Epomaker TH96 Mechanical Keyboard Review


The Epomaker TH96 could be one of the best keyboard Epomaker has launched for the reason that GK68XS in 2020. It was constructed with a concentrate on delivering a fantastic, comfy, and satisfying typing expertise, and the group of designers has succeeded. You may say these objectives are the identical for any keyboard, however as you’ll see on this overview, the Epomaker group has gone above and past to make this the customized keyboard you don’t truly must customise. Let’s dive in. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: 
    • $129 Early Bird, $149 Retail – Wireless, software program model (Kickstarter
    • $159 Early Bird, $179 Retail – Wired QMK/VIA model

Epomaker TH96 – What Is It?

The Epomaker TH96 is a 96% mechanical keyboard with customized switches, a compact full-size design, full programmability, and a large-and-in-charge quantity wheel. The keyboard can be obtainable with out the amount wheel and as a substitute has two additional buttons. That model is the TH98. No matter which you get, you’ll have a full quantity pad, arrow keys, and performance row. That 96% monicker signifies that it’s not fairly full-size. The modifying and navigation cluster has been eliminated and the Numpad shifted subsequent to the typing keys. Most of the buttons are nonetheless obtainable, aside from Insert, Scroll Lock, Pause, and Print Screen, however others like Page Up, Page Down, and Delete have devoted keys. Home and End are accessible by way of the quantity pad. 

This keyboard takes main affect from the customized keyboard neighborhood. It’s made totally of plastic, which is consistent with its value, however inside its shell, there’s a lot happening. 

The TH96 makes use of a gasket mounted design. Instead of getting the plate and switches screw on to the highest or backside half of the case, the plate is rimmed with tabs lined in silicone. This deadens out vibrations and provides typing a lighter sound profile. There isn’t a lot flex in any respect when typing, however the keys really feel gentle on account of this bumper layer between the instances. 

The case can be filled with extra dampening and sound tuning materials. Take a have a look at the picture above for an exploded view that highlights every thing that goes into it. The plate is metal and has a layer of silicone between it and the PCB to isolate typing sounds. Between the switches and PCB, there’s a PORON foam sheet, which modifies the typing sound so as to add a bit extra pop. Beneath the PCB within the backside half of the case is a thick sheet of silicone to take away any hollowness. 

Epomaker’s method to tuning the sound and really feel of the keyboard is spectacular. These are options usually reserved for DIY customized keyboard kits and boutique premades, just like the Meletrix Zoom65. The premade world is gradual to reply, however Epomaker is nothing if not responsive and we will see the outcomes of that right here within the TH96/98. The keyboard completely sounds and feels higher than most different premades in its value class.

The TH96/98 can be one of many very first from Epomaker to assist QMK and VIA for programming. This is one thing the neighborhood has been asking after for years and it’s large to lastly see it popping out on this TH line-up. You’ll have to order the suitable model, nonetheless, because the Wireless mannequin solely helps Epomaker’s proprietary software program. That performance provides $30 to the bottom price, however in order for you firmware stage programmability so that you don’t have to run software program in any respect, it’s effectively price paying additional for.

The TH96 comes inventory with customized switches and keycaps, although each are simply replaceable. The switches are Epomaker’s light-weight Flamingo linears, which come manufacturing unit lubed and have a constantly easy key press all the best way to the underside of their journey and a 35-gram actuation power. I used to be anxious they might be too mild, however that power jumps to 45 grams to backside out, which is identical as Cherry MX Reds. The lube job is nice, so there’s no have to lube these once more to have a easy and great-sounding typing expertise.

If you do care to vary the switches, it’s very straightforward to do. The TH96 makes use of hot-swappable swap sockets, so that you received’t want to fret about soldering or desoldering something. You merely use the included swap/keycap puller and unplug the outdated switches earlier than urgent the brand new ones into place. The keyboard helps three and five-pin switches.

The keycaps are thick-walled, dye-sublimated PBT and can be found in MDA and MDA V2 profiles. PBT is the popular plastic for sturdiness, as the fabric is extra dense and immune to chipping, fading, or shining over time. The profile decisions are similar to each other. Both are sculpted within the type of classic SA keycaps however have the peak much like Cherry profile keycaps, making them extra comfy to make use of. The surfaces are easy to the contact as a substitute of textured, so there’s a distinctive really feel to the TH96. The materials and distinctive thickness of those keycaps additionally offers them a decrease pitched sound when typed upon rapidly. 

Should you modify these out to present your keyboard a facelift, you’ll be free to make use of no matter MX-compatible keycap set you want. The switches are all south dealing with, which suggests there received’t be interference with Cherry profile keycaps. This does place the LED on the backside of the swap, nonetheless, which isn’t good for keycaps with backlit legends. 

If you go for the wi-fi model, the TH96 will truly assist three connection modes: Wired, 2.4GHz, and Bluetooth 5.0. Swapping between these modes and wirelessly linked is simple and dependable. Quick FN mixtures swap gadgets, and the delay when switching is minimal. I discovered swapping between 2.4GHz and Bluetooth to be constantly quick with just a few seconds of delay between modifications.

Finally, earlier than transferring into the typing expertise part, it’s price speaking about programmability. The TH96/98 may be fully remapped, assigned straightforward to report macros, and moved between lighting schemes on the fly. You can change lighting presets utilizing key mixtures (there are 18 presets to select from), however different programming must be completed with Epomaker’s software program suite. It’s much better than it was once and is simpler on the subject of remapping keys and recording/assigning macros, however it’s clearly nonetheless being developed. Don’t go in anticipating Razer ranges of polish, however anticipate it to be a lot improved from Epo’s keyboards even one 12 months in the past.

Epomaker TH96 – Typing and Gaming Experience

With that background out of the best way, I’ve to say that the TH96 has been certainly one of my greatest surprises this 12 months. It’s not an ideal keyboard, however the typing expertise actually is superb. The keys really feel gentle on account of all the dampening materials and the gasket mount implementation, and there’s a pleasant poppiness out of the field that’s enhanced additional for those who apply your personal tape mod to the PCB (which is quick, straightforward, and low cost). 

The supplies and switches used additionally play to the strengths of the plastic case. Aluminum is the popular materials for a lot of customized keyboards, however plastic nonetheless has its place even in fanatic circles. Here, using plastic actually rounds out the typing sounds. There’s nothing sharp to the ear, and it’s actually quite pleasant to hearken to when typing. 

Of course, loads of the sound and really feel of any keyboard is with the switches used. The Flamingo switches use POM plastic for the stem and polycarbonate for the housing. They have a higher-pitched, light-weight typing sound that matches very effectively with the remainder of the keyboard. 

At 35 grams to actuate and manufacturing unit lubed for distinctive smoothness, the Flamingo switches are wonderful for gaming. I performed World of Warcraft, Doom Eternal, and Battlefield 2042. Their linear design makes sending fast key presses virtually easy. Be ready for a slight studying curve on account of their lighter actuation power, however these are excellent switches proper out of the field. 

The stabilizers are additionally good. They come manufacturing unit lubed, although this was a bit extra inconsistent. Since they’re plate mounted, including extra lube your self is simple, however you possibly can additionally use them out of the field for those who don’t care about a little bit rattle on the longer keys. 

One concern I’ve is with the look of each obtainable keycaps units. The white model takes clear inspiration from Rama Works’ Heavy Industry however makes use of a Steam-like arm on the left shift that appears off to me. The black model makes use of a darker keycap set however opts for futuristic, virtually sci-fi-inspired legends. I would love to see Epomaker use a novel keycap set design that leans into colours as a substitute of legends and graphics fairly a lot.

Final Thoughts

At the tip of the day, the Epomaker TH96 has received me over with its typing expertise. The inner design, switches, and plastic case all work so effectively collectively, that it turns into one thing higher than the sum of its elements. I even have to present Epomaker huge kudos for listening to the neighborhood so effectively: gasket mounting, plentiful dampening, south dealing with switches, and QMK assist are all included hear as a result of Epomaker truly listened to what its buyer wished now and was reactive sufficient to ship it. $179 for the QMK model does really feel barely excessive, however $129/$159 for the early bird price could be very honest and makes this a strong alternative for typing and gaming.

Click here to visit the Epomaker TH96’s Kickstarter Page and find out more.

The product described on this article was supplied by the producer for analysis functions. 

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