Getting a custom mechanical keyboard is not quite as simple as buying a mass-produced keyboard from any retail store, but this has been steadily changing over the years. Thanks to lower price tags and an easier setup process, it’s not that intimidating anymore to get your own custom keyboard. One such product that offers all of these is NovelKeys’ new NK65 Milkshake Edition.
Not only is the NK65 Milkshake sold as a completely assembled keyboard, it also comes with very compelling features. These include a hotswap PCB, per-key RGB lighting, and even an attractive design at an affordable price point. If you want to dip your toes in the custom mechanical keyboard scene, this keyboard is a great way to get into it.
So exactly how much does the NK65 Milkshake cost? Set to be available for pre-order from 18 September onwards, it retails at only $190; that comes up to about RM795. If that seems a little steep – especially when compared to “mainstream” mechanical keyboards – trust me when I say you’re getting a lot of value for your money here.
As mentioned, the NK65 Milkshake is a fully assembled mechanical keyboard. In fact, it’s actually a custom version of the NK65 Entry Edition, which sold out extremely quickly when it was in stock back in June for $95 (about RM395). But unlike the Entry, this special Milkshake variant comes with custom switches and keycaps.
Basically, the NK65 Milkshake will be ready to go right out of the box; you can just plug it in and start typing away. Of course, as this is a custom mechanical keyboard, it comes with switches you cannot find on any other mass-produced keyboard. It’s installed with NovelKeys’ own Silk Yellow linear switch, but it’s recoloured to match the “milkshake” theme of the board.
Speaking of which, the NK65 Milkshake is actually a collaboration between NovelKeys and Biip; the latter is the designer behind the Milkshake keycaps featured on this board. They are made out of PBT – a very durable type of plastic – in Cherry profile, and the legends are dye-sublimated; they will not fade even after many years of extensive use.
Still not convinced the NK65 Milkshake offers a lot of bang for your buck? Well, keep in mind that it has a hotswap PCB. This allows you to just pull out the Silk Yellow switches on this keyboard and replace them with different switches without having to solder them on. This is what makes the NK65 (among other features) such a beginner-friendly keyboard.
On top of all of that, NovelKeys is also throwing in a colour-matched coiled cable in red and pink, as well as a carrying case with the NK65 Milkshake. For $190, it’s quite impressive how many items are bundled with the keyboard.
Of course, compared to mass-produced, mainstream keyboards, the NK65 Milkshake’s value proposition isn’t quite on the same level. After all, companies that make custom mechanical keyboards – such as NovelKeys itself, which was only established in 2017 – don’t have the same economy of scale as big brands like Razer, Ducky, and Logitech.
As much as the custom mechanical keyboard market has grown over the years, it’s not quite in the same playfield as these bigger players yet. Be that as it may, I’d argue you’re getting a superior product with the NK65 Milkshake compared to mainstream keyboards. They simply don’t offer the same level of customisation, build quality, and feature-set as the NK65, especially at this price point.
If there’s any downside to getting the NK65 Milkshake, it would be the waiting time. Pre-orders for the keyboard will run from 18 September until 2 October 2020, but it will only start shipping to customers in January and February of 2021. While three to four months of wait isn’t awfully long, some folks may not have the patience.
Besides that, NovelKeys is also based in the US, so if you’re thinking of getting the NK65 Milkshake, you’ll have to pay quite a bit for shipping and taxes to import it into Malaysia, not to mention even longer waiting time. Having an Asian proxy would alleviate some of these issues, but NovelKeys said it is “uncertain on that (regarding proxies),” unfortunately enough.
Regardless, NovelKeys’ NK65 Milkshake Edition is a fantastic keyboard for anyone that wants to get into the custom mechanical keyboard scene. Granted, the $190 price tag may be a bit much to spend on a keyboard for certain folks, but if you’re an avid gamer, or you spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard – like yours truly – it’s a worthy investment.
If you’d like to get updated on the NK65 Milkshake or other products from NovelKeys, you can sign up for the newsletter on its official website.