Hands-On, Keyboard

Unboxing the Most Customisable Custom Keyboard – Mode SixtyFive

After only five months of waiting – a relatively short waiting time in the custom keyboard scene, believe it or not – my personal order of the Mode SixtyFive has arrived. What makes this keyboard particularly interesting is its sheer customisability: you can change the finish and material of almost every part of the SixtyFive.

On top of that, unlike most custom keyboards, which are only offered in limited-time group buys, you can still place an order of the SixtyFive. As a cherry on top, you only need to wait until March 2022 to receive the keyboard if you purchase it right now. How’s that for a short waiting time?

Anyway, if you’re intrigued, here’s our unboxing of the Mode SixtyFive – it offers quite a fun unboxing experience, especially for a keyboard that starts at only $299 (about RM1,265).

Every order of the SixtyFive comes in three different boxes…inside a larger box. These boxes are separated by the components, top case, and bottom case; very descriptive. The components box (naturally) houses the PCB, plate, backpiece, and other accessories that you got with the keyboard.

For my order of the SixtyFive, however, the aluminium and FR4 plates (along with the plate foam) were placed outside of the components box. This is likely because I ordered two PCBs and the silicone base for the stack mount system, which were all found inside the components box – keep this in mind if you plan to order a lot of accessories.

Oh, a screwdriver is also included with the SixtyFive. It’s not a high-end screwdriver by any means, but it’s certainly a nice touch!

Next, we have the PCB of the SixtyFive. As mentioned, I purchased two PCBs for this keyboard; it’s always a good idea to purchase extra PCBs for a custom keyboard as insurance. I only got the hotswap PCB, so it doesn’t have the flex cuts found on the solderable PCB, which is meant to provide a softer typing experience with a half plate.

Anyway, while the aesthetics of a PCB doesn’t affect its functionality, I do like how the SixtyFive’s PCB looks. The large “MODE” branding is a nice touch, and it has a unique shape to it too.

Moving on, there’s the backpiece of the SixtyFive. For my personal build, I went with a black anodised backpiece to add some contrast to the white top and bottom casing that I selected – we’ll get to these parts shortly. There are also magnets on this backpiece, allowing it to snap onto the back of the SixtyFive easily.

Other accessories that come with the SixtyFive include a daughterboard – I got an extra one for insurance, much like the PCB – four feet, silicone caps for the isolated top mount system, as well as a bunch of screws to put the keyboard together.

Okay, now let’s take a look at the top and bottom casings of the SixtyFive. I don’t have an all-white keyboard in my collection yet, so I went with this colour scheme for the SixtyFive. The white aluminium option for these two parts do cost an extra $10 (each), but after seeing and feeling the quality of these parts in person, I’m very happy with my choice.

Not only is the finish close to perfect – there’s only a small black speck on my top casing that couldn’t be rubbed off – the electrophoresis coating feels nice and smooth to the touch too. For a keyboard that starts at only $299, the quality control and finishing of the keyboard – along with the packaging – are top-notch.

If I have any qualm about the SixtyFive’s unboxing experience, it would be the fact that there are…quite a lot of packaging. Almost every part of the keyboard are individually packed, so it can be a little annoying to clean up. Granted, the ziplock bags are of good quality, which can be reused to keep switches or keycaps.

All in all, I’m quite happy with the SixtyFive so far. At least, that’s my initial impression of this super customisable 65% keyboard. I’m excited to start building it to see how this board would perform, especially with its three different mounting styles.

That’s right, the SixtyFive can be mounted three different ways. There’s the conventional top-mount system, an isolated top-mount for a cleaner sound profile (in theory), and stack mount, which provides “maximum acoustic dampening and a firm but not unforgiving typing feel,” as Mode puts it.

The Mode SixtyFive is still available for pre-order with a $299 starting price, and you can configure your very own unit through the configurator. If you place your order right now, the SixtyFive is expected to ship sometime in March 2022 – that’s only a four-month wait, a very short turnaround time in this hobby.

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