Author Topic: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review  (Read 3579 times)

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Offline jasontsay

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  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« on: Mon, 28 December 2020, 15:13:04 »
Although there are plenty of great forum threads and YouTube videos about the NK65, I wanted to put together a comprehensive written review covering both the NK65 Entry Edition and the NK65 v2 Aluminum.

In drafting this, I set out not only to help those looking to pick up their first custom mechanical keyboard, but also to extrapolate some qualities sought after in higher-end keyboards from the NK65ís feature set as well.

My ruminations resulted in a 4,800 word piece with numerous original photos, so please feel free to take a look and to let me know if it is helpful at all!

Review Link - https://materialjournal.com/blog/nk65-review

Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.

Offline ThereminGoat

  • Posts: 101
  • Location: Ohio
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 29 December 2020, 16:39:31 »
It's fantastic to see another kindred spirit in the long-form blog style reviews of stuff. Absolutely keep it up  :thumb:

Offline jasontsay

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  • Posts: 9
  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 29 December 2020, 20:38:12 »
It's fantastic to see another kindred spirit in the long-form blog style reviews of stuff. Absolutely keep it up  :thumb:

Hey ThereminGoat! Thanks for the words of encouragement. I frequent your blog, and your notes have definitely helped me pull the trigger on a few sets of switches - great seeing you on here!
Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.

Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 3517
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 02 January 2021, 21:20:06 »
Couple things I found on mine:
Be sure to follow their switch assembly, it kind makes hot swap a hassle but will save the pcb, it's good advice on any hot swap.
You will need a small torq tip to do this, WHY? The PCB uses Phillips, why are these a torq? This is not a security thing, they tell you to open it. I get it, they strip less (more on that in a moment) but few people have the required tool.

If you run light springs I would also loosen the PCB from the plate while inserting switches for the first time so that the pcb centers itself (it's just 2 screws, easy enough). Because hotswap has tighter tolerances than solder if it's not perfect you can get a few switches that are a teeny bit stiffer than others however this is really only an issue when you run stupid light springs combined with super high tactility like I do (62g Zilent with 39g springs), on normal springs and less tactile switches it's probably so little you won't notice. On mine it allowed a few of the to be fickle. Doing this got the last few sticky keys I was fighting to straighten up and fly right.

Check the screws!
The plate screws (holding the plate to the top) on mine were super loose while the PCB screws were SUPER tight (one was almost 100% stripped as well). The good news is that these pretty can't really cause an issue though that stripped one was an issue when trying to get the pcb to perfectly center.
Novelkeys NK65 Aluminum w/62g Zilents/39g springs
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Offline jasontsay

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  • Posts: 9
  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 09 January 2021, 22:14:53 »
Couple things I found on mine:
Be sure to follow their switch assembly, it kind makes hot swap a hassle but will save the pcb, it's good advice on any hot swap.
You will need a small torq tip to do this, WHY? The PCB uses Phillips, why are these a torq? This is not a security thing, they tell you to open it. I get it, they strip less (more on that in a moment) but few people have the required tool.

If you run light springs I would also loosen the PCB from the plate while inserting switches for the first time so that the pcb centers itself (it's just 2 screws, easy enough). Because hotswap has tighter tolerances than solder if it's not perfect you can get a few switches that are a teeny bit stiffer than others however this is really only an issue when you run stupid light springs combined with super high tactility like I do (62g Zilent with 39g springs), on normal springs and less tactile switches it's probably so little you won't notice. On mine it allowed a few of the to be fickle. Doing this got the last few sticky keys I was fighting to straighten up and fly right.

Check the screws!
The plate screws (holding the plate to the top) on mine were super loose while the PCB screws were SUPER tight (one was almost 100% stripped as well). The good news is that these pretty can't really cause an issue though that stripped one was an issue when trying to get the pcb to perfectly center.


Great points! I'm also unsure as to why the Alu uses Torx rather than Phillips like on the Entry. I didn't have the T6 bit, so I bought a $10 kit on Amazon to open up the keyboard.

It is good advice to support the backs of the hotswap sockets so they don't pop out, but I wonder if there's generally enough tension and pressure applied to the face of the socket for this to happen (assuming no user error and that pins are straight in the first place)?

Off the top of my head, the advantage of having the plate screws slightly loose is to help the plate align once switches are in. My Alu had an ever so slightly misaligned plate, so the left column of mods would rub against the inner wall of the case with MT3 and DSA keycaps until I realigned it.

I actually would like to see someone grind down the center post to see if it helps reduce firmness a bit among the alphas (the other 4 posts and screws should be more than enough to hold the assembly together).
Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.

Offline clacklabs

  • Posts: 3
  • Location: London, UK.
    • clack labs
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 08 February 2021, 14:06:56 »
Great write up I enjoyed it a lot. I'm quite happy with my NK65, might look into some of that plate foam you linked in the future to see what it does to the sound as a test.

Also, your blog layout and imagery/photography is exceptionally good.

Offline jasontsay

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  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 08 February 2021, 19:06:45 »
Great write up I enjoyed it a lot. I'm quite happy with my NK65, might look into some of that plate foam you linked in the future to see what it does to the sound as a test.

Also, your blog layout and imagery/photography is exceptionally good.

Thank you so much for the kind words!

I think plate foam and dampening materials are an interesting discussion. When I first started experimenting, I was very interested in making my keyboard as silent as possible. In the process of trying more setups, I'm finding certain types of resonance to be pleasant as well (with various combinations of plate materials, mounting styles, and case designs).
Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.

Offline alertArchitect

  • Posts: 57
  • Location: The Void, KY, United States
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 09 February 2021, 16:54:53 »
Nice review! I think I'll look at the aluminum one for my first 65% board. :thumb:

Offline jasontsay

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  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 09 February 2021, 19:11:22 »
Nice review! I think I'll look at the aluminum one for my first 65% board. :thumb:

Thank you! It's a great place to start for the 65% form factor - what board/boards are you using currently?
Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.

Offline alertArchitect

  • Posts: 57
  • Location: The Void, KY, United States
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 10 February 2021, 09:43:41 »
Thank you! It's a great place to start for the 65% form factor - what board/boards are you using currently?

My current board is a Corsair K70 MK. 2 (it was all they had at my local Best Buy at the time and my old membrane keyboard had just kicked the bucket, so I needed a keyboard ASAP at the time so I could keep up my job hunting), but the last pieces I need for the Drop CTRL High Profile board I'm assembling come in today (switches and cable. I bought everything about the same time, but some things took longer to ship). It's a small move, currently, going from 100% to TKL and from premade to user-assembled, but with how nice the aluminum NK65 looked, especially with the keycaps you used, it looks like the perfect starting point.

Quick aside, and you may have mentioned it in your blog but I don't remember, which keycaps did you use in the NK65 v2 Aluminum? I loved how it looked with those caps installed.

Offline jasontsay

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  • Posts: 9
  • Location: Bay Area, California
    • Material Journal
Re: NovelKeys NK65 (Entry Edition and v2 Aluminum) review
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 10 February 2021, 18:27:08 »
Thank you! It's a great place to start for the 65% form factor - what board/boards are you using currently?

My current board is a Corsair K70 MK. 2 (it was all they had at my local Best Buy at the time and my old membrane keyboard had just kicked the bucket, so I needed a keyboard ASAP at the time so I could keep up my job hunting), but the last pieces I need for the Drop CTRL High Profile board I'm assembling come in today (switches and cable. I bought everything about the same time, but some things took longer to ship). It's a small move, currently, going from 100% to TKL and from premade to user-assembled, but with how nice the aluminum NK65 looked, especially with the keycaps you used, it looks like the perfect starting point.

Quick aside, and you may have mentioned it in your blog but I don't remember, which keycaps did you use in the NK65 v2 Aluminum? I loved how it looked with those caps installed.

Awesome! The journey is most of the fun really - noticing what you like and don't like helps you appreciate each upgrade that much more. 

The keycaps I used were the EnjoyPBT Olivetti doubleshot ABS keycaps (also listed as EnjoyPBT Teal on some stores) - the legend consistency is a little wonky, but they are a more affordable alternative to GMK's sets.
Publishing content on deliberate materialism at Material Journal. Can also be found on Instagram @jasontsay.