Epomaker Lite Review - 60% Shallow Gasket Mount Keyboard 3

Epomaker Lite Review - 60% Shallow Gasket Mount Keyboard

Disassembly »

Closer Examination


At its heart, the Epomaker Lite is a typical 60% keyboard. If you have missed the many 60% keyboards we have covered on TechPowerUp over the past few months, this means the Epomaker Lite takes up just the alphanumeric section of the typical full-size or TKL keyboard and omits the Fn key row, arrow key column, and, of course, numpad. The tilde (~) key is usually replaced by the more useful Esc key, and then there are layers to add the missing functions and then some. This 61-key unit has all these extra functions associated with the Fn layer, and the plastic case versions of the Epomaker Lite with ABS keycaps do a better job in showing these extra functions via additional keycap legends. The aluminium case versions come in two different custom keycap sets—either this black case with theseEarl Gray keycaps or a gray case with a nicely matching Theory keycap set. These PBT keycaps thus do not have any of the extra legends since they are taken from pre-existing keycap sets that are more universal in nature, so you are sacrificing some functionality here.

In return, we get a premium keyboard in build quality and finish owing to the use of this high-profile CNC-machined and anodized aluminium case and tri-tone keycap set. This combination of different colors works out well in my opinion, which is also helped by the case with its uniform, small bezels with rounded corners. The keycaps have relatively large legends in the top-left corner, with secondary legends above the primary ones as seen above. It's a clean-looking keyboard with no visible branding in use, but one that will still draw more attention than the typical all-black keyboards that are everywhere.


Turning the keyboard around, we see the usual certification sticker in the middle, but as a metal badge. There are ABS black, white, and translucent plastic cases as well, but I can only speak for what I have here. We also see four tiny hemispherical rubber pads on the corners for friction against the resting surface and to prevent scratches to the case. Two feet are included at the top, which is rare on metal cases and makes for an additional elevation step on top of this already elevated case design. These feet also have rubber pads on the bottom, which is nice.


Based on the 90° angled housing for the Type-C connector on one side of the cable, I expected the USB port to be on the shorter sides as with the Epomaker NT68 series. Instead, the Epomaker Lite has it on the side facing away from the user, as an inset cut into the case, which has the now L-shaped cable connection create unnecessary stress over a tight bending radius; I'd rather use the angled section on the source itself. The Type-C to Type-A adapter on the other end can be removed and placed on this side for the straight Type-C connector to be used on the keyboard. There is enough room for aftermarket cables to easily fit, including the optional Epomaker EP-01 coiled, split cable available as an add-on with the Epomaker Lite. USB 2.0 on the PC will suffice since this is not a particularly demanding keyboard for data or power.


A look from the side reveals the integrated elevation on this aluminium case version of the Epomaker Lite, as well as the pill-shaped design to the case itself. It's on the higher side even at the bottom, so the lack of a wrist rest may be something to consider for those who don't type with their fingers hovering over the keys, aka pretty much everyone reading this review. The PBT keycap sets also employ the Cherry profile, which makes it worse owing to the shorter profile without much contouring between the five rows. The ABS keycaps use a different profile, which is another factor differentiating them from the higher-end PBT/aluminium combination. The provided keycap puller works well enough, but can still scratch the sides of the keycaps in use, especially on this compact, crowded set. Taking the keycaps off and comparing them with the replacement set from earlier shows they are all indeed PBT plastic in composition, have dye-sublimed legends, and are thus opaque to backlighting, too. On the plus side, these will last the test of time. If you want to replace these, the standard key spacing means aftermarket keycap compatibility is quite high.


As with most Epomaker keyboards these days, the Epomaker Lite comes in a variety of switches to choose from. Some of these are tied to the specific case and keycap combination too, especially if you want to use optical switches, as there is no aluminium/PBT combination. On the plus side, optical switch lovers will get an ISO layout option, too. On the other hand, mechanical switch versions are limited to ANSI. Even with the mechanical switch versions, you have to choose one of six Gateron Pro and seven Epomaker Chocolate switches, which between them cover all three feedback mechanisms. I have the Gateron Pro Yellow switches on this sample, shown by the yellow stem and Gateron branding on the switch-top housing. We also see the use of plate-mounted stabilizers on this FR4 plate, and these come pre-lubed out of the factory. Epomaker also sells steel or polycarbonate replacement plates, and there are plenty of compatible aftermarket plates in other material options and finishes.


One feature retained from previous Epomaker/Skyloong keyboards is the hot-swap switch socket. Using the included switch remover allows for one of these Gateron Pro Yellow switches to be pried out for closer examination. The socket also reveals compatibility with 5-pin mechanical switches, so there is no need to clip off the plastic pins from 5-pin mechanical switches. The Gateron Pro Yellow 3-pin mechanical switch looks nearly the same externally as the Gateron Yellow (Milky Yellow), with the clear top and white base paired with the yellow cross-point stem itself. The larger keycaps are associated with a different switch that has a heavier spring, which I have seen before with other keyboards and is done in an attempt to get a similar typing feel across the board.


Here is a look at the keyboard with all of the replacement keycaps, which occupy the top row and replace Esc and the number keys. These bring back the tilde (~) and Fn keys thus, and make for a more cohesive color scheme, which shows that this Earl Gray set was designed with >=75% form factor keyboards in mind.
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Jul 6th, 2022 04:19 EDT change timezone

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