Epomaker RT100 Review 95% Retro Mechanical Keyboard with Knob and Mini Display

Friday, August 18, 2023

In an era where keyboards exceed mere functionality, the Epomaker RT100 keyboard rises above the ordinary. With its captivating retro-centric design, complete with a control knob and mini display, it sets a new standard for keyboard innovation.

The Epomaker RT100 features 97 keys, which include a numpad and special arrow keys. This design makes it a 95% layout keyboard, smaller than the standard full-size keyboard with 104 keys. Both the mini display and the knob are constructed from plastic. The knob has a clickable center button and produces a distinct clicking sound when rotated due to its notched actuation. Unlike traditional knobs, this one has no stops, allowing for continuous rotation in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions. By default, the knob handles media control functions, such as volume adjustments and music or video playback
The RT100 comes with sturdy dye sub PBT keycaps that sport an MDA keycap profile, making them easily recognizable and helping to avoid unintended touches. Additionally, the keyboard boasts hot-swappable Kailh switch sockets, accommodating both 3-pin and 5-pin switches. 

Underneath the RT100 keyboard, you'll discover robust rubber pads and dual-height adjusting feet risers that are rubberized and feature sturdy hinges (no wobbling). These elements contribute to a comfortable typing experience, further enhanced by the sound dampening via the gasket-mounts (same as TH80-X keyboard) and poron foam lining the bottom of the case and in between the plastic top plate and PCB. The adjustable two-stage feet are incredibly useful for accommodating various typing angles and ensuring optimal comfort and support for wrists, shoulders, and neck.

One standout and highly practical feature of the RT100 is its compatibility with Windows, MacOS, iOS, allowing you to use the RT100 keyboard across a range of devices and operating systems. The triple connection options, include Bluetooth 5.0, 2.4Ghz wireless, and Type-C wired. In Bluetooth, you have the ability to link up to three devices simultaneously, which is great for multitasking purposes. Additionally, there is hidden storage compartment for the 2.4Ghz receiver effectively prevents potentially losing or misplacing the dongle.

The detachable mini LCD display of the Epomaker RT100 brings both a visually appealing retro TV monitor design and functional benefits. This display not only looks cool with its retro charm but also serves a practical purpose by showing essential information like the date/ time, temperature, battery life, CPU, animated gif, weather forecasts, and keyboard battery levels. These display features are customizable to suit your preferences. As far as accuracy, the battery indicator is accurate. However, the time reading becomes inaccurate when the keyboard goes to sleep after a while. The CPU and temperature don't seem to work.
Plugging the mini display involves connecting it to a concealed USB-C port, which is situated within the 2.4GHz dongle compartment (non-magnetized). This is an issue because when the 2.4GHz dongle is inside the compartment, it blocks the USB-C port, preventing you from attaching the mini display. The mini display USB-C port serves exclusively for the mini display's functionality, it cannot be used for anything else. It would have been great if the mini display USB-C port could be used for charging external devices. There is a second USB-C port for powering the keyboard offset to the front right side.

Another drawback pertains to the design of the mini display, which protrudes from the keyboard, making it vulnerable to accidental damage. Once the mini display is connected, it increases the RT100 keyboard's depth and height to 16cm and 6.5cm, respectively. Without the mini display, the RT100 keyboard measures 38.5cm in length and 14cm in depth. The height of the top row of keys is 5cm (with short feet) and 5.5cm (with tall feet). The height of the bottom row of keys is 3.5cm, The weight if the RT100 is 990 grams.

Regarding RGB lighting, the Epomaker RT100 employs south-facing LEDs that offer complete customization options, casting a vivid illumination beneath the keycaps. Notably, the stock keycap fonts are not transparent, which means that the lighting does not shine through the keycaps.
The RT100's wired connectivity options ensure uninterrupted usage even when the battery is depleted, which occurs approximately after 20 hours when employing Bluetooth with maximum brightness. To conserve battery life, the keyboard enters sleep mode and automatically turns off RGB lighting after 30 seconds of inactivity. While this is beneficial for prolonging battery usage, it would have been even better if the auto sleep duration were adjustable through the Epomaker Driver software. 

 Regrettably, the Epomaker software lacks an auto sleep setting, unless VIA software is used, which, unfortunately, is not compatible with the RT100 keyboard. For those who prefer VIA, the CIDOO V65 serves as a compatible alternative. Within the Epomaker Driver software, you can remap keys, personalize four sets of shortcuts, engage in macro programming, customize RGB lighting, and tailor the mini display to your preferences.

Selling points
  • 5-pin hot-swappable Kailh socket
  • Compatible with various switches
  • Desktop software for remapping keys, creating macros, and adjusting RGB effects
  • Available in 5 different colors
  • Standard bottom row
  • NKRO and N-key Rollover for simultaneous key presses
  • Gasket-mounted design
  • Retro TV style smart screen
  • Supports Android keyboard shortcuts
  • Bluetooth multipoint
  • Premium look and feel
  • Poron foam sound dampening
  • Vibrant RGBs
  • Large font keycaps
  • Onboard controls for brightness s and RGB effects
  • Compatible with Windows & Mac
  • Versatile connectivity (BT/2.4Ghz/Wired)
  • Factory lubing
  • Knob's limitless customization options
  • Available with linear switches or tactile switches
Potential deal breakers
  • No spare switches included
  • Protruding mini display
  • Non-adjustable auto sleep
  • Right CTRL key doesn't work with MacOS
  • CPU data doesn't update in real time
  • Mini display USB-C port doesn't support passthrough charging

Accessories included are metal keycap/switch puller, USB A to USB C Cable (1.8 meters), USB-A 2.4Ghz Dongle (unbranded) and the Mini TV. The included USB cable sets itself apart from the standard fare with its premium appearance and tactile experience, featuring a robust build with thick rubber and metal plugs.

You can buy the Epomaker RT100 from amazon. When buying the Epomaker RT100 keyboard, it is available in 5 different color schemes and you can choose 5 different switch types, namely Epomaker Budgerigar Switch (tactile), Epomaker Flamingo Switch (linear), Gateron Pro Yellow (linear), Epomaker Wisteria Switch (linear) and Epomaker Sea Salt Silent Switch (linear). Do note that these switches are mostly tactile switches with one tactile exception (the Budgerigar switches)

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