Games

NZXT FUNCTION Review: Modular Mechanical Keyboards

Once again, NZXT goes beyond the PC case with one more peripheral for the modern gamer: a keyboard…or rather, a suite of keyboards. We’ve got our hands on not one, but three of NZXT’s new FUNCTION modular mechanical keyboard. But that’s not all: what if NZXT built your perfect mechanical keyboard for you?

We’ll see where this customizable rabbit hole could take us.

specifications

  • MSRP: $149.99 (Full-Size), $129.99 (Tenkeyless), $119.99 (miniTKL)
  • Retail Counter: Gateron Red
  • Retail Body Colors: Black, White
  • Custom Switches: Gateron Red. Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown Premium Switches: Gateron Silent Black Ink V2 60g (Linear), Gateron Aliaz Silent 60g (Tactile)
  • Custom Case Colors: Black, White, Gunmetal Gray
  • Custom keycap color variants: Black, Gray
  • Custom Accent Keycap: Yellow, Purple, Blue, Red, Cyan
  • Keycaps: Glossy ABS (Retail), Dye Sublimated PBT (Custom)
  • Connectivity: USB-C
  • RGB: lighting per key
  • Software: NZXT CAM
  • volume control
  • Side keys for Windows key lock, speaker mute, backlight brightness
  • Anti-ghosting N-Key rollover
  • Fully programmable buttons, RGB control and macro recording via CAM
  • Matching accent color keyboard cable available for $9.99

The FUNCTION series continues what the NZXT CAPSULE launched: a desktop takeover game. With a range of keyboards and the new LIFT mouse (that’s another article), it seems like NZXT is aiming to cover more real estate on your desktop than ever before.

Offered in full-size, tenkeyless, and miniTKL, the FUNCTION adds function to the signature NZXT aesthetic form with programmable key macros and keys to lock the Windows key, brighten RGB, and mute audio. There’s also a volume wheel on the left side of the keyboard, so users don’t have to “let go of your mouse” as NZXT puts it. Pretty handy.

Each standard retail FUNCTION keyboard features Gateron Red switches with clear ABS caps to show off your RGB designs. Gateron Red switches are linear-style mechanical switches with light actuation for quick button commands. While this setup serves as the starting point for any FUNCTION keyboard, the switches are hot-swappable and the keycaps have a standard bottom row on all models, paving the way for one of the FUNCTION’s greatest advantages: customization.

For a small fee ($9.99), the options open up a little wider. In addition to the standard matte black and matte white models, NZXT offers a gun metal gray platform, as well as the option of gray keycaps and five additional accepted cap colors to choose from in the shape. There is also a wider range of Gateron switches available to consumers as well including Gateron Blue, Gateron Brown, Gateron Silent Black Ink and Gateron Aliaz Silent. It’s worth noting that the Aliaz Silent and Black Ink switches are considered a premium upgrade, costing $69.99 for the tenkeyless as well as the miniTKL models and $79.99 for the full-size FUNCTION. This works out to about $0.79 per switch, which comes at a slight premium, but overall isn’t a terrible price for the consumer.

For our review, we had NZXT make us a gunmetal gray miniTKL FUNCTION with Gateron Aliaz Silent switches, gray keycaps, and NZXT purple accents. We also added a purple cable. The cable cost extra but it blends the aesthetic style well!

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Whether the FUNCTION is a standard retail edition or a customized direct-to-consumer edition, both are supported by NZXT’s CAM software. If you’re unfamiliar, CAM is more than just RGB control, it’s a software suite that, while making your keyboard look pretty, can also monitor system activity and thermals, and help with overclocking. Focused on FUNCTION’s CAM control functionality, users have 6 lighting options with multiple adjustment points, button remapping and macro setup.

criticism

After a few weeks of daily use, the retail keyboards feel okay, but it was our custom board that felt a little better. The platform is the same for both and the construction feels solid. Each continues NZXT’s minimalist design philosophy to a point, but ultimately they just didn’t really excite us after the first try. Also, NZXT bills these as entry-level mechanical keyboards.

The miniTKL we had NZXT customize for us felt slightly better with the alternate switches and upgraded keycaps, but wobbly stabilizer bars robbed most of the “silence” from the Gateron Aliaz Silent switches. This feels a little insulting after spending an additional $70 for a premium experience. We were able to correct the noise with about $15 worth of additional accessories and 10-15 minutes of disassembly, lubrication, and reassembly, but some of the larger keys still felt a little wobbly.

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Speaking of miniTKL, there are a few omissions in this unit that make me scratch my head a bit. The first omission is that there is no LED cap indicator on the keyboard outside of a color change. That’s really unfortunate if the color you choose is white, or if you’re using the custom keycaps… which don’t show through. This omission is somewhat understandable as there is no extra space on the board to add an LED display without completely changing the layout of the others. The omission I don’t understand is the decision not to include the palm rest in the miniTKL – especially since there’s no real price advantage for the consumer in missing it.

I want to be clear: these aren’t terrible keyboards; Each FUNCTION keyboard’s build and feature set is decent, but decent feels like an unfortunate low bar at the price points. In my opinion, the greatest value is the ability to have the keyboard built to your specifications… at least within the confines of what NZXT offers. To be fair to NZXT, this price bracket is home to many other notable keyboards, all of which fall into a similar mediocrity.

Final Thoughts

Available in full-size, ten-keyless, or MiniTKL, NZXT’s FUNCTION series is a line of modular mechanical keyboards aimed at consumers who love the company’s penchant for minimalist aesthetics and are curious about customization. Matte finishes paired with programmable RGB designs make the FUNCTION feel at home alongside the newly minted CAPSULE microphone as well as PC cases the brand is known for.

The series is not without its quirks, however. While we really appreciated the modern features of the FUNCTION series — easy-to-reach media buttons, hot-swappable switches, and even the customization service — we found a few areas where the FUNCTION is lacking, particularly on the miniTKL model. Stripping this version of the keyboard of features found in the rest of the series while keeping the price difference the same feels like a bad move.

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Where the FUNCTION series really shows its best potential is this: it’s a platform to build on and experiment with. With a variety of hot-swappable switches, there are a number of options for growth and discovery with the keyboard rather than swapping out the entire unit when the itch to try something new hits. The beauty of growing with a platform like the FUNCTION is that it’s powered by NZXT’s proprietary CAM software – which makes it even more desirable if you’re already using something within the ecosystem (like a Kraken)! Internal software support can make or break a peripheral.

At the end of the day, with a minor stumble, NZXT entered a new arena… a stumble that we hope serves as a jumping-off point for future FUNCTION releases.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

https://www.mmorpg.com/hardware-reviews/nzxt-function-review-modular-mechanical-keyboards-2000124554 NZXT FUNCTION Review: Modular Mechanical Keyboards

Fry Electronics Team

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