Iris Lab and MyKeyClub are back again with the JRIS80 custom keyboard kit! The JRIS65 and JRIS75 swept the hobby as some of the best value releases in mechanical keyboards with their great sound, feel, aesthetic design, and especially price. The JRIS80 is back to do it again in a friendly TKL form factor with some improvements of its own. You’d never guess this keyboard kit starts at only $165. Find out how well it succeeds in this review!
- Current Price: $165 to $225 (See Vendor List Below)
- Typing angle: 7.5°
- Front height: 18 mm
- Material: Full CNC 6063 Aluminum
- Dimension: 360*139*34mm
- Structure: PCB Gasket
- QMK/VIA Supported(wired)
- Support PCB stabilizers
- Layout: Tsangan Option (7u Spacebar), F13, TKL
- Case Options:
- 4 E-coat case: E-White/ Milky White/ Pink/ Lilac
- 7 Anodized Case: Black/ Silver/ Wine Red/ Navy Blue/ Dark Green/ Titanium Grey/ Orange
- 6 color combo case: E-White&Black/ Orange&Black/ WineRed&Black/Navy Blue &Black/ Dark Green&Black/Titanium Grey&Black
- Weight Options:
- 3 Alu Weight: Gold/ Silver/ Black
- 5 PVD Weight: Gold/ Silver/ Black/ Blue/ Chroma
- 2 Titanium Alloy Weight: Auspicious Cloud/ Wave
- PCB Options:
- Wired Flex Cut Multi Layout Hotswap PCB (1.2mm, No Per-key RGB, support QMK and VIA)
- Wired Non-Flex Cut Multi Layout Hotswap PCB (1.6mm, No Per-key RGB, support QMK and VIA)
- Wired Non-Flex Cut Multi Layout Solder PCB (1.6mm, No Per-key RGB, support QMK and VIA)
- ANSI Layout
- Wired Per-Key RGB ANSI Hotswap PCB (1.6mm, Non-Flex Cut, support QMK and VIA)
- Tri-mode ANSI Hotswap PCB (1.2mm, Non-Flex Cut, No Per-key RGB, support IRISLab Software)
- PCB Options:
- Flex Cut Plates: ALU/ FR4
- Non-flex Cut Plates: POM/ PC
- Alu and FR4 Half-plate/Brass Plate (Add-ons only)
- Plateless Build(Add-ons only)
Iris Lab JRIS80 - GROUP BUY INFORMATION
The Iris Lab JRIS80 is currently in group buy until December 10th with prices starting at $165. Keyboards are expected to be received by April 2024. There are many different options available, as well as a plentiful array of add-ons to really customize this keyboard kit, all of which can be ordered during this pre-order period. There are regional vendors participating around the world. A selection of vendors is included below:
US: Cannon Keys
Options and Costs
It is unknown whether the product will have availability after its conclusion, though it’s not unusual to see very popular kits brought back for additional rounds, so if you’re finding this review after the group buy is concluded, we recommend joining the MyKeyClub Discord for any potential updates on further availability. This is also a smart decision to hear updates on production and shipping if you choose to pick one up for yourself, as well as to hear about future keyboard projects.
Iris Lab JRIS80 - Overview of the Kit and What Makes It Special
The JRIS80 is the third keyboard in Iris Lab’s line of affordable custom mechanical keyboard kits. It’s an impressive showing in many aspects, really challenging what you should expect for a DIY keyboard at this price. Once it’s built, you would never guess that it starts at only $165, which is a testament to the quality of its design and the options that Iris Lab has built into it.
I’ve been a big fan of the JRIS series, having reviewed both the JRIS65 and JRIS75 at their release. The JRIS75, to this day, remains one of my all time favorite custom keyboards in looks, sound, and feel. I was excited to see the announcement of the JRIS80 and sat tight through a length design and production process to try one for myself.
With each release, Iris Lab and its partner MyKeyClub have upped the ante on the amount of options and customizations it offers. It wasn’t long ago that entry-level custom keyboards were limited in what you could expect to receive but that’s no longer the case at all. Each of the cases is made entirely of aluminum and has an internal brass weight for additional heft, as well as an external pair of weights, badges, and, if you choose, a knob.
As you can see in the gallery above, there are seven anodized colors to choose from and four e-coated hues. These are different processes to apply the color but both are exceptionally durable and made to last. The kit is also being offered in six different color combinations, so you can really find the color arrangement that works for you.
Around the back, the JRIS has a bold weight that extends most of its width (nearly the full “wedge” that elevates the top rectangle). There are five colors to choose from — gold, silver, black, blue, and chroma — and each is available with a PVD coated mirror finish. Gold, silver, and black can be had without this finish at some cost savings and fewer fingerprints — though the PVD looks amazing and was completely free of any imperfections on my sample.
Iris Lab is also trying something new with a pair of titanium weight options with the JRIS80. These have a rainbow-like effect and are available in a wave or a paisley-esque cloud pattern. I really like both of these and the finish seems more likely to keep fingerprinting at bay.
As we’ve seen in some other kits this year, the kit also adopts magnetically swappable weights for the center of the back. These are offered in four different patterns, a 3D pyramid shape (low enough that it doesn’t impact how the keyboard sits), and blank. You’ll get a matching version to whatever style of weight you choose by default but extras are also available if you’d like to mix and match or swap down the line.
The keyboard uses a Tsangan (optional), F13, TKL layout and gives you the option of adding a rotary encoder in place of the Pause button, most often used for controlling volume. Tsangan is a term used to describe the bottom row of the keyboard. The Spacebar is 7u, just shy of a full key longer than a normal Spacebar. The Ctrl, Alt, and System keys are all resized to accommodate this design, with Ctrl and Alt keys being slightly wider and the System key being slightly shorter. It has a nice symmetrical look to it that works with the keyboard very well, but is definitely something to keep in mind as you shop for matching, compatible keycaps sets. Depending on the PCB you choose, you can opt for a traditional bottom row also.
The F13 key is useful as an extra programmable button (I use mine for Mute). Some keyboards, like Keychrons, use this space for the knob, but I’m happy to see that Iris Lab positions it in the upper right. It just looks better. The knobs are available in black, silver, gold, or chroma.
The JRIS80 offers even more flair for the front. Below the navigation keys, there’s a small badge and a quartet of LED diffusers. Depending on the PCB you choose, you’ll have access to per-key RGB or just this strip being illuminated. It’s bright and looks great but can also be turned off if you’d rather have no lighting at all.
Speaking of PCBs, there are five to choose from. Three support multiple layouts, include the standard bottom row mentioned before. You can also opt for a split Backspace, split Shift keys, a stepped Caps Lock, and ISO support. You also have the option of flex cuts or no flex cuts, 1.2mm or 1.6mm thickness (both of which are related to sound and feel), and wired or tri-mode wireless. Wireless PCBs will come with a pair of 2,200mAh batteries to drive the experience.
If you opt for a wireless PCB, MyKeyClub highly recommends to utilize a plastic or FR4 plate for a stable wireless signal. Since the case is made of heavy metals, opting for a metal plate could make wireless unreliable, defeating the purpose of 2.4GHz support. The wired PCBs also support QMK and VIA while the tri-mode wireless supports Iris Lab’s software for your programming needs.
There are multiple plates to choose from both with flex cuts and without. The flex cut plates are aluminum and FR4. The non-flex cut plates are POM and PC. You can also purchase aluminum and FR4 half-plates as add-ons with your kit. And since the keyboard uses PCB gaskets, it’s also possible to build this kit completely plateless if you want the pure, unadulterated sound of your switches.
Speaking of mounting, the JRIS80 brings back the silicone bar-bell style of gaskets found in the JRIS75. Surround the plate are tabs with three notches on each. You can chose to use just one gasket bar in each slot or all three to customize your typing experience from the softest to most firm. Though, bear in mind that this is also directly impacted by how stiff your plate and PCB are and if you’re using foam. I like that these gaskets are easy to install and remove, which really goes along with the these of this keyboard in general.
The other returning feature is the quick disassembly system from the JRIS75. Instead of using screws to hold the top and bottom case together, it uses a ball and catch system, pictured above. The top case snaps into place in these latches. It’s strong enough to be able to move and handle the keyboard like any other but when it’s time to open it to make adjustments, you simply put a thumb on the keys and use your fingers to pull the top up at the edges. It’s a fantastic system, especially as this is a keyboard you’re likely to want to experiment with.
Case and point, I’ve opened my own at least a dozen times to try different build styles, foams, and gasket configurations. It makes applying these tweak much faster and easier, to the point that I genuinely wish more keyboards had this killer feature.
Finally, the JRIS80 comes with several different optional foams to tune the sound of your build. There’s a layer of PCB foam, which surrounds the switches, a layer of IXPE switch foam, which goes on the top of the PCB to add extra pop, and a thin layer of case foam to remove hollowness. Since the case uses a brass internal weight, the case foam isn’t necessary for hollowness or reverberation, but is an important option to achieve the sound and feel you want.
Cannon Keys NicePBT Sailor Keycaps and KeyGeek Luxury Switches
Cannon Keys was kind enough to help us complete this build by sending over a set of switches and keycaps. As is usually the case with custom keyboards, you’ll need to provide these as well as stabilizers yourself.
For keycaps, I chose NicePBT Sailor, a gorgeous Blue and White set that looked like it would match my e-white case and gold accents well. Cannon Keys NicePBT keycaps are genuinely some of the best affordable keycaps that aren’t clones of GMK sets you can find. They’re made of thick, dye-sublimated PBT plastic and have a rich, deep sound signature. They also have texturing on the top that wards off any finger oils and feels nice under the fingertips.
The NicePBT sets are more expensive than a lot of clones, that’s true, but they’re absolutely worth it. The legends are perfect on this set and every other that I’ve used (I own about half a dozen). The kitting is also expansive. You can outfit just about any keyboard with these, including less common layouts like Alice. I also like that there are standard versions of every key, so you’re not forced to use an artwork keycap just to get the color you like.
As someone that purchases a lot of keycaps, I can say with authority that these are absolutely worth considering. I have purchased many on my own and will continue to do so due to their quality and sound signature.
Cannon Keys also sent over one of its newest switch offerings, the Keygeek Luxury linear switches. These switches are long-pole linears without any tactile bump. They’re made of a unique UHMWPE blend on top called U2 and a PA66 nylon blend on the bottom. The stem is a POM blend called L2. These plastics have a very low friction co-efficient, making them very smooth on their own, but are also well-lubed from the factory. They’ve also been designed to have a snug fit into a PCB, making them a good fit for plateless builds.
At $0.50 a switch, they’re priced in the middle of switch prices but are exceptionally good and have a very poppy, yet deep, sound signature. They do not require any additional lubing or filming unless you want to go the extra mile. I found that they were great straight out of the box, so I used them as is.
Iris Lab JRIS80 - Assembly Process
Building the JRIS80 is very straightforward and is quite a bit faster than many custom keyboards. Since you don’t need to worry about screws (other than the stabilizers) or adhesive gaskets, the process feels very streamlined. You will, of course, want to prep your stabilizers ahead of time with some lube.
Things follow a very routine process if you’ve ever built a keyboard before and there aren’t many surprises. You begin by adding the PE foam, if you choose to use it. Then, screw your stabilizers into place. Next, lay down your PCB foam and plate, and press/solder your switches into their slots. From there, you can open the case and add case foam if you wish. Note that this makes a big difference in the amount of flex you’ll experience.
The gaskets are easy to apply but can be a little finicky if you’re not careful. Choose one gasket in the center for the softest feel, two on either side of each tab for a medium feel, or use all three for the most firm typing experience. Plug in the USB daughterboard, which should already be installed in the case, as well as the batteries (this will be an extra 1-2 steps if they’re not) and set the PCB into the bottom case. There are tabs where the gaskets sit. Be careful not to catch the bar-bells on the side of the case as they will easily pop out.
Press the top case into the latches and add keycaps. Customize with VIA or Iris Lab’s software and you’re done. The entire build took me about 25 minutes.
Iris Lab JRIS80 - Typing Impressions, Sound and Feel (with Video Demo)
The final product is excellent. I opted for the non-flex cut PCB and PC plate, and the typing experience is simultaneously soft yet crisp. There’s body and presence to the sound; it isn’t thin in the way many flex cut PCBs can be (but not all, as we saw with the JRIS75 — I would encourage you to watch some videos from my fellow creators showing off the different options).
I was surprised by the difference using the case foam made. Even though it’s thin, it truly makes a big difference in how much movement the PCB can make. With the case foam installed, there’s no visible movement when typing normally. With it removed, that flex is restored and is especially noticeable when pressing down intentionally. It is not the bounciest keyboard, but it’s soft, and without the foam, definitely has a lively feel.
Either way, my impressions of this build are extremely positive. With a price that tops out at $225, the value here is off the charts.
Have a look and listen for yourself:
As you can hear, PE foam makes a big difference to the sound. Neither sounds bad, however, and I don’t think using the PE foam gives it the cookie-cutter sound that can sometimes occur with custom keyboards.
Overall, for the price of $165 to $225, this is an exceptionally high value kit that absolutely kit that over delivers in every way. Iris Lab and MyKeyClub have been on a role with the JRIS line and have become one of the most exciting options that’s out there today. If you’ve been considering a custom mechanical keyboard and don’t know where to begin, this is a great starting point that could easily be your daily driver for years into the future.
If you’re in the USA, be sure to check out Cannon Keys and Keebs for All. For readers in other parts of the world, see the vendor list above or visit MyKeyClub to find out more, place an order, or find your local vendor.
`The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.