Royal Kludge RK96 Wireless Hot-Swappable RGB Keyboard Review (In Depth)

Royal-Kludge-RK96-Wireless-Hot-Swappable-RGB-Keyboard-Review

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Today, we’re going to review the Royal Kludge RK96 Wireless Hot-Swappable RGB Keyboard.

First, I will say that we were in no way paid to write anything specific in this review; however, I did receive the product for free for the duration of the review.

In this article, you can expect to find the most important information about what you would experience in day-to-day usage, as well as a comparison to other keyboards in a similar price range for value, experience, comfort, satisfaction, and more. 

What’s in the Box?

The box is very plain and straightforward. Something I really like. There are no flashy images, no misleading text, and it’s a very sleek presentation. The magic happens once you open it up. The packaging is very nicely laid out, and a very fulfilling feeling when bringing out the following components:

1 x RK96 Mechanical Keyboard
1 x Magnetic Hand Rest
1 x 2.4GHz Receiver
1 x Type-C-USB Cable
1 x 2 in 1 Keycap & Switch Puller
1 x User Manual
4 x Replace Switches

Who is Royal Kludge?

Royal Kludge is a company founded by a group of gamers back in 2015, with the main goal being to fill the mechanical keyboard market with high-quality, customizable, and long-awaited products for good value. Basically, to provide what we all want. 

Suffice to say; this is not a huge company like Corsair or Logitech. I didn’t expect them to have every single feature available and the best software in the world, but I was very impressed with their ability to compete with them all the same in the big league.

The quality certainly matches what you would expect from a high-quality mainstream experience and might even surpass them in many categories. 

Royal Kludge tends to specialize in small-form keyboards, a hole in the market when it comes to high-quality options. Anything from 60% to Full-Size keyboards is offered, but the best they have to offer comes from the ability to shrink keyboards with great efficiency, quality, and durability.

First Impressions

The visual satisfaction immediately hits as soon as you open the box. More to come later, but it is the first thing that jumps out at you. I couldn’t wait to lay my fingers on it.

Once you have it on the desk in front of you for some ghost typing to get a feel, the visual contrast presentation organizes the keys perfectly, making it instantly recognizable where each key is without having to read it based on the color contrast. Such as the F5-8 keys contrasting the 1-4 and 9-12 keys.

Typing Experience

Next, it’s time for some ghost typing. Oh, they are yellow switches. I usually don’t like speed switches, but these feel pretty nice. I find myself bottoming out the keys a lot as I am used to Cherry Browns, and these yellow switches have virtually no resistance.

The typing is louder than I thought, but that’s my own fault for slapping the keycaps too hard. The keyboard also comes with an easily detachable wristrest that feels great, and I enjoyed typing with or without it. 

I start typing some thoughts down on Notepad so I can get used to the new switches and I can get a good feel for them. After about 10 minutes, I find I am no longer bottoming out all of the keys; there is very little sound coming from the keys, and I am taking less time glancing at the keyboard due to the color scheme.  

The typing experience became buttery smooth and very satisfying. You can really feel the durability and quality here. After 10-15 minutes, you get right into the groove. The key placement is very nice as well, which can often feel squished on smaller keyboards, but they have all the right sizes and shapes for the keys you use the most, and I don’t feel at all squished.  

Connection/Software

At this point, I was satisfied with the typing experience and had gotten used to the feel of the switches, so I went ahead and installed the required software and used a few different connection methods. The connection cable is a combo USB A/C as well, which is a very nice touch.

With the 2.4GHz dongle included, Bluetooth, and USB-C wired connection types available, this is an easy win. Even on expensive mainstream keyboards, it is rare to find all three of these connections available.

I really appreciate these options, and Bluetooth is probably my favorite choice as I can swap what I am using it for easily, and it seems to provide the most stable connection.

I have it set up on my main desk with the USB-C close by in case I need to charge it, and I can easily pick it up to move to my bed or futon to use on a console or from afar. 

The software you use for it is pretty nice. It includes a robust per-key RGB customization tool, which somehow seems to offer more customization than most mainstream keyboards. There are also 20 presets to choose from, which are also tweakable, including music/audio reaction. 

Additionally, you get the usual Custom Macro menu, onboard profiles, and RGB effect creator. However, it is required that the keyboard is plugged into the PC for the software to see it and be able to tweak any profiles.

If you are not able to do this, the arrow keys have a brightness and speed tweak function for on-the-fly needs, like flipping the lights up when it gets dark.

Quality, Durability, Customization

While the LEDs need a little work, the quality and durability of this product are very high. There is some weight to it, and it feels excellent to move with and plop down. Additionally, the ability to customize not only cosmetics but also the switches themselves makes for a premium enthusiast experience. 

Quality

The feel of the keycaps, the included yellow switches, the actuation, and everything about the typing experience is superb. It did take 10-15 minutes for me to get used to it, given my preference for Cherry Browns, but once I stopped bottoming out the keys, there was virtually no sound coming from the keyboard.

Top-notch switches for sure, and with the included volume roller, the extra Connection types, and the extremely visually appealing color scheme, I could recommend this based on quality alone for this price. There is a ton of value here if found on sale.

Durability

As I already mentioned, this thing is solid. As for the keycaps themselves, only time will tell how they hold up, but they use high-quality material. There is very little, if any, wiggle room when the keys are at rest. 

The chassis has no flex and is customizable as well, adding an extra layer of durability and being able to swap out switches and keycaps easily. The switches themselves feel smooth and are mostly consistent throughout. There are also extra switches included with the keyboard for repair purposes, along with a switch/keycap remover.

The risers on the back are 2-in-1 with different-sized risers inside of one other. Another very nice touch, but more so that the larger riser is very snug and snaps into place firmly. No flimsyness here. The smaller one has a little more wiggle but still has some snap to it. 

The wrist rest being fully magnetic removes another connection point that can weaken over time. This means no accidents and quick removal. 

Customization

Sporting swappable switches that support different models at the price this is going for is really nice. It gives enthusiasts an avenue for third-party customization and makes for easy repairs. Plus, the keycaps are easily replaceable as well, making custom jobs a breeze. 

The software provides a fair bit of customization with macros, keybinds, RGB, and custom RGB effects. It also gives you a good number of profiles to save and swap between. The software itself is okay–I didn’t expect anything fancy, and it does the job it’s intended for well.

Stand-out Features

A mini keyboard with a volume roller and mute button is a rarity. Having this additional media support, as well as a plethora of function options throughout the keyboard, makes for a pleasant experience for anyone who desires the function of a full-size keyboard in a slightly smaller format.

Easily replaceable switches and keycaps make repair and customization extremely easy for enthusiasts. With a full-featured RGB setup, this is an easy win for the keys themselves. 

USB-C, Bluetooth, and 2.4GHz dongle provide many connection options, with the USB being a 2-in-1 USB-C/A. You also get two additional USB pass-through ports for connecting your peripherals. Altogether, this makes for an impressive setup for a mini keyboard. 

The unique color scheme makes for quick and efficient key recognition and actively improves response time. 

It is both wired and wireless, and the transition is seamless, charging when needed in about 6 hours to provide up to a week of wireless usage with no lights or a few days with power saving enabled to shut off the lights after 10 minutes away from the keyboard. 

How did this exceed, meet, or fall below expectations?

I had never heard of this company before this keyboard. No flashy box, no misleading advertising, and a straight-up good product make this company look really good against the mainstream competition.

They also specialize in a specific keyboard niche and do a fine job at it, with some of their models widely praised. If you are looking to support such a business, this is the place.

Besides that, the level of customization, as well as the durability and quality of the keyboard overall, met and exceeded expectations. Being that it’s a mini keyboard, I did not expect such a robust feature set on top of a high-quality presentation.

However, at full price, I would not expect anything less than this quality, or it would not be worth the money.

The typing experience exceeded my expectations because I generally am not a fan of speed switches, but these felt very nice. The quality of the switches may not match your personal favorite, but you will find typing buttery smooth and very comfortable.

And, the exceptional level of customization with the switches and keycaps is a big plus and was very unexpected.

Drawbacks

Generally, the keyboard fixes the problems most others have and fills the gap in the market with a valuable solution that satisfies our needs and wants.

However, the LEDs could use some work. The colors are amazing, but the keys are not transparent, and the color bleeds onto other keys. 

Since the keys are not transparent, it also can make it even more difficult to read the keys when the light is on its brightest setting with colorful effects.

Setting per-key RGB is nice, but when the color bleeds out from other keys and makes some keys multi-colored, it gets a little messy.

However, that’s not to say it doesn’t look nice, just not as tight and precise as, say, a Corsair K-series, where it’s a nearly perfect RGB presentation. 

While I understand why, and it’s a very common trait, I would prefer if it didn’t need to be plugged in to modify onboard profiles. The software could use an update, too, but it works well enough. 

Who Is It For? And Is It Worth It?

Gamers vs Office

If you have a dedicated gaming station or ‘command center’ PC setup, you will likely want a full-size keyboard to accommodate that and then may use this as a secondary for when you want to throw it up on the television or be able to move to a different room with it.

Laying in bed or on the couch while messing with your console or PC is made easy. Now, I enjoy the speed switches due to the lack of resistance, but I personally prefer having a bit of feedback for gaming. However, if you are mobile for a LAN party or travel, then I couldn’t recommend this more. I wouldn’t want to travel with any other keyboard. 

Some folks prefer the smaller form factor even when gaming, and if that is the case, then the combination of speed switches and color scheme can give it a solid edge in this area. 

Working with this keyboard is a beautiful experience, especially if you use multiple PCs at once. The mobility, small size, and full feature set make this my go-to for my work PC next to my gaming PC. That desk is significantly smaller and filled with loose paper or sticky notes most of the time, and the small form factor is great for that. 

Final Verdict

The value is heavily dependent on where you purchased it. It’s also very nice that it sports all the same features and more than its mainstream competition, like something as simple as the volume roller, which is extremely convenient. 

At full price, going for over $115 is putting it in the Corsair-K95 territory, along with Logitech’s equivalent flagship keyboards, and the quality/ecosystem combo just doesn’t match.

However, I currently see this Limited Edition keyboard on sale for less than $90 on Royal Kludge’s official website. The full asking price is a bit rough and makes it a little hard to recommend; however, for less than $90 or even $100, it is an absolute steal, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Royal Kludge RK96

89.99 USD
8.7

Quality

8.5/10

Features

8.7/10

Typing Experience

9.1/10

Aesthetics

8.0/10

Pricing

9.1/10

Pros

  • Competitive price
  • Quality build
  • Pleasant typing experience
  • Triple connectivity
  • Compact and portable

Cons

  • Software needs some work
  • Lighting bleeds over
About Elijah Blosser 16 Articles
With over a decade of professional IT and PC repair experience, Elijah is a seasoned expert in the tech field. Additionally, he is a competitive gamer and deeply involved in the Tech and Gaming industries. Elijah has a passion for writing about technology and how it can benefit his community and is always seeking out opportunities to learn about the latest advancements. When not working, gaming, or reading, he enjoys spending quality time with his two sons.

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