Uniqey C70 Review by Quakemz
GMK has been loved in our community for years. They’ve graced us with incredible double-shot ABS keycaps the community has no qualms paying north of $100 USD for a set. They’ve become a household name among enthusiasts and that shows no signs of changing. Amidst their popularity, they have decided to break into the world of keyboards themselves, as opposed to just keycaps and the like.
They call this new sub-division Uniqey, and it focuses on fully assembled premium keyboards. Not long ago, they launched this brand with the Q100 keyboard, a very elegant and modern full-sized keyboard sporting an aluminum case, Cherry MX switches, and of course, GMK keycaps. While a very unique board in its own right, it didn’t really appeal much to the more enthusiast members of the community, who tend to prefer more options and exotic layouts. That’s where the C70 comes in.
Designed by a handful of some of our community’s most prominent members calling themselves Think Tank, in partnership with GMK, the C70 appeals to more enthusiasts by offering a more compact design, similar to what we’d call a “65%” layout, but with an extra column of buttons on the far right. This layout was designed to pack in tons of function, while maintaining a size that I’d describe as “fairly portable”. If you’ve been in the community for a while, you’ve probably noticed the movement towards smaller keyboards. “40%” keyboards like the Planck, Vortex Core, and Minivan are all the rage these days, as you can easily see by browsing r/mechanicalkeyboard for a few minutes. Small is in high-demand, lately, and the C70 aims to take advantage of that, without losing all of the feeling of functionality or unfamiliarity of a larger keyboard.
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at this board are the keycaps; where your fingers will spend the majority of their time. As you’d expect from GMK, you get the full GMK keycap experience. Thick, Cherry-profile double-shot ABS caps like this are my absolute favorite keycaps to use, and a dream to type on. They look classic and elegant, and have none of that “gamer” flair I’m so opposed to.
Next up is the aluminum housing itself. To my happiness, the case is high-profile, meaning the case comes up to the base of the caps, fully covering the switches. This look is favored among most experienced enthusiasts and definitely adds to the premium look and feel. The overall design is simple, but effective. Minimal lines and angles keep it professional and not too “in your face”. On the right side, there are embedded LEDs for all of your indicators, such as caps lock and the like. These have been accomplished here very well, and are incredibly attractive. The plate is also a color-matched aluminum.
Under these sexy keycaps lies the organs of any keyboard, the PCB, plate, and keyswitches. “Made in Germany” was a theme in this keyboard, and that theme carried over to the switches, as well. Cherry switches will be the only option for this, spanning their most popular five options: MX Blue, MX Brown, MX Red, MX Black, and MX Clear. While I appreciate the pride and consistency, I’m a little disappointed [as a lover of switches] to see the options limited to Cherry. Once upon a time, Cherry had a patent on the MX design and thus, had the legacy and a hammerlock on the market. Over the last couple of years since the patent expiration, subjectively better and more cost-effective options have arisen, particularly more recently with Kaihua’s newest offerings, which are incredible value and undoubtedly more diverse. Any fans of Top Clack will know I don’t really care for the feel of most Cherry switches. I believe there to be significantly better options on the market, especially for the money. With that said, Cherry is still a popular option and this review isn’t exactly about which switches I prefer, now is it?
My review sample also came with GMK’s QMX silencing clips. This is my first time trying them, and they definitely decrease the overall bottom-out noise while typing, at the cost of a little less travel distance. To be fair, I’d need to compare these on two of the same board, side-by-side to really get a good opinion of them, but at least they are on option on this board, when purchasing.
On your stabilized keys, you have Cherry’s PCB-mount screw in stabilizers. I’m really happy to see these here, because plate-mount stabilizers are the devil, if you ask me. Also, screw-in stabs are incredibly good. As you probably expect, the ones on this board are completely stock. The spacebar in particular is fairly loud (read: rattley), so I’d advise treating it to some lube, if you’re able to. Ideally, you’ll desolder the board, disassemble the stabilizers, lube them properly, and consider “clipping” them, for a much more pleasurable and quieter typing experience. Clipping is a technique where you remove the two legs that protrude vertically out on the bottom of the stabilizer inserts, typically with a pair of flush cutters. This modification gives the bottom-out feel on those gives a bit more natural of a feeling, as opposed to feeling a bit spongy. This is totally optional, of course, but most enthusiasts will argue the feel is just flat-out better.
Programmability is in full effect here, with a proprietary Graphical User Interface (GUI), which will allow you to program keys and such. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to check out a completed version of the GUI, as it’s still being developed and projected to be completed by the time the board ships to customers. From what I have seen, it’s quite usable, simple, and convenient. Another nice addition is the USB configuration. USB-C is the default, but you can manually change it to USB mini, if you desire. No soldering required!
This board is currently available on Massdrop at the final drop-price of $300, with free shipping to the US. If I’m being a little honest, I would have liked to see this completed board closer to the $250 range, but as usual, I like to be a greedy customer. Having all of the parts sourced and made in Germany adds to the cost, and hopefully the payoff is worth it, because personally I’d like to see how much this would cost via Chinese manufacturers. I might be in the minority, but I’m often okay with trading some potential quality for a significant decrease in price. Regardless, I don’t think $300 is a bad price, per say, for what you get. Beautifully milled aluminum housing and plate and practically arousing GMK keycaps add a lot of value to this board.
If you’d like to check out a lot more information on this keyboard, head over here for a fantastic write-up by keyboard expert, Livingspeedbump, one of the designers and influencers of the C70 project.