(Pocket-lint) - The NZXT Function MiniTKL is the company's first proper compact mechanical keyboard, and one that comes with some great features.
NZXT has come to market with a keyboard that's not only good looking, but also one that's customisable before you buy and available in different variations, too. You can get a full-sized model, a standard TKL, and then this tiny, compact MiniTKL, which packs a TKL frame into a body more comparable to a 65% keyboard.
That's not all, either, as it offers a lot more than what you'd usually get from a big name gaming brand. It has a standard bottom row layout, hot-swappable switch design, per-key RGB lighting, onboard profiles and lighting and much more.
Is it any good in use, though? We've been gaming on it to find out.
The NZXT Function MiniTKL is full of surprises. NZXT could have gone half-hearted into the keyboard market, but this effort is fantastic. It's a great looking keyboard, comfortable and capable, but also offers a lot more than first meets the eye.
We really like that it has more options and features than many other keyboards, but does so without an insane price tag. Simple things like hot-swappable key switches, onboard profiles, per-key RGB and more make this one thoroughly appealing.
NZXT Function MiniTKL
- Interesting layout and design
- Onboard memory for four profiles
- Easily adjustable lighting
- Hot-swappable design for 3 and 5-pin switches
- The buttons on the left are too easy to press
Delightfully good looking
The NZXT Function MiniTKL is immediately striking - it's a good looking keyboard with plenty of appeal.
The model we tried boasts a white top plate that helps to nicely backdrop the per-key RGB lighting. This keyboard comes with ABS keycaps as standard - not as fancy as PBT, of course, but still good enough to be comfortable to type on and to let the RGB lighting shine through.
There are four onboard profiles for that lighting which you can switch between using the FN and F1, F2, F3 and F4. This includes some nice standard lighting - and reactive effects, too. If you want more, you can try out multiple effects via NZXT Cam, and things get really pleasant in there, as you can set a standard layer and a reactive one on top.
Similarly, there are four onboard profiles, too, so you can program those and switch between them easily on-the-fly.
In terms of how the design actually works in use, the Function MiniTKL is a curious case. It seemingly offers the best of both worlds - all the keys of a tenkeyless keyboard, but with the smaller form factor of a 65 per cent keyboard. It's not as compact as something like the Corsair K65 RGB Mini, but it makes up for that by not sacrificing essential parts.
This way, you don't miss out on any important keys, but the keyboard also doesn't take up unnecessary desk space that could be used for large swipes of your gaming mouse.
It's also interestingly thought out, though. There's a volume wheel on the left and three buttons down the side, one to adjust lighting, another to disable the Windows key and the third for a mute button. This is great placement, as it means you can use these things without taking your hand off your mouse, but we also found we accidentally pressed them when shifting the keyboard about our desk.
- Hot-swappable design compatible with 3 and 5-pin switches
- Gateron Linear Red Mechanical Key Switches as standard
- 43gf actuation force, 55gf bottom out, Linear design, 2.4mm actuation
- N-key Rollover, Anti-Ghosting
One of the most interesting features of this keyboard is its hot-swappable design. This is unusual to see on a keyboard from a mainstream gaming peripheral brand, but one that offers some useful customisation options.
As standard, it comes with Gateron Linear red key switches, which are comparable to the Cherry MX red switches you'd find on most standard gaming keyboards. These have a fast, short actuation distance and a linear response, so they're ideal for gaming and comfortable enough for typing on.
Should you choose to, though, you can remove these switches and change them for something else. You can do this before you buy using NZXT's building tool, or do so afterwards at your leisure. The keyboard supports both three and five-pin switch options, so there are plenty to choose from. We tried both Zealios V2s and Gateron Yellows, but you have all sorts of options available out there.
Because it's hot-swappable, you can change the switches while the keyboard is plugged in, meaning it's easy to check a switch is working as you go. This makes the whole process a lot easier. As standard, you get a keycap puller and key switch tool, as well, but we'd recommend having a pair of tweezers on hand so you can straighten any pins that accidentally get bent during the build.
It's nice to have the flexibility to change the switches this easily. You could just swap out the main WASD gaming keys for your gaming sessions or choose to re-work the entire board, it's up to you.
If you're not keen on upgrading or changing the switches, then you'll be pleased to hear that the standard switches are good enough for standard typing and gaming. This keyboard is surprisingly good in that department. The stabilisers are pleasant, and there's no horrible rattle or ping to degrade your experience.
Useful extra features
- Standard bottom row layout
- Onboard memory for four profiles with hardware buttons
- Onboard RGB lighting with hardware buttons
- Dedicated volume wheel, windows key disable and brightness button on the left
The other good news is the Function MiniTKL has a standard bottom row layout, so you can use your own keycaps sets. We used Corsair's PBT double shot keycap sets to change the look and feel of the keyboard with ease.
There are plenty of other options out there, of course, if you want some extra style.
We really like the layout of this keyboard as standard. It has the extra keys we enjoy from a TKL keyboard but in a much more compact frame. The positioning is logical, too, with the directional arrows (for example) on the bottom right being convenient and not buried in other function rows. Page up, page down, print screen and much more are also present and correct, as well.
For convenience, there's also onboard memory for four different profiles, so you can customize them with NZXT's Cam software. Using that software, you can easily remap any key on the keyboard with any other key or character. Alternatively, you can add a second layer where you can press the function key and press any key for another action.
You can also record macros in the software and assign them to any key or secondary function layer.
This keyboard also has some glorious RGB lighting. It has per-key RGB illumination. You can program each key individually or set RGB lighting across the entire thing. You can easily choose from a variety of effects and set a base layer of colours and then add reactive effects on top.
The lighting on this keyboard is surprisingly good, too. It might not be quite as swish as something like the Roccat Vulcan TKL Pro, but the white backplate and overall design still make it easy on the eye.
The standard keycaps let a lot of it through and the various effects are eye-pleasing. There are lots of highlights to the Function MiniTKL and lighting is almost certainly one of them.
The NZXT Function MiniTKL is the company's first proper mechanical keyboard, and one that packs in some great features. With an affordable price tag and only minor issues, this is one of the top gaming keyboards to consider.