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LUMINKEY LK80 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

The LUMINKEY 80 is a love-letter to the keyboard community, authored by the designers of Create Keebs, creators of some of the most popular custom keyboards of the last several years (most notably, the Thera75). Available as a barebones kit for $215 or fully built and tuned for sound and feel at $280. It comes with an anodized aluminum case, complete with a copper badge and rear weight, tri-mode wireless connectivity for gaming and productivity, and the best sound and feel I’ve experienced in a pre-built custom keyboard yet. 

The pre-built kit doesn’t come cheap compared to most gaming keyboards, but in the world of custom keyboards, it’s an outstanding value. When considered with the excellent switches, keycaps, and the fact that you don’t need to do any building or tuning yourself, it’s one of the best options on the market today and is absolutely worth adding to your Christmas list. 


  • Current Price:
  • Latency Data:
    • Wired: 2ms
    • 2.4G: 6ms
    • Wireless: 40ms
  • Polling Rate: 
    • Wired: 1000Hz
    • 2.4G: 1000Hz
    • Wireless: 125Kz
  • Size: 159x136x19mm
  • Typing Angle: 7 Degrees
  • Layout: 80% TKL ANSI/ISO
  • Mounting: Gasket Mount
  • Programming Support: QMK/VIA
  • Cable Type: Type-C Data Cable
  • Switches: LUMINKEY Sylva Linear Switches 
  • Stabilizer: Gateron Stabilizers
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth/2.4G/Wired
  • Compatible System: Windows/MacOS
  • PCB: 1.6mm Hot-swap
  • Plate: 1.5mm PC Plate
  • Material:
    • 6063 CNC Aluminum
    • Weight: Copper
    • Badge: Copper
    • Keycaps: PBT Double-shot Keycaps (WOB/9009)
    • Color: Ano-Black/Ano-Silver/e-Retro White
  • Sylva Switch Specs
    • Manufacturer: Gateron
    • Switch Type: Linear
    • Cover: Nylon
    • Stem: POM
    • Bottom: Nylon
    • Spring: Stainless Steel (Gold-Plated)
    • Total Travel: 3.7 ± 0.3mm
    • Operating Force: 48 ± gf
    • Total Travel Force: 55 ± gf

LUMINKEY 80 - What Is It?

The LUMINKEY 80, or LK80 for short, is a custom keyboard that comes ready to use out of the box — if you buy the prebuilt version. If you bring your own switches and keycaps, you’ll need to spend 30 minutes or so pressing those into place, but will save $65 in the process. The keyboard is well-designed, catering to sound and feel in a way that’s typically only found on group buy and limited run keyboards. Its biggest competitor is the Keychron Q3 Pro and Lemokey L3, and while it should be clear that I love what those keyboards are doing at this point, believe me when I say that the LK80 is better in just about every way.

I was sent the prebuilt version and was absolutely struck at how close it lands to the custom keyboard experience without any of the work involved. That starts with its design, which is minimalist and stylish. It’s a typical TKL layout, which means it’s compact and lacks a number pad, but has your standard function row, arrow keys, and navigation cluster intact. 

It’s available in anodized black, silver, and retro white, which is coated. Each version uses copper for its badge and weight. Below the nav cluster are two small triangles, one pointing up and another down. It is a small touch but a very nice contrast to the rest of the case. Flip it over and you’ll find a large copper weight engraved with triangles in opposing corners. It’s an even bolder contrast and, with the black case, I honestly love it. Black and copper sings, but silver and e-white also look very good. 

The rear weight is about more than pure looks, however. Copper is a very dense, heavy metal. Rather than simply add a bit of flair to the keyboard, it provides extra heft to keep it in place on your desk and provide that weighty, custom keyboard feel. Compared to Keychron, I think the LK80 is more restrained but also better looking overall.

Internally, it also follows all of the big trends in keyboards right now. It uses a gasket mount structure which clamps the plate between both halves of the case on rubber gaskets. These isolate your keystrokes, lending a roundness to your typing sounds and a softer feel. It also uses a polycarbonate switch plate to deepen the acoustics and allow for flex under your fingers with each tap. The typing experience is soft and pleasant without any sense of harshness to be had. 

It also makes use of multiple layers of sound dampening foam. There’s a layer of 3.5mm Poron foam between the plate and PCB to isolate the sound of the switches and another layer of foam in the bottom of the case to remove any hollowness. Beneath the switches is a layer of IXPE foam, which adds a crisp pop to each stroke and increases the volume somewhat.

The prebuilt version also comes with an excellent set of Gateron Sylva switches. These are a pre-lubed linear switch that’s exceptionally smooth and has a pleasantly poppy sound signature. It balances a subtle deepness (thock) with a crisp pop (clack), landing somewhere in the middle. If you want to try something new in the future, they’re also hot-swappable and can be switched out without soldering. These switches are worth upgrading for all on their own but the pre-built version becomes an even better value when you consider the keycaps. 

When purchasing, you’re able to choose whether you’d like a set of White on Black doubleshot PBT keycaps or a beige 9009-themed set. This is purely down to taste and shouldn’t impact anything other than aesthetics. The keycaps are excellent. Since they’re made of PBT, they bring out a deepness to the sound signature and should never shine, even with extended use. The doubleshot legending process also means that the legends are made of an entirely separate piece of plastic, so will never chip or fade. I was really impressed by how consistent the legends were and how clean the doubleshots appeared on the underside. They’re really very high quality keycaps!

The stabilizers are also pre-tuned and are perfect out of the box. I didn’t have any rattle whatsoever on my sample. Over time, you may need to add lube (like all keyboards) but it’s clear that the QC process on these keyboards is top-notch so you can have a great experience straight out of the box, no tweaks required. 

In combination with the internal design of the case, you have a typing experience that is very well considered for both sound and feel. It’s definitely a step up from the Keychron Q3 and feels much higher quality overall. That really isn’t surprising considering Create Keebs’ pedigree. They got their start making group buy custom keyboards for the most dedicated enthusiasts. They mastered their craft and are leveraging that knowledge, and their production resources, to bring a similar experience to an affordable price point with higher production levels. 

I was also surprised to find that the keyboard supports tri-mode wireless connectivity. For gaming, the 2.4GHz dongle is the best choice as it connects with a 1,000Hz polling rate, identical to its wired connection. The Q3 Pro doesn’t currently offer 2.4GHz at all, which means that it’s essentially a wired-only keyboard for gaming. The Lemokey L3 does offer 2.4GHz but it also has a much more aggressive design and doesn’t sound as good as the LK80. It can also connect to up to three Bluetooth devices and hotswap between them on the fly. The keyboard doesn’t support RGB backlighting, which might be a con for some, but means that the battery can last much longer. I only had to plug it in once over my several weeks of testing. 

The LK80 also comes with several accessories and add-ons. It comes with a nice, hardback, zippered travel case, some alternate keycaps, a braided coiled cable, and some extra switch pads. It also comes with a set of replacement hardware, a combination switch and keycap puller, the USB dongle, and a screwdriver for opening it up to apply your own mods. I was also happy to see that Create Keebs even included an aluminum artisan keycap, which is a particularly nice touch!

LUMINKEY 80 - Typing and Gaming Experience

The LK80 is an exceptional keyboard in its pre-built form. If you choose to add your own switches and keycaps, your experience will vary, but Create Keebs has provided one of the best foundations I’ve encountered in this hobby. You could buy this keyboard and be content for years to come, enjoying a typing experience that truly isn’t far removed from keyboards twice the price. It really is that good. 

I’ve already described the sound and feel of the keyboard, but I’m frankly pretty enamored with the excellent balance it offers between deepness and crispness in its sound profile. The combination of switches, keycaps, foams, and case offers a satisfying and rather unique profile that I think many people will enjoy. There’s also a good amount of flex, which is visible with normal keystrokes, but isn’t so soft that it’s bouncy or unstable. It has enough give to feel cushioned while remaining lively. 

In the videos above, you can see and hear the keyboard first-hand. It’s really a great experience with very little to dislike about it. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, is that removing the PE foam and plate foam does make it sound thinner. Not bad, per se, but this is a board I would consider performing best with all of the foams installed.

It’s also worth noting that the keyboard is completely reprogrammable using VIA. Simply logging onto the VIA website allows you to remap keys, program macros, and define up to four layers of keymaps. Think of these like virtual keyboards which can be accessed with shortcut keys. You can have multiple layouts for individual apps and games. The best part, in my opinion, is that the changes save automatically and instantly, directly to the keyboard’s firmware. That means the keyboard will function exactly the same way regardless of the operating system or workplace IT policy that might be in effect. I can go to the website, make changes and assign macros, and know they’re going to work without installing any software. That’s a great thing. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the LUMINKEY 80 is a pretty tremendous buy. Compared to the Keychron Q3 Pro and Lemokey L3, both good keyboards, the LK80 offers the better sound and feel with a more refined, minimalist design. Create Keebs did a great job of bringing the custom keyboard experience to the mainstream with this board. $280 isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s a very good value for what you’re getting here. The LUMINKEY 80 is an absolute winner. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0 Amazing
  • Excellent build quality and rich in features (copper weight, 2.4GHz wireless, gasket mount, etc.)
  • Minimalist yet very stylish design
  • Great switches and keycaps
  • Tuned for sound and feel
  • Well priced for everything you're getting
  • Will still be too expensive for some
  • Requires the foams for the best sound (though this is subjective)


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