Review: The Glorious GMMK Gaming Keyboard
Modular, mechanical, and meme-worthy.
From keyboard to meme to keyboard in the literal sense, the Glorious PC Gaming Race LLC pays homage to the ultra-popular r/pcmasterrace on Reddit with their moniker. Started in 2014, they’ve been cranking out quality, affordable gaming accessories and peripherals ever since. Today we’re looking at their fully-modular keyboard, the Glorious GMMK (GMMK-BRN).
This keyboard’s claim to fame is the hot-swappable switches that are on every key. The GMMK ships pre-configured with Gateron Browns on all keys, but can be configured from their website with a variety of switches from both Kailh and Gateron – there are 14 switch-types in total to choose from. They also sell tester kits with one of each type, so you can decide if you prefer higher actuation force, tactility, or anything in between.
The GMMK-BRN comes in a simplistic cardboard box. The monochrome theme suits the minimalistic styling of the keyboard inside the box, and it highlights the most important selling point – the modular switches.
Inside the box is a minimal user’s guide, a second guide on how to replace the switches, a GPCGR sticker, and two key pullers, one loose metal one for pulling switches and another plastic for the keycaps that fits into a holder on the bottom of the keyboard. There’s also a punny ASCEND keycap replacing the ESC key, and the ESC keycap is loose in the box in case you don’t like the joke.
The GMMK-BRN will appeal to those who don’t like their gamer accessories to be too gamer-y. What I mean by that is that it’s a stylish keyboard that wouldn’t look out of place next to an office machine (if you turn off the RGB, that is). The keyboard has a standard 104 keys ANSI layout keyboard with a 6.25× Spacebar and seven 1.25× bottom row keys, which serves to underscore the dedication to modularity. It’s easy to get new keycap sets for this board, and if you customize one on their website you can choose to have it shipped without any so you can add your personal touch.
The GMMK-BRN has a hefty, braided USB cable to connect it to the PC. The company has opted to go for strength rather than replaceability here, so there’s no removable cable. A cap for the USB plug is attached to that end of the cable to protect it from dust/fluff when in your backpack. This is a nicely thought out touch, and I wonder if we’ll start to see it on more peripherals as time goes on.
Replacing key switches is fairly straight-forward, I didn’t have any issues with pulling them out or installing them again. Most key switches are compatible, except for EpicGear EG MMS switches, as their pins are too short. This is a touch of flair for those who might be tempted to try other switches without having to buy a whole new keyboard.
It’s something that I like, and judging by communities of keyboard enthusiasts – I’m not alone in this. Sure the average user might find a switch they like and stick with it for the lifetime of their keyboard, but the option to change, for example, just the WASD keys for more gaming-orientated switches while still keeping the rest a typing-orientated switch is nice to have.
There are dual-function keys here, accessed by using the FN key instead of a software suite. F1 through F4 have program launch functions, F5-F8 are media keys and F9-F11 handle sound. You can change from 6-NKRO to full-NKRO, and control the various RGB modes using the PrtSC and Ins clusters. The RGB is pretty bright and fills the gaps between the keys nicely.
There’s no visible branding on the keyboard on the front, and only minimal small LEDs to denote Capslock/Numlock/Scroll. The faceplate has nicely brushed aluminum and a small chamfer around the edge.
All in all, the plucky startup has created a stylish, minimalist keyboard that should appeal to most users.
There’s a small software editor for the GMMK which lets you customize lighting, USB report rate and also create macros for those of us that can’t live without some automation. With no dedicated macro keys, I’d recommend attaching macros to the numpad or a separate profile so they don’t interfere with your daily typing.
The included Gateron Browns are direct clones of the Cherry MX originators, and that’s a good thing. They feel sturdy to type on, with a tactile bump that feels a little higher in the stroke than the originals. This has greatly reduced the occurrence of typos while I type, and are also fairly light to activate so you don’t get fatigued when gaming.
The keys are slightly loud, but no more than any other mechanical switches would be. There’s no ping on the return, and as the casing is fairly solid, there’s not much of a reverb when you bottom out.
This would be a great dual-use keyboard for FPS/typing in the stock configuration, and with the customization to a different key switch type according to personal taste, you’ll soon find a config that works for you. It might be less of utility if you’re an MMO/MOBA player, due to those game types often being macro-heavy. There is a software utility to add macro functionality, so you could have a separate profile for these type of games that won’t impede on your typing otherwise.
Wrapping up the GMMK
Born out of a community of passionate gamers who demanded the best, the GPCGR have created something fairly unique in the mechanical keyboard community – a fully modular keyboard with hot-swap that retails for not much over $100. With custom keyboards starting much higher than that, this represents a certain level of value to the consumer.
With the ability to change switches comes the ability to wear out the sockets, so frequent tinkerers should be aware of this limitation. With how thin the gold coating on the contacts is, it’s only a matter of time before they wear and won’t connect properly. Most users won’t have this problem, it’s mentioned more for completeness.
With the wide array of switches to choose from, and the ability to change them on the fly, the GMMK is definitely worth looking at. If you get ‘key envy’ and want to try them all, now you can without buying extra hardware. The GMMK provides a modular solution to a top tier problem, and it’s highly recommended.
There’s also a TKL version for those of you that don’t like the extra space taken up by a numpad.