The EasySMX ET-8176 is a full 105 key layout mechanical keyboard that comes in at under £50, but does that make it good value for money?
Design and build
Firstly I’ll start with the size and its quite large coming in at 44.75 x 21.7 x 3.93 cm so make sure that you have plenty of room to accommodate it. The layout is for the UK and everything is exactly where you’d expect it to be. Usually some keys are in different locations on these types of keyboards, but everything is exact and proper. On the right side you have a full size num pad if you find yourself needing to spreadsheet work. I personally don’t use it, but its a nice addition for those that do. Onto the main body and its made from a combination of metal and plastic. The metal finish is a nice touch at the price and honestly I would have been okay with plastic, but the addition of the brushed metal makes a big difference.
On the downside its quite delicate and marks easily so keep that in mind. On the keyboard there is a small logo finished in silver, I’m not a huge fan of it but not a deal to do about it really. There is also the EasySMX printed onto the surface too and its not too obtrusive which is nice. Finally for this section is the addition of two exposed screws, a bit of a pet peeve for me as I prefer them to be countersunk or not there at all. If they were black it wouldn’t be as bad but as they are silver they standout a lot.
This keyboard also has an additional wrist rest, it is plastic but its a really nice addition for helping reduce wrist strain. Coming from a keyboard without one its like night and day. The finish on the wrist rest is fairly grippy and surprisingly doesn’t rub or cause discomfort at all. Also another big plus is that the wrist rest is removable, so if you don’t like it, you can always remove it. Doing this is a little tricky so if you need help refer back to the manual as that gives you a step by step guide on how to install and remove.
The underside of the keyboard reveals a plastic finish which looks and feels decent quality. There are large triangular cutouts located across the whole bottom section. Not sure of the relevance of this and as far as I can tell they serve no purpose at all. Unless its to add structural rigidity to main body. Also under here you have some rubber feet to prevent slipping and on my extended mousemat it feels very planted.
All in all for the design and build its a mixed bag. The inclusion of metal is nice touch and the keyboard feels solid, its just some of the smaller things that I don’t really like. Also a big plus is the lack of any flex when typing or even trying too, its definitely one of the better built keyboards at this price point.
So as mentioned this is a full 105 layout and it has pretty much all the keys you’d need. The keys themselves are a blue mechanical switch and they, to be honest aren’t the best I’ve come across. They are a little sluggish and heavy compared to some of the other mech switches that I’ve tested in the past. Its the key travel that feels slow and it might just because I’m used to quicker switches, but its something I found tricky getting used to. So if you require a really rapid response this might not be for you.
On the plus side the travel distance is nice coming in at around 4mm. Also to note is that they aren’t the easiest of keys to fully actuate needing roughly 60g of force. You may like this but I personally prefer a lighter feeling switch. Back to the positives and I do like they slight curve to the keycaps, they fit really nice and typing on this keyboard is a fairly decent experience.
I have noticed that my typing has slowed as I mentioned the keys aren’t overly responsive, but the keys are nicely spaced making typing mistakes a little less frequent. The keys also have a long life of up to 50 million keystrokes, so they will easily last the entire lifespan of the keyboard.
Another slight omission and something I do prefer is the inclusion of dedicated media keys. I really do like me some media keys and these do have them but they are built into keys F1 to F12. Once you get used to it, its not a huge deal nor is it a deal breaker, I just prefer dedicated keys for media. Also something I omitted to mention earlier is the inclusion of a keycap puller. This makes it so much easier to remove the keycaps if you need to clean the keyboard. One final plus for me is the noise that mechanical switches make and this is no exception, its not the loudest or clickiest, but it is nice.
So the ET-8176 is a plug and play keyboard meaning that no drivers are required to use it at all. That is both a plus and negative as software control is my preferred way of making adjustments. On the plus side its one less program taking up HDD space. Another feature is LED back lighting, which you have to control via the keyboard.
- To toggle the back light on and off you do this by pressing FN and Scroll lock.
- To turn LED breathing on or off you press FN and Home key
- In breathing mode you can change the speed by pressing FN and the + or – key
- Brightness control is done with FN and the + or – key
Unfortunately there is no way to change the lights to one solid colour or to have any other effects. So you are stuck with what there is.On the plus side the lighting is very bright even under direct light and this also makes typing in dimmer situations easier. The keyboard also has two levels of height adjust, one is fully flat and the other is slightly raised. I prefer the raised option as it suits me better.
For just under £40 I’m impressed. The design is nice as a whole, even though some elements bug me personally, its very solid feeling, the keys are okay, the typing experience again is okay, the wrist rest is nice too, as many others at this price don’t come included with one and finally the feature set is decent. So if you want a really affordable but good mechanical keyboard, this is worth a look. Its by no means amazing, but it gets the job done and done well.