Author Topic: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples  (Read 1808 times)

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Offline Leslieann

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Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 08:01:39 »
GMMk TKL

244675-0
I ordered a bare model as a switch tester and honestly, it was surprising how nice it was.  The surface anodizing is pretty tough and well done, itís pretty stiff as well.

I'm not a fan of low profile cases but I do like how slim the body is, note that it has north facing switches which is good for your eyes as the LEDs won't blind you but bad if you like Cherry profile caps. I immediately tossed the stabs and got some Cherry/GMK stabs which I did a full workup on them lubing, clipping and taping/bandaging. Between that and the switches this thing is nice and quiet with a good but quiet thock. It may be inexpensive but seems to be pretty well designed (sort of).

I do have a few qualms.
The riser feet donít really give it much elevation, this may not be a big deal for some but I like a LOT of rise. Itís almost comical how low this is compared to the Almost-a-Filco with its custom feet. I measured the difference and these feet only give you a little over 1/4in (10mm or 5/16in) of rise and you can barely notice it visually, the only reason I can tell when using it is the board is that I can't really use it at all when flat. The lifts really should be at least double what they are, in fact the whole thing could stand to be up a bit more. Iíll be making a 3d printer extensions for the feet to give it at least another 1/4in.

With risers  compared to the Almost-a-Filco
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Laying flat it almost slides under it, it would if I removed the switches.
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Another thing, and this is a major issue, the cable connector.
No, not because itís Micro B, I would have the same problem with Type-C, my problem is that the cable hangs out there completely unsuported in any way just begging to be destroyed. On many boards there are channels to run the cable through, this destresses the connector, on this, not only is there nothing de-stressing the connector, GMMK includes a 90 degree adapter which is only going to make things worse by adding more leverage (donít use it!). This needs to be addressed, itís only a matter of time before you trash this port if you use this daily, be smart, get a magnetic USB connector, it will save you some headaches later.

Here's how the cable sticks out.
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Magnetic cable
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Lastly,
On a soldered board this isnít an issue but on a hot swap where alignment is critical and you plan to do switch swapping why in the heck did they not include holes for PCB mount switches? These would provide secondary alignment for the hot swaps and better still, prevent you from bending pins or even worse, pushing/breaking the hot swap socket off the back of the pcb. Iím sorry, but this is just plain f-ing stupid. I get it may not be something obvious but this is rev 3(?) of this board and they havenít considered it yet?

Not to mention, Iím sorry but I really dislike having to cut the pegs off my switches that cost twice what the keyboard itself does (Zilencios). If it was a soldered board I wouldnít care, the solder helps hold the switch in place and it tends to be permanent but here, here it matters, I want to be able to move my switches later. That was a stupid cost cutting decision that really should to be reconsidered. 

Again, I like it, especially for the money.
I really only plan on using it now and again for switch testing, but some of those flaws are pretty bad, some of them can be forgiven (the lifts), some can be mitigated (the cable) but you shouldn't have to. The switch pegs though, wow that was just a dumb decision on their part and I'm not sure really how to mitigate that issue. The one idea I keep coming back to is a drill press, but that would only work if there's no traces right there, not to mention the amount of work to actually do it.



Kailh Pro Purples
244685-5

Switches like these are why people like Chryros says tactile Cherry MX is pretty much all linear. While slightly more tactile than a Brown, Iíd be hard pressed to say they were more tactile than a Cherry Clear.

Of all the switches Iíve used, I have never seen a switch so absolutely DESPERATE for lube. Between this and the stiffer springs I caught myself thinking they were binding more than once. Iíve used rubber domes that were better. These were only meant to be a temporary switch until my Box Jades arrived (on a hand paddled raft from China, really slow) but there was almost no way I could use these as they came out of the box they were so bad.

I'm used to 40 gram switches, but I've used 60g Gateron Blues without issue, when I tried going back to a Model M my fingers would hurt by days end but those were 70 or 80g and it took hours to happen. These, I'm not kidding, my fingers hurt within minutes due to the binding. They didn't bind hard or completely just enough to feel like you had a very stiff spring in it (100g?) with lots of scratchy friction, and it happened very, very easily and often. Horrible, horrible switch.

With lube it became a Jekyl and Hyde situation with them becoming a pretty nice switch.
Tactility improved with the smoothness (a less jarring Cherry Clear), the stiffness also decreased and it eliminated the binding. If you like browns or Clears and you donít mind lubing the switches these are actually pretty darn nice, just keep in mind theyíre still a tad stiffer than browns. Novelkeys says these are 50g at activation but they feel like dead ringers to my 60g (at activation) Gaterons, maybe after lube they're 50, but not out of the box, no way.

So are they good? If you're on a budget and building a board and you have time and lube they aren't a bad deal. At the same time though if you're buying a board with these soldered in I'd avoid it like the plague.
« Last Edit: Tue, 09 June 2020, 08:30:10 by Leslieann »
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 10 June 2020, 14:37:39 »
Yeah, the GMMK doesn't have much of an elevation to it.

But it's fine for testing switches. I find BOX Browns and OEM profile to be surprisingly good for typing, even if those aren't on everyone's top 10 list.

Thing is, I actually found Kailh Pro Purples to feel noticeably better on a TeamWolf Zhuque than the GMMK. Maybe it had something to do with the Cherry-profile keycaps not doing well on the latter. The Pro Purples do really well on the Zhuque + Varmilo keycaps, for whatever reason.

The thing about the Pro Purples is that they are widely misunderstood. They seem to be a much lighter version of Halo Trues, which is a weird kind of tactility. It's very top-loaded, right at the top, and then it becomes linear. The heavy spring on the Trues was supposed to reduce bottom-out, but it isn't present here on the Purples.

People seem to use the Pro Purples as 'better Browns.' They are lubed more than MX Browns, and slightly smoother. They are a little more tactile as well, but I wouldn't compare them to Clears. Maybe BOX Browns.

Anyway, I agree that they are scratchy and really need lube. I'm sorry yours were binding and stuff. I've found that QC varies heavily between batches! I have ones that are decent and that I like, and others that I filed away somewhere because they felt weak and watery. The decent ones are pretty snappy, don't bind, and I achieved my personal typing record with them. So they have potential.

What kind of springs would you recommend for them? I have 55 gr Spirit on hand, and have some 65 gr TX on the way (maybe).

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 10 June 2020, 20:52:10 »
Anyway, I agree that they are scratchy and really need lube. I'm sorry yours were binding and stuff. I've found that QC varies heavily between batches! I have ones that are decent and that I like, and others that I filed away somewhere because they felt weak and watery. The decent ones are pretty snappy, don't bind, and I achieved my personal typing record with them. So they have potential.

What kind of springs would you recommend for them? I have 55 gr Spirit on hand, and have some 65 gr TX on the way (maybe).
They aren't bad, I'm probably going to go with Zilents V2 or Box Jades once I get my new board, but these are not bad, lots of potential, just shocked at how bad they were out of the box.

I tend to prefer an activation of 40-50 grams, though 60 is not bad, it can help with tactility. Just watch out as while most springs are bottom rated (Sprit and Zeal, etc), some are activation rated (Cherry).  A 62g Zeal tends to be similar to a Cherry light spring which is about 40-45g depending on the switch it's in.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 10 June 2020, 21:51:39 »
Yes, I've been testing Ergo Clears and have a board with ones that actuate at 60G. I think they're what used to be called "Panda Clears" on this board - Clears that use a spring similar to MX Black. Mine actuate at 60 and bottom-out around 65-70 gr.

They are really energetic springs and there is no sluggishness with these Clears. And they are really crunchy and tactile, the spring weight accentuates the tactility like you say. But 60 gr is a bit much, so I'm experimenting with 65 gr [bottom-out] springs that probably actuate around 50-55 like MX Blue.

If you go with Zilents V2, you'll probably want to lube them as the tactility is very sharp. Mine are unlubed and that was a mistake. The 62 gr weight is fine, close to MX Brown, but that makes for a steep drop. Problem is, there are issues taking apart Gateron silenced switches, something to do with the leaf IIRC.

I'm actually going to try Pro Purples with lube and aftermarket springs. There's nothing wrong with the concept of light tactiles, if implemented properly. But hardly any are.

Online jamster

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 11 June 2020, 01:31:18 »
Thanks for the writeup. I've been thinking of getting one of these as a mess-around board to try switches, but I've got too many TKLs already, and already have a hotswap board on the way. I'd totally managed to not notice that they are low profile until your review though.

Another thing, and this is a major issue, the cable connector.
No, not because itís Micro B, I would have the same problem with Type-C, my problem is that the cable hangs out there completely unsuported in any way just begging to be destroyed. On many boards there are channels to run the cable through, this destresses the connector, on this, not only is there nothing de-stressing the connector, GMMK includes a 90 degree adapter which is only going to make things worse by adding more leverage (donít use it!). This needs to be addressed, itís only a matter of time before you trash this port if you use this daily, be smart, get a magnetic USB connector, it will save you some headaches later.

Here's how the cable sticks out.
(Attachment Link)

Magnetic cable
(Attachment Link)

I know it's certainly not great, but isn't this how the majority of the small-run, boutique keyboards handle their USB connections? From what I've seen it's typically a USB connector coming right out the back of the case.

(All my regular boards route underneath and incorporate some kind of strain relief though.)

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 11 June 2020, 05:20:32 »
Thanks for the writeup. I've been thinking of getting one of these as a mess-around board to try switches, but I've got too many TKLs already, and already have a hotswap board on the way. I'd totally managed to not notice that they are low profile until your review though.

I know it's certainly not great, but isn't this how the majority of the small-run, boutique keyboards handle their USB connections? From what I've seen it's typically a USB connector coming right out the back of the case.

(All my regular boards route underneath and incorporate some kind of strain relief though.)
You're welcome.
Yes, many higher end boards use similar but they also tend to use a more durable Mini-B or Type-C cable, not a Micro-B.

It's a really good board for the money, it's disappointing in the fact that those few things would make it great.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | HMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Gmmk TKL & Kailh Pro Purples
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 22 June 2020, 07:19:55 »
Kailh Pro Purples
(Attachment Link)

Switches like these are why people like Chryros says tactile Cherry MX is pretty much all linear. While slightly more tactile than a Brown, Iíd be hard pressed to say they were more tactile than a Cherry Clear.

With lube it became a Jekyl and Hyde situation with them becoming a pretty nice switch.
Tactility improved with the smoothness (a less jarring Cherry Clear), the stiffness also decreased and it eliminated the binding.

You know what - you were right. I just did a lot of typing on stock Pro Purples.

The level of tactility is very similar to MX Clears. Not to say that the type of tactility is exactly the same, but I would say the tactile force is very comparable.

Pro Purples have been called 'scratchy Zealios (V1)' in the past, and seeing as Zealios were modeled after Ergo Clears, that again points to a Clear-level of tactility.

I am fine with the Pro Purples' level of tactility, but as you say they need a ton of lubing. I'm not sure about the spring swap. I might have some results in a few weeks to tell you.