keyfam

Review: Leopold FC660M PD

May 14, 2019

Do you know the feeling of joining a group buy, waiting nearly a full year for your brand shiny new $200 keycaps to arrive and only just then realizing that you don’t have a keyboard to put them on? Yeah, that’s the real reason why I bought this keyboard. The SA caps wouldn’t fit in my TOFU case, and I needed a new board to bring to work besides.

Leopold is a Korean brand, and one of the most often recommended manufacturer’s of pre-built mechanical (and Topre) keyboards. Their boards can apparently be harder to find in the United States, but I had no trouble finding what I needed and getting it on my doorstep within a week. Maybe I got the itch right as new stock came in or something.

Now the thing’s in my hands (and I’ve been using it for a little bit), let’s take a look at what it’s like.

Specs
Model: Leopold FC660M PD
Switches: MX Silent Red
Colour: Black Two-Tone (Grey and Blue)
Price: $109.00 (+Free Shipping)
Use Length: 5 days

First and foremost, this thing is quiet. Like, incredibly quiet. Not only did I choose MX Silent Reds for my switches, but the keyboard itself has a noise dampening pad inside of it. This is the quietest mechanical keyboard I’ve ever used. There’s still an audible sound when my caveman hands bottom out the keys, but that’s on me and my switch choice (45g is too light, but the board doesn’t come in Silent Blacks). Otherwise, any ping from the switches is completely eliminated and there’s no rattling to be heard from the stabilizers. Why this keyboard isn’t the go-to recommendation for the workplace is beyond me.

These kinds of foam dampening pads aren’t new, but they’re usually modded in by passionate keyboard owners, not a standard feature of a $120 board. I now feel much more confident in the odds of me being throttled by a coworker.

I wont spend too long on the switches, as they’re plain old Cherry MX. They have the slight mushiness characteristic of the MX Silent series, but that’s the tradeoff for wanting a pre-built keyboard with quieter switch. Cherry’s switch-to-switch consistency is great as always. Oddly, the Silent Reds I have in my old Corsair (back when they held a timed exclusive on the switches) were a lot smoother out of the box than these ones. These feel more like standard Reds, with a slight scratchiness to them. I don’t mind: I quite like the scratchiness of MX Reds, but I know a lot of people out there don’t. Maybe there’s something different about the tooling in newer batches.

The chassis is made of plastic, but it doesn’t feel flimsy like a lot of plastic boards do. There’s a good amount of heft to it and there are no creaks or rattles to be found. The plate is metal, which explains things. I wish all plastic cased boards felt as solid as this one. I’m rather disappointed that I didn’t get the white version, as I’ve wanted a matte white keyboard for a while but the process of powder coating a metal case is not something cheaply done. But this board was bought for SA Green Screen, and SA Green Screen it will compliment.

There are little flip-out feet on the bottom of the board, and they feel solid enough.

Speaking of plastic, the ‘PD’ part of the model number stands for ‘PBT Doubleshot’, describing the included keycaps. These caps are fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much, as reviews of older models described the caps getting faded and shiny with very little use, but those models apparently didn’t have these caps. They’re thick (1.5mm), will take longer to develop shine than their ABS counterparts, and double-shot, so the legends wont fade. They also have a nice ‘gritty’ texture, similar to the texture of the chassis plastic. They feel good on the fingers. If you’ve ever used a set of Tai-Hao caps, these feel quite similar, if not a little better. The legends are clear, consistent, and the function-layer legends are printed on the sides. If I weren’t already planning on replacing the caps, I would be more than okay with keeping this set on.

The layout is very aesthetically pleasing, with its little 2-key cluster on the upper right. I’m not so sure as to the usefulness of distinct Insert and Delete keys (I usually make do with having Delete on Fn + Backspace and rarely use Insert at all). I would much rather have that cluster represent Home and End, or PgUp and PgDn (Sims hotkeys = Priorities).

Some keys are of NON-STANDARD sizes, so if buying a new set of caps for this board, be sure to note the 1u winkey and 2.25u right shift. Many higher-end sets will have these keys included as extras, but not all of them will.

The board is NOT programmable, so what the board comes with is what you get. There are DIP switches on the back to swap a few of the bottom row keys around, but that’s as much customization as you’ll get without installing a new microcontroller.

The board interfaces via USB Mini-B, and only supports 6KRO. I’ve never run into trouble with 6KRO, but if you’re prone to using some crazy key-combinations keep that in mind.

Overall, I recommend this board to anyone looking for an incredibly quiet, pre-built keyboard. The board is on the cheaper side for the quality you get, and I’d highly suggest it to someone looking for a board at an entry-level price. The switch options are the standard ones you’ll see in most pre-builts, but I’d have loved to see MX Silent Blacks available.

I’m in love with the form-factor of this board and would love to see somebody turn it into a custom kit, or, at the very least, for Leopold to release a version with hotswap sockets and the ability to change the Insert and Delete keys into something else.

Summary

Pros: Cons:
Sturdy Feel A few non-standard key-sizes
Excellent build quality No MX Silent Black option
Quality default keycaps The 2-key cluster on the top-right of the board could be host to more useful keys
Aesthetically pleasing layout Non-programmable
Quiet as the grave
Cheap AF