Geek Review: Hex.4B Dreamcore Edition Mechanical Keyboard
Like the computer mouse, the keyboard has been a long overlooked accessory until recently, when brands started to give peripherals a little love. He then progressed into the hobby of creating custom keyboards, which has since exploded and users began to worry about their typing instrument.
Since then, users have gone beyond the standard 104-key version and adapted their use to keyboards of different sizes and varieties, and more recently the 75% layout has gained in popularity, and it’s easy to understand why. This particular iteration removes the numeric keypad and less-used keys in the navigation cluster, while keeping the arrow keys and the F line at the top. For enthusiasts, it makes sense to want an option that maintains a certain level of functionality, which is exactly what the 75% layout does.
The Hex.4B from Hex Keyboards is a 75% custom keyboard, with 81 keys, housed in an anodized aluminum casing, and the Dreamcore Edition comes in a beautiful deep purple that doesn’t age on the eyes. The anodizing is done well with no manufacturing defects visible on the outer case which is held by seven hex screws, accessible through the base of the board.
Arguably the overall design of the board is pretty straightforward as it is basically a metal rectangle, although the modest design can be appreciated. The top row is symmetrically spaced of blockers, with a single blocker separating the arrow keys from the alphanumeric group. The edges of the top case are slightly beveled, but the board, as a whole, keeps the appearance of being lumpy and having sharp edges all over it.
There is an internal brass weight to improve acoustics and give the board some weight. Fully built, the board weighs just over 2kg. However, it feels like a missed opportunity to not let the brass weight be visible on the bottom of the board, as it is beautifully engraved with the Dreamcore logo.
The PCB assembly, short for Printed Circuit Board, is mounted in the keyboard housing by four rubber O-rings, which replace the more commonly used poron or foam gaskets. Since the PCB is not directly attached to a case or plate, this mounting style allows for some flex and bounce when in use. The kit comes with O-rings of two different softness and flexibilities, allowing the user to choose their preferred board flex.
The switches are soldered directly to the PCB as no switch plate is used in this construction. Placeless boards are less common than the majority of keyboards, which use an aluminum or polycarbonate plate between the switches and the PCB. A major downside to this plate-less construction is that the switches here are not hot-swappable and must be soldered for stability.
The PCB is also compatible with VIA, one of the simpler applications used to configure keyboard keys with QMK firmware. So reconfiguring the keyboard shortcuts and remapping the keyboard to a preferred layout turns out to be a snap here. The keyboard is connected to the computer via a USB-C connector centered in the chassis.
The Hex.4B has a very unique hitting feel due to the mounting style of the rubber O-ring. With the dip of each keystroke, users will be able to experience slight reverberations inside the board, as well as a subtle bounce from the switches. A slight flex of the board is detected when a higher hitting force is present, especially along the edges of the frame. While the typing experience is quite comfortable at a 6.9 degree angle, a wrist rest is recommended as the keyboard has a relatively high front height of 2cm.
Our current Hex 4B comes with Gopolar Azure Dragon switches, made by Gateron. These are tactile switches with a very light, rounded bump, and feature a longer pole shank which results in a shorter bottom distance. This creates the feel of a faster, more responsive switch, as well as the added benefit of a nice sound (also known as good thocc). A glance at the numbers reveals an actuating force of 63g which increases to 67g in the down position.
The keystroke is always subject to the type of switches and keys used, but this board has a good acoustics foundation that can be paired nicely with most combinations. No dips or high pings were detected on the card itself. With the PBT keys supplied with the card, each key press produced a deep âthockâ sound; in comparison, using GMK’s ABS keys resulted in a more “clacky” sound. Depending on their personal taste, some will prefer one over the other, so there is no need to worry about which would make a better choice.
At the time of writing, both the barebone kit and fully assembled version for this Dreamcore edition were fully sold out. Hex Keyboards have also arranged a bulk purchase for the standard version of this keyboard, which includes a variety of other colors including black, rose gold, and electronic white. For those who missed it, there is always a second production run to look forward to (fingers crossed!).
While the board design may seem inadequate to some, the Hex 4B is a keyboard that far exceeds its price tag in terms of build quality, typing feel, and sound. AT $ 350 for the barebones kit, it is offered at a price slightly higher than that of the competition, namely the Keychron Q1 and the GMMK Pro, but offers an experience closer to the more expensive and more boutique cards.
Hex 4B Dreamcore Edition – Fully assembled
- Gopolar Azure Dragon lubricated with Krytox 205g0
- $ 555
- Everglide v2 stabilizers, lubricated with dielectric grease
- GMK laser clones
- Caps: GMK Mecha-01
- Office mat: mecha-01 office mat
GEEK EXAM NOTE
A spectacular 75% plate-less board that would be perfect for fans of custom keyboards, the Hex 4B delivers an experience well above its price.
- Aesthetics – 8/10
- Manufacturing quality – 9/10
- Performance – 9/10
- Value – 7/10
- Satisfaction of geeks – 8/10
Timothy is a freelance photographer and another geek. His professional work spans many genres and he shoots on film for fun.
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