Dark or Light
logo
Logo

Akko MOD005 DIY Keyboard Kit Review

Affordable and Excellent

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Earlier this month, we took a look at the Akko MOD003, a compact full-size keyboard kit the challenged what was possible for under $200. Akko is back again, this time with its first 65-percent keyboard kit and the results are even more impressive. The MOD005 features a full aluminum case with a  flexible gasket-mounted design, a second FR4 plate at no extra cost, improved acoustics, and hot-swappable switch sockets, all for $129.99. If you’ve been on the fence about building your own custom keyboard, the MOD005 is the best option with a full aluminum case available right now. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $129.99 (Akko
  • Akko’s First 65% Aluminum Gasket DIY Kit (67-key);
  • Gasket mount (3mm Poron);
  • Wired Type-C (supports Type-C to Type-C as well );
  • RGB Backlit with 4028 SMD LEDs
  • Case Material: CNC + Anodic Oxidation;
  • Plate: Aluminum with an additional FR4 Plate;
  • TTC 5-pin Hot-swappable Socket;
  • Support both plate mount and PCB screw-in stabilizer;
  • Noise Reduction Foam (3.5mm High Density EVA);
  • 4mm Bottom Noise Reduction Foam;
  • Windows/MacOS/Linux;
  • Comes with a Coiled Cable (Matching Color);
  • Support Akko Cloud Driver (for Macro and RGB Setting).

Akko MOD005 - Video Review

Akko MOD005 - Key Features and Overview

The MOD005 joins a growing line-up of Designer Studio custom keyboards from the team at Akko. Unlike most of Akko’s previous products, the Designer Studio line are complete customs with fully aluminum or acrylic cases, premium components, and enthusiast favorite designs. These keyboards require some basic assembly but are built to be customized and modded to deliver exactly the typing experience you prefer. They don’t come with switches or keycaps, but with a little effort can deliver a typing experience that surpasses anything else in Akko’s line-up and, indeed, just about any other premade gaming brand today. In fact, with proper modding, the MOD005 can sound and feel downright amazing for its price. 

The MOD005 is the first 65-percent keyboard in the Designer Studio series. It’s a compact keyboard, similar in size to a 60-percent, but keeps dedicated arrow keys and a column of navigation and editing keys on the right side. It drops the Function Row, Numpad, and offset navigation/editing cluster and relegates those lesser-used keys to Function commands, accessible with Fn+ key combinations. The layout is an excellent middle-ground between the ultra-compact 60-percents and larger TKLs, offering enough functionality to be a good fit for both work and gaming. 

There are countless pre-made 65-percents on the market today, but the MOD005 sets itself apart by adopting many features from the high-end custom keyboard scene. The biggest of these are the fully aluminum case and the gasket mounting system. While most gaming keyboards feature an aluminum or steel top plate, the MOD005 features a two-part CNC-milled aluminum chassis. It’s held together with eight recessed hex screws on the bottom of the case, a boon for longevity as they’re less likely to strip. The case isn’t as heavy as other customs and has a good amount of space in the bottom half, so I would love to see an option for weight in a future revision. 

Typically, affordable custom keyboards feature tray mount or top mount assemblies. Meaning, the switch plate and PCB screw directly into the top or bottom half of the case. This kit adopts the popular gasket mounting system that avoids screws entirely for mounting. Instead, the switch plate features tabs around every edge with 3mm poron pads (gaskets) that are sandwiched between both halves. 

And boy are there a lot of them. There are eight mounting tabs total with two tabs on each side. That’s 32 gaskets that combine for 6mm of total foam. This dampens any vibrations from typing and allows for quite a bit of flex. While I don’t subscribe to the idea of most keyboards feeling “bouncy” with a gasket mount alone, it certainly makes for a softer typing experience that’s quite comfortable, even when using the aluminum plate. 

If you want even more flex, Akko also includes a second FR4 (fiberglass) plate without any extra charge. Most keyboard kits only come with a single plate and charge anywhere from $10-30 extra for alternates, so this feels especially generous. The FR4 plate is much more flexible and puts the MOD005 on par if not more flexible than the Keychron Q1. Both plates improve on the MOD003, but the FR4 plate is a great choice if you want that bouncy, responsive feeling to your typing and gaming. 

Underneath that plate and below the PCB filling the case are two additional layers of foam. Both dampen out typing sounds and do a great job of eliminating ping (switch springs not included) and getting rid of nearly all hollowness. I didn’t find it necessary to mod in extra foam or sound dampener to “fill” the case (thereby killing some of the flex). It sounds good straight out of the box, which is a solid improvement from the 003. 

In addition to these features, the MOD005 now supports screw-in stabilizers while the 003 only supported plate-mount. I tested Durock V2 screw-in stabs and NovelKeys plate mount stabs. Both worked perfectly while only the NK_ stabs worked on the 005, so that’s another improvement.

The stock stabilizers are decent, but the lube job was more inconsistent this time around. My Spacebar and Left Shift were good but Backspace and Enter still had some rattle rattle. They worked well after self-lubing, however, so it’s worth the time to pull them out and add some extra dielectric grease. 

In addition to these improvements, we also see the return of hot-swappable switches, per-key RGB, key remapping, and macro programming (with software). Hot-swappable switches are a highlight on an entry-level board like this where users may be trying lots of different types of switches. Even for veterans, there are so many new switches releasing all the time, I appreciate being able to easily pull them and re-install them. 

It’s not perfect, however. The switches are still north-facing, which means you may experience interference with some Cherry profile keysets. It also doesn’t support QMK or VIA, so you’ll need to use Akko’s Cloud Software to remap keys and record macros. Changes are saved on the keyboard itself and can be taken between computers, which is nice, but it doesn’t offer the same level of programmability as QMK with a number of locked keys for the default secondary functions. 

Akko MOD005 - Assembly and Modding

The build process for the keyboard is very, very simple. It comes completely assembled except for switches and keycaps. It truly is as simple as pressing both into place, which can be down within 20 minutes, no tools required. If you opt for the FR4 plate, you’ll have to add on the gaskets yourself (included in the box) which will double that time. 

For this build, Akko also supplied two sets of its CS Jelly Black switches and its Black & Gold keycaps set. The Jelly Blacks are a linear switch that’s medium weight at 50g to actuate (Cherry MX Reds are 45g). They use an extra long spring, so feel heavier across the entire key press. They also feature box-style stems for reduced wobble and smoky housings that allow RGB to shine through. The switches have a very light layer of factory lube so are exceptionally smooth out of the box. At only $11.99 for a box of 45, they’re only $0.27 a switch, which is incredibly cheap for the performance they offer, especially after lubing.

Akko’s keycaps are hands-down the best I’ve seen at this price. At $59.99, the quality and colors are downright excellent. They use doubleshot PBT, so the legends are made from a separate piece of bonded plastic and will never fade. The Black & Gold set features slate alphas, black modifiers and arrows, and bright yellow legends in English and Hiragana. The keycaps are made in Akko’s ASA profile, which are spherical like terminal-style SA keycaps but are much shorter and comfortable to use. They also have an excellent clackiness that’s more pronounced than Cherry profile caps. They also aren’t subject to interference with the north-facing switches. 

The out of the box typing experience is good! There sound profile is decent, the smoothness is solid, and the responsiveness is on part with any other dedicated “gaming” keyboard I’ve used. The aluminum plate is expectedly stiffer but still has a good amount of flex. The FR4 plate is much more flexible and thockier (lower-pitched). You could build it in twenty minutes and be good.

But, doing so would leave a lot of performance on the table. Instead, I highly recommend modding this board because it can sound excellent with just a few simple mods. Here’s what I did.

Step one was to lube the switches. I lubed the switches with Krytox 205g0 on the stem and bottom housing and SuperLube oil on the spring. 

Next, I prepped the PCB with the Tempest Tape Mod. I used a single layer of FrogTape painter’s tape. Next, I cut out a layer of PE packing foam and taped it to the top of the PCB. These two layers act as sound filters. Together, they adjust the frequencies that make their way back out of the keyboard and leave a clacky, poppy sound that I quite enjoy.

Finally, I replaced all of the stabilizers. The stock stabilizers are good, but I had a set of NovelKeys’ NK_ Plate Mount stabilizers that I really enjoyed on the MOD003. They sound amazing and are easy to take out and retune as necessary. I Holee modded each stem to get rid of any rattle or tick, lubed the outsides with Krytox, and lubed the wires in a light coating of Permatex dielectric grease. I also added KBDFans foam stabilizer stickers under the stabs to soften bottom outs. 

And that’s it. Tape, PE, and lubed switches installed on the aluminum plate for extra pop. Watch the video to hear how it sounds. 

Akko MOD005 - Typing Test

Performance and Final Thoughts

The Akko MOD005 is an excellent first keyboard kit. It’s very good out of the box but transforms into something even better with a few quick mods. The keyboard feels great to type and game on and looks good too thanks to the blue and gold keycaps. What I appreciate most, however, is the sound and feel. The flexiness and potential poppiness of the keyboard leaves the GMMK Pro in its dust and may even surpass the Keychron Q1. If you’re looking for a 65-percent keyboard kit that’s affordable and excellent, this is the one. There is still room for improvement, but the MOD005 can become something amazing for for the price, if only you take the time to mod it.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Easy assembly and modding
  • Improved stabilizer support (screw-in and plate-mount)
  • Improved case ping/hollowness
  • Can sound amazing with easy/cheap mods
  • Jelly black switches are super smooth, with a nice sound profile, especially after lubing
Cons
  • Still no QMK or VIA support
  • Requires mods to really sound its best
  • Inconsistent stock stabilizer lube


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight