Ducky One TKL Review
Ducky is hands down the most recommended brand in the mechanical keyboard niche and the Ducky One TKL is the most recommended board period. It sports a clean, minimalistic design, comes in a variety of color and switch options, PBT double-shot keycaps, and best of all is priced appropriately. Newer models have cleaned up some of the switch and quality issues that were a problem in the past. I finally got my hands on one and I’ll nitpick where I can but spoiler… it’s a good keyboard and this isn’t going to be a bad review.
The Ducky One box sports a pretty sweet graphic on the front with dimensions and weight specifications on the back. The box is definitely worth saving; my only complaint is that it came a little battered.
The keyboard is protected by a thin piece of tissue paper and a dust cover – nothing to write home about. It comes with additional arrow, shift, and enter keys (double-shot PBT), the detachable USB cable, a “Hardcap” wire keycap puller, and a user manual detailing backlighting, macro, and dip switch functionalities. All in all, pretty standard packaging and contents.
The Ducky One comes in a huge variety of switch options including: MX Blues, Reds, Browns, Blacks, Clears, Silvers, Greens, and Whites. This will cover pretty much anyone not hooked to another brand – personally I prefer Gaterons and Zealios.
The switches are plate mounted on a thin white plastic piece above the PCB, which has become standard for keyboards in this class. I’m not sure what the “backplate” material is but it definitely helps mute the click sound compared to metal backplates.
The model with MX Blues I received came in opaque housing with through-hole SMD LEDs. I haven’t noticed any inconsistencies in the three weeks I’ve been using the board.
Construction and layout
The layout is a standard TKL with a 3/16” inch buffer around the edges of the keys. The edges are beveled which is a really nice touch. The exterior frame is a single piece that meets the base plate on the underside of the board instead of the sides. The undersides are beveled as well so the meeting of frame and base plate looks very natural.
The board is extremely solid and inflexible. The baseplate has all the weight so the center of gravity is very low. There are four rubber pads on the back of the keyboard accompanied by two-staged flip feet, each of which also has its own pad. The frames are connected by two screws in addition to the tab fittings which may be adding to the rigidity.
The cable is a thick plastic and looks a little cheap compared to the rest of the board. On the bright side it is detachable and can be routed out of the middle or either side of the board. The connection is a mini-USB. I did notice the cable gets super bent when it is run out of the sides of the keyboard and also bends the USB. I’m not sure how this is going to hold up over time.
The keycaps are thick, double-shot PBT keycaps with an OEM profile, about 1/16” thick. The double-shot mold only runs across the top of the keycap which I don’t like but that’s what you’re going to this at this range.
The keycap font is so-so; most of the legends look fine but there are some gaps on some characters that I’d prefer were absent. Again, you won’t get any better on a $100 board as some features need to get trimmed.
The board I’m reviewing has a neon blue backlighting with five modes: breathing, raindrop, reactive, and ripple. Individual keys can also be brightness controlled. All of the backlighting options are controlled using the function keys.
The color is a deep neon blue which looks pretty snazzy. The pictures make it look purple but it is definitely more blue in actuality. The brightness is definitely good in contrast to some reports I read from other users so I think this problem is solved. The one issue I will point out is that the brightness is noticeably dimmer towards the ends of navigation cluster keycaps with longer legends.
If there’s an area where Ducky One TKL loses out, it’s the cost of backlighting compared to other brands. While the Ducky One is available in RGB, it costs significantly more than non-backlit and single-color LED boards.
The matte frame and beveled edges are really beautiful, and the Ducky One TKL comes in a variety of color options that are all really sleek. The overall design is very clean. In hindsight I would have purchased one of the non-backlit color schemes (probably blue/gray) or the RGB backlit board in black or white. I think the blue LEDs while nice, are probably the worst of both worlds. If you don’t want backlighting, go with a color scheme which is one of the things that make Ducky boards unique. If you do want backlighting, get an RGB board.
The Ducky One comes with a bunch of features uncommon for keyboards in its class. They are:
- An adjustable USB repeat delay and repeat rate (the delay and frequency which the key repeats as itself when held down). I’ve never had a reason to deviate from the default settings.
- A mouse function that allows you to control your mouse from the keyboard. Cool if you plan on using this with a laptop I guess.
- N-key rollover (everyone has this)
Programmable macro functionality using just the keyboard. The manual is a little confusing so see here for a more detailed walkthrough.
DIP switches for moving the position of the function key anywhere along the bottom row and alternating between NKRO and 6KRO.
The Ducky One TKL is one of the best value keyboards on the market right now. It offers the largest number of customization options, both in terms of keycap color scheme, switches, and backlighting, all with high-quality keycaps and a clean exterior design. Some of the value is lost when splurging on the RGB version, but other versions of the Ducky One will remain top recommendations for years to come.
Ducky One TKL Review$89 - $139
Construction and Layout8.8 /10
- Excellent build quality, clean matte exterior with beveled edges
- Huge number of color scheme and switch options
- High quality double-shot and textured PBT keycaps
- Switches sound and feel great
- Feature-rich; offering Macros, DIP switches, and adjustable USB repeat rates
- Detachable cable
- Thick, unappealing plastic cable
- Backlighting. Single color isn’t worth it (go for a non-backlit color scheme), RGB is too expensive compared to other brands (iKBC F87)