Mechanical Keyboard Final Thoughts
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Cherry Reds at first, but overall it’s certainly a better experience than using a membrane keyboard – even a good membrane keyboard (which I still prefer at times). I think my dream peripheral would be a Nostromo-styled keypad that uses Cherry MX Reds (Func, if you made one of these using the design principles of the KB-460 but made the keys soft-touch rubber too…I would buy one the moment they were available. Preorder. Or Both. Doesn’t matter. I cannot express how perfect of a device this would be!) – the Orbweaver I’ve been using just seems awkward with Blues, not to mention it isn’t very comfortable. I prefer using a keypad to a full keyboard for many games as I find them vastly more comfortable – however, I found myself preferring the KB-460 while testing it over the last few weeks to even the Orbweaver. The linear action of Cherry MX Red switches take a little getting used to and unlike the other switches they WON’T make you a better typer – they’ll just magnify the mistakes you are already making (which helps identify where you need work I guess…). Still, in using the KB-460 for fast-paced shooters like Battlefield 4 I found myself being surprised my on-screen character was moving after just thinking about it – then realizing I was pressing keys without being conscious of the action, creating an almost telepathic link to what was happening on the display. That, to me, is the real benefit of Cherry MX Red switches, and they are packaged beautifully in the KB-460. Even more importantly, the ability for Func to be content to stay in the background (driver install is optional, on-board memory, no cloud service…) and allow this experience without getting in the way should be commended. The best peripherals are those that disappear beneath your fingertips and enable that direct link to the action happening on screen.
While at first glance it doesn’t seem to do much to set itself apart from other backlit mechanical keyboards, I wouldn’t dismiss the Func KB-460 too easily. The surface coating alone makes it worth a look in my opinion – I absolutely love the way this finish feels. Yeah, maybe you’ll get some palm imprints on the palm rest (although much less than any other surface I’ve tested – in most light you can’t even see them), but WHO CARES when it’s this comfortable to the touch. The KB-460 is a stylish gaming keyboard that just works, and it does so with a subtle style that is really appealing. Func is one of those few manufacturers of gaming devices that really nails the “less is more” design approach, and it’s reflected beautifully in their packaging, manuals and software (not to mention the products themselves). I absolutely love their focus on providing a simple and elegant experience throughout, and I love that they don’t try to overwhelm you with gimmicky bells and whistles just to capture your attention. The best part is, their new products aren’t exactly lacking either – Func provides a smart feature-set that you can actually take advantage of.
Func KB-460 Conclusion
I can’t say anything detrimental about the performance of the KB-460. With those Cherry MX Red switches under the keycaps, you’ll get an almost telepathic response after 2mm of movement. Even mashing the keyboard with both hands won’t drop any signals, and the KB-460 responds better than any keyboard I’ve tested so far – and it wasn’t even in the gaming-oriented “Func mode.” Really, it’s a top performer in its category, and an impressive first effort by Func.
As for the KB-460’s appearance, Func knocks it out of the park. Yep – home run. Of course, opinions vary on the topic of aesthetics, but if you’ve read any of my other reviews you know that I’m very fond of that soft-touch rubber finish (and matte finishes in general). Coating the entire top of the keyboard entirely in that exquisite finish was a great move, and in my opinion enhances the perception of the keyboard overall (it doesn’t hurt that it feels great on your palms and fingers). The subtle glimpse of red from the back plate underneath the keys is a beautiful touch and keeps the overall design subdued and attractive, merely hinting at the gaming DNA that runs throughout this keyboard instead of shouting it in your face.
I’m not a fan of the plastic brackets that attach the palm rest, but they’ve held up so far and seem to be adequate. This is the only aspect of the KB-460 that could use some more attention, but it does allow for an optimum wrist angle when typing in both the raised and lowered positions so perhaps it’s a necessary evil for now. The rest of the construction is solid, with no distracting flex or creaking seams. The palm rest seems a little…hollow…(which it is…), but it doesn’t feel like it in use, it’s actually really comfortable and I’m sure helps keep the overall cost down. It couldn’t have been cheap to use such a wonderful soft touch finish. It’s too bad Func didn’t coat the keys themselves in this stuff, but I can understand why they didn’t – can you imagine trying to clean the oils from your fingers off the keys if they too were rubber? (I’d still like the option though…maybe…an optional set of keys as an aftermarket accessory for those crazy about matte finishes and willing to deal with the consequences?)
With a tagline of “Functionality. Perfected.”, Func better not mess around when it comes to the functionality of their products. The MS-3 proved to be a very capable and feature-rich gaming mouse, and the KB-460 follows suit in keyboard form. Storing profiles on the keyboard itself is how it should be done – no cloud-based solutions here. All functions (media keys, Func mode, LED brightness) with the exception of remapping keys work perfectly without installing the driver (unless of course your custom keys are saved to the keyboard’s memory already), but even the settings software is powerfully efficient. Yes, there are keyboards with rows of extra macro keys and removable thingys and LCD screens and wheels, but the KB-460 is functional. Don’t get me wrong, those other features have a place (and price…) and can have their benefits too, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re missing out on something with a keyboard like the KB-460. The integrated USB 2.0 ports are a nice addition (only one USB cable to route behind your desk!) and the removable palm rest is comfortable. Overall, there’s more than enough functionality here to justify the price, and Func’s approach of enhancing your experience without getting in the way is absolutely appreciated.
While they’re still difficult to find in retail outlets almost a month (January 2014) after their release, the Func KB-460 is selling for a promotional price of $99.99 for an unspecified amount of time. At that price, it’s an incredible bargain – you just won’t get access to backlit Cherry MX Reds in such a refined package for anything close to that. The regular retail price will be $119.99 (one just popped up at NCIX), and that places it right in the usual range for backlit mechanical keyboards – and although most of the competition may offer similar features like the USB hub and backlit keys they rarely do it in such a composed and refined manner. In my opinion, the Func KB-460 is an outstanding value even after the promotional pricing period.
Mechanical keyboards have become pretty popular – almost every major manufacturer has or will be releasing a model, with most offering a “higher-end” backlit version as well. Since the major cost of these keyboards are the switches themselves, it isn’t surprising that most of them look similar and offer the same features. The KB-460 manages to take this formula and offer a product that seems really mature compared to the others, with common-sense features that just work without having to jump through hoops or bother with overly-complicated configurations.
Every so often a product comes along that shifts your perception of the category it’s in; the KB-460 has become my “baseline,” the benchmark to which I’ll find myself comparing everything else to. The KB-460 offers everything you could expect in an elegantly powerful gaming keyboard, and better yet it’s backed by a company that seems intent on meeting the needs of an enthusiast and actually enhancing your experience. There’s a purity and clarity of purpose here that you just don’t find in many products. No gimmicks, no tricks, just pure, perfected function. For such a refined offering I feel Func deserves a Golden Tachometer award for their first mechanical keyboard. There’s always room for this type of quality and finesse – well done, Func.
+ On-board memory
+ Appearance = top of class
+ Soft touch finish is amazing
+ Fully functional without driver
+ Additional USB ports
+ No-nonsense features that add to your experience without getting in the way
+ Back-lit Cherry MX Reds
– No dedicated macro keys
– Palm rest detaches easily if moved around
– Typing purists might prefer Cherry Blues/Browns
Final Score: 9.35 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Which style of mechanical keyboard do you prefer?