• Brand: QPAD
  • Model: MK-80
  • Website: http://www.qpad.com/products/keyboards/mk-80/
  • RRP: £99.99 (At time of the review)

 With a multitude of mechanical keyboards on the market currently, there is no shortage to choose from.  With many different designs, colour schemes and extra features there is something for everybody.

QPAD are one such brand, established in 1992 and hailing from Sweden, their founder Christer Kornback was a respected member of the Swedish gaming scene.  He created the first premium piece of eSport equipment designed with only gamers in mind, a larger than normal mouse pad.

Fast forward 2 decades and QPAD have a large range of peripherals ranging from gaming mice, mechanical keyboards all the way to headsets.  Having won many awards for their products over the years, they continue to grow and produce some of the best quality pc gaming gear on the market.

Today I will be taking a look at QPADs MK-80 Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, will it get my seal of approval? Or is the current market just too dominant?

Let’s find out, starting with the specifications.

*Our MK-80 is equipped with Cherry MX Blue switches.

The QPAD MK-80 comes in a well presented box with a large illustration of the MK-80 illuminated in blue.  It also displays a key of the different features that’s packed inside the MK-80.  The main predominant colour of the packaging is black with white text.

On the rear of the box is a list of features in different languages including English, German, French, Chinese, Czech, and Spanish.

Bundled with the QPAD MK-80, we have a small and discrete manual, 4 orange keys and a key cap puller.  The orange keys are useful and are meant to replace the WASD black keys, or you could even use them instead of the arrow keys.  A lot of gamers like to use different colour keys as it clearly depicts where the WASD is situated and for the majority, they are widely used in multiple games by many different gamers.

Now lets take a closer look at the MK-80.

As we can see the MK-80 has a standard UK layout, with a sleek all black finish.  The keyboard is full-sized and comes equipped with white lettering.  QPAD have definitely gone with a minimal design which is one I like.

It also includes media keys for use with media players which are situated between F1 and F6.  To use these you will need to hold down the Fn (function) key while pressing them.

Upon closer inspection you can see how nice and neat the font is on the keys.  Close up the keyboard is a very subtle one, until we switch the lighting on which I will demonstrate further on.

Here we have the panel that displays the whether the num lock, caps lock and scroll lock is active.  When the keyboard is powered each of the sections displays a solid blue glow when each function is enabled.  When disabled it has the opposite effect as the lights will be switched off illustrated here.

Using the included key puller, which I have to add is a nice addition and every mechanical keyboard should be supplied with one, we see that the MK-80 packs MX Cherry Blue switches.  The key puller is made of plastic but is good quality and the key came up with minimal effort on the first pull.

After pulling a few keys we can see a clearer picture of a group of Cherry MX Blue switches.  Just above them is where the LED lights sit which illuminates the keyboard, but more about that later.

On the rear of the keyboard we have 2 x USB2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jack.  This is useful if you need to plug in a USB stick quickly without the need to reach for your case.  I really like the inclusion of headphone and microphone jacks on keyboards as it allows you to reduce cable clutter on your desk, unless of course you happen to have a wireless headset.

After flipping the keyboard over, we have the standard plastic feet which heighten the top end of the keyboard up.  This makes for comfier typing in my opinion and means my fingers down have to reach far down to type.  This comes to personal preference but I have to point out, I have had some expensive keyboards in my time with flimsy feet, but these feel really good and would see no reason why they should break other than miss-use.

Now time to see how the MK-80 looks illuminated.

The QPAD MK-80 has 5 different lighting states, off and 4 different brightness settings.  To adjust the lighting you need to hold the Fn key down and use either Fn+Numpad 8 to increase the brightness, or Fn+Numpad2 to decrease.  This is handy as it saves space without the need to populate the board further with additional keys or switches.  It goes in line with the MK-80s minimal look and sleek design.

Here is an illustration of the keyboard with the LEDs on the maximum setting

The strength of the blue LEDs are dazzling and at night will easily illuminate your desktop area.  A lot of gamers including myself like this as during night gaming sessions, it makes seeing the keys very easy as the light illuminates through the laser etched lettering.

Time to see how the QPAD MK-80 performs.

The QPAD MK-80 I have today comes equipped with Cherry MX Blue switches which are very tactile and have a very distinctive click.  These are perfect for typing but how does this transfer over to gaming?

Starting with gaming which is what the MK-80 is designed for, I decided on a couple of games which consists of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, World of Warcraft and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

Up for testing first is World of Warcraft, in which I consider myself to be an experienced player.  My main play style is DPS (Damage per second) which involves a lot of key mashing.  Cue a 4 hour raid with my guild and off I went.  I have to say that the Cherry MX Blue switches can be quite loud but the click actually grew on me.  I really enjoyed the feel of the keys when pressing them in and found them to be very responsive.  When you’re raiding top content on World of Warcraft, maximization is everything and I was more than happy with the MK-80 in this respect.  The best feature for me with WoW was the No Key Role Over which allowed me to press multiple keys in succession without one interfering with the other.

In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, I changed the WASD to the orange keys and set about some FPS action.  Reason I changed them is because I personally feel they are designed more for FPS games, some gamers may disagree with me but it’s just my personal preference.  Once again it took me around 5 minutes to adjust to the noise but it’s such a soothing sound to me.  The clicks are very predominant but I wouldn’t say there were that much louder than say Cherry MX Red switches.  My experience in BLOPS2 was an enjoyable one, I had to get used to how tactile the keys were and change the amount of pressure I had to apply to each keystroke but it didn’t take that long and I was soon moving as fluid as I do with Cherry MX Red switches.  BLOPS2 is a very fast paced game so I would still prefer Cherry MX Red Switches for FPS games but again it’s just my personal preference.

On my final gaming test, I fired up Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which is probably my favourite FPS of recent times.  I have a certain game style which I have had for years over the Counter Strike series.  Fast moving hit and run type of play with SMG classes.  With the MK-80 I didn’t need to adjust anything but how force I put on the keys.  Again I used the orange keys and feel they are a nice inclusion as I find them to be aesthetically pleasing.

Cherry MX Blue switches excel for typing and my experience while typing up this review and sending emails etc was no different.  I can’t emphasis how much I love typing on this keyboard, it’s fantastic.  It’s UK layout which is great because that’s what I am used to.  The key caps themselves are very high quality and would have no qualms in recommending this keyboard for say someone who works in an office and is constantly typing documents.  Once again I was drawn to the click of the blue switches, you will probably realize how much of an important factor the noise is to me.

Well now the testing is done but how do I feel overall? Let’s find out.

After using the QPAD MK-80 Pro Gaming Mechanical Keyboard, it became clear to me why QPAD are a very popular choice in gaming peripherals.  The keyboard oozes quality, from the packaging all the way to the keyboard itself.  The addition of the 4 orange keys and key cap puller which is fantastic in my opinion is a nice touch to an already top product.

In my tests it was apparent to me from the get go that it would take time to get used to the Cherry MX Blue switches which I used to favour until I bought my latest mechanical keyboard.  That being said, one the major benefits of having blue switches is just how good they are for typing, word processing and general use.  They do perform well in gaming and using the MK-80 is a pleasurable experience.  The only quibble I can really think of is the level of “noise” the clicks can make.  If you’re gaming at night and you’re in the next room as someone is sleeping, there is a chance if they are a light sleeper you might wake them up.  The clicking noise is distinctive in sound and although I really like the sound and feel of the click, this might not to be everyone’s taste.

The QPAD MK-80 is available with Black, Blue, Brown and red switches in the UK layout direct from QPAD direct.

Switch selection aside, the keyboard is very well made and feels solid.  The key caps are laser etched for the LED lighting which is another indication of how well the manufacturing process is.  Having the 4 orange key caps and the key puller included is a very nice touch, one that will be welcomed by many users.  The packaging is fantastic and describes the keyboard perfectly.

Price wise the board is priced very competitively, coming in at £95, you get brilliant value for money.  The LED lighting is also a very nice addition and the fact it has 4 lighting modes, makes it versatile and pleasing on the eye as not everyone likes blaring LED lights coming from their keyboard.

Overall my experience with the QPAD MK-80 was a pleasurable one and would have no issues in recommending the keyboard.  Based on the quality, the results, the sleek and stylish looks which I really do love, the QPAD MK-80 really does provide users ranging from those who do lots of word processing, all the way to gamers due to QPADs innovative nature.  If the QPAD MK-80 for this review had come with Cherry MX Red switches installed, it would have easily been my weapon of choice and received the editor’s award.  The keyboard is still great and more than worthy of the performance award and our award for design.  Great work QPAD!

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