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Luminkey65 Hot-Swappable Custom Mechanical Keyboard Review

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Hardware Reviews 0

Luminkey is back with its latest affordable mechanical keyboard, the Luminkey65. Featuring a compact layout, tri-mode wireless connectivity, a CNC aluminum case, and outstanding typing, it’s a custom keyboard you don’t have to build yourself — unless you want to. It’s offered in a barebones version for $139 and complete with switches and keycaps for $179. It’s fantastic for gaming and an excellent keyboard in general, making this a strong value if you want the custom keyboard experience without the need to build it yourself. 


  • Current Price: 
  • Size: 311.25 x 107.2 x 17.28mm
  • Typing Angle: 8°
  • Layout: 65% ANSI/ISO
  • Mounting: Gasket Mount
  • Programming Support: VIA
  • Cable type: Type-C Data Cable
  • Switches: LUMINKEY Sylva Linear Switches
  • Stabilizer: Gateron Stabilizers
  • Connectivity: Wireless/2.4G/Wired
  • Compatible System: Windows/MacOS
  • PCB: 1.6mm Hot-swap
  • Plate: 1.5mm PC Plate
  • Polling Rate
    • Wired: 1000Hz
    • 2.4G: 1000Hz
    • Wireless: 125Hz
  • Latency Data
    • Wired: 8 millisecond
    • 2.4G: 9 millisecond
    • Wireless: 13 millisecond
  • Low Latency Mode Data
    • Wired: 2 millisecond
    • 2.4G: 3 millisecond
    • Wireless: 7 millisecond
  • Material
    • Case: 6063 CNC Aluminum
    • Weight: Copper
    • Badge: Copper
    • Keycaps: PBT Dye-sublimated keycaps
    • Color: Ano-Silver/ Ano-Red/ E-Creamy White

Luminkey65 - Design and Highlights

The Luminkey65 is the third keyboard coming from the team at Luminkey, following the Luminkey75 and Luminkey80, which we reviewed this winter. Each release has garnered a certain amount of acclaim, as you would expect from a beginner-friendly offering from the team spun off from CreateKeebs. CreateKeebs, its parent company, has been making enthusiast-grade custom mechanical keyboard kits for some time and has developed a solid reputation for the quality of its designs. Under the Luminkey name, its create a new trajectory, serving newcomers to the hobby, the budget conscious, and veterans who want to try more keyboards without paying the high prices of limited run kits.

That trajectory has been one of consistent improvement. The Luminkey75, which we weren’t able to cover, was positively received but the Luminkey80 took everything it did well and added to it. It quickly became one of my own go-to recommendations after trying it and I wasn’t alone in that. It delivered an experience that was as close to a full-fledged custom keyboard kit as any you could find, offering one of the best pre-built experiences you can find still to this day. The Luminkey65 is an evolution of that and an even better fit for gaming. 

The series staples remain. It still includes a CNC-milled aluminum case with a heavy copper weight in the back. It still uses a soft, gasket-based mounting structure and layers of sound dampening and sound enhancing foam. It’s available in a barebones kit or pre-built, both of which are great values for different reasons. If you go with the pre-built kit, which we would recommend for most people, it comes with a high quality set of dye-sublimated PBT keycaps and very good pre-lubed switches. 

This time around, you can pick it up in three different colors: red, white, and silver. White and silver feature a matching keycaps set composed of grey alphas with black legends, cyan modifiers and arrows, and orange accent keys. The keyboard is compatible with both Windows and Mac, and there are alternate keycaps in the box for Mac and Windows, as well as some novelty keycaps you can see included in my photos.  

The keycaps are thick and slightly textured for a deep sound and solid feel. Because PBT is more dense than ABS plastic, they’ll never shine, chip, or fade and will essentially last forever. They have a deeper sound than ABS keycaps but Luminkey retains plenty of pop and clack in the typing experience with its combination of long-pole switches and IXPE foam. 

The red version comes with cream and red keycaps, and the case design is the same between all three. It’s a simple rectangle from the top down with thin side bezels and a slightly thicker top and bottom. Unlike most affordable custom keyboards, it’s not a simple box on wedge. From the side, you can see that Luminkey added a bit of angled embellishment. 

You don’t find big embellishments and contours until you get into higher price points usually, and the LK65 isn’t exempt from that. But I do appreciate the small touches that have gone in, like those added angles to the side and the use of copper as a contrast. 

Above the backspace, there’s a small copper badge. There’s no graphic of text inscribed on it but instead a customized RGB LED — the only lighting on this keyboard. Flipping it over, you’ll also find the large copper rear weight. On top of looking nice, using copper also adds a substantial amount of weight to the keyboard and is usually only found in much more expensive kits.  

Internally, the keyboard is designed to deliver and exceptional sound and feel. It comes with a polycarbonate plate by default, beneath which lies multiple layers of pre-installed foam. You have PORON plate foam and IXPE switch foam on top of the PCB and PORON PCB foam and case foam below it. These quiet down keystrokes and give typing a cushioned feel while still feeling crisp.

The gasket mount structure utilizes small silicone beans positioned strategically around the plate. These also give typing a soft feel and provide noticeable flex. I especially appreciate that Luminkey took care with where these are positioned, avoiding the spacebar to preserve a poppy, defined signature that’s somewhat difficult to find with PBT keycaps. 

A Word on Polling Rate — 1,000Hz Isn’t All That Matters

It also supports tri-mode wireless connectivity with exceptionally low latency. You can connect with up to three devices over Bluetooth and a fourth using fast 2.4GHz with a 1,000ms polling rate. 

Before we go on, it’s worth looking at that a little more deeply. While it’s true that a 1,000ms polling rate offers “1ms” of latency, that’s only part of the equation. Polling rate is how often your computer is receiving updates from a peripheral. 1,000 times per second = 1,000 Hz. That’s the general understanding and that which the peripheral industry has leaned into over the years in its marketing. 

The other part of the equation is a keyboard’s key scanning rate. This is how many times the keyboard is scanning itself to determine inputs. While polling rates of 1,000 or more aren’t uncommon these days, the key scan rate is often much lower, resulting in a higher roundtrip latency. While polling rate may be 1ms, if the scan rate is much higher, you can look at real-world latency of 10ms or more even on very good keyboards. 

Back to the LK65

With that in mind, Luminkey has made a special effort to make the LK65 its fastest keyboard yet. While the keyboard is naturally quite fast with a native 2.4GHz roundtrip latency of 9ms (its polling rate is still 1ms), it also offers a low latency mode enabled through VIA that drops that all the way to 3ms. While we can argue how much you’ll notice either, if you want the fastest keyboard you can find for gaming, the LK65 will beat the vast majority of dedicated gaming keyboards available today.

Without RGB to contend with, its battery life is very good. I charged it once after receiving it and haven’t had to plug it in since about two and a half weeks on. I’m not sure what total battery life is, and Luminkey doesn’t provide estimates, but without backlighting, it’s a safe assumption that it will run for dozens of hours between recharges. 

The other key element to its design is its support for VIA. VIA is an open-source firmware that’s very popular in the custom keyboard community due to its powerful programming options and easy accessibility. It’s web-accessible from any PC and uses a simple graphical interface. You simply click the button you’d like to remap and click what you would like there instead from a set of organized options on the bottom half of the screen. 

VIA has a number of important benefits that, in my opinion, make it preferable even to many dedicated gaming software suites. For example, you can program up to four layers of keymaps and customize how you access those layers. Think of these like additional layouts that can be customized for individual games or apps. You can tap, toggle, tap and hold, or even create dual action keys. My own layer access key is tied to Caps Lock, so it accesses layer two when held but works normally when tapped. 

The changes you make also take effect instantaneously without any need to flash or apply changes. They’re then saved to the firmware level of the keyboard so they’ll work on any PC regardless of IT policy or OS. On top of that, VIA recently updated its macro capability so you can simply press a record button to track keystrokes, making it much closer to macro functionality in gaming softwares. The only thing it can’t do is create custom static RGB layouts, which isn’t relevant to the LK65.

Luminkey 65 - Typing and Gaming Impressions

The LK65 is Luminkey’s best keyboard yet. It’s close to the LK80, which was also great, but the sound profile is slightly smoother to my ear. I believe that this is most likely due to the size differences in the case since the internal structure is so similar but it’s there nonetheless. Sound will always be subjective but I really like how it balances a higher-pitched clack with that smoothness. I could see people describing this keyboard as creamy.

The out of box typing feel is cushioned but firm. All of the foams don’t leave much room in the case for the PCB to flex. You can see it if you intentionally push down but if you want a lot of movement, you’ll need to remove some of that filling from the bottom of the case. 

Thankfully, the keyboard is meant to be modded and customized. Virtually every aspect of it is designed to to shapeshift to match your preferences. You can use all of the foams or none of the foams and the keyboard still sounds good due to the smart internal case structure and its use of mixed metals. You can hot-swap switches, use your choice of plate mount or PCB mount stabilizers (plate mount come stock), or buy in to different plate materials to modify its sound and feel further. 

For my part, I prefer a bit more movement, so I removed the PCB foam. The difference in sound was very minor and it now offers much more movement, even with normal keystrokes. Otherwise, I left it as is — after some experimentation.

Luminkey also sent along an FR4 plate for me to try. Compared to the stock PC plate, it’s firmer with a more crisp sound. Installing switches in it is also much easier for newbies, so I would recommend it if you’re going for a barebones kit and this is your first build. Like the foam modifications, I was impressed by how good it sounded. Ultimately, I did go back to the PC plate.

And that’s because Luminkey did such a great job with the out-of-box experience that I didn’t feel like I really needed to improve anything. It’s a custom keyboard built by experts and that shows with the final product. There’s no rattle on the stabs. No reverb or ping in the case. The switches don’t need lubing (it’s already done at the factory). The keycaps look and sound good. It’s simply ready to go without any intervention required, and that’s saying something for a MK fan as picky as I tend to be. 

This is especially true if you’re a gamer. The Sylva switches are smooth and responsive. Over its 2.4GHz connection, I felt downright nimble using them. There was no discernible difference between playing wired and wireless with the dongle and the switches offer a very linear, glassy key press that’s perfect for first-person shooters. 

The layout is also excellent for gaming. While you might miss the function row for productivity, the space savings of its 65-percent layout leaves more room for your mouse hand. I tend to angle my keyboard, so between its smaller footprint and that modified positioning, high-DPI/low sensitivity sweeps are easier, especially if you’re space constrained. The right navigation column is also perfect for macros, and because of its easy programmability, you can remap those keys (and every other key) up to four times, giving you 16 total commands at your right hand. 

Typing Demos

The following videos are produced by some of my absolute favorite keyboard creators. Please visit their channels and give them a subscribe!

Video Credit: Keybored

Video Credit: Charo

Final Thoughts

As I say in every review, a key piece of what makes a great gaming keyboard is that it should feel great to use. The keystrokes, the sound and feel, the responsiveness should all make you want to come back and keep using it. A great keyboard will literally make using your keyboard in general more fun; you’ll want to play with your keyboard just because it feels good to do. The LK65 checks every box there. 

Is it perfect? No. The color scheme will surely turn some people off, and I wish there were some more options to choose from. The lack of RGB is also a missed opportunity. While it’s common for custom keyboard enthusiasts to decorate their keyboard with themed keycaps instead of backlighting, the newcomers most likely to consider this keyboard are probably used to having it and will miss that it’s not there. 

These are small points in the face of a very good product, however. The LK65 nails the fundamentals and dials them up. It’s a winner.

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

9.0 Amazing
  • Value pricing (with switches and keycaps considered)
  • Exceptionally fast 2.4GHz wireless
  • Great sound and feel
  • Highly customizable
  • A genuine custom keyboard experience without the need to build it yourself
  • Limited color and keycap options
  • No RGB backlighting


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