Author Topic: PLUM NIZ Keyboard Micro84 Review: EC on the Cheap  (Read 3629 times)

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Offline gamebynight

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PLUM NIZ Keyboard Micro84 Review: EC on the Cheap
« on: Wed, 05 September 2018, 08:55:09 »
Okay, at $179 for the RGB version and $129 for the non-backlit version, maybe itís not exactly cheap but it is way cheaper than a Topre EC keyboard. Having used the Topre RealForce RGB last year for some time, I was curious what NIZís options might feel like and with the layout of the Micro84, I knew I had try it for myself.

Other key features: Bluetooth, full programmability (with software), RGB backlight, mouse control, actuation point control.

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The Micro84 uses an 84 key layout Ė I know, youíre shocked Ė that I just adore. Iíve mentioned it in other reviews, but I write for a website whose audience is composed mostly of gamers. The layout here is just perfect for gaming. Youíre all probably familiar with the 65-percents keyboard out there. The Micro84 changes things up by including a full function row up top, as well as your navigation keys along the right side.

While I prefer a 65% for writing, having the function row in games is a big boon. Sometimes abilities are mapped up there that need near-instant access. Having to use a key combination to access a second layer works but often just isnít fast enough. Iím also a big fan of the right-side keyset and that NIZ opted for navigation keys only. Iíll often swap between games and the web, or maybe a Word doc, and I find the nav cluster far more useful than the editing set, which is still available, as well as every function you would find on a full-size keyboard, on the secondary layer.

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The other nice thing about this board is that it has dual Fn keys. These can be used interchangeably unless you have something bound specifically to left- or right-Fn. This might seem small but I actually found it to make the keyboard way more comfortable to use. Gone are the days of contorting your hand to access certain Fn combinations.
 
This also has the effect of allowing you to double-up on your keybinds. Inside the software, everything can be remapped and full chain-macros can be recorded and applied to individual keys. Though the Micro84 does allow for a couple of additional layers/modes, I didnít find these to be necessary because of the additional binding possibilities with paired Fn keys.

Other additional functions include mouse control, repeat rate, character delay, three separate bluetooth profiles, media controls, and, lighting control. We also canít forget about the ability to swap your control and caps lock keys and switch into Mac mode with the push of a button (there are extra keycaps in the box for this). Then thereís the windows lock/game mode and the ability to disable buttons entirely, which is amazing for parents of little kids amazed by the rainbow lights. Or the dual power modes or profile swapping.

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So, as I mentioned in the beginning of this review, this is an electro-capacitive keyboard in the same vein as Topre. At the moment, only 35g dome weights are available. I was worried this would be too light (and it is very light) but coming from Cherry MX Silvers, I was actually surprised that they are less prone to typos and misclicks Ė at least with my fingers. On my Silvers, I would often find myself making mistakes simply be resting my fingers a little too heavily (honestly, just resting them naturally was too heavy). Here, youíll make a typo if youíre dragging your fingers as you type or are off the mark on your landing but I consider this a far cry from the hyper-sensitivity of MX Silver switches.
 
NIZ also ships these boards with a set of 10g or 20g springs to make them a little heavier. Oddly, they only send 40-50 of them instead of a full 84, but itís enough to cover your letters, numbers, enter, and space keys, with a few extra to spare.

You can also customize the actuation point to 1, 2, or 3mm. For gaming, 1mm is perfect and makes the Micro84 the fastest keyboard Iíve ever used (35g and 1mm?!) while still feeling more accurate than the heavier silvers.

They feel great. Very soft, very quiet. Compared to my Topre RealForce, I canít feel any difference outside of their lightness, so youíre getting the same experience without the added cost.

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The one thing I donít really care for are these little stabilizer nibs. Functionally, theyíre perfectly fine. The problem is that theyíre not fixed and move when you take off a keycap. When you go to replace it, they have to be perfectly positioned otherwise the cap wonít go back on right. NIZ nicely lubed them, however, so thereís no rattle that I can hear.

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The keycaps are thick-walled PBT of about 1.4mm. Theyíre not shine-through and thick enough to avoid hotspotting despite the picture above (Iím actually not sure why it looks that way. In person, you really donít see hotspotting at all with the backlight). The Micro84 is also Mac compatible and ships with a set of alternate keycaps for Mac specific functions.

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Flipping it over, we can see the left, right, and center cable routing channels. The cable itself is a detachable USB-C to USB-A and nicely braided in white. It has a bit of memory out of the box but not bad. We can also see that it features rubber padded two-stage tilt feet, though the natural angle is actually very nice, so I didnít find them necessary.

Pulling back a bit further, Iím very pleased with the build quality of this keyboard. It uses a plastic case, which is understandable given its Bluetooth functionality, but has a nice weight to it.

The battery is also decent, though light makes a tremendous difference. With it turned on at full brightness, you can expect about 6 hours of battery life before needing a charge. With lighting completely off, you can pull upwards of five days. To extend backlit battery life further, the keyboard automatically turns off lighting after a few seconds of inactivity and goes completely to sleep after an hour.

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The lighting on the keyboard is very good. It comes with a handful of presets, including a couple of different rainbow waves and pinwheel spins, but also a couple forms of reactive typing and animations. RGB is always enhanced by whites and light colors on the keyboard and this is no exception. I do wish it was more customizable without using the software, but thatís quick and easy to do so really isnít a big deal.

Conclusion

Overall, I was very impressed with the Micro84. It simply has a ton going for it. For gaming, itís just fantastic and for normal use, it gets the job done with far more capability than my RealForce RGB at far less of a price. If youíre looking for an EC keyboard, this is definitely one worth looking at.



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Offline Zuology

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Re: PLUM NIZ Keyboard Micro84 Review: EC on the Cheap
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 05 September 2018, 10:47:37 »
I've long been a proponent of Nopre (Niz/Plum EC) boards for their features and value as better bang for the buck than any Topre board could be. I prefer heavier tactile switches, and a 75% fan, so I built up this RGB Plum84 with BKE Redux Heavy domes and lubed the sliders. Tai Hao Cubic profile keycaps, soon to be swapped for JTK Aqua.


On the topic of swapping caps, both the Micro84 and my Plum84 all suffer the same base issue with 90% of the Plum/Niz boards, where they use non-standard sized spacebars making swapping keysets a pain, even though the sliders/stabs are nicely MX compatible! It looks like your Micro84 is rocking a 4.5u spacebar? The only layout that has no issue is the TKL, which I also have one of, and have since swapped with Hansung OEM 65g domes, lubed sliders also.

Love seeing these Nopre boards get attention.
More
75%: Scarlet Bandana (TBD) | Singa75 Polycarb (TBD) | SKB75 (TBD) | YMD75 (Box Navy) | XD84 (Outemu Ice) | Plum84 (BKE Redux Heavy)
TKL: ALF X1.1 SE (TBD) | LZ Iron White (TBD) | Fox Labs Orange (TBD) | Alu WASDv2 (Cherry Green) | MechkeyAlpha MA87 (Kailh Box Burnt Orange) | Archon RE:AL Superior EX (Nopre 65g)
Full+: Clueboard Double 1800 (Vint Clears) | IBM Model M | IBM Model F XT

Offline odd

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Re: PLUM NIZ Keyboard Micro84 Review: EC on the Cheap
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 05 October 2018, 13:40:33 »
Great review, that's a lot of keyboard for $125.