A little less than a month ago I bought a new keyboard, the HK Gaming GK61. It’s a 60% mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting and a few different switch options. I’ve been using full-size membrane keyboards up until now so this was quite a bit different.
The GK61 comes in black, white, red or pink colors. It can be outfitted with gateron optical black, blue, brown, red, silver or yellow switches. As denoted by the name, its 60% size is a noteworthy selling point. Of course you can’t buy anything without RGB nowadays so it has that too. There is also a piece of software for configuring keyboard settings and saves them on the keyboard itself. I paid 70 euros for it in greece and I bought the black model with blue switches. With the big picture view out of the way, let’s get a bit more into the specifics.
As previously mentioned, I went with the gateron optical blue switches. This was mostly done because I like the noise and tactile feedback. I have a habit of bottoming out the keys so blues being a little slower for people that only barely activate the switch is not an issue. One potential drawback I was made aware of is that optical switches are not as common so replacing them is potentially more difficult. All the keys work fine, the sound is enjoyable, the physical feedback is good so no real complaints here.
The size of the keyboard was a big change for me but also one of the big reasons I chose it. The unfortunate part is that it was only available in ANSI and not ISO locally but I’m aware that an ISO version exists. So what’s the deal with the 60% size? What does that mean exactly? There is no numpad, no F1 to F12, no end, home, pgup, pgdown, insert, delete or arrow keys. What does exist however, is an Function (Fn) key that acts as a modifier. This means that you can press Fn and something else to access the alternative function of a key. It saves size but can also be a bit annoying when you can’t access some keys directly. My personal changes were that I remapped caps lock to escape, right alt to left arrow, right ctrl to right arrow and escape to backtick. I’m slowly finding out that I’d prefer it if there were arrow keys that are just arrow keys on the main layer. Overall I like the small size but I think a 65% size with an ISO layout would be a better option for me.
This is where things get a bit more gloomy.
There exists software for the GK61 but not all software utilities are the same.
In specific, I got a GK61v2 which has a serial number that starts with
GK61US and things get interesting.
The earlier versions of this keyboard use seemingly different firmware and different software utilities.
Additionally, the alternative key functions are different for the GK61v2 so the M1, M2, M3 mode keys don’t work.
At any rate, the software works fine.
It allows remapping keys as well as customizing the lighting mode.
Well…about that lightning customization…
One would think that customizing one of the custom lighting modes would allow it to be permanently saved but no.
If you make a custom one and then hit Fn and \ to cycle all of them, your custom mode will be nowhere to be found.
This is unfortunate but I don’t mind since I just wanted to have a solid color and move on however it’s a downside worth mentioning.
In totality the software side of the keyboard is a downside but it isn’t completely unusable I guess.
After almost a month of use, I’m overall pretty happy with the GK61. For 70 euros it was a fairly big investment, it was my first mechanical keyboard as well as my first 60% keyboard. Ideally I would like to have an ISO layout and separate arrow keys so when I upgrade in the future I’ll look at getting a 65% one with the appropriate key layout or possibly build a custom one. Overall I’d recommend it just be aware that it’s a lot smaller than what you might be used to. Thank you for reading, I hope you got something out of this.