You won’t find many kits like this at under $100
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Today we’re taking a look at the HK Gaming Galaxy 75 barebones build kit, a collaboration between HK Gaming and Durgod. The Galaxy 75 comes in a low profile aluminium chassis with a tray-mount design, featuring full RGB backlighting, Gateron hot swap sockets and support for the Durgod Hera software. As you would expect from HK Gaming, the Galaxy 75 comes in at a very affordable $99, and keep in mind that we have an aluminium chassis here, so you’re definitely getting good value.
For our build today we’ll be using HK Gaming’s very own MS-1 linear switch. These switches are available in different spring weights, and I went for the Marlin Blue which has a bottom out force of 67g. I’ve slowly been moving towards heavier spring weights and I actually think 67g might be my new sweet spot. The MS-1 has a polyamide housing and they actually come factory lubed, which is a bonus at this budget price. I will be doing a separate review on these, so stay tuned for that video.
Then we have HK Gaming’s PBT Cherry keycaps, and I’ll be trying the Stealth Dolch and Marlin colourways. Now the Galaxy 75 does have a north facing switch configuration, and there is potential for interference when pairing Cherry keycaps with a north facing keyboard. So what this means is that the keycap walls can strike the switch housing on the way down, preventing it from bottoming out properly, which can negatively impact the typing feel and sound. Whether or not there is interference depends on the travel distance of the switch and thickness of the Cherry keycaps. A switch like the Boba U4T would be a good option here as it has a lower travel distance. I didn’t have any major interference issues with the MS-1 and Cherry keycap combo, however I did prefer the sound of ASA keycaps on my build.
The Galaxy 75 comes with clip-in stabilisers that have been pre-lubed, and the stems have a flat bottom surface so no clipping is necessary. The stock performance was actually very impressive, and I didn’t really see the need to do any modding of my own. Always a bonus when a barebones kit comes with solid stabilisers. As far as modding goes, I did try some 3mm case foam, which ended up being too thick, so I’ wouldn’t go much higher than 1.5mm on the foam. I also think PE foam or switch pads could have good results on this board. I was quite happy with the stock sound so didn’t end up doing any mods.
There actually aren’t many kits out there that come with a low profile chassis, so the Galaxy 75 finds itself in a niche. If you like a lower typing experience or you’re coming from a laptop, this will definitely feel familiar and comfortable right off the bat. The case has filleted edges and comes with a painted finish that feels grainy on the outside. The barebones kit has some good heft and weighed in at 665g. The front case height is 1.7cm, and the keyboard comes with two pairs of feet that will give you typing angles of 6° and 8.5° respectively. You can also remove these feet if you prefer a completely flat typing experience: simply peel off the rubber pads on the bottom and you can unscrew the feet.
The rest of the kit is fairly standard stuff. Our assembly consists of the Galaxy84ST PCB and an aluminium mounting plate, and as mentioned the Galaxy 75 uses a tray-mount design. The USB port has a back left positioning, and what’s really nice is that HK Gaming includes a Type C to A as well as a Type C to C cable, so if you’re on a Mac you can use your USB-C port.
The final build came out great, and both keycap sets looked really good on the low profile chassis. The keyboard has a compact and slim appearance with thin bezels. The top bezel is slightly thicker to make room for three status lights. The Galaxy 75 has 11 RGB modes, and you can save a maximum of 5 modes per profile. Even though the MS-1 switch is meant for through-hole LEDs, I still got a nice underglow on my build, but if you’re looking for a stronger RGB effect, you might want to go for a switch that supports SMD LEDs, like the Gateron KS-9 on HK Gaming’s website.
I’m a big fan of this 75% layout, and this is even better than the exploded version as you save quite a bit of space. This layout gives you a dedicated function row, nav cluster and arrow keys, while being only one row wider than a 60% board. So it’s still a great space saver, but has really robust functionality.
The Galaxy 75 is currently compatible with the Durgod Hera Compiler version 184.108.40.206 which can be downloaded here. The first step is to create a new project and save it to your computer. Just make sure you choose the correct device. There are actually no default layouts, so you have to create your keymaps from scratch. So what I did here was I made a standard layer and an Fn1 layer. All I needed to add on the Fn1 layer was media and RGB controls, as the 75% layout has almost everything on the standard layer. You have the option of creating an additional Fn2 layer if required. If you want to create extra profiles, just click on the plus icon on the left, and then remember to add profile switching on your Fn layer. It’s really nice to have full control over all the layers on the keyboard.
Moving on to lighting, you can select five lighting modes to be saved on the current profile. What’s quite cool here is that you can customise these RGB modes, for example for Wave you can set things like the width, direction and colours. You can also create your own static colour mode by clicking on Custom, and set this as one of the five saved modes. By clicking on Indicator, you can control the behaviour of the three status lights on the keyboard. Then there is a macro recorder where you can record your own macros, and these will of course be available for assignment on your keymaps. Once you’re finished with everything, click on Download and all your settings will be saved on the keyboard’s on-board memory, so it isn’t necessary to keep the software installed.
So in conclusion, I think the Galaxy 75 is a very good 75% barebones kit. The metal chassis has a really premium feel and you won’t find many kits like this at under $100. All of the important features are present like hot swap, RGB backlighting and comprehensive software. I have to say, I really enjoyed the lower case and it feels very easy on the wrists. If you’re in the market for a 75% board, this should definitely be on your short list.