Quality mechanical keyboards are not always expensive
In a previous post, I reviewed the best mechanical keyboard you can buy. The Corsair K95 Platinum is an excellent keyboard with lots of features, which will not leave you disappointed. Check out my review here. I am aware, however, that most gamers fall into the budget category and would not spend 200 or more dollars on a mechanical keyboard. What if I told you that you can get all the great features a mechanical keyboard provides, excellent build quality, responsive and durable keys, 7 different colors to choose from and RGB customization support for less than 50$?
Mechanical keyboards are not only for Pc enthusiasts who can afford it but also for the vast majority of gamers out there. If you are frustrated with your 10$ membrane keyboard and looking for a cheap but quality mechanical keyboard, you have found the right place.
So, what is the best budget mechanical keyboard?
When searching for a good and affordable mechanical keyboard, you should be searching for a nice looking board with plenty color options, the keyboard should not be too light or too heavy and the transition between colors and effects should be easy. Profile storage should also be available in case you want to save a custom profile.
Motospeed’s CK 104 is the king of budget mechanical keyboards. Coming at an MSRP of 50$, this keyboard is by far the best value you can get out of 50$. let us take a look at the specs to give you a better impression of what the CK 104 has to offer:
The CK 104 Inflictor features outemu blue or red switches, which are a copy of the classic Cherry MX Switches found in Corsair’s mechanical keyboards. The outemu switches, although being less expensive are of good quality and should not cause any issues. Motospeed decided to use outemu mechanical switches instead of Cherry MX to reduce the price of the keyboard. Outemu switches give off a louder sound compared to Cherry MX switches. It is down to personal taste if you like the sound of them. Personally, I like the louder click sound.
The CK 104 Inflictor comes with both blue and red switches. The blue switches are really loud and could annoy you if you do not like a loud click sound. The red variants are way quieter but are not as responsive as the blue switches, at least theoretically. You will not be able to differentiate between the two switches in terms of speed. The only way you can the difference between them is the click sound. I am quite happy with the blue switch variant and have actually gotten used to the sound after a year of using it.
The CK 104 Inflictor offers 7 colors to choose from and an additional multi-colored layout if you like seeing multiple colors at once when you are gaming or typing. Colors look surprisingly good for a keyboard of this price range and can the brightness can be increased or decreased according to your liking. Included colors are red, green, yellow, blue, purple, white and light blue.
Motospeed’s CK 104 Inflictor is a full-sized keyboard and you can find any keys you would assume to find on a keyboard. Your first impression will be that it is rather minimalistic but after a while, you will get used to it and realize that nothing besides macro keys is missing from this keyboard. Macro keys are, as mentioned, not included but that is understandable for this price range.
The CK 104 Inflictor has no USB connection support and, in order to use it, you have to connect it to a USB port on your PC. The cable is of excellent quality and quite thick so you do not have to worry about pulling it too hard.
Besides the 7 basic colors, Motospeed offers its users the ability to choose between different effects, too. You can make the colors move in waves, blink, flash or even set it up to only show colors in the area around the key you are hitting. For example, if I hit the “F” key I will only see the colors on the Q, E, A, D, Z and C lighting up.
The CK 104 Inflictor has certain pre-loaded profiles, which you can enable by pushing the keys 1-4. The profiles have been customized to appeal to certain types of games. These are profiles for First Person Shooter, RPG, Racing and MMO games.
A custom profile is also included and you can choose your individual keys and color patterns you want to apply for each key. The CK 104 Inflictor only lets you add one custom profile, so if you want to choose a new one you will have to erase your previous profile first.
Color Customization Software
Everything has to be done manually on the CK 104 Inflictor as no color customization software is included. This may annoy certain people but it is very easy to change colors, choose between effects, apply a pre-customed gaming profile or erase the custom settings to apply your own. Below, I will guide you through the process of how to set everything up:
- Change color brightness: Hold down the “Function Key” Button (FN) and push the up or down arrow to increase or decrease brightness
- Change colors: Hold down the Function Key (“FN”) and push the “Delete” button (del) to change colors.
- Change color effects: Hold down the Function Key (“FN”) and push the “Insert” button (ins) to choose between different color effects
- Delete and set up your custom profile: Find the custom profile by holding down the Function Key and pushing the Insert button. After finding it click the “Escape” button (ESC) on the top left corner. Colors should be blinking and then find the profile again with the FN and Insert key. A blue vertical line on the top right indicates that you have entered the custom profile and now you can individually choose a color for each key. When you are ready, push FN and ESC again to apply your profile. Now, search for your profile with the FN and Insert keys. In order to delete it, repeat the whole process.
- Choose a pre-loaded gaming profile: Press the keys 1-4 depending on the profile you want to access.
A software would make the whole procedure much easier but once you get used to it, changing colors, effects and profiles are fairly easy and quite fun actually figuring out how everything works.
The keyboard features a Windows Lock Key, which does not let you accidentally press the windows key while being in-game a useful feature at least for me because I tend to hit the wrong keys quite often. On the upper right corner are 4 vertical lines which become blue once a certain feature is enabled. One line is for enabled Caps Lock, another is for telling you that you have entered your custom profile to configure your keys, another tells you that you have the Windows Lock Key enabled and the last one tells you that the Keypad is ready to use.
There are two adjustable standoffs on the back letting you adjust the position of the keyboard, a really useful feature especially if you are typing a lot.
No Wrist Rest
No wrist rest is included with the CK 104 Inflictor, so do not think that Motospeed has forgotten to include it once you get it shipped.
Having been using the CK 104 Inflictor for almost a year now, I can confirm the excellent build quality of the keyboard. Up to now, no switch has given up on me yet, the colors are still as great as on the first day I bought it. The only thing that I would appreciate more is if Motospeed included a detachable wrist rest, but I assume that the price would go up quite a bit if they included one.
I could not be happier with my purchase and to be honest, I find this keyboard superior to Razer’s mechanical keyboards, which are at least double the price. If you can afford a premium board I would highly suggest getting a Corsair K70 or K95, these keyboards are as premium as it gets. Check out my review of the K95 Platinum here
Having been using the Corsair’s K70 mechanical keyboard for a quite some time now, I can honestly say that they are vastly superior to the CK 104 Inflictor, but with a price range from 160 to 200$ these keyboards are much more expensive.
- If you want a premium mechanical keyboard, get the K95 or even the K70 if it is on discount.
- If you want a good quality, affordable mechanical keyboard, get the CK 104 Inflictor, you will not be disappointed
The CK 104 Inflictor is by far the best budget mechanical keyboard and a real bang for the buck at 40-50$. Build quality, color customization and effects, profiles and even a Windows Lock Key, all the necessities are included. The addition of a wrist rest and a few macro keys would be nice as well as more color options. I guess those are drawbacks you have to live with when you are getting a mechanical keyboard at this price. Most of the time, you will not even find a membrane keyboard at this price.
- Excellent quality
- Bright colors and effects
- Outemu blue or red mechanical switches
- Full – Sized Keyboard
- Windows Lock Key
- No Wrist Rest
- Limited RGB Support
- No Macro Keys
- No Color Customization Software
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What is your opinion on mechanical keyboards? Would you choose a premium or budget mechanical keyboard? Leave a comment below.