We review a lot of keyboards here at MMORPG, but the Mistel Barocco MD600 might just be the most interesting we’ve laid hands on. Not only is it exceptionally well-made and supremely programmable, but it also features an ergonomic split allowing you to position it more comfortably than virtually any other keyboard we’ve tried. For gaming, you can also disconnect the right side, leaving you with only your core gaming keys and lots of extra space. It retails for $164, but is it enough to make you split with your hard-earned cash? This is our review of the Mistel Barocco MD600 RGB.
- Current Price: $164.00
- Model name: MD600 RGB
- Product name: Barocco RGB
- Keyboard layout: ANSI/ISO
- Number of Key: 62/63 keys
- Keycap: PBT Double shot keycap
- Case color: Black or White
- Key switch: Cherry MX RGB switch
- LED Backlit: YES (RGB LED)
- Macro function: Yes
- Polling Rate: 1000hz
- Matrix: NKRO
- Media Key: Yes
- Onboard memory: Yes
- Cable: Braided
- Dimension: L295.5 X W124.5 XH 39.5 mm
- Weight: 510g
- Made in Taiwan
With specs out of the way, let’s get into it. Like the Sleeker MD870 we reviewed last week, the Barocco is another enthusiast grade mechanical keyboard. You won’t find any marketing lingo on the box trying to court gamers, but rest assured that the Barocco is not only suited for gaming but easily outdoes the majority of gaming keyboards out there. It won’t be for everyone, but if you’re willing to put the time into it, it’s a powerful keyboard - for gamers, coders, and keyboard lovers alike.
The 60% Footprint
The Barocco is a small keyboard, what’s known as a 60% in keyboard circles. That refers to its overall size compared to the standard 104 keys on a keyboard. It’s even smaller in person than it looks in pictures, lopping off the arrow and navigation keys, as well as the entire function row up top. You don’t lose any of these functions, as they’re all easily accessible in the secondary layer, but it’s an acquired taste that takes some getting used to.
Before trying the Barocco, the smallest keyboard I had used was a standard tenkeyless which only drops the number pad. On the Barocco, I didn’t feel the loss of the function row much at all, but as a writer, not having physical navigation keys was a bigger adjustment. Having both the Fn and arrow functions on the same side was unwieldy, but thankfully, the Barocco allows you to swap its modifier key to nearly any other position on the keyboard. Once I rebound it to the left space bar, I was up and running, barely feeling the lack of physical keys at all. Take it from me, someone who balked at the idea of not having those physical keys, once you get used to the smaller layout, it’s hard to go back to having a large keyboard on your desk.
The Barocco is also very well built. It features a plastic chassis that is very sturdy. The usual metal plate under the keys adds a good amount of heft to each side of the keyboard, stopping any flex in its tracks and really lending a sense of quality. It also features an amazing set of doubleshot PBT keycaps atop its genuine Cherry switches. Unlike the ABS plastic keycaps usually found “gaming” keyboards, PBT is denser, more resistant to wear, and feels better to type on. Since Mistel opted for two-piece keycaps, the translucent legends ensures will never fade.
The Split Difference
The other defining feature here is, obviously, the split. This is where things get very neat. Standard keyboards force your hands into an unnatural, too-close position in order to type. They also require that your hands be flat, when their natural position is slightly angled. We don’t feel the impact of these typing behaviors in the day to day but over time they can result in repetitive stress injuries like tendinitis, bursitis, and the surfacing of symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The Barocco RGB addresses this by splitting into two pieces that fit together a bit like a jigsaw piece. With each side being free, you can spread them out to the most comfortable position and angle. I would have liked to see some magnets here or the ability to snap them together but the fit is snug and gets the job done. Each half has its own set of two-level rear feet too, allowing for basic angling but also a small degree of “tenting,” or allowing the inner halves to angle upward to match your natural hand position. It feels odd at first, having the keyboard separated and especially so when you first angle it toward the middle, but it’s also immediately more comfortable. I found that if I thought about my hands too much, I would stumble, but when I stopped thinking about it and just typed, everything went smoother as I got used to it. It took a few days to get used to but, like Robert with the Kinesis FreeStyle Edge, now I’m wondering how I never noticed the extra tension it puts on your hands to use a “normal” keyboard.
One thing I’m still working on, several weeks after first adding it to my setup, is getting over my own bad typing habits. The Barocco will immediately reveal if you’ve been typing your inner keys with the wrong hand. “B” is my regular stumbling point which is found on the opposite half than the hand I usually type it with. I’m getting better, but if you’re anything like me, it’s going to be an uphill battle undoing years of bad typing on these few keys.
The other big benefit the Barocco RGB brings to the table is the ability to unplug the right side entirely and only use the WASD half when gaming. This is sublime as it keeps all of your most important keys readily available and gets rid of the half that’s usually wasted in games. It’s a bit like having a built-in Tartarus without needing to buy an extra peripheral. You can position your keyboard and mouse hands perfectly in games which feels much more natural than the usual separation when using a full-size keyboard.
This isn’t the best for multiplayer games where you may need to chat, but for single player titles it works perfectly. When you’re done, just plug in the other side and everything syncs up automatically. Bear in mind, however, that the right side is also the “control” side of the keyboard, so unplugging it disables its programming capabilities. Since the two halves connect via a decently long braided USB cable, a workaround to both of these issues is to simply keep the right side plugged in and to set it out of the way.
This is where we really get into the true potential of the Barocco. Whether you’re a gamer, programmer, or just a writer who needs to perform repetitive tasks, you’ll find that this keyboard is more than up to the challenge. It features full programmability and remapping without the need for software. There are three built in layers (keysets you can swap between). On these, nearly every key can be remapped. With a simple key combination, you can record sequences and map them wherever you would like. For MMO players, this is excellent as you can easily have an entire layer just for macros. Knowing whether things have gone well is easy, too, thanks to three indicator lights on the right side.
That’s not all. This keyboard is packed with features. Nearly every key has a secondary function, whether it be for modifying a sequence you just recorded, or adjusting lighting, or even swapping between three different key layouts (QWERTY, DVORAK, COLEMAK), it’s all right on hand, accessible with key combos. This does mean that you may sometimes hit a secondary function you don’t mean to or make some error in your recording. Thankfully, you can easily swap back to the default layer and restore the Barocco to its default settings.
The lighting is also very well done. There’s a white mat behind the keys that really enhances the under-key glow. You can swap between a number of built in modes - aurora, reactive typing, ripple, raindrop, etc - or customize them using RGB modifier keys on 1, 2, and 3, similar to programming a Cooler Master keyboard. The combination of the split and RGB lighting is very eye catching, and I’ve received a number of comments when using the keyboard at work.
Mistel is really proving themselves to be a company to watch. When the MD600 first released, it made waves due to the unique features Mistel packed into this split keyboard. It’s no surprise. The Barocco opens up the split form factor to a whole new demographic, gamers, while still offering features to please any keyboard enthusiast. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, it’s hard to go back.
- Extremely programmable
- Small form factor with very good ergonomics
- Split and tenting is exceptionally comfortable
- Great lighting
- Definite learning curve
- Some users will feel the loss of keys more than others
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.