We’re seeing more and more budget-friendly custom keyboards as of late, and the Meletrix Zoom65 may just be the one to beat right now. Retailing at only $179 (about RM750) it offers a lot of keyboard…for not a lot of money.
Granted, the Zoom65 does have its fair share of shortcomings, but at this price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find another 65% keyboard (not to mention a knob) that offers the same typing feel and sound profile.
If you’re looking for a custom keyboard with a deep, “thocky” sound profile and soft typing feel without spending an exorbitant amount of money, consider the Zoom65 – you will not be disappointed, especially for the money.
What It Is
The Meletrix Zoom65 is a complete keyboard kit that offers the keyboard itself, smooth JWK linear switches, and even a double shot PBT keycap set in the popular Olivia colourway. This set is officially authorised by Olivia herself, as Meletrix puts it.
Beyond that, the Zoom65 also features a gasket mounting system, full aluminium case, rotary encoder, polycarbonate plate, and of course, a hotswap PCB with QMK and VIA support – what you’ve come to expect from a proper custom keyboard, basically.
It’s also worth noting that the Zoom65 is particularly enticing for us here in Malaysia, as it is officially brought in by Rebult Keyboards for RM759; you can still pre-order it now too. This means you won’t have to pay for expensive shipping to Malaysia, which further bolsters its value proposition.
The Good Stuff
Let’s start with the two most discussed qualities of any custom keyboards: sound profile and typing feel. In these two regards, the Zoom65 is sure to appeal to most folks. Not only does it have a deep sound profile, it also offers a soft, flexible typing experience for improved comfort.
These two qualities are mostly found on more expensive custom keyboards, such as Owlab’s Jelly Epoch. The fact that you can get these features at this price point really is a big plus for the Zoom65.
Aside from that, there’s also the rotary encoder of the Zoom65, which can be used to control the volume; you can even click on it to mute your device. The knob itself also feels great to scroll with a nice tactile feedback with every actuation.
In my opinion, the design of the Zoom65 is worth commending too. Yes, the front of the keyboard doesn’t look all that different from other 65% customs in the market now, but it’s a different story on the back. It has a nice aluminium weight with a different finish (and engraving) that gives it a unique aesthetic.
And then there’s the JWK linear switch of the Zoom65. It is quite smooth out of the box thanks to the factory lubing, and its nylon bottom housing offers a nice, “cushioned” bottom out as well. This, in turn, improves the typing comfort of the keyboard.
Oh, the Olivia double shot PBT keycaps of the Zoom65 are really good too. The keycaps don’t have an overly rough texture despite being made out of PBT plastic, and while the legends aren’t quite as sharp as a GMK set – which is also far more expensive – it’s more than acceptable at this price point.
That brings us to the best aspect of the Zoom65: value for money. Again, retailing at only $179 or RM759, the sheer value you’re getting with this custom keyboard is incredible. Not only is it a really good keyboard, it’s even bundled with switches, keycaps, and WS screw-in stabilisers from Wuque Studio.
Most keyboard kits don’t even include stabilisers, let alone switches or keycaps.
The Bad Stuff
As impressive as the Zoom65 is, there are a few areas where it could be better, such as the finishing of the keyboard. While the e-coating feels reasonably good to the touch, some parts of the finish are not as smooth as it should be – this is where the budget nature of the Zoom65 becomes apparent.
Another aspect of this keyboard that I’m not too crazy about is the rotary encoder. It doesn’t feel particularly natural to operate due to its small size and awkward positioning – my fingers have a tendency to hit the surrounding keys because of this.
Last but not least is the build experience of the Zoom65, which can be a bit of a challenge to those who are new to the custom keyboard hobby. Some switches are oriented differently (depending on the layout you want), and the many foams that come with the keyboard further complicates the build process.
Granted, there’s a build guide to make the assembly process easier, but it can still be a little intimidating.
Is It Worth It?
The Meletrix Zoom65 is absolutely, absolutely worth it. Yes, it has some shortcomings, but you’re getting a lot of winning qualities for the money. While it’s a little hard to get your hands on the keyboard now, Meletrix (and other official vendors) will keep the keyboard constantly in-stock; at least, that’s the plan.
The Zoom65 is a fantastic first custom keyboard from Meletrix, and I’m excited to see where the brand will go from here. As a sub-brand of Wuque Studio, it’s certainly delivering equally good products at an affordable price point.