GK61 Keyboard Review: An Optical Gaming Keyboard at Its Best

Gk Keyboard Review

Made by Hong Kong Keyboards, the GK61 is a solid option if you are in the market for a standard-sized 60% mechanical gaming keyboard.
Gk Keyboard OperationIt comes with a wide range of top features, including RGB backlighting and a super-fast USB Type-C connector. These features are bound to make your overall typing and gaming experience smooth and enjoyable, but how exactly do they work?

We will answer this question and many more as we proceed with this GK 61 mechanical keyboard review. Read on!

GK61 Keyboard Specifications at a Glance

Keyboard Name and Model GK61 mechanical keyboard
Dimensions 11.42 x 3.94 x 1.18 inches
Weight 546g
Layout ANSI 60% layout
Keycap Material Double-shot ABS
Backlight RGB per-key LED backlight
Software Yes
Macro-Programmable Yes
Switch Optical Gateron red switches
Micro-phone Yes
Connections Wired only
Wireless Support No
Compatibility Windows and Mac OS

1. GK61 Keyboard Review: In-Depth Analysis

GK61 Keyboard Key Criteria
Switch Types
RGB Backlights
Keystroke Sensitivity
Great design and build quality
Built-in microphone feature
Customizable RGB LED backlight
Keycaps wobble at times
Software is a bit complicated

Just like many other optical keyboards on the market, the GK61 has some distinctive features and functionalities which separate it from other models. As we continue, we will look at these features individually and emphasize how they work to provide you with an outstanding typing and gaming experience.

Now, on to the full review.

– Unique Build and Design and Construction

From the very first glance, the GK61’s nice look and design differ totally from what we are used to with other 60% keyboards. It comes with a standard ANSI layout, making it very easy to swap out damaged or faulty keycaps.

Although the fonts here share a close resemblance with the ones available on cheaper models, GK61’s keycaps have some extra legends for the layers to make up for the cheap look.

The keyboard weighs 546 grams, which means you should be able to carry it along with you and enjoy your games on the go without any hassle at all. Its sturdy metallic plate, coupled with the plastic housing, also helps to minimize flexing and aid portability.

The keyboard comes with a slim bezel to further emphasize the small form factor common with most 60% keyboards.

It has a quite interesting glossy finish, which is visible once you flip the keyboard on its side. Notably, the GK61 keyboard comes with a standard OEM profile. However, the keycaps’ glossy finish gels perfectly with the overall design to give the board a unique outlook.

What’s more, there are four rubber feet at the base to keep the keyboard firm and steady on any surface. Overall, you will come to appreciate the visual vibe and aesthetics of the GK61 if it is properly cleaned and maintained.

– Compact Layout

As stated previously, the GK61 comes with the ANSI layout, straight out of the box. However, it misses out on the dedicated Numpad and arrow buttons, which is something that is quite common with most 60% keyboards.

This doesn’t mean you have completely missed out on these buttons, though. You can access all numerical keys together with the functions keys on another layer.

Also, you can access the control keys for the device’s backlighting effects at the upper side of the keyboard. The layout makes provision for the “nav cluster,” otherwise referred to as the nine special keys. You can trigger these buttons with the function key at the lower right corner of the keyboard.

We can say that the GK61 really outperforms many keyboards with a 60% layout when it comes to implementing the layers and their various functions.

FN Functions:
• You can press the Fn+Back buttons to turn on/off the light effect
• You can press the Fn+P/[{ buttons to either lower or increase the brightness levels of the GK61

• You can press the Fn+Q buttons to switch to an online model and select many backlight and macros
• You can press the Fn+W/E/R buttons to switch to an offline mode with many preset layers
• You can press the Fn+W buttons to switch to mode 1, which performs the default function of a normal keyboard
• You can press the Fn+E buttons to switch to mode 2 and trigger the default functions of the F1, F2, F3… keys
• You can press the Fn+R buttons to switch to mode 3 and initiate the default functions of the PS, SL, PB, Ins, HM, PU, Del, End, PD buttons, respectively
• You can press the FN+Windows buttons to lock the Windows key and prevent the start menu from coming up while gaming

– Multiple Backlighting Effects

Recently, the backlight feature has become an essential feature in modern-day keyboards, and the GK61 is not an exception. It uses the surface-mounted LEDs and comes equipped with a tiny glass-like material which helps to magnify the light to a very bright level.

Notably, it comes with genuine RGB lighting, and this implies you can get about 16.8 million color combinations from each LED.

Also, there are multiple backlight modes and effects, including Ripple, Aurora, Music, Waves, Rainbow, Spectrum, Gradient, Windmill, and a single light. The animations come through nicely, and the transition is smooth and seamless.

You can tinker with the backlight’s settings and adjust the brightness levels as you deem fit. Specifically, the GK61 keyboard has a 21-level adjustable brightness setting. You can press and hold the FN+P buttons to reduce the brightness to its lowest level.

Similarly, you can press and hold the FN+left bracket buttons to increase the brightness all the way to the maximum level. A combination of the FN+semi-colon buttons and the FN+apostrophe will let you change or adjust the animation speed.

In addition, if you have no need for the backlight, you can press the FN+backspace buttons to turn off the feature completely.

Delving deeper into the backlighting feature, the GK61 gaming keyboard provides you with two lighting modes. We have the logic lights mode, which comes with a wide range of lighting effects that can be triggered when you press the FN+right bracket buttons.
On the other hand, there is a code lights mode, which uses the device’s built-in mic to ensure perfect audio sync in-between the transitions. To activate this mode, all you need to do is press the FN+backslash buttons, and you are good to go.

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– High-Performing Gateron Switches (Optical)

Our GK61 keyboard review will never be complete without making mention of the switches, which stands tall as one of the best features of the GK61.

The keyboard comes equipped with the optical Gateron red switches, with almost the same features as the Gaterod red except the design. With a 2.0 mm actuation distance, the switches only require about an actuation force of 45 g, and they bottom out at exactly 4.0 mm.

Usually, many mechanical keyboards with PCB-mounted switches come with a metal prong. However, this is not the case with the GK61, thanks to the optical nature of its switches. Instead, we have a shaft-like component that stands between light and the sensors on the PCB.

Notably, the optical switches featured in the GK61 keyboard will come in handy while typing or gaming. They will help ensure faster response times and enhance the overall durability of the keyboard. What’s more, the switches are not soldered to the PCB. You can easily replace them whenever you need to.

In addition, the keyboard comes with IP68 certification to prevent water damage from accidental liquid and coffee spills. The optical Gateron red switches are built in a way that will further enhance this capability, so you have nothing to worry about when you spill your drink on your board.

In addition, you can expect to enjoy the smooth feel that is typical of most Gateron switches here. With an actuation force of 45 g, you can enjoy fast and accurate touch typing as well as an overall enjoyable gaming experience.

Aside from that, the GK61 mechanical gaming keyboard can work well in a quiet environment, as its linear nature helps to keep the noise level at the barest minimum.

– Hot-Swappable Optical Switches

It is important to note that the optical Gateron red switches available on the GK61 mechanical keyboard are completely hot-swappable. With this feature, you can easily replace damaged switches without having to undergo any soldering or desoldering process.

Also, the feature allows you to personalize your overall typing and gaming experience by integrating customized compatible switches.

– DoubleShot ABS Keycaps

It is not uncommon for most modern keyboards to go with either ABS or PBT when it comes to the keycaps’ components. Notably, the GK61 sticks to the former, making use of sturdy ABS plastic in every keycap.

Also, you will appreciate the way the keycaps’ texture blends in with the overall shiny and glossy look of the device. Thanks to its double-shot design, the translucent plastic beneath the keycaps enhance the keyboard’s backlighting feature and create enough space for the legends.

– Stabilizers

You need your stabilizers to be equal to the task when it comes to engaging in marathon gaming and typing sessions. That is why many avid gamers are always interested in knowing exactly how stable a keyboard is before making the purchase.

As for the GK61, it has some good stabilizers onboard, and the space bar doesn’t exhibit much rattle as we have seen on other models. Although it might not really be among the best out there when it comes to stabilizers, it still does a pretty decent job.

– Built-In Microphone

This is one of the areas where the GK61 keyboard really stands out. It comes equipped with a built-in microphone feature, which helps synchronize your music with your preferred lighting mode or via the GK61 keyboard software.

– GK61 Keyboard: Typing and Gaming Performance

Whether you are a typist or hard-core gamer, it is important to have a keyboard that can meet your specific typing and gaming demands. The GK61 mechanical keyboard delivers outstanding performance in both aspects.

– Typing Experience

When it comes to typing, the keyboard’s optical Gateron red switches are very receptive to touch. This implies that you can actuate the keys to trigger different commands without any hassle at all. You will find this very appealing if you type very quickly and have a decent knowledge of touch typing.

You have to be very careful here, however. The low actuation force of the Gateron switches onboard means you may often find yourself mistakenly hitting the keys randomly. You should also note that the audible and tactile feedbacks here are not as evident as those available on optical Gateron brown and optical Gateron black switches, respectively.

Specifically, optical Gateron brown switches require about 55 g actuation force, while optical Gateron black requires an actuation force of 60 g.

Overall, the GK61 keyboard delivers a solid typing experience for all users. Although the keys may feel a little wobbly at times, it doesn’t have any substantial effect on the keyboard’s performance when it comes to typing.

– Gaming Performance

As an ideal gaming keyboard, we would have been disappointed if the GK61 didn’t live up to our expectations when it comes to gaming. However, it delivers a great performance overall, and it is a solid option for all avid gamers and enthusiasts.

While the low actuation force of the optical Gateron red key switches doesn’t really help all the time if you are typing, it is a gamer’s delight. The low actuation force implies you don’t have to bottom out before you actuate the keys to trigger some rapid actions while gaming.

This is particularly useful in a situation that requires quick thinking and action. At the slightest touch of a button and preset keys, you can quickly change your weapons, reload your guns, and make some quick decisions.

Furthermore, since the GK61 is only available as a wired-only keyboard, the N-key rollover works perfectly well every time, which means you are able to initiate special actions by pressing multiple keys simultaneously.

– Software

Yes, the GK61 mechanical comes with a very helpful software. However, you should expect to spend some time getting to understand and use this software before you can make anything out of it.

The software has a somewhat complicated overview, which may put some people off, especially if you consider similar models within the same price range. However, you will find it very useful once you are able to wrap your head around the software.

You can customize and tinker with the backlighting mode and effects and change the keyboard’s shortcuts as you deem fit. Also, the keyboard offers some macro-programmable functions via the software.

You can easily record and save your macros and customize the function keys to enhance your overall gaming experience.

The GK61’s software proves very useful where it matters the most. Once you have it figured out, you will find it hard to do without it. Also, if you encounter any problem while tinkering with the software’s settings, you can quickly revert to the factory settings and continue with the default functions.

Overall, the GK61 mechanical keyboard is one of the best 60% keyboards we have ever worked with at its price range. However, it is not without its downsides.

First off, there are times when the keycaps wobble annoyingly. Thankfully, it only comes up a few times and has no significant impact on the overall performance at all.

Also, the software can put off a newbie who is just after a budget-friendly 60% keyboard. However, we think the price of getting to understand how the software works is worth paying, as you can enjoy a wide range of customization options afterward.

Aside from these few downsides, the keyboard delivers a decent performance in all other aspects, and it will continue to meet your specific typing and gaming demands for a very long time.

What Makes the GK61 Keyboard so Special?

As stated earlier, the GK61 will not hurt your pocket. However, does it really have what it takes to rank among the best in its price range? Here is our take:

Recently, we have seen a spike in the production of optical keyboard switches among many top brands. Also, some popular gaming keyboards like the GK61 come equipped with these switches, and the end results are really worthwhile.

Nonetheless, only a few people can actually tell what makes up an optical keyboard switch and its exact mode of operation.

In a very simple term, optical keyboard switches, unlike the more popular mechanical switches, come with photoelectric switches that use infrared light to detect a keypress.

How Do Optical Switches Operate?

Don’t get it twisted. Optical switches may differ from mechanical switches in their mode of operations. However, they still feature some physical moving parts. The moment you press the keycaps, there is a movement within the shaft to help detect the keypress and reset the position of the switch afterward.

Most optical keyboards come with an LED backlight and an Infrared Photothermal Radiometry technology beneath every switch casing. This technology helps to detect and initiate actuation whenever there is a keypress.

In addition, optical switches exhibit similar functions, features, and characteristics as some standard switches. What matters most is how the switches receive and transmit every detected keypress input.

Usually, gaming keyboards with optical switches save you the stress of constantly soldering or desoldering switches due to performance degradation that occurs when the metal contact points of a mechanical switch wear out.

Also, it’s not uncommon for keyboards with mechanical switches to suffer from metal debounce noise once in a while. Unfortunately, this can disrupt the transmission of signals between your PC and the keyboard, thereby delaying response time by many milliseconds.
With optical switches, this issue is totally non-existent. In addition, gaming keyboards with optical switches totally eliminate to need to solder new switches to a PCB or desolder damaged switches when you need to replace them.

Not only does this help drive down production costs, but it also prevents the disruption in the connection that occurs from a poorly soldered key switch.

Why Optical Switches?

When compared to keyboards with standard mechanical switches, keyboards with optical switches provide users with some unique benefits, including durability, speed, and they allow you to increase the switch’s capabilities.

An optical gaming keyboard has a noticeably shallower key travel than a keyboard with the traditional mechanical switches. This will help prevent the dreaded debounce issues and translate into faster speed when typing or gaming.

Thanks to their non-solderable switch design and photoelectric actuation method, optical gaming keyboards like the GK61 exhibit better water-resistant capability than their counterparts with mechanical switches.

Even if the switches are badly damaged, and you need to quickly swap them out, the design of the optical switches means you can easily pull them out from their sockets without any hassle.

Usually, you will have access to a keycap puller which helps to pluck out the switches and replace them with new ones.

Similarly, gaming keyboards with optical switches also give room for great customization options. That is to say, you can easily swap out your factory-fitted switch for another compatible model to enjoy a customized experience.

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In conclusion, the GK61 tops the list of the most budget-friendly hot-swappable keyboards we have seen around. From the build quality to the glossy design and compact layout, it does come in handy for most typing and gaming activities.

You can customize your gaming experience by modifying various lighting modes to suit your mood and adding your own macro settings through the software.

The keyboard’s optical switch makes for a quicker reaction time whenever you initiate a command. This implies that the GK61 delivers faster responses for an overall smooth and seamless gaming experience.

The software is a bit cumbersome, but if that isn’t a source of concern for you, you will have a splendid gaming experience with the GK61.


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