QPAD MK-80 Mechanical Keyboard Review
As you would expect from individual key LEDs, the lighting is bright and uniform. There are four settings of brightness from off to full, and this is at its brightest. Unlike many keyboards we see the brightness control isn't adjusted with a combination of the function key and F-keys, but rather the numpad 2 and 8 provide the adjustment.
One of the great benefits to the ubiquitous appearance of Cherry MX switches in mechanical keyboards is that you are guaranteed to have an identical typing experience regardless of the brand. The only real difference is in the model of switch chosen which changes the actuation pressure. So you require more force to depress a Cherry MX Black than their MX Red. The Cherry MX Blue is slightly different in that is has a light actuation, giving it a feel more akin to a laptop-style, but has an audible click when you depress the key. Indeed anyone who only knows of mechanical keyboards from films and the like will automatically consider this the click that old keyboards made. Mechanical keyboards as such don't make this much noise, but the choice of MX Blue's in the MK-80 certainly brings that tactile feedback to the fore.
So if we accept that one Cherry-equipped keyboard types much like another, we're reliant more upon the nuances of each model, and of course the price, to separate them.
Considering that around 90% of the population are right handed it initially seems sensible to place the USB ports and headset sockets on the top right of the MK-80, until you consider how many cables are now coming from your right-hand side. If you plug in a headset you'll find your mouse hand, the most vital part of any gaming experience, surrounded by cables.The only alternative would be to route the cables across the keyboard, or move your mouse further away. Of course you could not use them at all, but then they're an expensive nothing. They'd be better served on the left hand side.
Also we discovered during testing that if you want the keyboard to light up (and who wouldn't) then you need to plug in the second USB cable. Even if you use the adaptor to have the main keyboard cable run in via a USB socket you still require both inserted to obtain lighting. With USB ports at an absolute premium this is almost a deal-breaking element, helped only by the fact that you regain those two ports on the MK-80 itself.
If you prefer a silent option then the MK-80 is available with all the Cherry MX offerings requiring different actuation force (the amount of pressure you need to apply to the key to get it to register) and tactile response (from a smooth linear feel, to a very definite bump that lets you know any further pressing is wasted energy). These are the light and smooth Red, the smooth but harder Black, the medium notch of a Brown or the model we have today that comes equipped with the very light Blue switch that also has an audible click for feedback. Personally we would always choose the soft, smooth Reds. But then we type so much here at OC3D that eventually the clacking of the Blue switches sounds like an invasion of Crickets.
However, despite these couple of small niggles the MK-80 is still an excellent keyboard. It's impossible to turn the Cherry MX switches into an unenjoyable experience and although QPAD have made a slight meal of the bits they can adjust, it's solid enough and with an attractive price-tag of only £90 it's in the mid-range of mechanical offerings. For this reason we're awarding it our OC3D Silver Award.