Author Topic: Ducky One TKL review  (Read 17903 times)

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Offline ikonomov

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Ducky One TKL review
« on: Fri, 18 August 2017, 20:00:48 »
It has been six months since I bought two Ducky One TKL keyboards (non-backlit) with Cherry MX Blue switches and the urge to brag has become irresistible.  I was very impressed from the first day I received them, but because of the quality issues I have had with my previous iKBC keyboards I decided to restrain myself for couple of months.  The discussion below will inevitably be a boring one as there are no flaws to talk about.  To save time for those trying to decide which Cherry MX keyboard to buy, I would say that this one is a safe choice for its top quality and good value.


Prior to buying this keyboard I have owned Filco Majestouch, Ducky Zero and iKBC G87 all in TKL form factor with Cherry MX Blue switches.  It seems madness to have changed so many keyboards in the past few years that seem virtually the same.  Yet same they are not, and for those of us caring or being unable to ignore certain things sometimes a manufacturer can design some small little detail so totally wrong that scribble here we must in hopes that somebody out there is listening.

- Both keyboards I bought have Blue switches, but it is also available with Black, Brown, Red, Green, White and Silver Cherry MX switches.


The previous two keyboards that I owned were iKBC G87, also with Cherry MX Blue switches, and after about one year of use many (about 20 on the more used keyboard, and about 10 on the other) of the switches on both keyboards started to click and depress with some inconsistency.  To be more specific certain keys would not click and feel slightly mushy when pressed on certain areas of the keycap surface, but might feel otherwise normal when pressed deliberately with the index finger perfectly centered and vertically.  The previous two keyboards I had used for couple of years before I bought the iKBC were a Filco Majestouch and a Ducky Zero also with Cherry MX Blue switches, and I had never noticed such behavior.  I’m happy to report that for the last six months that I have been using the Ducky One I haven't noticed a problem with a single key on either keyboard.  There is a perfect consistency between the keys in click and tactile bump.  Initially when I bought the iKBC keyboards I did change some of the switches that seemed to have some damage that I attributed to the impossibly hard to install Vortex PBT keycaps that it came with, but it is unclear whether the installation of the keycaps alone could have been the culprit of the problem.  There are reports of others noticing similar behavior of Cherry MX Blue switches on different somewhat recent keyboards.

Whatever the cause, if it was indeed in the switches themselves, the problem seems to have been fixed in the newest batches of the Cherry MX Blue switches that have come out of the Cherry factory used in the Ducky One.  It is also interesting to note that the Cherry MX Blue switches used in both Ducky One keyboards have been created by two distinctly different moldings of the plastic.  Between the two there are clear differences in the fonts of the logo and minor but noticeable differences in the texture and shape of the plastic.  We can only speculate, but maybe at one point for a short time Cherry’s tight tolerances were compromised and have gone undetected.  It is also possible that while designing their newest key switches Cherry has invested in better production methods and testing equipment.  Regardless of the reasons, I’m happy that my confidence in Cherry MX has been restored with my newest Ducky One keyboards.


- Ducky One is available in TKL 87 key and full size 104 key form factors with standard ANSI layout.

- Backlit and non-backlit versions are available.  Mine is non-backlit and I’m happy to report that there are no LEDs on any of the keys for functions that nobody needs, unlike my previous Ducky Zero and iKBC G87 keyboards.

- Compact case design.  While the particular TKL keyboards I had used all had very well constructed cases, Ducky One deserves some extra attention.  The case’s top and bottom plastic are held together with screws in addition to tabs.  The metal plate is also attached to the bottom of the case with screws, which is also shallower creating a very tight space inside the case.  All these little details create a very sturdy construction, forcing all the vibrations caused by typing to be directed to and absorbed by the rubber feet of the keyboard, allowing very little acoustic resonance within the small volume of the case.  I love the feel of Cherry MX Blue switches with thin rubber o-rings, and when used together with this keyboard and a thick and soft wrist pad (Glorious) on top of an extra large thick and soft mouse pad (Cougar Arena) something magical happens.  The feel and very distinct click of the blue switches separated from most of the other noise associated with a keyboard is an exquisite affair.


- Two-layer PCB.

- Full speed USB NKRO controller with a dip switch on the back for 6KRO compatibility mode.

- The keyboard comes with some programming functions, but most importantly there is a dip switch on the back that allows to completely disable the Fn button and all its functions and use it as a standard menu key.  YES!  I remember reading somewhere on some forum one guy mentioning that his keyboard nowadays has a better processor than his computer from couple of years ago.  This is of course true, but one has to ask whether a keyboard needs to be anything other than a keyboard.  If I wished to have some extra programming functions, I would rather be able to configure it with a well developed software and have it available on the fly.  If there is no software, as it is the case with Ducky it is absolutely essential to be able to completely turn off any extra button functions of the keyboard so it can be used in its most basic and simple form.  Thank you Ducky!  When buying the Ducky One I was debating whether to get a Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition which is also available with Cherry MX Blue switches and comes with a software, but it was not enough to make me decide. The extra functionality, even when provided conveniently with a software is at the bottom of the list of things that I care about inside a keyboard.

- Caps Lock and Scroll Lock have separate LED indicators on the case itself.  It is a pleasant surprise to see many new keyboards that have moved back the LED indicators to the place where they belong.  I am still unsure how so many manufacturers messed that one up.

- The USB cable seems thick and durable and is detachable with a safe connection port underside the case with channels to be routed straight, left or right.

- The keyboard has double tilt legs allowing three levels of high adjustment with rubber pads glued on each leg.

- The keyboard is available with thick doubleshot ABS or thick dyesub PBT both with OEM profile.  Mine came with doubleshot ABS, but I have replaced them with Ducky dyesub PBT that I purchased separately.  I’m happy to report that both the ABS and PBT keycaps are of very high quality.  Unfortunately the ABS keycaps have one of the struts that support the stem removed, and as a result if using them with rubber o-rings it causes the keycap to slightly tilt and wobble when bottoming.  Luckily the Ducky PBT keycaps have OEM profile and are some of the few that work perfectly with rubber o-rings.  I really appreciate the different color varieties of PBT keycaps that Ducky makes, and I only wish that the white in their white/gray PBT keycaps was instead a very light shade of gray, similar to the color of IBM Model M.


- Cherry stabilizers.  Ducky is using their own modified Cherry stabilizers that allow full range of motion without any contact with the PCB.  The movement is smooth with no perceivable resistance.  Costar stabilizers don’t work well with thick keycaps and also make an annoying high pitched rattling nose.  They were praised before somebody figured how to modify Cherry.

It is difficult to find enthusiasm to write about something that is nearly perfect.  I still wish that I could own a TKL in ANSI layout with Model F Capacitive Buckling Spring even if I end up not using it.  In fact I’m fairly certain that I will not.  But coming back from dreaming of something that is never meant to be, my gaze falls back happily upon my Ducky One that is quite real, available for purchase to anybody for a very fair price and if I have some feedback to pass on to Ducky, it will be to urge them to keep manufacturing their One keyboard exactly the way it is, as it is already a classic.

Edit (7 January 2018): I recently received a message of somebody asking me if the keyboard creaks when pressed on the frame.  Originally when I bought it I don't remember it making any sound even when I tried to slightly bend and twist it, but now I can definitely hear some creaking.  More specifically when I push around the bottom left corner.  My guess is that with time the plastic top cover has deformed slightly just by sitting for a year on my desk.  Until I was asked and I checked I never noticed it.  I don't think this is a problem during normal use, as it only happens when I press on the top frame at the bottom left corner, not while typing and pressing on the keys.  My guess is that with time most plastic things are prone to creaking and squeaking regardless of design or how tight the manufacturing tolerances might be.  However, Ducky have recently introduced One 2 which has different frame design with a seemingly stronger support along the left and right edges of the frame.

Edit (12 Feb 2018): In my review I praised the Ducky Dyesub PBT keycaps, but in a heart-wrenching disbelief I recently noticed some wear on the lettering  The keyboard did not come with them, but there was a PBT version of the Ducky One that did come with these exact keycaps.  I was happy to find out that Ducky have recently changed their supplier of keycaps, so hopefully their newest dyesub keycaps have been dyed properly.  It is also worth mentioning that their newest keyboards that come stock with PBT keycaps are double-shot, not dye sublimated.
« Last Edit: Mon, 12 February 2018, 19:13:02 by ikonomov »

Offline StickyBlueJuice

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  • Location: Denmark / Deliverance
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Re: Ducky One TKL review
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 19 August 2017, 23:02:57 »
Very nice review!
Thank you for posting this.

Offline mudcakehoney

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Re: Ducky One TKL review
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 10 October 2017, 20:31:06 »
Great review, thanks

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Offline Prothrin

  • Posts: 26
Re: Ducky One TKL review
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 12 October 2017, 04:14:38 »
Nice review. Thanks for the info.

Offline Sakigjiwa

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Re: Ducky One TKL review
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 14 December 2017, 03:16:01 »
It is a good thing and must be told.

Offline KeycapKid

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  • Location: Kentucky
Re: Ducky One TKL review
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 17 December 2017, 02:20:18 »
Great review! A Ducky was my first mech. Still have it, and still love it.