aesthetic, but I also like the clean and minimalistic look of an entirely wireless desk setup.
The Redefined68 has a very comprehensive Fn layer, and you’ll find everything here including the F-Row and media controls. There is no accompanying software so you’ll have to use something like Autohotkey for remapping. The default layout is not bad and there is a dedicated Delete, although I would have liked to see Home and End keys instead of tilde. There are some DIP switches behind one of the flip-outs, and one of these switches usefully activates a Mac key arrangement.
So the Redefined68 definitely offers good value, and if Marvo can iron out a few of the issues, this keyboard can really cement itself as one of the best bang for buck build kits. With offerings like the TM680, Gamakay LK67 and now the Redefined68, budget kits are becoming more and more viable, and I’m eagerly awaiting new releases at that sub $80 price point.