Mode Designs, one of the most respected brands in the custom keyboard industry, has announced the latest version of its Eighty, high-end TKL keyboard kit. Featuring two different mounting methods, multiple plates, color options, and layouts, and the best online configurator in the business, allowing you to see exactly what your keyboard will look like before committing to buy. Preorders are open now and keyboards will begin shipping in March.
The Mode Eighty is a tenkeyless keyboard, which means it lacks a number pad and is perfect for users who want a more compact setup without going all-in on a compact keyboard. The Eighty isn’t your average TKL, however, as it’s milled from a solid piece of aluminum and features innovative mounting and customization options for a truly unique typing experience.
The Eighty can be mounted in either Stack Mount or an Isolated Top Mount configurations. This might seem like French at first, but each style offers a distinctly different typing experience. Stack Mount is more firm and consistent while Isolated Top Mount is more flexible and dampened from the rest of the case. It also offers users the option of multiple plate types (to mount the switches upon) in materials that range from stiff copper to flexible POM plastic and even carbon fiber.
Mode’s online configurator tool also allows users to mix and match the colors of each half of the case, in addition to many other nuanced options. This allows every customer to dial in the exact look and feel of their keyboard. The tool renders the keyboard in real time, so you can see exactly how it will look with each change or customization option.
This customization also extends to enthusiast options, like whether you would like a hot-swap or solder PCB or included case or plate form. If you know you’re going to want to try different switches, opting for the hot-swappable PCB is the better choice. If you already have a favorite switch or like the old-school permanence of soldering switches into place (which also opens the door to ISO layouts and split backspace), the solder PCB will be the better fit. Similarly, opting or excluding the plate or base foam impacts the sound profile of the board (we would recommend newcomers pick up the foam so they have an option).
The “New Eighty” is a rework of Mode Design’s original Eighty keyboard, which remains a popular board within the enthusiast community. It brings it up with Mode’s latest design and configuration options.
At $459 to begin, the Eighty doesn’t come cheap but carries with it the pedigree of Mode Designs and the positive impressions of fans of the original. Perhaps as importantly, it also doesn’t have the same extended wait times of most group buy keyboards. Preorders are expected to begin shipping in March 2022. Find out more on the official page.