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Input Club Wants to Redefine the Gaming Keyboard

By Christopher Coke on March 27, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Input Club Wants to Redefine the Gaming Keyboard

In the world of mechanical keyboards, Input Club are something like indie celebrities. Working with prolific keyboard and keycap designer Matt3o, they released the Whitefox to wide acclaim. Later, with the K-Type, released a flashy RGB keyboard we at MMORPG adored, complete with their own Hako switches. With the launch of the Kira, they’re trying their hand at a full-fledged gaming keyboard. It has the keys of a full-size, the footprint of a TKL, and a style to please gamers and keyboard enthusiasts alike. You’re not going to want to miss it.

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If you’re not a keyboard enthusiast, Input Club might be a new name to you. The company, a six-man team based out of California, has big dreams when it comes to keyboards. Theirs is an open source future where design and quality craftsmanship win the day, built in collaboration with artisan designers and their own community. As a result, their keyboards are unique, boutique even, and have been a smash hit within the mechanical keyboard community.

So far at MMORPG, we’ve looked at both the WhiteFox and the K-Type. Each of these keyboards broke the mold in their own way. The WhiteFox took inspiration from the community-driven BrownFox build and, working closely with the BrownFox’s creator, Matt3o, Input Club was able to deliver a small yet incredibly powerful and refined 65% keyboard. The K-Type took all of the programmability and expanded it into a full TKL board complete with per-key RGB illumination and a beautiful underglow. It also offers fully hot-swappable switches, so if you’d like to try something new, it’s as easy as pulling the old switch out and pressing the new one in.

With the Kira, Input Club is trying something different. Kira is a full-size mechanical keyboard with a compact design that takes up about the space of a standard TKL. It does this by eliminating wasted space between the different key-zones and intelligently shifting the center editing/navigation area above the number pad. The result is an artisanal keyboard that sacrifices little to nothing while offering all the benefits of a TKL for gaming.

A few keys have been cut, mind you, but it’s doubtful you’ll notice them. The right windows key is no more, as are the archaic scroll lock and pause buttons. Insert has also been shifted to solely a secondary numpad function. Most users won’t miss these keys, but those that do can easily remap them using the configurator software.

Why do this and not simply make a normal sized, standard layout keyboard? As a gamer who plays lots of genres and not just MMOs, I can tell you that having enough room to make sweeping motions with your mouse can make all the difference, especially in low DPI shooters. A full-size keyboard can feel constraining, often forcing you to position it at an angle to comfortably space your arms. A keyboard like the Kira solves that and allows you to keep your number pad in the process.

You’ve also probably noticed that the Kira isn’t your standard black-on-black gaming slate. Here we have multi-colored keycaps in white, orange, and gray, giving it a very distinctive and stylish look. The case underneath can be injection molded plastic or aluminum in black or silver. In the world of enthusiast mechanical keyboards, keycaps are the biggest part of what gives a keyboard its identity. It’s clear that time and care went into giving the Kira its unique appearance.

Per-key RGB illumination also makes its way over from the K-Type with the same type of high-level programming fans enjoyed on that keyboard. The back and sides now also feature an angled acrylic that provides a neat underglow effect.  This is akin to the light bar found on Corsair, HyperX, and Cooler Master’s keyboards except much larger and more illuminating.

As I’ve learned more about the Kira, I’ve come to see it as an enthusiast keyboard that’s made for gaming rather than a gaming keyboard that will please enthusiasts. That’s an important difference. There are plenty of enthusiasts who can enjoy keyboards like the Corsair K95 Platinum (I do!), but it’s the enthusiasts who have called for small upgrades like thick-walled PBT keycaps instead of thin, laser-etched ABS, or the option of an aluminum chassis and detachable USB-C cable.

Though I mentioned it before, it’s worth repeating again: hot swappable switches. This might seem like a small thing but it’s the biggest feature I didn’t know I wanted on my K-Type. Just this month, I’ve swapped out all of my switches to try Kaihl’s new brand of speed switches and discovered a new hands-down favorite: Kaihl Bronze. An hour before writing this, I placed an order for a set of Kaihl x NobleKeys Jade BOX switches. Both of these aren’t available in pre-built keyboards but because hot swap sockets make it so simple, you’re free to completely change up your keyboard for less than $40.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, head over the Input Club’s Kickstarter page for more information. Input Club started as a group of enthusiasts who wanted to take what mattered most to keyboard fans and build their own with uncompromising quality. With the Kira, they’re doing just that.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.