We’ve been looking at the wider world of keyboards this month, expanding our scope into some of the best enthusiast and custom slates the market has to offer, and proving that a keyboard doesn’t have to have “gaming” in the title to be an excellent gaming keyboard. Today, we’re getting the best of both worlds with the Varmilo VA108M “Chicken Dinner” mechanical keyboard. If you’re a fan of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, this is definitely a board you won’t want to miss.
- MSRP: $149.99
- Model: VA108M
- Size: Full Size
- Switch: Cherry MX (Red, Silent Red, Blue, Brown [tested], Silver)
- Keycap Material: PBT
- Keycap Color: Multi
- Keycap Print Method: Dye Sub
- Keycap Print Position: Top
- USB Key Rollover: Full
- Multimedia Keys: Yes
- Switch Mount Type: Plate
- Built in Audio Port: No
- Built in Mic Port: No
- Interface: Mini USB
- Cord Length 60 inches
If your keyboard career has been limited to the gaming space, you may not have heard of Varmilo, but it’s time to correct that. When it comes to premium custom keyboards, there are few names more highly regarded and for good reason. They dub themselves keyboard artisans and a quick look at their catalog proves why. Many companies make quality keyboards, but few are as unique as Varmilos. When we found out that they were making a custom keyboard for PUBG fans, we had to take a look.
Much of Varmilo’s unique appeal comes from their keycap designs. In the world of “gaming” keyboards, keycaps often feel like an afterthought, using thin, spray painted ABS plastic and quick laser etched legends. Use one for a solid month and they start to shine like you just typed with oily fingers. The keycaps on the VA108M are dye-sublimated PBT, which is a much higher quality plastic that is resistant to shine, and the dye-sublimation process ensures the legends will never fade. The caps are also thick walled, which makes typing on them feel much. It’s hard to describe in text, but they keyboard feels more solid and enjoyable to type on.
And, I mean, look at it. When 99% of gaming keyboards are black or white, the VA108M we have is a multi-colored speciality. Not only are those keycaps specialized enough to easily cost $50+ by themselves, but they also look damn good. The mix of light and dark keys gives it a distinctive look and the yellow keys provide functional accents. The plastic top plate is also etched in a wood grain pattern giving it a unique textured look that matches the rustic feel of the game world.
I’ve never seen such a distinctive game-centric keyboard. All of your abilities have their own legend, making it easy to spot your keymaps. As an occasional PUBG player, being able to look down and see exactly where everything was bound made me an immediately more capable and shortened my learning curve when jumping back in after some time away. When I shared a picture of the keyboard, my PUBG-loving friends seemed to adore it, even though I’m sure they know their bindings inside and out.
The drawback, of course, is if you change your bindings. When it comes to the number and function keys, you could simply swap them around (though you’ll have to ignore the side legends). The letter keys are going to be a little different, but they’re a little more understated as it is.
When I first saw the legends, I have to admit that I was a little concerned. I like to be able to see the buttons I’m pushing and, from straight ahead, all you see are the game icons. When sitting down, or even just tilting the keyboard slightly, the side legends are completely visible, which really makes me rethink the times I’ve passed over side-legend keyboards.
The VA108M types like a dream. The unit we were sent uses genuine Cherry MX Brown switches, which lack the click but include a slight tactile bump. They’re light to the touch and these high quality keycaps feel so nice to use. The outer shell of the body is plastic, but the switches are mounted to a solid steel plate that kills any reverb or spring noise on the larger keys. Compared to many other brown switch keyboards, I actually find it quite a bit quieter. If you prefer another type of switch, it also comes in blue, red, silent red, and silver, A.K.A. the “MX Speed” switch.
It also comes with a solid white backlight to add some underglow to your keys or a neat breathing effect. It won’t help you if you game in the dark as these are solid, non-translucent keycaps. It still looks neat, though, if you’re gaming in low light.
The only thing I don’t like is the space bar. My PUBG friends love it. You probably do too. Call me a purist, but I like my space bar to match my keys. Also, who am I kidding? I’ll never win a chicken dinner. You heard it here first. I want my keyboard to be honest about my own lack of skill! Thankfully, Varmilo includes an alternate in the box that does exactly that. Now, who’s the winner winner chicken dinner?
With the VA108M “Chicken Dinner,” Varmilo sends a love letter to the PUBG community. It’s a wonderful keyboard with a unique look, excellent build quality, and it feels great to type on. For a full-size custom keyboard, the price is also quite reasonable coming in at $149.99. If you’re on a mission to win that chicken dinner, the VA108M will let you do it in style.
- Unique look
- Excellent PBT keycaps
- Very good build quality
- Quite affordable for a custom keyboard
- The “Winner Winner” space bar is distinctive, but not my cup of tea.
The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.