The Monsgeek M1W is a perfect example of Monsgeek’s mission: to make high-quality keyboards more affordable. Coming in at $139.99 fully built or $109.99 as a barebones kit, it features an aluminum case, pre-lubed switches and stabilizers, fast 2.4GHz wireless, layers of sound-dampening foam, and other enthusiast features to deliver a premium, yet firm, typing experience. If you’ve been considering the GMMK Pro or other 75% keyboards, the Monsgeek M1W is definitely worth a closer look.
- Current Price: $139.99 (Monsgeek, MechKeys)
- Model: M1W Fully Assembled(Multi-modes)
- Mount: Gasket
- Case: Material Aluminum CNC
- Color: Black/Silver/Purple
- ISO Layout: Y (Under Development)
- Connection: Wired & Bluetooth & 2.4G Wireless
- Battery: 6000mAh
- LED: RGB
- Hotswap: Y
- Plate: PC
- Plate Foam: Poron
- Switch Pad: IXPE
- Case Foam: Poron
- Drying Agent: Y
- Tape: Y (not pre-installed)
- 1. Pre-installed Purple Plate Mount Stabilizer
- 2. Separate TPU Double-shot Stabilizers
- Force Break Mod Stripes: Teflon Pads (not pre-installed)
- Switch: Akko V3 Piano Pro (5-pin)
- Keycap: OEM Profile Side-printed Shine-through Keycaps
- Software: MonsGeek Cloud Driver
- Cable: Coiled Cable
- Size: 33.3cm*14.6cm*3.26cm
- Weight: 2200g
Monsgeek M1W - Compact, Affordable, and Impressive
The Monsgeek M1W is the wireless version of the Monsgeek M1 that took YouTube and r/mechanicalkeyboards by storm earlier this year. It’s a compact custom mechanical keyboard, available as a kit or pre-built with switches and keycaps, and aims to bring the custom keyboard typing quality to an affordable price point. It features an all-metal case with gold accents, a compact 75% layout, and hot-swappable switches. It’s easy to open and mod, but if you pick up the pre-built version (which you really should), you don’t need to. It’s ready to go out of the box.
Monsgeek is a subsidiary of Akko, a brand that has gained a lot of traction over the last several years. We’ve reviewed a number of its keyboards and have always walked away impressed at how much value they deliver at very reasonable price points. Monsgeek picks that up and takes it a step further. On its About Us page, it describes itself and the M1 series like this:
MonsGeek was born to be different by bringing extreme value into the world of peripherals.
It was part of the Akko brand and shares the core belief that enthusiast-level keyboards and peripherals should be easily accessible for all.
MonsGeek has shaped its own way by connecting our streamlined supply chains, which has allowed us to reduce manufacturing costs and be able to offer quality products at an accessible price for everyone.
Quality peripherals should be accessible to all, not only to a select few…
The M Series aims to unlock the full potential of full aluminium entry level DIY kits, and marks the beginning of an era in which an aluminium kit can be had for under 100$.
As a brand, Monsgeek leverages all of the experience of Akko, the supply chain and manufacturing capability, to pack a somewhat shocking amount of features and accessories into its kits. Unboxing and disassembling the M1W was somewhat shocking. While there are still aspects of more expensive keyboards that you won’t find here, the M1W even tops the CIDOO V87 I reviewed last week in value, something that I didn’t expect to find any time soon. And here we are, a week later…the keyboard market is fast ya’ll.
The M1W’s layout and look is fairly clean. Monsgeek went with a gradient design and offers the keyboard in black, pink, or purple with side-lit legends. The keycaps are made of doubleshot PBT, so should last for years without shining or looking grimy. I’m not the biggest fan of side-lit legends as they can be hard to read but they show RGB well and allow you to use it in the dark which is a plus.
The 75% layout is a great middle ground for productivity and gaming. It includes a full function row and arrow keys, as well as several navigation and editing buttons for getting work done. It’s the majority of the keys found on a TKL (the missing ones are mostly available as Fn functions) with a smaller footprint. The keyboard also includes a remappable volume knob that can be clicked to mute or send another function.
Monsgeek M1W - Open Me!
I think the biggest difference between the CIDOO V87 and the Monsgeek M1W is who it’s intended for. The V87 is intended to deliver a custom keyboard experience without the expectation for users to open it up and see how it ticks. It hides its screws beneath adhesive feet. You’re not supposed to open it (or someone really dropped the ball with that element of its design). The M1W, on the other hand, is clearly designed to be experimented with.
Here is how it’s constructed:
Like most keyboards that focus on sound and feel, it’s built using a gasket mount structure that sandwiches the plate and PCB using soft silicone sleeves. These compress and hold the typing elements taut but not rigid, allowing the keys to give under your keystrokes. It comes with a layer of plate foam to isolate the sound of the switches, IXPE switch foam to add pop and clarity, PCB foam to remove hollowness from the case, and an insulating layer to make sure the PCB doesn’t short if it touches the bottom.
All of these elements reduce the volume of typing compared to a gaming keyboard without them, but the M1W isn’t quiet… it’s quieter. The layers also hone the acoustic profile so it sounds much more rounded and pleasant.
But at the same time, the language on the product page implies that all of these layers are optional. You can remove the case foam to add more flex, for example. Removing any layer changes its sound and feel. In fact, and only six screws on the bottom of the case (none hidden behind adhesive feet).
Then when you add the included accessories. Inside the box, you have a keycap puller, a switch puller, a coiled rubberized cable, a large sheet of masking tape custom cut to the size of the PCB, and a series of teflon tape strips. The tape is to apply your own tape mod, which acts as a high-frequency filter for your keystrokes and changes the sound of your typing. The teflon strips are to place around the screw holes for a force break mod. This would be done, typically, after removing the case foam to removing hollowness and pinging while enhancing the PCB’s ability to flex.
For an additional $10, Monsgeek also sells replacement switch plates. The included plate is polycarbonate plastic, but a softer POM version is available. There’s also a firmer FR4 fiberglass plate. These will both impact its sound and feel.
The switches are Akko Piano POM linears. They use a longer pole inside the switch housing, which changes their sound to be more refined and poppy. They’re fairly lightweight at only 53 grams to bottom out and have a shorter travel distance of only 3.5mm. They’re pre-lubed, so are extra smooth, and sound great. Akko has quietly been making the best budget switches you can buy for quite a while and these are some of my new favorites.
Akko even includes a whole separate set of stabilizers. The included stabs are pre-lubed and aren’t rattly at all. I thought they sounded great, right out of the box. The extra set of stabilizers is also pre-lubed but uses silicone inserts that as a factory-applied Holee Mod. These don’t appear to be available to buy on their own yet, but Melextrix makes similar stabilizers that are $22 a piece. I popped the alternate set in (which is easy and doesn’t even require opening the keyboard) and the stabilizers instantly sounded more refined and even cleaner than before.
I have to highlight this: including a whole second set of high-quality stabilizers is unheard of in the mechanical keyboard world. Some brands might give you a cheap set of rattly Cherry stabilizers, but at $140, with a keyboard that’s already assembled, and the extra set is pre-assembled, pre-lubed, and even better than that ones included in the keyboard… that’s some next-level consumer-friendliness.
Monsgeek M1W - Wireless With Great Battery Life
The M1W is a tri-mode wireless keyboard that supports wired, Bluetooth, and 2.4GHz connectivity. For gaming, you’ll definitely want to use the 2.4GHz dongle for the fastest, wired-like connection speed. The keyboard is heavy enough that you likely won’t be carrying it anywhere for travel, but if you need to connect to another device to get work done, you can also swap between three Bluetooth devices using a quick Fn key command.
Remember when I said the one of the biggest shortcomings of the V87 was its battery life? The M1W doubles the battery capacity by using two 3,000mAh batteries. Monsgeek rates it as lasting 150 days with four hours of use a day with RGB off and 8 days with RGB on. RGB is a battery life killer, so I would encourage you to turn it down a step or two if you want to charge less than once a week.
Monsgeek M1W - Outstanding Typing and Gaming
The typing and gaming experience of the Monsgeek M1W is very good. With all of the foams, it’s pretty firm but there is still some noticeable give when typing and pressing down intentionally. Individual keystrokes are softer than a traditionally mounted keyboard, however, and aren’t fatiguing. The gasket mount implementation does a very good job of isolating the keystrokes to provide a rounded sound profile.
Much of this sound is due to the excellent switches. Akko’s POM linears are consistently lubed, and I didn’t find any sound or feel difference across the key set when typing or gaming. They have a higher pitched, clackier sound that’s typically for long pole switches, but I found it to be very pleasant.
Responsiveness in gaming is top-notch. I didn’t notice any difference between playing wired and wirelessly, even in first-person shooters like Battlefield 2042.
Monsgeek M1W - What Are the Trade-Offs?
You have to remember that the Monsgeek M1W is still an entry-level custom keyboard, even if it is a very good one, and that means that there are going to be some trade-offs. As I disassembled and rebuilt the keyboard multiple times, I found that it really is quite dependent on its foams to achieve the best sound with the included switches. Even removing the case foam makes it thin out and lose some substance.
Then there’s the smaller stuff. The included tape mod isn’t pre-cut for the USB and battery cables, or the pre-applied anti-static blocks on the bottom of the PCB. You’ll need to do that yourself. The side-lit legends are harder to read than normal legends. The M1W also lacks any kind of weight on the bottom. At nearly five pounds, it doesn’t need one, but more expensive kits typically have some kind of external flourish on the underside. But, it does feature gold accents on the sides which help make up for that.
The biggest trade-off with this kit is that it’s not as programmable. Yet, for gaming, Monsgeek’s solution may actually be the better choice. See, most custom keyboards support VIA, which allows you to remap any key, move the Fn button, and program in multiple layers of keys. The M1W runs on Monsgeek’s Cloud Driver, which also allows you to remap and program a function layer, but you can’t undo many of the preset keys for lighting and connectivity and move them around. You’re also locked to the preset Fn button, which I find hard to use in comparison to placing it where the Caps Lock is. You can easily remap many of them, though, on both the top and secondary layer.
Where this solution might actually be better is when it comes to macros. VIA is extremely limiting in this regard and only allows you to send text strings without inputting actual keycodes and using special syntax. The Monsgeek Cloud Driver has a much simpler Record button like most other pieces of gaming software. You can use it on the fly when you really can’t with VIA.
The Monsgeek M1W was quite a surprise. I can see why so many people loved the original. Its solid, high value, and sounds great right out of the box. Purchasing it pre-built makes a lot of sense because adding your own switches and keycaps will quickly push the price higher than buying it as a bundle, and these switches are worth investing in.
This keyboard, and a number of others we’ve tried this year, have proved that it’s not necessary to drop hundreds of dollars (or even $150) to find a great, custom-level typing experience. There are trade-offs, as we see here, but they’re minor compared to what you’re getting in return. The Monsgeek M1W is simply excellent and completely puts the GMMK Pro out to pasture. It is my new go-to recommendation under $150.
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