Royal Kludge RK84 Review Hot Swappable Keyboard With Dual USB Passthrough Ports

Monday, August 09, 2021

There is always a first time for everything and that includes keyboards. If you or someone you know is contemplating making the switch from a membrane or chiclet keyboards to a mechanical one, the Royal Kludge RK84 is one of the best first time mechanical keyboards you can get for a regret-free transition.

The RK84 is super versatile. You can use for gaming, programming or as a general daily driver, thanks to its 75% tenkeyless form factor and useful features like the detachable square frame, which can be easily unclipped, letting you change the look of the keyboard. Removing the square piece also makes the RK84 keyboard 50 grams lighter.

The Royal Kludge RK84 uses TTC-K switches, which sound similar to red switches and are quieter than blue switches as they make no clicky noise. These brown switches also have the classic bump, which provides a nice tactile feedback when typing. The TTC-K brown switches are also hot swappable with a other switch brands, including Gateron and Cherry MX, which is a huge plus because some hot swappable keyboards (e.g. Outemu) are only compatible with the same brand switch.

The connectivity modes is another reason why the RK84 is a perfect first time mechanical keyboard. It has three connection modes, including two wireless modes (2.4Ghz dongle and bluetooth) and a wired mode via USB-C cable. When connecting via bluetooth, you have two options: bluetooth 3.0 or bluetooth 5.0. The RK84 keyboard supports multipoint pairing too, which lets you connect up to three different bluetooth devices and toggle between them by using the Fn + Q/W/E key command.

The RK84 keyboard features two USB passthrough ports, which is rather unique because a lot of keyboards don't even have a USB pass-through, which is super convenient to have on a keyboard. It saves you having to run another peripheral into the computer, which in turn frees up an extra USB port. Because you get two USB passthrough ports with the RK84, you can charge a phone and connect a peripheral (e.g. computer.mouse, gaming headset or flash drive) at the same time. You can only do this though, in wired mode because like all USB passthrough ports they require power.

Royal Kludge RK84 uses 3 pin switches, as opposed to 5 pin switches which have generally better stability. Being 3 pin, each switch has two metal pins and a centre stem that lets you easily mount the switch onto the RK84 keyboard's plate. While 3 pin and 5 pin switches have the same pin configuration, you can only use 3 pin on keyboards with 5 pin sockets but not the other way around. Five pin switches aren't compatible with keyboards with 3 pin sockets because of the two extra stems. Fortunately, you can easily cut off the extra stems of 5 pin switches and convert to 3 pin.

On the bottom of the Royal Kludge RK84, there are small two switches tucked inside a recessed cutout that makes the base of the keyboard completely level. One switch is for switching between bluetooth mode and 2.4Ghz dongle mode. The on/off switch lets you power off the wireless modes, which is handy to prevent draining the battery accidentally. That said, the RK84 keyboard is equipped with a sleep mode for both wireless and wired modes that automatically hibernates the keyboard after a couple of minutes of inactivity. To wake, simply press any key and the keyboard instantly works.

The base of the RK84 keyboard integrates rubber pads and a magnetic cutout for storing the 2.4Ghz dongle, which has a short range. The lighting effects, light speed and brightness of the RK84 RGB leds are controlled directly from the keyboard without the need of software. There are a multitude of color changing effects to choose from, as well as seven solid colors options (red, yellow, green, blue, cyan, purple, white). The backlighting effects are similar to the Anivia K614 low profile keyboard.

There is no RGB custom mode though; hence the RGB lighting cannot be customized like on some keyboards such as the Kumara K552 and Valheim K608. These two keyboards feature dedicated lighting zones for certain games like Call of Duty. The Valheim K608 keyboard also has a custom mode for customizing the lighting anywhere you like. You cannot do this with the RK84.

Speaking of lighting, each key switch on the RK84 has individually addressable RGB leds, which shine brightly through the keycap legends, while creating a soft an glowy illumination across the solid top plate, which does not flex.

The RK84 keycaps are made of double shot ABS plastic so, the keycap legends are as long lasting as front-printed keycaps. They won't wear off like pad-printed or laser etched keycap legends. The only downside to being ABS plastic, it's that the keycaps develop a shine to them quicker than with PBT plastic keycaps.

Being a tenkeyless 75 per cent keyboard (84 keys), the RK84 keyboard has an F key (F1-F12) row at the top but no numpad or media keys on the keyboard. While there aren't any physical media keys, the RK84 keyboard does has 12 virtual media keys, which you access by using the Fn + F key command. Media keys include volume, track skipping, calculator and mute. The Royal Kludge RK84 is compatible with both MacOS (X Snow Leopard 10.6 and later), Android (5.0 and later) and Windows (7 and later) operating systems

The base of the RK84 keyboard has a natural incline (4cm high) but, you can raise it further by using the included magnetically detachable legs. Detachable legs work well, although the only downside is that you can easily misplace them. With built-in keyboard legs, you simply retract them back into the keyboard, making them much more convenient to store and use.

The RK84 keyboard weighs 800 grams and 758 grams when removing the square piece. the RK84 is heavy for a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard, although the extra weight is warranted. The RK84 plastic construction has a solid feel to it. The keyboard also integrates a few extra components like a rechargeable 3750mAh battery, which does take a long time to fully recharge (7 hours via maximum 5V/200mA input) but, it provides a battery life of about 8 days in 2.4Ghz wireless mode, no backlighting and with moderate use. When using bluetooth mode, the keyboard consumes a lot more power so, you can expect a runtime of 3 days without backlighting.

Accessories are also included. A metal keycap puller, a metal switch puller with Royal Kludge branding, four spare brown switches and a USB-A to USB-C cable, which weighs 30 grams and measures 1.7 meters long. A velcro strap is also included, which you can use to neatly tie up the cable.

You can buy the RK84 keyboard from Royal Kludge with brown, red and blue switches. If you need an smaller keyboard, there is the Royal Kludge RK61 and the Redragon K630W keyboards, which are both 60% keyboards. The K630W is hot swappable too and with a similar design to the RK84, although it doesn't have wireless mode. Check out the review of the RK G68 hot swappable keyboard , the Royal Kludge RK89 and Royal Kludge RK920 Rainbow keyboard.

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