Drop Expression Keysterine Keyboard Review

If you’re familiar with mechanical keyboards, you might already be familiar with Drop, the tech startup formerly known as MassDrop. Specializing in both mechanical keyboard parts and enthusiast-grade mechanical keyboards (among other consumer tech products), Drop has already impressed us with its budget-friendly Drop ENTR. It now continues the trend of sleek, pre-built mechanical boards with the $150 Drop Expression Keysterine keyboard.

Positioned as the most accessible option in Drop’s Premium Icon Collection(Opens in a new window), the Expression features premium parts, stunning Keysterine keys, and some of the best key switches on any keyboard. It’s a bit more expensive than one would hope to spend on a keyless board, but the quality will be worth the price for keyboard connoisseurs.

A gorgeous layout to die for

As a keyless keyboard (TKL), the Expression Keysterine lacks a dedicated numeric keypad, reducing around 20% of the overall keyboard size, to just 87 keys. Generally, users who prefer TKL keyboards appreciate their compact and minimalistic appearance, and the Expression Keysterine delivers in spades. The Keysterine keys, available in Smoke or Clear colors, are gorgeous. Their style isn’t as garish (or dare I say, “obnoxious”) as the way the caps appear on some other gaming keyboards.

Drop Expression Keysterine keys

(Credit: Zackery Cuevas)

Measuring 1.19 by 14.06 by 5.09 inches (HWD) and weighing 2 pounds, the Expression Keysterine has the exact same dimensions as the Drop ENTR, which isn’t surprising since it uses the same chassis. It’s a beautiful skeleton to share, because in addition to the Black ENTR anodized aluminum housing, you’ll also find plate-mounted Cherry-style stabilizers and Holy Panda key switches.

The switches combine two Drop staples, the Halo Clear and the Invyr Panda, into one super switch. The Holy Panda quickly became one of my favorite switch types out of any I’ve typed on, delivering great feedback with a satisfying snap when testing. They are on par with the analog switches on the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog.

Flipping the keyboard over reveals the Drop ENTR logo, two thin rubber grips, and two retractable feet that give the keyboard a slight tilt.

Drop Expression Keysterine Key Switch

(Credit: Zackery Cuevas)

Although the build quality is excellent, the keyboard has a few omissions. For starters, it’s neither wireless nor Bluetooth-enabled – it uses a USB Type-A-to-C cord instead. It’s not a huge loss, but the exclusion is felt, especially if you want to minimize desktop clutter. The Keysterine keyboard also uses white lighting, which backlights the keyboard well even if it somewhat erases the lettering on the keys. RGB lighting common to gaming keyboards is not found here.

One note: unlike other Drop keyboards, the keyboard isn’t “hot-swappable”, which in the keyboard world means you can’t swap out key switches. But it’s a fairly rare feature to begin with. However, it does come with a key puller, which should help with high-level customization, should you wish to swap out caps.

Customization options: just the basics

With a limited feature set, Drop can afford to ditch customization software, opting instead for a web-based configuration tool.(Opens in a new window) to configure hotkeys and lights (if applicable). While the whole process is pretty painless, there’s a bit of a learning curve, more so than with the customization software you’ll find with other gaming keyboards.

Drop Expression Keysterine keys

(Credit: Zackery Cuevas)

Customizing different profiles for different games is particularly tedious, although in defense of the keyboard, it’s not necessarily designed for gaming. keyboard layout are Windows only.

Drop Expression Keysterine Keyboard

(Credit: Zackery Cuevas)

And then there is the price. Given the limited feature set, there are plenty of productivity-focused keyboards with more features for under $150, like the NZXT Function Mini TKL or the Das Keyboard 4C TKL. You can also spend a few extra bucks on something a little more feature-rich, like the Logitech MX mechanical keyboard.

A finely crafted keyboard that’s all about feel

The Drop Expression Keysterine keyboard is a finely crafted keyboard. Drop uses high quality parts to create a sturdy, compact and beautiful board. But while the Holy Panda key switches are fantastic, the lack of features such as wireless functionality, dedicated media keys or USB passthrough will put off those looking to splash the cash on a high-end keyboard for productivity. , while players may find better options elsewhere. And because it’s not hot-swappable, true enthusiasts might be turned away.

This keyboard therefore occupies a middle ground for curious mechanical keyboard enthusiasts who may not have enough know-how to assemble a board themselves, which is equivalent to buying a pre-built PC instead of build your own. The cheaper Drop ENTR might serve as a better entry point, though it lacks the Holy Panda key switches and some of the Expression Keysterine’s panache. Still, despite its expense, the Drop Expression Keysterine is an excellent keyless card that will serve any user well.

Drop Expression Keysterine Keyboard

The inconvenients

  • Limited features for the price

  • Creating keyboard shortcuts and macros could be easier

  • No wireless connection option

The essential

The Drop Expression Keysterine keyboard comes with a beautiful, compact frame and some of the best key switches we’ve felt, making it a great choice for people looking for a polished keyless board with few frills.

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