Epomaker TH80-X Review 75% Gasket Mounted Mechanical Keyboard with LCD Screen

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to witness the X factor of mechanical keyboards! Introducing the EPOMAKER TH80-X - a 75% gasket-mounted mechanical keyboard with a customizable LCD screen!

In this review, we'll explore the TH80-X's practicality, user-friendliness, real-life performance, and distinctive features that set it apart from other keyboards. Notably, the TH80-X boasts a customizable LCD screen, which stands out as one of its standout features. This vibrant display enables users to design and showcase personalized animations, logos, or images, making the keyboard an extension of their individuality. If you're someone who values uniqueness, you will find this feature highly appealing, as it allows for effortless expression of creativity and adds a touch of flair to any setup.

Next, it's TH80-X's gasket-mount design, which isolates the PCB from the case, providing a flexible typing experience and reducing typing noise. The TH80-X uses stiffer gasket mounts, which makes the top plate slightly more rigid than other gasket mounted keyboards. This will be a con if you prefer flexible gasket mounted keyboards. The gasket structure significantly reduces noise, enhancing the overall typing comfort. Regarding the typing experience, the TH80-X comes with stock linear switches, which provide a similar typing experience to Cherry Red switches. The dummy switch stabilizers and switches come pre-lubed fro factory; hence no rattling noise.

The TH80-X offers three connectivity modes: Bluetooth 5.0, wireless 2.4G, and Type-C wired connection. The Bluetooth connection allows you to pair the keyboard to up to 3 devices at the same time. The optimized 75% layout strikes a perfect balance between functionality and space efficiency. The TH-80 X is equipped with a total of 79 keys with NAE profile and double shot ABS construction mounted on top of Epomaker's Flamingo hot swappable linear switches.

When it comes to onboard controls, the TH80 X differs from most mechanical keyboards as the FN command functionality is not directly integrated into the keys. Instead, the TH80 X incorporates the command functionality into the knob/LCD screen combo. As a result, adjusting brightness and RGB effects requires using the knob/LCD screen, which might not be as intuitive or quick as physically pressing switches on the keyboard.

Underneath the TH80 X case, you'll discover rubber pads and a magnetized slot for storing the non-branded 2.4GHz dongle. The rubberized feet risers provide a strong hinge and 2-level height adjustment without any wobbling. With the short feet, the top row of keys measures 4.5cm high, while with the tall feet risers, it measures 5cm high. The bottom row's height is 3cm. The dimensions of the TH80 X keyboard are 33.5cm in length and 13cm in depth. Without feet risers, the top row stands 4cm high, with the knob protruding slightly higher over the keyboard. The TH80 X keyboard weighs 1.093kg.

On the front side corner, you find the USB-C port and switch mode. As well as an LCD screen, the TH80-X integrates a clickable knob for controlling various functions, including volume, brightness and RGB effects. The knob is made of smooth chrome plastic, it's a rotary type without stops that rotates infinitely and has tactile notches for gradual adjustment. The battery life is 23 hours with RGB ON and 96 hours with RGB OFF. Charging time is 8 hours.

The EPOMAKER TH80-X built-in LCD screen is, no doubt, the top selling feature. it adds a unique and functional touch to the keyboard, displaying useful information such as battery status, connection mode, time/date and the name of each RGB effect. The screen can also display custom animations, logos and images created via the Epomaker Driver Software, which allows you to upload GIFs and photos directly onto the screen. Speaking of RGB effects, you can choose from dynamic and static multicolored effects to static single colors.

The screen interaction is straightforward. Pressing FN+Knob once toggles between Multimedia Mode and Screen Interaction Mode. In Multimedia Mode, the knob controls volume or performs a remapped function. After 5 seconds of inactivity, the knob automatically goes back to Multimedia Mode. In Screen Interaction Mode, the display showcases either a media file or system information. Navigating through menus is effortless with the knob, and pressing it takes you to the main menu, where you can access seven sub-menus: "Photo/gif," "Lights," "RGB Color," "Brightness," "Speed," "OS Mode," and "Layer."

In the "Photo/gif" sub-menu, you can select saved media files, including GIFs, which can be displayed during Multimedia Mode. The "Lights" sub-menu allows you to cycle through various backlight effects, while the "RGB Color" sub-menu lets you choose from a wide range of backlight colors. The "Brightness" and "Speed" sub-menus allow you to adjust the speed of the backlight effects. 
Additionally, the "OS Mode" sub-menu enables you to switch between WIN or macOS mode, catering to different operating system preferences. Lastly, the "Layer" sub-menu lets you access and switch between the three custom layers you've programmed in the Epomaker Software/Driver. The Epomaker Driver Software makes the process of uploading GIFs and images seamless, allowing you to save these media files in the keyboard's memory for easy access and personalization.

Comparing the TH80 X to other EPOMAKER keyboards, the TH80-X shares some similarities with the EPOMAKER HS84 (wired only keyboard). Both feature a 75% compact layout and hot-swappable switches for easy customization. However, the HS84 sports a metal top plate, enhancing durability and aesthetics, while the TH80-X has a plastic top plate. On the other hand, the EPOMAKER TH66 features a smaller 65% compact layout, but both keyboards have a media control knob and offer a tri-mode connectivity option with 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, and wired connections. 

When compared to the EPOMAKER TH80, the TH80-X shares a retro-style design and hot-swappable Gateron Pro switches for customization. The TH80-X surpasses the TH80 in battery life, offering an impressive approximately 100 hours with RGB lighting turned off. In contrast, the TH80's battery life is 30 hrs with RGBs turned on (in bluetooth mode) and 40 hrs (in 2.4Ghz). Both the TH80 and TH80-X take around 90 minutes to fully charge.

In comparison with the EPOMAKER CIDOO V65, the V65 has a compact 65% layout and supports QMK VIA, which is one of the most powerful software for keyboard customization. The TH80-X isn't compatible with QMK VIA but comes with Epomaker's Driver Software, which gives you access to key remapping, macros, layers, RGB lighting, sleep mode and LCD screen settings. Regarding sleep mode, it's worth noting that the TH80-X keyboard has an automatic sleep mode setting for Bluetooth mode and 2.4Ghz wireless mode, which is unusual. You can adjust sleep mode to a maximum of 1 hour but cannot disable sleep mode.

Selling points
  • Customizable LCD screen 
  • Long battery life
  • Gasket-mount design (same as the Epomaker RT100)
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Long-lasting battery
  • No rattling noises
  • Optimized 75% layout
  • Convenient rotary knob
  • Upgraded version of the TH80 PRO
  • 3-pin and 5-pin compatibility
  • Hot-swappable PCB
  • Standard bottom row
  • Multipoint for up to 3 devices
  • Factory pre-lubed
  • Vivid RGB glow
  • Low latency via 2.4Ghz
  • Dedicated arrow keys
  • Stiffer gasket mounts
  • Dual feet risers with strong hinge

Potential deal breakers
  • Software display in Chinese may be inconvenient for non-Chinese speakers.
  • Plastic top plate
  • Not compatible with QMK VIA software
  • No FN key command functionality
  • LCD screen require multiple steps
  • No physical key commands
  • Epomaker software not as user friendly for beginners
  • Sleep mode cannot be disabled
  • No tactile switch option available
  • No numpad
  • Very little flex from gasket mounts
  • Non-transparent keycap fonts
Accessories included are a metal switch/keycap puller, 1.5 meters braided cable and spare switches. You can buy the EPOMAKER TH80 X from amazon.

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