titleAt this point, nearly every manufacture makes and sells a mechanical keyboard in some shape or form. Everyone has done something different trying to stand out in what is now a very packed market. On facebook recently I came across a new company offering up something completely new to me, full custom mechanical keyboards. This isn’t just your choice of what switch you would like to go with, you can mix and match switch types as well as LED backlighting. We put together a keyboard unique to us and then put it to the test.

Product Name: Max Keyboard Nighthawk Custom Keyboard

Review Sample Provided by: Max Keyboard

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

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Keyboard Information

-Cherry mechanical key switches

-Individual backlit keys for enhanced visuals

-Backlight setting memory

-4 level backlight modes (pulse mode on level 4)

-128k on-board memory

-Laser engraved keycap

-N-key rollover (full NKRO on USB, any combination)

-Embedded multimedia keys

-Built in 2 high-speed USB 2.0 hub (max 100mA each)

-Built in headphone & microphone jack pass-through

-Heavy duty braided cable

-Gold plated connectors

-Tilt legs

-Windows key disabled function

-Wrist pad for maximum palm comfort

-US ANSI 104-key

-Programmable macro keys (optional downloadable software)

Technical Information

-Soft matte black upper enclosure with heavy duty braided cable

-2 downstream USB 2.0 hub (max 100mA each)

-Individual color LEDs

-50,000,000 actuation on key switches

-45g actuation force

-Keyboard dimension: approx 17.5in x 5.7in x 1in

-Keyboard weight: approx 3 lbs

-Cable length: approx 6' foot

System Requirements

-Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows® XP

-Available USB port

-50MB hard disk space

Environmental Data

-Operating temperature: 0°C to 50°C

-Operating humidity: 0% to 60%

Electrical Data

Keyboard must be plugged into your USB host port that provide 500 mA (Milliamps) at 5 V (Volts). Each USB port on the keyboard will support up to 100 mA.

Software Information

-5 profiles

-10 macro keys assignment on each profile

-Maximum 50 macro keys

-Macro key recorder

-Import and export configuration files

-Time delay function

-All macro keys stored on keyboard

Package Contents

-Nighthawk mechanical keyboard

-Wrist pad

-User guide


Being a full custom keyboard, I really wasn’t sure what to expect as far as packaging goes. When the keyboard came in I was surprised to find out that it was boxed up in traditional packaging, normally custom means brown box at best. The front of the packaging featured a large photo of a non-custom Nighthawk keyboard. This gives you a good idea of the keyboards layout and a peak at its backlighting in all red.

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The back of the box is where all of the information is. There is a list of all of the keyboards features and a full specification listing. There is also a photo of the keyboard with each of its features highlighted and tagged.

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Inside the keyboard is wrapped in plastic and then tucked away in between both cardboard filler and foam. The foam on each end keeps it well protected during transportation. There was also a small amount of documentation included inside the box along with our custom keyboard.

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Max Keyboard offers normal models, semi-custom, and then full-custom variations of both of their models. The normal models and even the semi-custom models can be ordered on their website completely, but when it comes to the full custom keyboards you have to call or email to order. For ours we spoke via email. When considering the logistics of trying to map out all of the different keys both with LED color and switch type, I made things easier by photoshopping a keyboard image and sent it over. They responded with a few suggestions and a more professional color coded image. This made it easy to see exactly what we would be getting. Hopefully someday they will be able to integrate something like this onto their website to make custom keyboard ordering easier.

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You may be wondering what we were thinking when putting together this interesting design using three different key switch types. I wanted to go with Cherry Browns on the main keys to give tactile feedback while keeping the noise down. The Cherry reds are quieter and without tactile feedback making the F buttons “feel” different than the normal keys. Then we went with the Cherry Black on the Escape button because it requires more force, making it harder to accidently press escape.

The lighting layout was partially to just see a multi colored backlighting on a keyboard but also to make the letters easiest to see in the dark. Red on the Escape button for obvious reasons and we went with orange and blue on the other keys for a little LanOC style.



Performance of the Nighthawk really breaks down into two parts. How did the normal features of the keyboard perform, and how did our custom LED and keyswitch design work out. For starters the Nighthawk uses a traditional full keyboard layout meaning the numpad is in the proper location and they haven’t moved any keys closer together to save space. The F keys all have double functions that can be activated by using the function button on the bottom row of the keyboard, next to the alt key. This gives you media keys to be able to play, pause, skip, and volume controls. Max Keyboard also has software available on their website to help you program any of the keyboards keys to be a macro key. This is a great idea that doesn’t require adding any more keys to the keyboard but I having tried the software, I found it to be difficult to program and slightly confusing.

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In the top right corner of the keyboard there are microphone, headphone, and USB connections available. The USB connection is very important to me, I have gotten used to keeping my mouse cords short and plugging them into my keyboards, I personally couldn’t live without this at this point. Of course, these  ports are limited in voltage and Max Keyboard makes a point to show this when you first get the keyboard with a sticker that covers them. As long as you don’t plan on charging your phone from the ports you are good to go though, it is more than enough power for your mouse.

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Under the Nighthawk we have four rubber feet to keep things from sliding around while gaming. On the back there are flip out feet as well. The feet lack rubber on them, so if you are like me and run an angled keyboard there are only two feet keeping it from sliding. On my plastic fold out table for a desk this was noticeable right away and took a little adjustment to get used to. There is a little bit keeping the keyboard secure, but with the feet up, it’s not enough.

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What about the custom part of the Nighthawk, how did that help things? Well the most obvious difference was in the LED lighting, everyone who has seen our keyboard have been very impressed with the look that the multiple color layout gives the board. I think going with 5 different colors may have been a little excessive, but we wanted to see how all of the colors looked as well as create a challenge for Max Keyboard when they put it all together. Between that and the different key switches, this is a worse case situation for them really. If I were to do it again I would love to do something with white and purple, both colors you rarely see in keyboards.

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The mix of brown, red, and black key switches worked out better than I would have expected. I love the tactile feedback that the brown switches game me but when it came to the other keys it wasn’t needed. This had the added benefit of setting there feel apart, making it more obvious what keys I was pressing. The single black switch used on escape required a little more force, making it harder to accidently press.

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Overall and FV

The best part about taking a look at the custom Nighthawk, we had a chance to check out the Nighthawk’s key features that are available on both the normal and custom versions. Max Keyboard sells a couple variations including a model with brown key switches and your choice of 5 different key colors. The full custom model that we reviewed here wasn’t cheap at $244.99. But the full custom LED lighting alone was worth it, the keyboard looks amazing and has all of the features that set the Nighthawk apart. Of course, there is still going to be a limited market for the custom keyboard. Most people are more than happy with a standard layout, and the additional cost is a deal breaker for most others. That’s the price you have to pay to have something that no one else has though.


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Author Bio
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #28515 28 Nov 2012 23:25
A look at a full custom mechanical keyboard from Max Keyboard. Its not cheap and is out of the price rang of most. But is a very cool option for those who want something that noone else has.
Wingless92's Avatar
Wingless92 replied the topic: #28516 29 Nov 2012 10:25
Very interesting. Nice that you can change the switches to your liking but the colors aren't that hard to do, I think. Probably just different inserts in the keys. So, you could changed them down the road.

I like it, and the price doesn't even really bother me either. But, like always, I really love the LCD screen on the logitech keyboards.

This is a real sweet keyboard for sure though. I kinda wanna play with one now.
garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #28517 29 Nov 2012 11:37

Wingless92 wrote: Very interesting. Nice that you can change the switches to your liking but the colors aren't that hard to do, I think. Probably just different inserts in the keys. So, you could changed them down the road.

I like it, and the price doesn't even really bother me either. But, like always, I really love the LCD screen on the logitech keyboards.

This is a real sweet keyboard for sure though. I kinda wanna play with one now.

they are different colored led's :)

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