Hexgears is a brand that I am entirely unfamiliar with when it comes to keyboards. I’ve never had one sit on my desk before so when the opportunity came up to give them a whirl I just had to jump on it. I’m a fan of Kaihl switches and doubly so of pudding-style keycaps and since the Impulse came equipped with both it seemed like a dream come true. There’s a saying that sometimes expectations don’t meet reality and after getting the Hexgears Impulse on my desk made that saying a reality in the best way possible.
- MSRP: $89.99 (Amazon)
- IP56 Water resistant rating
- Per-Key customizable lighting modes (Softwareless)
- Ring RGB Light
- Braided USB cable
- Doubleshot extra durable PBT Keycaps (Pudding or 2-tone)
- Switches: Kailh Box Brown (Tactile), Box White (Clicky), or Hako Clear (Medium-Heavy Tactile)
- Curved metal switch mounting plate
- 2-stage angle adjustment feet
- Softwareless Macro Recording
- Media Function Keys
- Full Key / 6 key anti-ghosting
- 1-year warranty
Build, Switches, Typing
My first impression taking the Hexgears Impulse out of the box was being fairly surprised at how light it was for boasting a metal mounting plate. When compared to the previous keyboard I reviewed it’s essentially night and day - I won’t be able to ward off any attackers wielding this one like a weapon - but that’s not to say it’s cheaply made. The overall design screams quality with its fingerprint resistant PBT pudding keycaps (that look absolutely delicious lit up) and self-cleaning box switches. Hexgears also boasts an IP56 water resistant rating, making it one of the few mechanical keyboards that can boast being spillproof - so you can rage slam your desk all you want without worrying about that cup of coffee ruining your brand-new keyboard.
In addition to the ever-popular per-key RGB lighting, the Hexgears Impulse features a full, unbroken ring around the border of the keyboard chassis that has its own independent presets you can change between using hotkeys. I personally find this a great touch and a clever way to transition between the metal mounting plate and plastics that make up the rest of the keyboard chassis.
The Impulse comes with a few Kaihl switch options: BOX Brown, BOX White, and Hako Clear. Kaihl switches are probably my favorite switch type (yes, even compared to Cherry switches) and are rated for a staggering 80 million presses and are equipped with drainage ports and self-cleaning assemblies. The model I’m reviewing comes with BOX Browns which are tactile switches with a 3.6mm travel distance, 50g actuation and 60g bottom out. In general, I’ve noticed that Kaihl switches tend to be more stable than Cherry switches and as a result don’t suffer from problems like the dreaded spacebar rattle. BOX White switches are the counterpart of Cherry Blues, being the clicky variety, and Hako Clear switches are best described as a heavy brown switch, with a stiffer actuation and bigger tactile bump.
An audio sample of Hexgears Impulse with Kaihl BOX Brown switches. Microphone positioned 6 inches from the top right corner of the keyboard.
Macros and RGB
Moving on to RGB, Hexgears got a lot right. The RGB lighting is vibrant and smooth - blending well together as it flows across the keyboard. The pudding keycaps really make the aesthetics shine, allowing light to diffuse through the side of the caps making the lighting that much more eye-catching. I think my biggest gripe, however, is lack of software control but that is a personal preference - there’s a lot to be said about a keyboard that can be completely controlled without an ounce of software and the Impulse certainly doesn’t lack for RGB options that are built in.
Changing between different RGB presets is a simple matter of using the correct FN key combination. For example, using FN + Del will allow you to cycle through ‘Full Light Mode’ presets that include a number of wave-spectrum like presets as well as some crazy per-key random color modes that are a little frantic for my tastes. It also includes a solid color mode which you can then cycle through the different available colors by using FN + PgUp. There are also a number of breathing color modes and ‘interactive’ modes, which should be familiar to RGB users as they react to key presses, similar to the GIF below.
If you like to set up per-key presets for when you’re gaming (such as making WASD specific colors) you can still accomplish this by entering Light Recording Mode using FN + Backspace and cycle through specific colors by pressing the keys you want until they turn the color you desire. It’s not the most time-effective option but it certainly works and doesn’t require any software.
No gaming keyboard would be complete without the ability to record some macros, which is also a softwareless design on the Hexgears Impulse. You don’t get a huge number of macro keys, however, and they may not be the keys you’re used to. On the Hexgears the macro keys are assigned to Y, U, I, O and P. To record a macro you go into recording mode with FN + F11, then click the key you want to record for. The key will go dark and then you start hitting the keys you want in the macro one by one. When you’re done you hit FN + F11 again to exit recording mode. To use the macros from there you have to hit FN + Y to enter the macro mode, then hit your macro keys from there. I noticed, however, that using the macro doesn’t exit you out of macro mode - you have to FN + Y again or you risk accidentally using your macros while typing.
When it comes down to brass tacks, the Hexgears impulse is probably one of the better keyboards I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing and will most certainly be enjoying an extended stay on my desk for the foreseeable feature. The ticks all the boxes you’d want from a gaming keyboard, and being softwareless does mean no additional bloated software on your computer to worry about. If you find yourself turned off by RGB lighting, however, there’s also no need to fret - there is a monochrome non-RGB version that comes in a nice grey-scale color scheme - perfect for your boring desk (kidding)! Bottom line up front: the Hexgears impulse brings popular brand-name quality and features to your fingertips at fraction of the price and looks great doing it.
- Kaihl box switches are a great choice
- Great price for quality and features
- Tons of RGB presets
- The option for software would be nice
- Pudding keycaps may not be for everyone
- Y/U/I/O/P for macro keys seems like an odd choice
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.