In the world of mechanical keyboard, one product stand out as being one of the most awaited and probably one of the most sold keyboards in recent years. The Vortexgear Pork3r compact keyboard is often regarded as a solid choice that has made its proofs and regularly appears on /r/MechanicalKeyboards as the endgame of the post author.
But what is it that makes this keyboard such a loved one and does it still make sense in 2016?
One of the founding principles of Vortexgear is quality, and I think they really brought forward this value in the Pok3r. The case is made of black aluminum, very strong and heavy, it also helps stabilize the keyboard on your desk. With the rubber pads to help, it stays solidly in place. The aluminum case itself is 385g and offers for a very stable foundation for this keyboard.
The model tested has Cherry MX Red switches. They are linear switches with an actuation force of 45g, 2mm to actuation and 4mm to the bottom.
In terms of layout, this is what we call a 60% keyboard. It has 61 keys and the model I tested has the ANSI layout. Therefore, you need to learn new shortcuts to hit the Fn keys and the arrows. The DIP switches at the bottom can help move some keys around but you will most probably need some software to completely map your keys if you are on a Mac. The first two are to switch between Qwerty, Dvorak or Colemak, the third one is to move the Fn key to Caps Lock and the 4th one is to move the Fn or Pn key to any other key.
The key caps, also included, fit the quality requirements of Vortex, they are thick PBT key caps with side printed functions or modifier keys. The font they used for the printed characters is their signature font, Bank Gothic, and it gives the keyboard a unique look. Instead of centring the font, they aligned the modifiers to the lower left corner and the letters to the top left. Original and definitely pretty!
- 60% keyboard layout
- 61 keys, Cherry MX switches
- PBT laser etched key caps
- Plate-mounted PCB
- Hardware programmable
- N-key rollover
- Aluminum case
The key switches chosen will greatly reflect your appreciation of the keyboard, that’s why I strongly suggest to try many different keyboards of some of those key switch samplers (Cooler Master makes one and Massdrop has many often available). Once you are sure of the keys switch you want, the PBT key caps of the Pok3r will help make all this a very stable keyboard.
Getting used to the 60% layout is not very hard and should not be a problem for anyone that is willing to try. The extra space on the desk is great and your hands travel way less.
The Vortex Pok3r keyboard can also be programmed to remember a series of key presses. This can be complex the first time you try it, but once you do 2-3 shortcuts like that, you get the hang of it. You can set that shortcut to be up to 32 key strokes instead of 14 in the previous model. What can you do with this?
You can set your password to a combination of keys, you can map Command+Space and a command to another one, or you can simply move the Fn+IJKL for the arrow keys to Fn+WASD if you prefer. The possibilities are infinite.
On the hardware side of things, Vortex did an amazing job here. This is a solid 60% keyboard and it truly deserves its king of the hill title. Strong, steady, well build and highly configurable, with no software whatsoever, I strongly recommend the Vortex Pok3r keyboard. Just make sure you select the proper types of switches you like as they are crucial in your mechanical keyboard appreciation. You can also take this a step further and customize it to your likings. Change the aluminum case, buy a SA key cap set, use on of those 1UpKeyboard solder-less custom cable. This can truly be your endgame keyboard!
- Build quality
- Quality case and key cap set
- Many choices of Cherry MX keyswitches
- No software to help newbies
- Layer selection can be triggered by mistake
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