Wednesday, 26 August 2020

AOC GK500 Gaming Keyboard Review - Successful Debut

AOC GK500 Gaming Keyboard

The AOC GK500 Mechanical Keyboard is the first attempt by monitor manufacturer AOC to enter the gaming peripherals field. Let's find out how big the company has a chance to gain a foothold in a new segment for itself.

Specifications:

Form Factor: Skeleton

Number of Keys: 104

Technology: mechanical

Backlight: RGB, 16.8 million colors, 12 effects

Connection type: USB 2.0

USB port polling rate: 1000 Hz

Cable length: 1.8m

Weight (without cable): 830 g

The AOC GK500 arrived with me bundled with the AOC GM500 gaming mouse, and together, both devices make a decent option for a gamer looking for reliable and comfortable gaming peripheral. An overview of the mouse is available here, but in this article, we will consider the keyboard.

COMPLETION AND APPEARANCE

The device is packed in a small red cardboard box with images of the keyboard and information about its features. Packed soundly: in a cellophane wrap and with cardboard supports on the sides to reduce the risk of scratches and damage.

Not only a keyboard was found in the box, but also a wrist rest, replaceable WASD keys, a key for extracting keys and a small instruction manual that demonstrates the connection process (in case the user does not know where to plug the USB plug) and informs about the availability AOC G-Tools for keyboard customization.

AOC GK500 is made in a skeleton form factor, which means that its body almost does not protrude beyond the keys, and the keys themselves are raised above the body - which makes it easier to clean the device. I like the skeleton form factor for its compactness, and the GK500 lives up to it - even though it's a full-size keyboard, it doesn't take up much desk space.

The upper part of the case is black-painted aluminum. Due to the use of metal, the keyboard turned out to be quite weighty - almost a kilogram: thanks to this, it stays securely on the table and does not budge, even with active play.

There is a small bevel along the perimeter of the case, which reflects pleasantly and contrasts well with the black color of the keyboard. Another bright point of interest in the laconic design is the white AOC brand logo located above the block with arrows. It has no backlighting, but it is quite noticeable without it.

The front panel of the AOC GK500 has 104 keys. They sit firmly in the nests, you can only complain about the slightly dangling "Space"; however, perhaps this is a feature of my sample.

There are no multimedia keys, the combination FN + F6… F12 is responsible for them. And with the help of FN and "arrows", you can switch the brightness and backlight modes. The Enter key is high, L-shaped. Other features include a short left Shift, next to which there is a slash key that duplicates the same key next to Enter. It seemed to be a controversial decision: for those who type a lot, the shortened left Shift will become a serious problem.

Keycaps are plastic, black (WASD can be replaced with a gray version). The surface of the keys is small, they are close to each other: again, when typing there is a risk of touching neighboring keys; however, after a short period of adaptation, it quickly fades away. The plastic is very pleasant tactilely: it feels like a soft-touch coating is applied to the keys.

The lower part of the case is plastic. Due to a pair of folding legs, it can be slightly raised above the table surface. Three more rubberized feet prevent the keyboard from sliding over the surface.

The stand has a slight bump on the side, which is attached to the keyboard (using magnets) and is beveled towards the user. On the bottom of the stand, there are six rubberized legs. In general, it performs its function well, although it may seem somewhat short.

Finally, the PC connection cable comes out of the central part of the "back" of the keyboard, has a fabric braid, kink protection, a ferrite filter, and a gold-plated USB connector. The cable is quite tough, but also clearly very reliable, which means you don't have to worry about losing your connection.

The convenience of use

As mentioned above, the keyboard firmly "holds" to the table surface and does not move even if you accidentally touch it - a lot of weight and tenacious legs do their job. It is a pleasure to work and play with such a massive device.

The keys are not located at the same level, but with a slight offset in height depending on the row: that is, the row with numbers is above all, the row with qwert keys ... just below, asdfg ... even lower, and so on. The ergonomics of this solution is felt when typing: it is more convenient to type text in comparison with the options when the rows of keys are at the same level.

The AOC GK500 uses Outemu Blue switches, which are springy, long travel, and a crisp click, making the sound of keystrokes reminiscent of typewriters. This is not to say that these switches are too loud, but if you are planning late-night gaming sessions, it is better to move the PC to a room where your household does not sleep.

Backlight

AOC GK500 backlighting is worth talking about separately. Each key of the gadget has its own LED, which allows you to highlight individual zones. The glow almost does not get out from under the keycaps, therefore it gives a soft pleasant light and does not irritate the eyes even in the dark.

 

Both Latin and Cyrillic are highlighted, but the latter is a little dimmer. However, the brightness level is sufficient to comfortably print in an unlit room.

For those who love detailed customization, there are as many as 12 illumination modes: static, breathing, button response, cyclic, pulsation, radar, fireworks, blinking, customization of each key, concentric circles, as well as two types of wave illumination.

You can customize anything: color (16.8 million colors), brightness, ripple intensity, wave direction, and so on. In addition, you can synchronize the backlight with other AOC devices: mice, rugs, headsets, and microphones; however, the list of available modes becomes more modest.

Software

Like the AOC GM500 mouse, the GK500 keyboard connects to a PC without the need to install additional software.

However, if you need to expand the functionality of the gadget, you cannot do without the AOC G-Tools utility: you can use it to record macros, adjust the key sensitivity, and so on.

The utility is installed quickly, after launching it offers to update the keyboard firmware. The procedure takes a couple of minutes, then you can start fine-tuning. The main G-Tools window contains five tabs. The first is to select, save, and delete various keyboard settings profiles; they can be tied to different applications and games, and they will be activated automatically when the corresponding applications are launched.

The "Button" tab contains customization of device functions: here you can record macros, disable Alt + Tab, Alt + F4 shortcuts, block the Win key, swap the WASD and arrow functions, and program each of the keys for a custom command - for example, hang on Esc call the calculator, duplicate the functions of the right and left mouse buttons, and so on.

On the "Sensitivity" tab, you can adjust the sampling rate, re-delay, repetition rate (affects the rate at which characters appear when holding down a key).

The "Backlight" tab allows you to set the modes, color, brightness, and intensity of the backlighting of the keys.

Finally, the Synchronize tab allows you to configure synchronization with other AOC peripherals. In my case, pairing with the AOC GM500 mouse went smoothly.

Conclusion

The AOC GK500 keyboard is a pleasant surprise from AOC. If there are some questions about the GM500 mouse, then there are no complaints about the keyboard - we have a high-quality device with rich customization options and smooth operation in games.


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