Most folks are not keen to get custom mechanical keyboards for the simple fact that these keyboards (usually) cost quite a bit of money, especially in comparison to much more affordable off-the-shelf keyboards. In a bid to appeal to these consumers, more vendors are releasing budget-friendly custom keyboards, including this one right here: the KBDfans KBD67 Lite.
Not only is it affordable – well, for a custom keyboard – the KBD67 Lite also has a number of features that are usually reserved for more expensive keyboards. If you want the full custom keyboard experience without breaking the bank, consider the KBD67 Lite.
What It Is
The KBD67 Lite is a budget-oriented custom keyboard kit that costs only $109 – that comes up to about RM440. Of course, you still need switches and keycaps to complete the KBD67 Lite, given that it is only a kit that includes the case, hotswap PCB, and polycarbonate plate.
Now, what makes the KBD67 Lite particularly interesting is the fact that it has a gasket mounting system of sorts, a feature not typically found on a custom keyboard at this price point. It has a sheet of silicone placed between the PCB and plate, which is then mounted to the case. While this is not exactly a “true” gasket mounting system, it’s not inaccurate to describe this as a gasket-mounted keyboard either.
Aside from that, the KBD67 Lite supports screw-in stabilisers as well. Again, this is not a feature you normally find on a budget keyboard like this, which usually uses “less desirable” plate-mounted stabilisers. I’ll elaborate in the following section on the difference between these two types of stabilisers.
The Good Stuff
One of the best qualities of the KBD67 Lite has to be its gasket mounting system. Thanks to this, this custom keyboard has a cleaner, higher-pitched sound signature than keyboards with a different mounting system. Coupled with the polycarbonate plate, the KBD67 Lite offers a typing experience that isn’t as stiff as, say, the NovelKeys NK65 Entry, which has an aluminium plate and a modified top mount system.
And then there’s the Cherry screw-in stabilisers of the KBD67 Lite; they feel very solid and free of any rattle right out of the box. This is quite surprising, given that the housings of the stabilisers are not actually lubed – only the wires are lubed. That being said, since the housings are dry, the mod keys do feel “sticky” and scratchy, especially the left shift.
The reason why screw-in stabilisers are preferred over their plate-mounted counterparts is simple: the former is a lot more secure and tight. After all, screw-in stabilisers are actually…well, screwed into the PCB. Plate-mounted stabilisers, on the other hand, merely clip onto the plate, which doesn’t offer the same level of tightness.
Really, while I absolutely enjoyed using my NK65 Entry, its plate-mounted stabilisers still feel more wobbly and not as secure as the screw-in stabilisers of the KBD67 Lite.
Anyway, let’s move on to other positive aspects of the KBD67 Lite, such as its hotswap PCB with south-facing LEDs for the best compatibility with keycaps of various profiles. On top of that, it can be configured with VIA and QMK as well, making it very easy to customise the keys to my liking.
Last but certainly not least is the sheer value for money the KBD67 Lite offers. Not only is it packed with compelling features I’ve mentioned above for only $109, KBDfans even included a carrying case and a coiled cable with the keyboard. Sure, these two accessories are not particularly high quality, but they are more than serviceable.
At this price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find another keyboard kit with a similar feature set, though NovelKeys’ NK65 Entry – even if it uses plate-mounted stabilisers and a different mounting system – does come close.
The Bad Stuff
As with any given keyboard, the KBD67 Lite does have a number of shortcomings; quality control being one of them. As I was assembling my unit, I noticed that one of the switch sockets still had a remnant of the silicone sheet. I had to carefully peel off the silicone with a tweezer in order to install a switch in the socket.
But the biggest negative of the KBD67 Lite has to be the fact that it’s…well, not available for purchase right now. See, I was only able to get a unit of the KBD67 Lite as I joined the pre-order in late November 2020, and it remains to be seen exactly when it will be back in stock. Right now, the only way to get the KBD67 Lite is from others who joined the pre-order last year, who are (not surprisingly) charging a premium.
Is It Worth It?
If you can somehow get your hands on the KBDfans KBD67 Lite without paying too much premium over its original asking price, it is absolutely one of the best – if not the best – budget custom keyboards in the market now. My particular unit may have some quality control issues, but it is not a dealbreaker by any means.
After all, you’re getting a gasket mounting system and screw-in stabilisers with the KBD67 Lite for only $109. Once KBDfans manage to get this keyboard kit back in stock, I reckon it will sell very, very quickly – it is simply a fantastic budget custom mechanical keyboard with excellent value for money.