Hands-on with the Glorious GMMK Compact: Affordable custom keyboards [Video]

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There’s no denying that once you start going down the rabbit hole of mechanical keyboards, there’s a good chance you’ll want to customize or build one of your own. Building a custom keyboard can be expensive and time-consuming, but some boards are making that easier with hot-swappable switches. The GMMK or Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboards from Glorious PC Gaming Race is an easy way to get started with modding a mechanical keyboard. Today we’re taking a look at the GMMK Compact pre-built variant, a 61 key layout that came with Gateron Brown switches pre-installed. Head below to see and hear it in action.

Out of the Box – Design

Glorious offers a few different layouts for their GMMK. From full to compact, it’s easy to find the right size for your setup. All three sizes start at $59.99 for a bare-bones model and $109.95 for a prebuilt version. I chose the compact design. This features a 61-key layout that forgoes dedicated navigation buttons for a smaller design. Most of those missing inputs are easily accessed by using the function key, though. On the default setup, these secondary functions are labeled on the keycaps for a quick reference.

On the bottom of the GMMK, the keyboard has extendable plastic feet to give the keyboard a higher angle, as well as a neatly hidden keycap puller. It’s a little interesting that there isn’t the same spot for the switch puller that is included with the keyboard, though, since that is another main feature of the GMMK.

GMMK Compact: Video

With its solid construction and clean design, the GMMK looks and feels very well built. It’s heavy and has barely any give on the aluminum faceplate. Most of it is black with a brushed metal line around the perimeter of the faceplate.

Hot-swappable Switches

Swapping switches to change the entire feel of your keyboard is a piece of cake on the GMMK. On the back of the keyboard is the puller which lets you remove all of the keycaps, and also included with the keyboard is a switch puller. This lets you quickly remove the switches and swap in new ones without any soldering. To do an entire swap-out, it would probably take about 20-40 minutes. That would take longer on the TKL and full-size boards just because of the number of switches, but is the same process for all of them.

Switches

In its default setup, the GMMK comes equipped with Gateron Brown switches. But, Glorious also lets you customize your keyboard if you want a different feel or order the GMMK without any switches installed. They are MX-style switches, but there are quite a few options to choose from on the GMMK Compact custom page. Glorious also has tools and charts to help you choose which key might be best for you if you aren’t sure.

RGB

And what would a gaming keyboard be without RGB? The GMMK features per-key RGB that can be quickly adjusted with secondary commands via the function key. For more control, you can also adjust RGB lighting within the GMMK software. There are quite a few default RGB configurations, or you can completely set your own design.

GMMK Software – Macros

Another feature of the GMMK Software is the ability to build custom macros. With such a small keyboard this could come in handy, but I haven’t found myself making any macros for how I use the keyboard.

In-Use

Using the compact GMMK is a pleasure. Solid build construction mixed with easy customization with switches makes it very enjoyable. The 61-key layout takes some getting used to, and might not be ideal for all situations. I do find myself missing the dedicated arrow keys and delete key, but the small form factor is great for a minimalist setup.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the GMMK is a great way to get into keyboard customization. If you compare just prices, getting the compact without any switches will set you back $59.99, while the Drop ALT, which does have a few more switches and additional RGB, comes in at $140.

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