Today we’re taking a look at DeepCool’s “Tiny but Mighty” ultra-compact, portable form factor keyboard, the DeepCool KG722 65% Mechanical Keyboard, a 65% mechanical keyboard with standard linear switches for $79.99 MSRP. The KG722 joins the KB500, a TKL mechanical keyboard entry, in DeepCool’s two-keyboard lineup. Despite being the smaller sibling, the KG722 is US$20 more than the KB500.
What does 65% mean?
The 65% keyboard layout is one of the more extreme takes on keyboard minimalization. While retaining arrow keys and the Delete, Page Up, and Page Down buttons, the 65% layout loses the function key row, the Numpad, and the remaining End, Home, and Insert keys from the navigation row, as well as the Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause keys.
While DeepCool rightly points out that the size of the KG722 is more portable, those that make heavy use of the omitted keys are advised to take stock of whether their workflow can tolerate new key combinations or other workarounds. For many games, as an example, the function row can be critical for switching directly to specific vehicle positions or for assigning groups of units, while that heavily editing text may find the lack of Home and End buttons to be show-stoppers.
Gateron Red Switches
DeepCool has used Gateron’s take on the ‘red’ linear switch for the KG722. These are stock switches with the typical 45g spring weight, 2mm actuation distance, and 4mm travel distance. Red switches of this type tend to be favored for gaming as they provide just the ‘right’ amount of resistance, preventing accidental keypresses, while also being smooth.
Red switches, styled after Cherry’s MX Red switches, are also known as ‘quiet’ switches. We can say that the Gateron Red switches in the DeepCool GK722 are indeed smooth and quiet, but outside of ‘clicky’ switches like the Cherry MX Blue, switches alone generally aren’t what determine a keyboard’s sound profile.
As is the case with many gaming keyboards and most mechanical keyboards period, the GK722 is simply not a quiet keyboard. Key chatter and the slap of keys bottoming out are all undampened with the linear Gateron Red switches offering no resistance.
To be fair here, again, this is how mechanical keyboards sound in stock form. How loud a keyboard is, or is desired to be, is a matter of personal taste. What we can point out is that, like most mechanical gaming keyboards, the GK722 isn’t really designed to be modified beyond the keycaps and cable.
Such provisions can include hot-swappable switches, which not only allow for switches to be changed without desoldering but also makes adding lubrication to switches more approachable. Other options include opening the keyboard up and inserting a dampening material below the PCB and underneath the stabilizer mounts. All of these are likely to put the warranty in question, of course.
Keycaps with Side-Etched Legends
DeepCool has used ABS keycaps that have their legends etched on the user-facing side, rather than the common top etching. In use, this does take some adjustment, especially in darker environments, as one must press ‘above’ the legend instead of aiming for the key that the legend is on.
Having the keycap etching on the side leaves the tops of the keycaps blank, and here DeepCool has kept the tops smooth. DeepCool also makes a point about keycap wear, as the side-etched legends are unlikely to experience significant wear from use.
Note that the Caps key on the left is white, rather than blue – without space for a caps lock indicator, DeepCool has enabled the lighting for the caps lock key to show all white when ‘locked’. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a way to set the caps lock ‘on’ color for when the keyboard lighting is set to white.
Lighting on the DeepCool KG722 is entirely provided by the per-key RGB backlighting. DeepCool provides a functional software utility to set lighting, but also thankfully included on-keyboard controls that allow for a significant range of adjustments.
For those that choose to use the KG722 with the lighting disabled, expect to have the keys as well as their alternate functions memorized, as the legends are fairly difficult to make out in dim lighting.
DeepCool does not provide a wrist rest alongside the KG722. This is a point of note more than a criticism for a keyboard of this price point, as we find it unlikely that DeepCool could have supplied a quality wrist rest accessory without raising the price.
Given the compact expectations for 65% keyboards, DeepCool has understandably gone with a minimal approach for the KG722. The keyboard base is black, the switches are black aside from the legends, and the switch plate is black. The lone exception here is the aqua-colored escape keycap, which has a stylized ‘d’ legend.
DeepCool has used an all-plastic, but solid construction for the KG722. Despite its limited stature, the single-piece keyboard body exhibits no flex whatsoever.
Also appreciated is the removable USB-C cable. The cable that DeepCool ships the KG722 is a fairly stout braided affair, though certainly functional for a peripheral like a keyboard that is likely to remain stationary while in use, is replaceable should the need or desire arise.
Finally, DeepCool has decided not to include feet on the keyboard, making the default profile the only profile available out of the box. Thankfully we found this profile to be relatively comfortable both with and without a wrist rest.
The packaging is minimalistic, just like the keyboard inside. In addition to a short manual, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and the keyboard itself, DeepCool provides a keycap pulling tool.
The specifications are shown below.
|Overall Dimension||310 (L) x 101.6 (W) x 39(H)mm|
|Keyboard Switch Type||Gateron|
|Keyboard Keycaps||ABS Plastic|
|Keyswitch durability||50 Million|
|Connectivity||USB to Type C|
|Media Keys||FN Keys Enabled|
|Keyboard Type||Mechanical Keyboard|
|Cable Specification||1.8M Braid Cable|