If you’re looking to get into the custom keyboard hobby on a budget, you may want to keep an eye on this: the Simpler60. Set to be sold by iLumkb, this is a relatively affordable 60% custom keyboard that doesn’t sacrifice much to bring down its price tag. How much does it cost? It’s estimated to go for S$239, which comes up to about RM735.
For that kind of money, the Simpler60 still has a CNC aluminium chassis instead of plastic – a typical choice for custom keyboards at this price point – along with a rather unique mounting system that offers flexibility for a softer typing experience. If it sounds like a keyboard you’d be interested in, keep on reading.
First, let’s talk about the mounting system of the Simpler60. While it’s said to be a tray-mounted keyboard, it’s not inaccurate to call it a gasket-mounted keyboard either. See, unlike standard tray mount keyboards, the Simpler60 does not have screw standoffs (making for an uneven typing feel) to secure the plate and PCB to the bottom case.
Instead, there’s a 3.7mm thick PORON dampener – which is placed between the PCB and plate – that is inserted into specific cutouts in the case to secure the keyboard in place. This is actually very similar to the mounting system of the KDBfans KBD67 Lite, but the silicone dampener is replaced with a PORON one for the Simpler60.
If you’re worried the plate and PCB aren’t particularly secure with this mounting method, you can actually use several optional screws to secure the keyboard assembly to the bottom case. According to iLumkb, this isn’t a traditional tray mount as the screws “will go through the PCB and plate, which will only touch the foam instead the PCB.”
Anyway, those who opt for the default mounting style without using the screws will get a soft, flexible typing experience with the Simpler60. You can look at this gif to get an idea of how much flex you can get with this 60% custom keyboard.
Looking at the construction of the Simpler60, this level of flexibility is mostly thanks to the aforementioned PORON dampener that is secured to the case through what appears to be six cutouts. The flex cuts on the polycarbonate plate helps to add even more flexibility as well.
Unfortunately, there’s no sound test of the Simpler60 yet. But judging by the amount of foams that are bundled with the keyboard, there’s a good chance it will have a pretty muted sound profile, though this is only our educated guess at this point in time.
Another Interesting feature of the Simpler60 is its hotswap PCB; complete with south-facing RGB lighting for maximum compatibility with keycaps of various profiles. Instead of using Kailh or Gateron hotswap sockets, the PCB has all-metal hotswap sockets for better durability.
At a glance, the metal hotswap sockets do look more durable (and aesthetically pleasing) compared to Kailh or Gateron sockets, which are mostly made out of plastic. However, these unconventional hotswap sockets are not quite as tested and proven, so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll perform once the Simpler60 is released.
All in all, the Simpler60 looks to be a really promising 60% keyboard, and the fact that its estimated asking price is S$239 (about RM735) makes it that much more attractive. After all, not many custom keyboards can match the feature set of the Simpler60 at this price point.
Well, there’s the Bakeneko60 by Cannon Keys, which is priced at only $130 (around RM540). While it is quite a bit more affordable than the Simpler60, it’s worth noting that the latter sports a more premium CNC aluminium chassis. The case of the Bakeneko60, on the other hand, is made using aluminium alloy using a casting process.
This is a more affordable process than CNC machining, which is the very reason why the Bakeneko60 can hit such a competitive price point. However, the casting process doesn’t allow for anodisation – a process that gives the keyboard its colour and finish – so the case of the Bakeneko60 is just painted. Basically, it won’t look as nice as the Simpler60.
On top of that, it’s worth noting that the Bakeneko60 uses clip-in stabilisers as well. While they are more stable than plate-mounted stabilisers, screw-in stabilisers are still more secure, which seems to be supported by the Simpler60 based on the stabiliser cutouts on the PCB.
If you’re interested to pick up the Simpler60, you can register your interest through this Google form; you can even specify which colour and layout you prefer for the 60% custom keyboard. We’ll keep an eye for any future updates on the Simpler60, especially regarding its availability and final retail price.