iKBC F87 RGB Review

iKBC F87 RGB Review

iKBC hangs right behind Ducky and Leopold as a recommended, entry-level brand that offers good functionality and quality.  They make a bunch of great boards in the TKL and full-size range.  iKBC is a subsidiary of Vortex and currently makes all of their boards above 60%.  The iKBC F87 is very similar to Ducky TKLs in terms of quality and price.  It’s hard to go wrong with either but there are some small differences for the F87 worth noting: a non-detachable cable, switch casing, keycap labeling, and available switch types.  And if backlighting is important to you, the F87 RGB costs $40 less than an equivalent Ducky TKL RGB.

Unboxing

The box is standard and nondescript, probably not worth saving.  It’s pretty boring compared to Ducky boxes.  The keyboard is packaged in a silky plastic sleeve and dust cover.  It comes with a bunch of extra blue and red keycaps (5 of each) for the WASD and arrow keys, a wire keycap puller, and a small manual for learning the backlighting settings.  The wire keycap puller is a nice touch as most manufacturers will just give you the cheap plastic ring.  All-in-all pretty nice packaging and contents although the box is a little lackluster.

Switches

As of writing, the iKBC F87 comes with four switch options: Cherry MX Browns, Blues, Blacks, and Reds.  This is a good set to choose from that will cover 90%+ of users but personally I prefer Gaterons.  Also, the switches have clear housing, which look much cleaner compared to opaque housing for Ducky boards.  The Ducky One does have it beat by coming in some of lesser-used switch types: MX Greens, Whites, and Silvers/Speed.

The switches are plate mounted on a thin white plastic piece above the PCB.  I’m not sure what the “backplate” material is but it definitely helps mute the click sound compared to a metal backplate (I’m testing MX Blues).  They’re also a little lower pitched and ever so slightly better sounding than the Ducky One keyboard I have.

Construction and layout

The layout is standard TKL with a normal eighth inch buffer along the side of the board.  The exterior frame is basically one solid piece all around which makes the board look and feel solid – normally you see a top and bottom frame linking along the side of the board.

The flip feet are two-staged allowing for a choice of three angles when using the keyboard.  There are four thick rubber pads on the base of the board, plus another on each flip foot stage.  The F87 sticks to the table incredibly well even with some forward pressure.

The cable is non-detachable which sucks.  Definitely a drawback compared to Ducky.  It can be routed out of the back or side of the keyboard.

Keycaps

The keycaps are PBT double-shot, cylindrical OEMs and excellent for what you’re paying.  They are nice and thick, measuring at 1/16” which is thicker than most stock keycaps.  The double-shot material only lines the top of the keycap but that is standard at this prince range.

The standard legends are decent and comparable to the Ducky One, as both Ducky and Vortex use the same keycap OEM.  There are some gaps in the number and lettering which people generally aren’t fans of but overall, I don’t think the font looks gamey or anything.

The F87 differs with random pad printed characters on the front of the keycaps to denote backlighting functionality.  These include rocket ships, lightbulbs, an on/off switch, a clock, and arrow keys indicating backlighting brightness and speed adjustments.  I get the intention but I’m not a huge fan.

Backlighting

The iKBC F87 backlighting is very vibrant and there are almost a dozen modes, including flashing, wave, rain drop, reactive, ripple, aurora, and snake.  The backlighting is controlled with the afore-mentioned keys with pad-printed characters.  The brightness and speed of some of the effects are adjustable.

 

I found the backlighting controls to be fairly non-intuitive and had to constantly refer to the manual for about a week after I started using the keyboard.  I frequently got stuck in different modes without knowing how to get out and had to do the hard factory reset.  Once you get used to the controls (and know the few modes you plan on using) it becomes much easier.  I would have preferred a software interface to control backlighting.

The backlighting is still a major area where the F87 improves over the Ducky One, offering RGB backlighting for $40 cheaper.

Aesthetics

The board appears deceptively plain but is quite clean and handsome up close.  The keycap and exterior textures are really nice, and the backlighting also really makes it pop.  The only somewhat off-putting aspect are the pad-printed characters on the front of the keycaps.  Otherwise it is visually quite similar to the Ducky One.  It also comes in white.

Other features

N-key rollover, yay.  Meaning you can press infinite keys at once without backlogging the board.

In lieu of DIP switches, there are also three function key controls that allow you to disable Win Lock, switch Caps lock and the left control key, and switch the Alt and Windows key.  This is a nice inclusion but I still would have preferred DIP switches to avoid the additional pad printed characters.

Overall

The iKBC F87 is so functionally and aesthetically similar to the Ducky One that it’s impossible to recommend one over the other.  It’s a great keyboard that is going to check all the boxes as a solid entry-level mechanical.  I think it sounds a bit better than the Ducky One (at least for MX Blues), which is huge for me but probably not a big difference maker or even noticeable to most people.  The difference in cost for RGB ($40 less!) compared to the Ducky One is huge and should make this an easy decision if RGB is on your list.

iKBC F87 Keyboard

$99.99
iKBC F87 Keyboard
8.8

Construction and Layout

8.5 /10

Switches

9.0 /10

Keycaps

8.6 /10

Backlighting

9.2 /10

Aesthetics

8.9 /10

Pros

  • Excellent build quality, clean exterior
  • High quality double-shot and textured PBT keycaps
  • Nice RGB backlighting
  • Switches sound very good (slightly lower pitched and more muted)
  • $40 price difference vs. Ducky One TKL RGB

Cons

  • Non-detachable cable
  • No software for backlighting control
  • Pad-printed front legends on keycaps
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