There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a new keyboard, but size has to be near the top of the list. The three main form factors most keyboards fit into are full-sized, TKL, and 60%. TKL is short for “tenkeyless” and is essentially a full-sized keyboard without the number pad. 60% keyboards take things even further by dropping the function, arrow, and control keys in order to make the board as compact as possible.
The new Royal Kludge RK84 is different however. The manufacturer has classified it as an 80% keyboard, meaning it has all the keys you would expect a TKL to have, while maintaining the compact shape you would expect to see on a 60% keyboard.
Royal Kludge sent us one of these keyboards so we could give a fair and unbiased review. We liked their RK61 60% keyboard in our review, so we were eager to see what this new form factor had in store. Here’s what we found.
Zoom In: Specs
- 80% form factor
- Colors: black or white
- Connectivity: Wired USB Type-C/2.4Ghz/3 Bluetooth 5.0 profiles
- ABS double-shot keycaps
- RK Red/Blue/Brown mechanical switches
- 3750mAh battery
- 2 built in USB 2.0 passthroughs
- RK software
- Price: $79.99
Design and Build Quality
In addition to the keyboard itself, the box includes a six-foot rubberized USB Type-C cable, two plastic wedges that can be magnetically attached to the back of the board for added incline, four extra mechanical switches, and a dual keycap and switch remover. It does not come with a wrist rest, however.
The board has plastic housing, but it feels sturdy and has very little flex to it. The keycaps are made of double-shot ABS plastic, meaning they should last longer than regular ABS without wearing down. They also have a nice textured quality that feels good to type on.
The backside of the keyboard has two USB passthroughs and the USB Type-C connection port on the righthand side. On the bottom is a magnetic pocket for storing the 2.4G dongle and two switches: one turns wireless mode on and off, while the other switches between 2.4G and the three Bluetooth profiles.
The unique key layout is what really sets this keyboard apart, however. The control keys and arrow keys are condensed to the right side of the keyboard, while secondary functions for things like media and Bluetooth mode controls are printed on the face of the keys in gray. The only negative to this seems to be how small it makes the right Shift key. I got used to this quickly, however, and the rest of the design is quite comfortable.
The version that Royal Kludge sent to us came with their own in-house brand of tactile brown mechanical switches, but the keyboard can also be purchased with liner reds or clicky blues. They perform well and they generally make for a comfortable typing experience. There’s a good balance of tension and the tactile “bump” feels satisfying.
These switches probably won’t make their way onto our list of the best mechanical switches for gaming any time soon, but they’re far from the worst switches we’ve tested. They’re especially nice when you consider the other switches available at this price point.
They’re also hot-swappable, so users who end up liking the keyboard but not liking the RK switches can also change them out down the line if they want.
Of course, the real test of any gaming keyboard is how it holds up in-game. I tested the RK84 by using it to play some Doom: Eternal. The rapid movement and quick reactions required to play that game make it an ideal testing ground to root out latency.
The RK84 operated flawlessly in wired mode. There was absolutely no noticable latency and I found the keyboard to be comfortable for extended gaming sessions.
The 2.4G connection was a little less clear-cut, however. My PC is about three feet away from the keyboard, and the connection was a little spotty when the dongle was connected directly into the IO port. It wasn’t noticeable at first, but there were enough dropped keystrokes that it eventually became an irritation.
The connection was much smoother when I used a USB hub to move the dongle closer (about two feet from the keyboard,) but this was upsetting nevertheless. The range should be longer than that. The Bluetooth worked flawlessly, but then, even the new Bluetooth 5.0 has some noticeable latency when it comes to fast-paced gaming.
RK Software and RGB
The RK84 comes with Royal Kludge control software. It allows for three profiles with keymapping, macro controls, and lighting. There are twenty-one lighting effects with brightness, speed, sleep time, and animation controls, and a custom lighting studio where you can fuse up to three different lighting effects; assigning one to the entire board, one to the number keys, and one to the WASD keys.
It’s limited compared to most modern keyboard control software and the interface feels old. There are a few good lighting effects, but there isn’t an abundance of color control. It can also only be accessed while the keyboard is plugged in. It will not recognize the keyboard in either of the wireless modes. It’s worth noting that most of the keyboards with better software are significantly more expensive, however.
Is the RK84 worth the money?
Royal Kluge has made their name as a budget brand, frequently offering premium features at much lower prices than many of their competitors. This has led many of their products to appear near the top of Amazon search lists.
The RK84 seems to be priced a bit higher than most of their products, but is likely a premium due to the unique form factor. The Cooler Master SK622 and the ASUS ROG Falchion are both more expensive 60% keyboards that have attempted to integrate arrow keys, but the RK84 is the only one to implement this unique 80% design.
It’s also a solidly built keyboard with three different connectivity modes, a good-sized battery, RGB, control software, and mechanical switches. Keeping that in mind, the RK64’s $80 price point seems more than fair.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The Royal Kludge RK84 has a unique 80% form factor that combines the functionality of TKL with the compactness of a 60% keyboard. There is a short range on the 2.4G and the software could be better, but it has a solid build and comes at a good price.
- Unique 80% form factor doesn’t require space for functionality
- Comes with three different connectivity options
- Double-shot ABS keycaps are comfortable to type on
- RK software looks old and is light on features
- 2.4G connection has an extremely short range
- Plastic housing and rubberized cable don’t feel premium