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Epomaker Shadow-X Mechanical Keyboard Review

Christopher Coke Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

When it comes to affordable mechanical keyboards, few companies do it better than Epomaker. As both a storefront and a manufacturer, they have a wide array of keyboards available across just about every price point and have the resources to release new models that respond to user feedback regularly. That’s exactly the case with the Shadow-X, a FRL (function row-less) TKL keyboard with an OLED screen and tri-mode wireless for cable-free gaming. 

At only $85.99 (or less if you catch it on sale, like now with a $9 off instant coupon) it’s a great buy that will impress you with its typing and gaming quality. It makes a couple of strange choices that are worth knowing about, however, so read on to find out if this is the right keyboard for you. 


  • Current Price: $85.99 (Amazon)
  • Model: EPOMAKER Shadow-X
  • Number of keys: 70 keys+1 knob
  • Connectivity: wireless and wired
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • Structure: Gasket-mounted
  • LED Direction: South-facing LED
  • Keycaps: double shot PBT material
  • Plate material: PC
  • Hot swappable: yes
  • Bottom layer: Silicon pad
  • Sandwich layer: Poron foam, IXPE switch pad
  • Compatible system: Win/macOS/Linux/Android/iOS
  • Dimension: 370.4*129.8*47.8mm
  • Weight: Around 0.8kg
  • Inside the box
    • Keyboard
    • Instrusction Manual
    • Type-C Cable
    • 1*2.4G receiver
    • 1*keycap/switch puller
    • Extra Keycaps

Epomaker Shadow-X - Design and Layout

The Epomaker Shadow-X is a compact mechanical keyboard with a unique layout. At first glance, you might take it for a TKL or a 65%. In fact, it’s actually a FRL TKL, which stands for function row-less tenkeyless — a TKL without the function row. This is unusual but something we’re seeing more within the custom keyboard space. It’s more aesthetic than anything as it doesn’t result in much space savings: it’s the same width as a TKL but is a little more narrow. 

The uniqueness doesn’t stop with the lack of function row. Along the right side, the Page Up button has been swapped for a knob. Unlike just about every other mechanical keyboard with a knob (and I’ve tested well over a hundred at this point), this knob doesn’t control volume. Instead, it’s a selector switch that allows you to choose your current connectivity method between Bluetooth 1, 2, and 3, 2.4GHz, and wired over USB. Turned all the way to the left and the keyboard turns off, so it doubles as a power switch.

The space between the arrows and the navigation cluster also has the neat addition of an OLED screen. Like the TH80-X, this screen acts as a home base, displaying all of your important information. This includes the current date and time, connection method, OS, charge level, and battery indicator. With a key combination, it’s also used to access the keyboard’s lighting options, allowing you to visually adjust its mode, brightness, and speed. The software also allows you to upload your own GIFs and images, or create your own graphic, which is a neat way to personalize such a key part of your desktop.

The keyboard itself has a sleek, gunmetal grey look to it with matching, two-tone doubleshot PBT keycaps. Like the EK68, the finish is made to appear metallic, mimicking the look of more expensive aluminum custom keyboards. There are also yellow accent keys included in the box, so you can add a bit of extra flair and make the keyboard pop. 

Epomaker Shadow-X - Fantastic Switches and Keycaps 

Speaking of keycaps, they’re outstanding. I can’t say for certain, but it looks like Epomaker may have a partnership with Akko because the stock keycaps look incredibly similar to a Black and Silver set I’ve tested in the past. They’re also in a near identical short-SA profile and have the same construction. That’s all a very good thing because Akko makes some of the best affordable keycaps sets out there. 

Even if these aren’t secretly Akko keycaps, Epomaker still deserves kudos because they’re just as ahigh quality. They’re made of doubleshot PBT, which means the legends are crisp and will never fade. PBT is also denser and more resilient to wear and tear, so these should never shine. Unlike cheaper ABS keycaps, even those found on much more expensive keyboards, these keycaps don’t absorb the oils from your fingers and remain looking just as good as the day they were purchased years into the future. 

Underneath those keys, the keyboard uses your choice of Epomaker Flamingo, Budgerigar, or Bluebird switches, or Gateron Pro Yellows. These switches are all pre-lubed and extra smooth. I was sent the model with tactile Budgerigar switches and found them to be very nice. They have a strong tactility and very nice sound and feel. There’s no spring ping or unwanted noise and the tactile bump is that perfect balance between smooth and poppy. 

If you’d care to change the switches, the keyboard also sports hotswap sockets. These aren’t anything new at this point but are a great feature for being able to try new switches or replace those that fail. You simply unplug the existing switch using the included switch puller and press the new one into place. Easy peasy.

Epomaker Shadow-X - Typing and Gaming Experience

As a smaller company, Epomaker is more nimble that most other mechanical keyboard companies and is quite responsive to feedback from its community. As a result, it factors in many enthusiast level features that users ask for in a much quicker timeframe than much of its competition. These features enhance both the typing and gaming experience.

The internal construction of the keyboard is a perfect example of this. It uses a very similar structure to genuine custom mechanical keyboards at a fraction of the price. The plate the switches mount into is a soft polycarbonate plastic and rests on top of a layer of even softer PORON foam. This cushions the typing experience without making it feel mushy. Underneath the switches is a layer of IXPE switch foam which restores some volume and adds a crisp sound profile to the typing experience. Beneath the circuit board is a layer of silicone to remove any hollowness from the case and hone the acoustics. 

In the custom world, these are all options many users opt into or pay extra for to create a deeper, richer sound profile that is soft on the fingers and satisfying to the ears. 

The whole internal structure is also gasket mounted. Unlike most keyboards, the PCB and switch assembly doesn’t screw into the case at all. It rests on foam or silicone strips which are pinched between the two halves of the case to isolate keystrokes. This works with the PC plate and foam to aid in softness and acoustics. 

Paired with the switches, the Shadow-X delivers an excellent typing experience that punches above its class. It’s soft, satisfying, and responsive.

Gaming is just as good. Using the 2.4GHz dongle, it has a 1ms response rate, so your keypresses are transmitted instantaneously. I didn’t notice any additional lag using the dongle versus plugging in with a USB cable, so you can count on gaming-grade responsiveness.

The battery isn’t huge at 3,000mAh. That’s an area for improvement in a future version of this keyboard. With the RGB backlighting enabled, you’ll get somewhere around 40 hours of uptime before needing to recharge. This varies depending on your connectivity method and the brightness of the LEDs, but it’s safe to plan on recharging at least once a week.

Epomaker Shadow-X - About That Layout…

Here’s the thing… I kind of hate the knob. The positioning is awkward to say the least. Why get rid of Page Up when you still have Page Down? Why not remove a less useful key, like Insert or position it above the left arrow button? There’s also no alternate mapping for Page Up by default, so you have to use the software to re-add it yourself.

It also doesn’t work how you would expect it to. It looks like a volume knob but can’t be used for that even if you want it to. There are also hotkeys to change the connectivity methods which makes it kind of superfluous. 

I also don’t like how the keyboard forces you to used its menu system. The manual describes being able to adjust the lighting using hotkeys but in my testing, the only hotkey that worked for lighting was to turn it off or on. Adjust brightness, speed, or lighting mode forces you to do some finger gymnastics to hold Fn+Menu while pressing the arrows or Enter button to make changes. It’s functional but cumbersome and a case where a working system — the usual shortcuts — were broken so the screen could fix it.

Final Thoughts

Weird layout and mandated screen aside, I think the Epomaker Shadow-X is a good keyboard. If you don’t mind losing Page Up, it’s a well-built set of keys that feels good to type on, sounds nice, and is very responsive for both gaming and typing. 

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.

7.0 Good
  • Solid typing and gaming experience
  • Layers of sound dampening and acoustic foam/silicone
  • Very nice switches and keycaps
  • Tri-mode wireless connectivity
  • Affordable pricing makes this a good value
  • Weird layout
  • Expectation-bucking knob
  • OLED menu is tricky to navigate and required to engage with


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