When you think of Aukey, headphones, chargers, and dongles are probably what come to mind. But in a world of expensive computer and gaming accessories dominated by Razer, Corsair, Alienware, MSI, and other companies, Aukey is also now seeking out gamers now, too.
The company was kind enough to send OnMSFT both their KM-G12 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, as well as the GM-F4 RGB Gaming Mouse for review. I've been using both products for gaming as well as work for the past two weeks. But priced at $50 and $25 a piece, does Aukey have the perfect budget-friendly starter gaming keyboard or mouse?
For $50, there's a lot to like about the design of Aukey's mechanical gaming keyboard. As with most gaming keyboards, you'll find a black aluminum plate up on top. That's then followed by a plastic base, as well as plastic keycaps. Of course, for this price, you'll have to find plastic somewhere, but don't let that fool you.
Compared to $100+ options from Razer and other companies, the KM-G12 definitely retains a premium look and feel. The metal top base is cool to the touch and adds a bit of heft when moving it around my desk, keeping it stable and in place. Even the keycaps feel nice, as I'll describe later.
The keyboard also has pop-out feet on the bottom to let you elevate it out so you can type at a more comfortable angle. Since no palm rest is included, it's great to have these pop-out feet for longer typing sessions. I wish Aukey had included a palm rest (as most premium keyboards come with,) but I can see the sacrifice for the price.
As for the rest of the design aspects, note that the keyboard comes with a 1.6 meter (about 5') long USB cable. It's not detachable, and it's not braided either as you'll find in options from Corsair and Razer. That's one thing I found quite strange, as the gaming mouse Aukey sent along does have braided cables, but the keyboard does not.
Note that you won't find dedicated media buttons, a volume slider, or a digital dial on this keyboard. All of these functions are accomplished with FN+ top function row key combinations. But keep in mind at $50, this is clearly meant to be a budget option. The design is great, but just be prepared to be disappointed if you're hoping for those features found on more expensive keyboards.
Keyboard lighting and lighting features
Now, for the lighting and features. Both the keycaps, as well as the sidewalls of the keyboard are backlit in LED lights. The keyboard comes with 7 different color presets, as well as 12 lighting configuration presets. There's also a special game mode, where you can highlight five different gaming lighting effects (FPS, CF, COD, LOL, or racing games.) You can download the optional software from Aukey to customize the lighting (or per-key lighting) on the keyboard. I'm told there are 16.8-million-color options, which reminds me a lot of what you can get with Razer's Synapse software.
But this is something that you don't need. You can actually cycle through the color modes, as well as the different profiles with a key combination. Pressing FN and PrntSc will change the lighting effects, and FN+Home will change the colors. FN+Page Up, meanwhile, will cycle through the surrounding color effects. You also can switch between the game modes by pressing FN and Pause. Full key combinations can be seen in the instruction booklet Aukey includes in the box.
I really appreciated the ability to switch colors on the fly, without software. The keyboard combinations to do so are clearly marked. It was great for me when I was in a middle of a game and wanted to switch up the look of my keyboard to match my mood. I had a red profile when playing Watch Dogs: Legion, green when playing Fortnite, and a cycle of different colors when typing on a day-to-day work basis.
As for brightness, there are three levels on this gaming keyboard. All three levels are very bright, with no noticeable bleed on the keycaps (the keys illuminate through the keycaps themselves.) I had my Razer Firefly V2 gaming mat in the back when using this keyboard, and the Aukey is just as bright as that. Late at night, my entire desk was lit up in a spectrum of colors.
Keyboard performance and switches
But what about overall performance? The Aukey KM-G12 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is no joker on this front. Like other keyboards in the more premium price range, it has full N-Key Rollover technology. I tested this out in a game of Fortnite, and I must say that Aukey is not lying. I sensed no lag in between keyboard presses, and my movements on the screen. For $50 the performance is definitely great.
Another interesting feature of the Aukey KM-G12 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is what Aukey calls "Blue Switches." These switches are meant to take on the Cherry MX Blue switches on more expensive keyboards. Despite being imitation, I think the switches work just fine. In fact, they seem to be a lot louder, and more clicky, which is what I prefer. You can fully remove the keycaps to expose or clean the switches, as is expected in mechanical keyboards. Aukey even includes a pair of tweezers in the box to help you do this.
Aukey promises that the keyboard has 4nm of travel, and mentions keycaps can withstand up to 50 million presses. In typing, I can say that this accounts for a comfortable experience. Though the keyboard is loud and clicky, I never missed a word when typing on it. Compared to my usual Logitech MX Keys, I quickly preferred clicky and responsive Aukey for day-to-day typing.
The reason why? The double-shot-molded ABS keycaps have a nice "curve" to them. This means I get to glide my fingers in between keys easily during marathon typing sessions.
All around, for work, the keyboard is satisfying, though it might get too loud for most people in a quiet office environment. In Bing's Typing Test, I got to around 80 words per minute, 5 words more than my usual result, a testament to Aukey's Blue Switches.
The perfect mouse to pair up with it
Aukey also sent me over the GM-F4 RGB Gaming Mouse for review along with the keyboard. The mouse definitely fits well with the keyboard's RGB lighting and gaming aesthetics. I suggest it as an absolute must if you're buying the keyboard.
It has 3-zone customizable backlighting, and a switch on the bottom to turn off lighting effects. Other features on the mouse include a 10000 DPI Optical Sensor, and 8 programmable buttons. These buttons are configurable via software. And you can adjust the DPI with a button on the top, on the fly.
In terms of performance, I definitely liked how this mouse feels. Scrolling was accurate in games like CS:GO and the right-and-left click is very solid producing excellent feedback. The plastic is also soft to the touch, and the mouse doesn't feel too heavy overall. Even the grip is great for day-to-day working tasks, I also appreciate the braided cable and the included velcro strap which makes it easy to store.
A final note on the optional software
I'll end this piece by mentioning the optional software. There are two pieces for both the keyboard and the mouse. You'll find either Aukey G-Aim Control Center for the keyboard or Aukey GM-F4 for the gaming mouse. The software is very easy to understand and lets you assign macros to the keyboard. You also can change the lighting effects, too. As for the mouse, you can use it to do the same, as well.
For the low price, it's great to see that Aukey is giving budget-friendly gamers options. The design of these products is great, as is the functionality, though obviously not as sophisticated as more expensive options. Both the KM-G12 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, as well as the GM-F4 RGB Gaming Mouse as great for first-time gamers looking to get their feet wet in the world of gaming accessories.