If you work with computers or electronics, you know the value of a good screwdriver. The go-to recommendation for a cordless electric screwdriver has been the Xiaomi Wowstick 1F. I bought it and have used it for all of my computer builds, keyboard builds, and electronics work for the whole last year. But recently, one of its competing brands, PKEY, approached us with their own competitor, the PKEY Electric Screwdriver Kit (CS0233D). And to my great surprise, it’s proven to be better, cheaper, faster, and more reliable. If you work with tech and want an easier, faster workflow, this is definitely a tool you should consider picking up for yourself.
Current Price: $36.99 (Amazon)
PKEY Electric Screwdriver (CS0233D) - What Is It and Who is PKEY?
PKEY was a new brand to me when its representative reached out to me in April. It seems to exist exclusively on Amazon, which isn’t altogether unusual in this day and age, but left the brand somewhat of a mystery. The product being offered, the CS0233 55-bit cordless electric precision screwdriver was incredibly similar to my trusty Wowstick, except much cheaper. I admit, it raised a bit of a red flag. When the Wowstick 1F+ goes for anywhere from $50 to $75 or more, why was the PKEY so much cheaper? I accepted the review to find out.
The PKEY CS0233D is a precision screwdriver kit designed for electronics. Most of its 55 bits are small, perfect for taking apart laptops, smartphones, or individual components in your PC. There are also standard head sizes so it can also be used for PC building and as a normal screwdriver. There are multiple versions of the kit available, some with magnetic pads, bit magnetizers (they’re all magnetized out of the box), a jar, suction cup for removing smartphone displays, or other little extras. The base kit, which I tested, includes the driver, bits in a plastic case, and magnetizer, and a magnetic pad. It’s been enough for anything I’ve needed it for, the jar and suction cup aren’t worth paying extra for.
In the following section, I’ll be comparing it directly to the Wowstick. I’m doing this for two reasons. First, if you’ve been on DIY electronics YouTube, you’ve probably seen it. It’s the cordless screwdriver everyone is using and swears by. Second, it’s the one I personally have used for the last year and was surprised to find be completely outmatched by this cheaper PKEY kit.
Let’s get into it.
PKEY Electric Screwdriver (CS0233D) - Features and Performance
The screwdriver is made of aluminum and is completely cordless. It uses a 250mAh lithium-ion battery, which is enough for about four hours of driving and can be completely recharged in 45 minutes through its USB Type-C port. A series of LEDs lets you know your current charge level.
Unlike the Wowstick, it doesn’t run down quickly. Despite claims of lasting for multiple hours of use, the 1F always ran down after a couple of keyboard builds. I took to charging it every night before I would need to use it, which was always a bit annoying. The CS0233 is much more reliable.
The bits are all made of durable S2 tool steel. They’re well magnetized out of the box and easily hold small screws so you can place them on the magnetic mat for safekeeping. Realistically speaking, unless you’re dealing with full-size screws, the chances of the bits getting damaged by an over-torqued fastener are very small, but I’m glad to see a good quality steel being used here.
One of the things I really like about this kit is that all of the bits come in a single case. In the picture above, you can see both sides. Plastic covers on both sides hide the bits while you travel, and they work well (though I would have preferred some kind of clasp to be extra safe. The screwdriver sits inside the plastic tube to the left. The whole kit is one unit, with the exception of the accessories. You’ll still need to put the magnetic pad and magnetizer in separately, which is disappointing, but acceptable compared to the Wowstick’s solution.
The Wowstick separates bits into separate plastic tubes. It comes with a case, but it’s not big enough to hold all of the bits, so you’re left carrying the bigger cardboard storage box or loose tubes of bits in your bag. It was too bulky to carry the box easily and the tubes weren’t secure enough to stay closed. I eventually stopped taking it to work with me because it was just a pain. The PKEY is much more portable.
Another advantage it has is its speed. The Wowstick rotates at 200 rpm, but the PKEY is 40% faster at 280 rpm. It may sound small, but those little efficiencies add up over a whole computer or keyboard build. The total torque it offers is also higher at 0.25-0.35N.m versus the Wowstick’s 0.15N.m. Xiaomi wins out on manual torque, though, supporting 3.0N.m versus the PKEY’s 2.0N.m.
In practice, however, I haven’t found that quality to make any difference whatsoever. With full-size screws, maybe? When you’re working with small fasteners, however, over-torquing just strips out the heads. You don’t want them snug not stripped, so bearing down really isn’t advisable in most situations.
The two kits share other features. They’re both small and penlike, easy to manage. They both feature a wide selection of bits, from simple flat and philips heads to security bits and extended-length drivers. Both feature a flashlight at their tip to help you fit the bit properly before engaging rotation. Both use dedicated buttons instead of twist motions to activate.
Between the two, there really is no competition. The PKEY has proven to be better in just about every way. Long-term reliability is still up in the air, but at only $37 as of this writing (with a 20% discount frequently being available, dropping the price to below $30), it’s cheap enough to take a leap. Over the last month, it has been more than just reliable — it’s been a genuine upgrade to the Wowstick kit that I bought almost twice as much. Even at the current $50 pricing for a similar kit, I would recommend the PKEY CS0233D instead. This is one of the rare cases where you’re literally getting more for less, and that’s a great thing.
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