While custom keyboards have gotten immensely popular in the past few years, pre-built keyboards are still worth a consideration. This is especially so from brands that have been around for quite some time, such as Vortex. This is the Vortex M0110, a vintage inspired gasket-mount keyboard.
After using the M0110 as my daily driver for a few weeks now, I’m very happy with it. Not only is it a step up from other pre-built keyboards in various aspects, it can even go toe to toe with similarly priced custom keyboards, in my opinion.
If you’re looking for a 60% keyboard with a vintage styling, the M0110 is definitely worth checking out.
What It Is
The Vortex M0110, as its name suggests, takes inspiration from the Apple M0110 keyboard that came with the original Macintosh. While it looks like a vintage keyboard, its internals are far from that. Not only does it support VIA and QMK for easy key mapping – but only for the wired version – it even has the aforementioned gasket mounting system, a hotswap PCB, and even a wireless model with support for Bluetooth and a 2.4GHz dongle.
The review unit you see here is the wireless model with a conventional 60% layout (there’s a HHKB version too), so while it doesn’t support VIA or QMK, the key mapping can still be changed with Vortex’s own software. More on this further down the review.
Other specifications of the M0110 include an FR4 plate, PBT dye-subbed keycaps, a range of Cherry and Gateron switches to pick from, and even screw-in stabilisers that perform great out of the box.
As for pricing, the M0110 retails from $149 on Vortex’s official store for both the wired and wireless models, which comes up to about RM695. While it’s not the most affordable pre-built keyboard, it’s certainly not the most expensive either.
The Good Stuff
When I first started typing on the Vortex M0110, its sound profile really took me by surprise. It’s not a “thocky” keyboard, per se, but it certainly has a nice, relatively deep sound signature. You can hear this for yourself in the sound test below:
Aside from that, the typing feel of the M0110 is quite pleasant too. Although it provides a stiff typing experience – despite being a gasket mounted keyboard – I like how every key stroke feels…well, solid and substantial. Do note that this review unit features Gateron G Pro Yellow linear switches.
Further enhancing the typing experience of the M0110 are the keyboard’s screw-in stabilisers, which really, really surprised me. Out of the box, there’s very little to no rattling on any of the mod keys, including the spacebar. There’s not even a lot of factory lube applied to the stabiliser’s wire; very impressive.
I quite like the PBT dye-subbed keycaps of the M0110 too. The legends looks sharp and consistent – though some letters look a bit rough upon closer inspection – and the texture of the keycap feels nice and smooth. Compared to other pre-built keyboards, these PBT keycaps are certainly a step (or two) above.
Last but not least is the overall build quality of the M0110. Despite sporting an all-plastic construction, it feels nice and solid with minimal creaking when I apply pressure to the chassis. Tipping the scales at about 840g, it has a good amount of heft too.
The Bad Stuff
While I’m generally quite fond of the M0110, it does have some shortcomings here and there. For this wireless model, it needs two AA batteries for wireless connectivity; there’s no built-in battery. While this isn’t exactly a huge issue, having to use AA batteries for the keyboard feels…dated.
And then there’s the Vortex’s software to edit the key mapping of the M0110. Not only is it unintuitive to navigate around, the Chinese translation isn’t even completed. Granted, this is an issue that is only applicable to the wireless model, given that the wired version supports VIA and QMK.
Is It Worth It?
For $149, I can definitely see myself paying that amount of money for the Vortex M0110. While it does have its fair share of drawbacks, the overall polish of this pre-built keyboard in various aspects far outweigh its negatives.
After all, it has a pleasant sound profile, refined typing experience, high quality PBT keycaps, and screw-in stabilisers that perform great with minimal ticking straight out of the box. The fact that it has a hotswap PCB also allows for easy switch swapping, so users can experiment with various switches easily and seamlessly – ideal for folks who are new to the keyboard hobby.