Akko has been a growing name in the mechanical keyboard community for years, developing some of the best looking, budget conscious keyboards you can buy. Over the last year, it joined the custom keyboard market with its MOD line-up of DIY keyboard kits. We have its latest model on the review desk, the MOD006. It takes the compact TKL design of the MOD007 and pairs it with an attractive new badge and more modder friendly design. Coming in at $169, is this keyboard worth picking up over the competition?
- Current Price: $169.99 (Akko)
- Comes with both aluminum and polycarbonate plates
- Gasket Mount: the aluminum plate comes with silicon gasket (to avoid misplacement) by default with spare poron gaskets;
- MOD006 will no longer come as pre-assembled (screws provided), making it easier for users to mod. And to ensure it is equivalently user-friendly for beginners, the aluminum plate, PCBA and sound dampening foams will be pre-assembled;
- Comes with both poron plate foam and bottom case foam, specifically the case foam are pre-cut against the hot-swappable sockets to reduce unnecessary space for improved sound profile;
- Poron switch pads added to the kit;
- Reduced PCBa thickness from 1.6mm to 1.2mm to increase the softness, and be compatible with more screw-in stabilizers;
- Black Coiled Cable
- *No switches or keycaps included with this kit. Akko Black & Silver and hand-lubed Akko CS Wine Red switches included in this build, available separately.
Akko MOD006 - What Is It?
The Akko MOD006 is the latest DIY custom keyboard kit from Akko. The company has made a name for itself making stylish and artistic premade keyboards for some time (its keycap sets are also usually available separately), but has really begun to earn cred in the enthusiast community with its MOD series. This line-up incorporates enthusiast-centric features and emphasizes build quality, typing feel and sound, and affordable pricing.
The MOD006 is the company’s 11th such kit and incorporates many of the lessons it's learned progressing through these releases. It uses a full aluminum case, available in Red, Sky Blue, Midnight Blue, and Space Gray. The colors are anodized, so they won’t scratch easily and look great for the cost. Composed of two halves, the top case has beveled edges and clean lines. The MOD006 also incorporates a golden badge instead of a volume knob (another common feature on enthusiast DIY kits), and it features the Year of the Tiger logogram. It’s a small touch, but one that really ties the look of the keyboard together. In terms of layout and design, this is very close to a reworked MOD007 V2.
The kit comes with most of what you’ll need to have a functioning keyboard. Akko generously includes an aluminum and polycarbonate plate, so you can tailor how soft you want your typing experience to be. Like prior boards, it also uses a gasket mount implementation, which cushions the plate with dampeners instead of fastening it with screws. This also leads to a softer typing experience, but Akko gives you the choice of silicone gasket sockets that fit onto the plate tabs or traditional PORON gaskets you’ll need to apply yourself. Adding to this, Akko also decreased the thickness of the PCB from 1.6mm to 1.2mm for some added flex when typing.
Also included in the box is a layer of PORON plate foam, a PORON switch pad, and PORON case foam. That’s a lot of foam, and you don’t have to use all of it, but it’s great to see included nonetheless. Budget keyboards often use lower-cost EVA foam, which is much firmer and doesn’t isolate typing sounds. The PORON is soft, spongy, and has the same dampening effect and sound tuning characteristics as you’ll find on boards that cost triple the price.
The PCB also supports RGB backlighting, customizable using hotkeys or software, and hot-swappable switches. The latter has become a common feature but is still great to see included on a board that many users will likely use to grow further into the hobby. You'll be able to try new switches without having to worry about breaking out your soldering iron.
Akko also includes a coiled cable (not braided) and a set of plate-mounted stabilizers. Plate mount stabs aren’t usually the top choice for enthusiast builders, but the PCB also supports screw-in stabilizers, so you can use Durocks or other high-end stabs if you wish. The stabilizers here really aren’t bad, however. They don’t require much lubing at all to eliminate rattling and sound pretty good when fully put together.
Like most keyboard kits, you will need to purchase switches and keycaps separately. For this build, Akko sent along a set of its hand-lubed Wine Red linear switches and a set of Black & Silver doubleshot PBT ASA keycaps. If you’re building on a budget, I highly recommend looking at what Akko has to offer. The Wine Reds are smooth and sound great, right out of the box. Best of all, they’re only $20.99 for a set of 45 switches, or $.47 a switch, which is very cheap for switches that have been lubed with Krytox by hand. Akko’s keycaps are also excellent at only $59.99, have no warping whatsoever, and are very comfortable to use over extended periods.
There are two important things to be aware of that could potentially be dealbreakers, however. The MOD006 does not support QMK or VIA. Instead, it uses Akko's Cloud Driver. This allows you to remap keys across three layers but isn't as configurable as QMK. The second is that the keyboard uses north-facing switches, so if you choose to use non-Akko, short pole switches, you could potentially run into interference. This is a plus for backlit keycaps, however, as the RGB backlighting can shine directly through the key legends.
Assembling and Modding the Akko MOD006
Assembling the Akko MOD006 is very straightforward. If you plan to use the aluminum plate, you’ll find that the plate, PCB, and stabilizers are already assembled and the silicone gasket socks are already in place. All you have to do is put the case foam in the bottom case, screw it together, and install switches. The stabilizers also come pre-lubed and actually have lubed inside the stabilizer, instead of just on the wire outside. It’s a small touch, but one very few other companies actually make and shows that Akko is really trying to give you an easy build process and quality typing experience.
I opted to use the polycarbonate plate and PORON gaskets, which meant I had to do some assembly myself. The process isn’t difficult but does take time and precision. Peeling and placing the PORON gaskets took about 20 minutes, and it’s important that they’re placed properly on each tab so they don’t get crushed between both halves of the case. With that done, I had to unscrew the aluminum plate from the PCB, swap over the stabilizers (injecting a bit more lube with a syringe that I later had to remove), position the PORON switch foam, then the case foam, and install switches to hold it together. With that done, all that was left was to put the case foam in the case, screw both halves together and install keycaps.
You could be done here, but the MOD006 is meant to be modified to make it as good as it can possibly be. The out-of-the-box typing experience is very light and quiet. I added a single layer of painter’s tape to the back of the PCB to deepen the sound and increase the amount of pop (two layers made it sound too dampened). I also put small tabs of electrical tape around the screw points on the bottom case to keep the metal of both halves from touching, eliminating the tiny amount of ping I would sometimes hear around the space bar.
On stabilizer lubing: the stabilizers Akko uses here really don’t require much lube at all. In fact, dipping the wires in dielectric grease was too much and made the stabs sound far too dampened. I wound up pulling the wires out, wiping them off completely, and then just using the small residual coating left inside the stem and am very pleased with the result. Or, you could just leave them as Akko delivered them, which I should have done from the start. But, there’s no rattle whatsoever and these were overall extremely easy to tune.
Akko MOD006 - Typing and Gaming Impressions
After typing on the MOD006 for a week, I have to say that I’m very pleased. You could use it out of the box and have a good experience, but with just a little time spent modding, you can take this keyboard to the next level.
As is always the case with a custom mechanical keyboard build, your particular experience will vary depending on the switches, keycaps, and other customizations you make. The keyboard as a whole, though, is impressive at this price point. It’s very dampened and highlights higher-pitched typing sounds by default, but by adjusting which foams you use, and applying customizations like the tape mod, you can deepen it and add plenty of pop.
With the configuration I used, the sound was delightfully poppy and both sounded and felt great. The Akko Wine Red switches are similar to Cherry MX Reds in typing weight but sound and feel much better due to the hand lubing. I initially had a set of Novelkeys Silk Yellows (a JWK switch, which is used in many popular switches today, like Durocks and Alpacas), but the Wine Reds have a sound that really compliments the foam sandwich nature of the board well.
This also makes them a great fit for gaming. They’re very responsive, and that smooth linearity makes firing off multiple keystrokes very easy. I’m not one to do that, but there’s no resistance or tactile bump to slow you down. Given their cost, these are an excellent switch for both gaming and typing.
The one thing to note here is that there really isn’t much flex to the typing experience with all of the foams installed. Typing isn’t stiff, but you shouldn’t go in expecting Keychron Q1 levels of bounce here. The limited space within the case makes that more difficult to pull off, but if you remove the case foam, it is certainly possible to restore some of it.
At $169, this is a very solid custom keyboard kit. I adore the Red version with the gold accent, but I think each of the colors looks good. I applaud Akko for including extras like a second plate, multiple PORON foams, and good stabilizers in with the base package. It adds value to the kit and makes it an even better value in a market that seems to get more crowded every day. If you like the look and want something that can act as a platform to apply your own mods for a truly custom typing and gaming experience, the MOD006 is a top contender.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Some articles may contain affiliate links and purchases made through this will result in a small commission for the site. Commissions are not directed to the author or related to compensation in any way.