Ducky is one of the biggest names in the keyboard business but you may not have heard of them in the United States. They’ve been a dominant player around the world but have only recently begun making waves here as eSports pros have begun using them. Today, we have the company’s flagship board in for review, the Ducky Shine 7. It has PBT keycaps, a zinc top, and complete programmability, but is it worth $159?
- Current Price: $159.99
- Black Zinc alloy top case 3x stronger than aluminum
- PBT Doubleshot seamless keycaps
- Supports RAZER Chroma Broadcast, Ducky Macro 2.0, and Ducky’s newest RGB software
- German made Cherry MX key switches
- 3 level adjustable feet, Detachable USB TypeC cable, and Dual layer PCB
- Brand new RGB backlight modes
- Comes with additional Year of the Dog spacebar
- Interface: USB Type-C
- Simultaneous key input: USB N-Key Rollover
- Special function: Ducky Marco V2.0, Ducky Mouse function
- Keycap material: PBT
- Legend printing: Doubleshot
- Dimensions: 458 x 134 x 38 mm
- Weight: 1440g
- Origin of Production: Taiwan
Before we begin this review, I want to note that it’s because of you. I had heard the praise enthusiasts lavished on Ducky for years but never took the step to reach out until, in review after review, you kept mentioning that this is a brand we should be featuring and comparing against. As a hardware team, we want to share exciting, interesting things and to have the brands you want to know more about represented. This review, and another coming next week, have been in the works since last August to make that happen, so I’m pleased we’re able to share this today.
The Shine 7 is a hybrid of a keyboard. It’s enthusiast-grade in virtually every way but also programmable and flashy enough to meet the needs of even eSports athletes. The model that we have in for review is the Blackout Version, which features a traditional black colorway with purple accent keys that you can swap out. It’s RGB backlit with per-key customizable illumination with or without software and also features easy, on-the-fly macro programming with delay and repeat controls.
If there’s one thing Ducky has nailed with this keyboard, it’s presentation. Even the box is eye-catching with its purple and gold and other bright colors. Once the keyboard is hooked up, it looks great with its bright LEDs and top-aligned legends on everything but the number pad. With the purple accent keys and the Year of the Dog spacebar installed, it really looks great. You don’t have to use any of these, of course, since the accent keys aren’t backlit and the YOTD spacebar is ABS instead of the PBT on the rest of the keyboard, but it’s a great way to make your keyboard look unique.
The board comes with a selection of preset effects, like the rainbow featured in these photographs. You can also set reactive typing, color cycling, breathing, ripples, rain drops, and more. There are plentiful options to choose from if you’d rather set something and go. You can also set your own custom layout using a quick key combination or load up Ducky’s software suite to design visually. I love being able to be free from software installs, though, so I’m glad to see onboard options, even if they could be a bit more user friendly. I had to keep the manual on my desk for a good few days before committing everything to memory.
The other striking thing about the Shine 7 is the zinc top plate. While most RGB keyboards adopt the “floating key” style that exposes the switch housings, Ducky has instead opted for a heavy and heavy duty zinc plate. This helps to isolate the light into the bed you see pictured above but also lend the keyboard much more of a premium feel due to its heft. The back shell is still plastic but by weight alone, you could be forgiven for thinking they’d used an all-metal case here.
Around the back, you’ll find the USB Type-C connection, dual stage tilt feet to really dial in your angle, and a set of DIP switches. DIP switches are still making their way into mainstream keyboards. In essence, they allow you to reconfigure your layout and perform other functions. The Fn key, for example can be moved to any of the seven keys on the bottom row surrounding the spacebar. You also use a DIP switch to swap between N-Key and 6-Key Rollover modes.
Apart from making keyboards, Ducky is also well known for making premium keycaps. The caps included here are doubleshot PBT with thick, ~1.4mm walls. The black keys are backlit while the purples are not. The white mat underneath the key set helps ensure that the light dispersion underneath is still bright and even. You wouldn’t think the type of plastic used in the keycaps would make as much of a difference as it does but it’s true. Typing on the Ducky Shine 7 compared to my Corsair K95 Platinum is like night and day despite the Shine 7 coming in $40 cheaper.
Underneath the keys, you’ll have your choice of genuine Cherry switches. The model I was sent used Cherry MX Browns but you can choose from Black, Blue, Red, Silent Red, and Speed Silver. I prefer that touch of tactility while still keeping a lightweight actuation force, so the browns are perfect for me. Cherry is well-known for producing some of the most consistent switches around, though, so if you’ve used one of these colors on another keyboard, you’ll likely find a similar experience here.
Of course, typing feel depends on multiple factors with the keyboards construction: the top plate, the keycaps, the type of switches, how they’re mounted, whether there’s hollow space in the keyboard or if it’s been padded. Here, the mix of heavy metal top plate and thick keycaps make for a great typing experience. The feel of the caps when you bottom out is almost like typing on candy. I know - that’s weird, but that’s where my mind goes to. While most gaming keyboards feel thin and have this lightweight chintzy typing sound, the Ducky Shine 7 is solid as a rock with a deeper, more satisfying clack when bottoming out.
Programming macros and remapping keys can also be done with or without software. I was quite impressed at how powerful the onboard tools are. You can remap keys with just a few presses and record hold macros just as easily. I was also very pleased to find that you can customize delays between each action and even configure how you want the macro to repeat (fire once, only when held, press again to stop). You can even remap advanced secondary functions, like your media controls, opening the calculator or your browser, or even controlling mouse movement. The only downside is that, beyond basic macros, this can be a little complicated. Have a look at the flowchart above to see what I mean (though, honestly that makes it seem worse than what it is).
Having never used a Ducky keyboard before, I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Now that I’ve used it for a couple of weeks, it’s easily become one of my favorite keyboards of all time. It’s well-built and drips quality while still offering a huge amount of customization. It’s onboard programming for lighting and advanced remaps could be more user friendly but it’s learning curve I’m willing to climb considering how well done the Shine 7 truly is. The Ducky Shine 7 is up to whatever challenge you might have for it, whether that’s gaming, writing, office work, or anything in between. That it comes in at $40 cheaper than most flagship “gaming” keyboards is icing on an already delicious cake.
- Heavy-duty zinc top
- Thick PBT keycaps with optional accent keys and YOTD spacebar
- Genuine Cherry MX switches
- Feels great to type on
- Programmable with or without software, including advanced functions and timing customization
- Programming can be a bit confusing
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.