So a while back a company by the name of Gearbest reached out to me about covering some of their products. I initially passed but after looking around I did come across a few keyboards that I was interested in checking out. Typically, some of the weird and cool stuff is imported from China and Gearbest just happens to be a China based company. So after talking to them, they sent over the Motospeed CK61, a small 60% keyboard with a really cheap price as well. Some of you may know I have a weird thing for 60% boards, mostly because at LANs and sometimes around my office there isn’t much desktop space available and these little guys sometimes work perfectly. Anyhow, I’ve been playing around with this board in between testing a few other keyboards and today I wanted to talk about it.

Product Name: Motospeed CK61

Review Sample Provided by: Gearbest

Written by: Wes Compton

Pictures by: Wes Compton

Gearbest Affiliate Link: HERE

specs

 


Packaging

Well, tiny keyboards mean a tiny box. The CK61 comes in a box about the same size as past 60% keyboards. It is flat black and on top the Motospeed logo and “Live for games” in a metallic red finish. The box came in a little beat up as you can see, international shipments never seem to get the love coming to my office for some reason. There wasn’t anything that would cause damage inside at least. There is also a big yellow sticker on the front edge with some more information on the board as well as options to select a color, only black is the only option lol.

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Inside the board comes wrapped up in a padded bag with foam on each end to keep it from moving around in the box and protected from box damage like our sample experienced. On top of the keyboard were two papers, one is a basic manual and the other I couldn’t read. Then for accessories, you get a plastic keycap remover and a USB cable. The cable is black with sleeving and unlike most other keyboards it is a USB to USB Type-C connection. A lot of my storage runs Type-C, my camera, and even my laptop. But Type-C is only slowly making it to the rest of the market except on some of the custom PCBs in the enthusiast community and in a few keyboards upcoming spotted in Computex coverage. 

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Photos and Features

So if you haven’t seen a 60% keyboard before just to catch you up to date, basically you get the main part of a keyboard without the number pad of a full sized keyboard and without the F keys, direction pad, and home keys that a TenKeyLess has. The CK61 has a traditional layout on its main later with the exception of the Escape key being in place of the tilde key. This is normal on 60% boards as escape is still really important to have quick access too. You might be wondering how people manage to live without all of those extra keys. Well, it's all about the function layer using the Fn key on the bottom right. Like a shift button, holding that while pressing most of the keys on the CK61 gets you different actions, in this case, all of them are labeled in bright white.

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Beyond the layout, the CK61 has an extremely thin plastic bezel like the older Poker 2 and Poker 1 60% boards. But what stood out to me when I first got my hands on it was just how lightweight it is. It came in on the scale at 442 grams or 15.6 Ounces. This is less than the 1 pound 5 Ounces that the Poker 2 weighed with its plastic case. Now weight isn’t everything, but it does at least bring to mind quality sometimes.  Specifically, I the backplate is actually made of ABS plastic where most keyboards would have aluminum or steel for strength and added weight. But remember this isn’t an expensive keyboard, there do have to be sacrifices to keep the costs down. I will have to wait and see later if this translates to anything in my performance testing.

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Poking around the layout I did notice that the function key is over in the corner, not to the left of the control key like you normally see. Not a big deal but worth noting. Beyond that, the bottom row is all standard size so replacement keycaps shouldn’t be a problem later on. The windows key on the left also lets you lock out the windows key using the function layer, ideal for gamers. There are three M keys in this area that are for lighting controls. The left one M3 changes the direction of the patterns. The M2 key changes the lighting effect. Then M1 changes the lighting color. Also here there is one of two direction pads. This is similar to the Pok3r so those used to that layout will like this.

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The top row is especially confusing and I imagine this is where people will get really confused. Normally you hold function and these are just F keys, simple and easy to remember. They are F keys but you actually have to hit function-3 to turn on the hard layer. Then from there all of the keys stay in function mode until you Fn-3 again. 1-4 are all like this with different layers. For example, Fn-2 turns on the bottom right direction pad, Fn-4 turns on the left direction pad, and Fn-1 gets you delete and the home button and everything in that area.

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So as I mentioned the case is a lot like the older Poker keyboards. It has a thin bezel from the top view but from the side, it wraps up around the keys. The CK61 also has a really steep default angle as you can see from the side profile. There isn’t any branding on the outside edge of the case or anything visible from the top at all really. The only thing going on is the USB Type-C connection along the back that is slightly offset to the side.

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The USB connection means a removable and replaceable cord, as some of you who read the packaging section would have already seen. It has sleeving, is more than long enough at 1.4 meters long. The only thing special though is the USB Type-C connection at the end.

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The bottom of the Ck61 is the only place you can find the Motospeed branding and I love that they do that. One side has the brand and the other has the model name. That is also where you can see the certifications and that this complies with part 15 of the FCC regulations. Listing that specifically in such a large font prompted me to check to even see what that was. It is basically standard testing for electronics to save you the trouble. For feet, there are just four of the smallest feet I’ve ever seen on a keyboard. They are just small round dots with just a fraction that touches your desk, add in the board's weight and I do have to wonder if it is going to stay still when I’m using it. But I will find that out later.

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image 17Oddly enough, I’ve been avoiding the enthusiast keyboard market for a year to a year and a half now. Not because I’m not interested, but because I have been trying to cut back on my spending in that area. It can get a little addictive and really expensive. With that, I was surprised to find out recently just how many new switches that I haven’t had the chance to test out. One of those surprisingly are the Kailh box switches. Lucky enough the CK61 is sporting the white version. In most ways, this is a Cherry MX Blue knockoff, at least when it comes to it being clicky and with its 55 grams of force needed to press it. The Blues take 50 grams so they are very close. Visually though the design is a little different with a box around the stem that adds more stabilization when you press the key. This switch design is also IP56 waterproof/dustproof though I don’t think the CK61 itself is. This design uses a clear casing with a surface mounted LED for the RGB lighting. The CK61 uses an internal cherry style stabilizer as well on all of the longer keys like the shift key that I have pulled up in the pictures below.

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The CK61 surprisingly does have double shot keycaps. A lot of much more expensive keyboards don’t have that but these are made of ABS not PBT so they will still wear to a glossy finish on top over time. But the legends will still be visible. Speaking of I didn’t mention it before but I do like the font that Motospeed went with, it is simple and clean. Being double shot keys though does mean a few of the letters have small support likes in them, similar to when you use a stencil. Its most notable on the O and D and makes a few of the numbers harder to read. The 6 looks like a G for example. I’ll take that over not having double shot keycaps though. They aren’t any thicker or thinner than a standard OEM style keycap so I would still jump at the chance to upgrade later. But all things considering this is a nice bonus.

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Performance

For testing the Motospeed CK61 I spent two weeks using it full time than have been using it on my test bench on the side while testing other boards. This gave me a good chance to test it in a few situations and get a feel for it overall. I will say that in general a 60% keyboard, as much as I love them, isn’t my preferred size when doing work. But I do love them for taking to LANs because of their size and weight and they have proven to be very helpful for when I’m running a test bench or testing another PC at my desk. That is because I can have a dedicated keyboard for a second or even third computer on my desk without them taking up all of the space. I need that space for all of the other random junk I have on my desk and things I’m testing. So in that way, right away the CK61 did a great job of giving me more space. The mostly traditional layout was also nice because it made switching keyboards a little quicker. Though I am used to my Pok3r’s and Poker II more so there was some learning on how the function layers worked.

Function layers as a whole are always a pain, but normally you can pick 3 or 4 keys that you need often and learn those and get by. Specifically for me, I need to have quick access to delete for example. I also like to have the direction pad and the tilde key. That one you would think would rarely come up, but it just so happens that in some games to get into the console you need to use it. In my case, when using the CK61 on the test bench I needed to get into the console when benchmarking in TF2. Well, the CK61 doesn’t have a tilde key that I could find, maybe I’ve missed it but even just not having it labeled would be a shame.

That actually brings me to I think the biggest issue I had in my testing. Normally a function layer works where you press the Fn key and then the key you need, for the CK61 you have to switch to a specific layer, one of four, and then you are locked into that until you hit the key combo again. For me needing to use delete I had to press Fn-2 then the comma key for delete then Fn-2 to get back to the main layer. For rarely used keys this is more than fine but for delete, it was a bit of a pain when writing. Of course, not everyone will even ever need that key or the tilde key so your mileage will vary.

So am I saying I hated using the CK61? Heck no, as it turns out it was a lot nicer to type on than I ever expected. Specifically, the white Kailh box switches were really nice, smooth, and stable. I’m not a fan of loud clicky switches like Cherry Blues but these were a lot quieter and with that a little easier to type on. You still get a click but you are a little less likely to have your roommate or coworker plotting to toss the keyboard out the window. I was also surprised that the tiny feet that I complained about when I first looked at the board held on to my desk well. I don’t know how they did it, but with no weight holding it down and basically four nipples holding it all to my desk I thought it would slide right out of my hands if I started to type hard or game.

I know when researching the CK61 that some people complained that the stabilizers were noisy but I didn’t find that to be the case on our sample. Shaking the board didn’t offer much more than a slight soft rattle and they didn’t make any noise when typing. Hopefully, it is an indication that things have improved, not that I was lucky, but there is no way to know for sure.

As for lighting, you do get full RGB lighting and by definition, it is individually controlled where each key can light up a different color as the one next to it. You have to use the M keys down on the bottom right with the function key. You can flip between a surprising amount of effects, change their speed, direction, brightness, and color. There are a total of four brightness settings. As for the colors, that was my main complaint about the lighting. I love that you can flip through different color profiles in the effects, but when it came to individual lighting you are left wanting. You can flip through the predefined colors but that is about it. The included RGB instructions allude to being able to program in gaming mode but I couldn’t figure it out. The lighting that you get is bright and more than enough to make the legends readable and it doesn’t bleed out around the keys because of the tall bezel design so I like that.

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Apparently there is a driver download available and after you update the CK61’s firmware you can actually reprogram any and all keys and function layers if you want. So there is an optional way to regain that key or even to move things around to your preferred layout. I didn’t spend to much time with it, but thought it would be irresponsible of me to mention it without taking a look. I downloaded it from the Motospeed website and it was a zip file with the software and then another zip with a firmware update tool. Updating was quick and they included basic instructions in a word file. They didn’t mention in English at least that you would need to unplug and replug in the keyboard, but I did have to do that,

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Once I did that here is the software that they profile. It is really basic but that is perfectly fine with me. You can create macros and also edit three different profiles. So you could create a profile with the tilde key for example. That said I haven’t figured out where and how you switch to these profiles yet either, this was obviously late in my testing (as I write this actually) so I will try to figure it out. There is also an option to pick lighting. You can pick from the effects already available, set their speed and brightness and in most cases pick a color. Without being able to switch profiles I haven’t been able to play more with it though. Right now I can adjust profile 1 and be able to see the changes and use the key changes, I just haven’t found profiles 2 and 3.  The color picking tool does give you a lot more options with RGB numbers and a full color profile to point and click so that is a big improvement over the built-in color options. The game master profile is really the only one that will let you program individual colors but even that is locked to two colors. The one profile that I thought would be a single color always on profile called “fixed-on” was actually rotating between preselected colors with no color select option lol. Hopefully they add some more control, at least over the basics like being able to set the whole keyboard to any color that you want and to be able to set each key to a different color if you want. Basically the two main things people might want to do with their RGB lighting.

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Overall and Final Verdict

Well normally smaller keyboards end up being shorter reviews but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. The Motospeed CK61 had a lot going on, both good and bad in my testing. I came in hoping that this would be a much cheaper 60% keyboard for those wanting that pok3r RGB experience at nearly a third of the cost. The CK61 has some obvious differences in construction, namely the plastic backplate that not everyone is going to like. But what I found with that was that it didn’t affect the actual typing performance, it makes the keyboard lighter weight, and if anything it might also contribute to those Kailh BOX switches in white being quieter. Speaking of those switches, as someone who isn’t a fan at all of clicky switches I have really been digging these. The box design is much smoother and more stable and the clickiness is still there but a lot more toned down. They even included doubleshot keycaps, you don’t get that in most $100+ keyboards but it is included in one at this price point.

The downsides though may be deal breakers for some of you. The missing tilde key isn’t the best, especially if you are using Linux or if you often have to get into the console in a lot of the shooters on the market. For me, though the limitations of how the function layers work on the CK61 and the limited lighting customization were the biggest letdowns. Especially when both work smoothly on other keyboards including the Anne Pro and Pok3r RGB.

But do the benefits win out or are the downsides too much to deal with? It depends a lot on how you plan on using the CK61 really. If you want to code or are hard set on custom designing every key color to a different color things aren’t going to work for you. I also think that this isn’t the best setup for a professional writer due to how hard it is to use the delete key. Unless of course, you are awesome and just never make mistakes. But the everyday user who might be posting up memes, complaining on social media, and gaming is going to like the CK61 just fine. That is even before you take into account its price point. Currently, it is listed at $48.26 shipped and I’ve heard it sometimes drops down to $40. That is about as much as the PBT doubleshot keycaps that I like to use on my keyboards cost and you get most of a keyboard for that price! It is far from perfect, but if have been wanting to try out the 60% form factor I think this might be a good one to play with.

fv5value

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
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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