Yunzii Keynovo IF98: Gasket Mount Prebuilt!

If you’re looking to graduate from those loud and pingy prebuilts, I think this is a great choice

Get the IF98 on Amazon

2022 has been an exciting year in the keyboard space, as we’re seeing more and more gasket-mount kits and prebuilts popping up, most of which are coming in at very affordable prices. One such example is the Yunzii Keynovo IF98 that we have for review today. This is a 96% gasket-mount board priced at $150. It’s fully assembled, featuring switches and keycaps, and the packaging includes a coiled cable and extra keys. The board is available in three colourways and we have the Botanical-inspired Green version here.

Green colourway

The IF98 has a very eye-catching appearance that draws inspiration from higher-end keyboard designs. From its transparent chassis to the inscribed golden strip on the underside, this board aims to give users a premium experience at an accessible price. It comes complete with flex cuts in the mounting plate and an aluminium weight in the case, not to mention a removable badge. I like how Keynovo are incorporating these exclusive features on a prebuilt, and it just epitomises what an exciting time it is to be a keyboard hobbyist.

I’ve never actually used a gasket-mount prebuilt, so this board definitely captured my interest. Right off the bat I was impressed with the typing experience. It has that soft and forgiving typing feel you’d expect from a gasket-mount. It also has a very satisfying sound profile, with a muted thud on the bottom out. There is a layer of silicone between the PCB and mounting plate which actually covers the switch areas as well, so it almost acts like switch pads. It does make the board sound quite muted and the bottom-out feels almost too cushioned, but all things considered, I think the IF98 is a great choice for someone who’s looking for a premium keyboard experience but doesn’t necessarily want to jump down the keyboard rabbit hole of group buys and modding.

Flex cuts in the mounting plate

The IF98 comes with Gateron switches and I went for the linear Blacks. The switches are pre-lubed with some lube applied on the slider rails and stem legs. I found the lube to be very consistent across switches, even more consistent than some high-end switches I’ve used. The factory lube makes a big difference to the overall sound and feel, and kudos to Keynovo for paying attention to this often overlooked area. Even though the springs aren’t lubed, the IF98 was largely free from the notorious Gateron spring ping. The stabilisers are pre-lubed and the stock performance was passable. I picked up minor rattle on most of the bigger keys, but more than usable for the average user. If you’re very particular about your stabs, you can always replace these with third party clip-ins.

Inscribed golden strip

The 96% layout is ideal for people who want a smaller form factor but still need the Num Pad for number crunching. The IF98 is about the same width as a TKL, but you have a whopping 98 keys with the badge removed, so it’s basically a full-size keyboard with a much smaller footprint. I had plenty of mouse space when gaming with this keyboard, and I think it strikes a great balance between work and play. The Nav Cluster keys can be accessed via Num Pad (Num Pad has to be turned off), however by removing the badge you can insert four extra switches, giving you access to a dedicated Delete, End, Page Up and Page Dn. In my case I preferred using the keyboard with the extra keys installed. The Fn layer features RGB controls, media controls and a Windows lock. I like the placement of the volume keys on F11 and F12, as it can be used with one hand.

The IF98 has full RGB backlighting and we have the usual RGB controls on the Fn layer, including mode cycling, brightness and speed control. The keycaps aren’t shinethrough but you get a nice underglow that complements the transparent case. There is also a little RGB strip on the right side of the keyboard, which should appease RGB afficionados. I like the implementation of the LED indicators for Caps Lock and Num pad, and it’s always clear whether or not they are activated.

The keycaps are double-shot PBT with a thickness of 1.5mm, so excellent quality. I’m a big fan of the Botanical colourway and it looks stunning on the green case. My only nitpick would be that the lettering on Backspace, Enter and Tab looks inconsistent. I really hope whichever factory they’re using updates the molds for these, as I’ve seen this issue on countless budget keycap sets. I had the same issue on a Monster set that I got recently.

Gasket-mount style

The software can be downloaded from Yunzii’s website, and just note that this board isn’t QMK or VIA compatible. The software is pretty basic but it has all the expected functionality. You can do single key remapping on all the keys except Fn, and there is a macro editor included. Then you have your backlighting controls which gives you the same options as the Fn layer RGB controls. The keyboard does have on-board memory so any remappings you make will persist after closing the software. Just remember to hit Apply to save your changes.

Assembly

Looking at the build of the IF98, the case consists of a bottom and top piece, with the assembly resting on gasket mounts in the case. If you’re new to gasket-mounts, there is no direct contact between the assembly and case, and that gives us a much improved sound profile from tray-mounts. The case does feature an aluminium weight which you can definitely feel when holding it, and the board weighs in at a respectable 1100g. We have a steel mounting plate that is painted to match the colour scheme, and the PCB is hot-swap with a north-facing configuration. The IF98 does come with OEM keycaps so you won’t experience any interference on the stock build, however if you’re planning to use Cherry, try to find a switch with a shorter bottom out to avoid interference. The coiled cable is curiously short at only 1m, and it barely made the front panel of my PC. This could be an issue if you don’t have a USB extensions cable. The case is a little bit squeaky when flexed, but this wasn’t prevalent during general use and the build quality is satisfactory.

So in conclusion, the IF98 is a very interesting board, and I hope this paves the way for prebuilts. Lots of features here that we’re more accustomed to seeing on $500 group buy boards. If you’re looking to graduate from those loud and pingy prebuilts, I think this is a great choice. You get that gasket-mount typing experience and tons of exciting features.

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