Keyboard, Review

MelGeek Modern97 Review: Refined, Clacky RM589 Pre-Built Keyboard

Pre-built keyboards have come a long way; at least, that’s the case with certain brands, such as MelGeek. The new MelGeek Modern97, for one, surprised me quite a bit when I first started typing on it. Not only does it have a pleasant sound profile, its typing feel is quite good too.

If you’re looking for a 90% keyboard with a dedicated numpad, the Modern97 is an excellent choice. While it does have some shortcomings here and there, none of them are a dealbreaker, in my opinion. Without further ado, let’s get to the Modern97’s review.

What It Is

As its name suggests, the MelGeek Modern97 has 97 keys to form a 90% layout. It’s not quite a full-size keyboard, though it does have a dedicated numpad. Aside from that, the Modern97 also has a gasket mounting system, a hotswap PCB, a plastic case, and of course, RGB lighting, though its double shot ABS keycaps are not shine-through.

Three different switch options are offered with the Modern97: Kailh Sonic53, Kailh Box Plastic, and Kailh Tactile. The model I am testing here comes with the Sonic53 switch, which is pretty darn good. More on this further down the review.

For the Malaysian market, the Modern97 is distributed by Sun Cycle – which also sent us this review unit – for RM589. This is really quite a good price for a wireless keyboard (via Bluetooth or 2.4GHz dongle) of this calibre, and this being a pre-built keyboard, it is also more readily available than a custom one.

The Good Stuff

What caught me by surprise when I started typing on the Modern97 is its sound signature. It has a clean, higher-pitched sound profile, so it is more “clacky” than it is “thocky.” I personally quite like its sound signature, and more importantly, it has none of the plasticky sound profile that is typically associated with pre-built keyboards.

Typing feel of the Modern97 is also quite good. Thanks to its gasket mounting system and a flexible plate – MelGeek doesn’t specify the plate material, though I suspect it is polycarbonate – it has a soft, comfortable typing feel. It is not bouncy by any means, but it definitely doesn’t feel overly stiff, which is a good thing in my book.

While we’re talking about typing feel, I love just how smooth the Sonic53 switch is. Thanks to the factory lubing, there’s no scratchy sensation at all throughout the downstroke. On top of that, it has minimal stem wobble as well, making for a “stable” typing experience, for lack of a better word. All in all, it’s a great linear switch, especially for a budget-centric keyboard like the Modern97.

Plus, this being a hotswap keyboard, you can easily swap out the switches whenever you want to.

Beyond that, there’s also the overall design of the Modern97. I like how this Ocean colourway of the keyboard looks with its white, blue, and gold colour scheme, and the bottom design gives it a unique aesthetic too. Even the 2.4GHz dongle looks like a Lego brick!

Last but not least is the value proposition of the Modern97. Looking at its feature set, its RM589 price tag is more than fair, though there are some aspects of the keyboard that could be improved upon.

The Bad Stuff

One drawback of the Modern97 are the plate-mounted stabilisers that are not fixed particularly tightly to the plate. On the brightside, at least the factory lube on the stabilisers are quite decent to minimise rattling, though the backspace key on this review unit does have some ticking out of the box.

Besides that, I’m not thrilled that there’s no easy way to disassemble the Modern97. The various pieces of the case look to be clipped together, which makes it tricky to take apart the keyboard without potentially breaking something.

Granted, most pre-built keyboards are not meant to be disassembled, so this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Still, it would’ve been great if the Modern97 can be taken apart easily for modding purposes.

Is It Worth It?

Oh yes, definitely. To me, it comes down to the value proposition of the MelGeek Modern97. For RM589, the pre-built keyboard offers great value for money, and it has a clean sound profile; soft, comfortable typing feel; wireless support; and an eye-catching design in a 90% form factor.

If the Modern97 wasn’t so difficult to disassemble, it would’ve been an even easier keyboard to recommend, especially to folks who want to get into keyboard modding. Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away the fact that the Modern97 is a good pre-built keyboard with equally good value proposition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *