Ducky One Mechanical Keyboard Review and Demo
I’m going to check out the Ducky One blue LED mechanical keyboard with black case and Cherry MX brown switches. I’ve never previously used a Ducky keyboard before, however I can now safely see why they are so popular, let’s find out why! Inside the box there’s a small bag which contains the Ducky themed keycap remover along with an optional “Menu” key.
Next we have the keyboard covered by a plastic protective cover. There’s also a manual, and a MicroUSB to USB Type A cable which is used to plug the keyboard into your computer. Let’s take a quick physical tour of the keyboard. The Ducky One keyboard weighs 1.3kg and is 440x140x41mm in size. It’s a standard full size keyboard with numpad. The body of the keyboard is a matte plastic, which does an alright job at hiding fingerprint marks for something I was constantly touching.
The keyboard is quite simple, the front, left and right sides are completely blank and the back only has a single MicroUSB port, which is used to connect to your computer with the included 1.5m MicroUSB to USB Type A cable. The cable was just an average rubber cable, no fancy braiding or anything here. When plugging the keyboard into my computer I actually found the cable slightly too short so I’m not sure if my previous keyboard came with an abnormally long cable or not.
Regardless, MicroUSB is very common and it would be pretty easy to buy a replacement cable. On the bottom of the keyboard there are two different stages of height available with the adjustable feet. You can use the keyboard either flat, or with the smaller feet for a small height increase, or with the larger feet to give you the maximum height increase. I thought this was a nice touch as I’m used to keyboards with only two height settings – flat or up, here we have the choice between three.
The rubber feet on the base did a good job of securing the keyboard from movement, I was able to move it with a little bit of force but found that it was always perfectly stable during even intense typing sessions. And finally on the top we of course have all of the keys, who would have thought? This particular model comes with blue back lit LEDs, however there are other colours available too.
The LEDs are single colour, this is not an RGB keyboard. By default the lighting is off, you can cycle through the preconfigured lighting options by pressing the FN+F10 key. The first option will light up all keys solid. The second is a breathing effect, where the keys slowly light up then fade back out. The third is a raindrop effect, where random keys will turn on and off. The fourth is reactive mode, where individual keys light up and fade out as your press them – this one’s my favourite, I found raindrop to be a bit distracting.
The fifth is ripple mode, where a wave of light will rush out from each keypress, kind of like a water drop into a pond. At this point if you press FN+F10 keys again the lighting will go back to being off. You can also turn the lighting off from any mode any time by simply holding FN+F10 for 3 seconds. You can increase the speed of the effects with the FN+Left/Right arrow keys, where left slows the effect down and right speeds the effect up.
The brightness can also be adjusted on all effects by pressing the FN+up/down arrow keys, where up increases the brightness and down decreases the brightness. There are two custom lighting zones called CM1 and CM2, which allow you to configure the specific keys that should light up when enabled. These are preconfigured by default, to turn them on press FN+F11 for CM1, or FN+F12 for CM2. F11 lights up the WASD keys while F12 lights up the arrow keys.
Once turned on if you press FN+F11/F12 again they still start breathing, if you press again the lights will turn off. You can customize CM1 by entering recording mode, this is done by pressing FN + Print Screen. This will show all keys that will turn on and you can simply press others at this stage that you want to turn on as well. To exit the recording mode press FN + Scroll Lock. CM2 can be modified in the same way, just use FN + Pause key to enter recording mode instead. While modifying CM1/CM2, the caps lock key will be lit up to show the current brightness level.
The brightness level can be modified during recording mode by pressing the caps lock key and either the up arrow key to increase brightness, or the down arrow key to decrease brightness. You can use this to set the brightness level of individual keys, allowing for lots of different customization options. You can turn on either the CM1 or CM2 zone separately, or you can also have them on at the same time. If any settings overlap between the two, CM1 will take priority.
With the FN key you can also set various macro keys as well, I like that this is an optional feature without there being a heap of additional physical keys all over the place. I found the instructions in the manual regarding setting macro keys to be a bit unclear though, so you may want find an additional guide. Don’t worry if you screw up the configuration, you can easily perform a factory reset to default settings by holding both Windows keys for 3 seconds, the keyboard will then flash 3 times to indicate the reset has completed.
Another thing that I liked was that there is no complicated custom software required to set the effects, though this is obviously because there’s just the single lighting colour here. It would make more sense to have a software option with an RGB keyboard as you don’t really have any other way of customizing the colours of the keys. Basically I like that this is nice and simple and I can easily swap between the different modes with the keyboard directly. The dip switches on the back can be used to change from n-key rollover to 6 key rollover if your operating system doesn’t support n-key rollover.
They can also be used to change the position of the FN key allowing you to customize the location. So with all of that in mind, how is the keyboard to actually use? I really enjoyed typing on this keyboard, Cherry MX brown switches are my favourite, however this still felt a lot nicer than my older keyboard – the Filco Majestouch 2, the key presses just felt a lot better, though that could simply be due to my old keyboard being a few years old now.
The keyboard features N-key rollover while using USB, meaning that it can handle any number of simultaneous key presses. N-key rollover is important as some lower quality keyboards will be limited to a certain number of keys pressed down concurrently, resulting in some key presses to not register properly. The ABS double-shot keycaps are laser engraved. These are made from two different colours of plastic combined together, which results in the keycap surface being flat with no possibility of the character on the key from being worn out over time – a problem you’d have with keys that have the letters printed on.
This allows the LED light to shine through like other ABS backlit keycaps. I found the keycaps were mostly smooth with a subtle lightly grippy matte surface which feels the same as the body of the keyboard. Compared to my Filco keyboard, when typing on the Ducky keyboard I feel like the noise is slightly less and that I can type slightly faster, so of course I used the type racer typing test. I’ve also included what the keys sounds like during my testing, while this is not perfect hopefully it at least gives you some idea of how the keys sound to press.
So in type racer I got 120WPM, which is better than what I’ve previously done on my Filco keyboard which seems to average around 100WPM. If you want to take any of the keys out to change or replace, you can simply use the included Ducky themed keycap puller, I found this worked very well. The keyboard is of course available with different coloured Cherry MX switches depending on what you prefer to use, and the casing is also available in a few different colours – even some interesting transparent options.
So in conclusion I really like that the Ducky One keyboard is pretty standard and plain, I’m not really a fan of the “gamer” branded keyboards that have a million keys all over the place which take up a lot more space. The customizable macro keys are there if you need this sort of functionality and are controlled purely from the keyboard itself without the need from any additional software. I found it extremely satisfying to type on this keyboard and would recommend it to anyone that’s after a keyboard, it performs great for both work and in games. I liked most of the preconfigured lighting effects, and the keyboard overall feels quite nice and very durable.
So what did you guys think of the Ducky One keyboard? Be sure to let me know down in the comments and let me know what keyboards you guys are using and why you like them.