The Velocifire VM30 Full Sized Mechanical Gaming Keyboard was kindly provided to me by LELEC free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.
The Velocifire VM30 Full Sized Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is available in the UK from LELEC Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £48.99 with free delivery. In the US the VM30 is available from 180-US Fulfilled by Amazon.com at a cost of $66.99 both with free P&P. (Prices correct at time of posting).
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– The lighting is well executed with no unbalanced or poorly lit areas.
– NKRO features work well.
– Kailh switches are well regarded and considered one of the better Cherry clones. The black switches are similar to red switches, but offer greater resistance when pressed, and compared to blue switches are far easier to double tap.
– Quietest mechanical spacebar I have ever used. (Compared to both my Cherry brown keyboards all keys are notably quieter on the VM30).
– Excellent retractable feet.
– No wrist rest.
– No lighting, memory function.
– While there are lots of different settings for the light all of them evolve around each row of keys being lit a single colour.
– Black switches are very stiff and tiring for productivity use (writing page after page).
– The backlight brightness can only be changed on the default constant backlight mode (although this is sadly quite common).
– No tactile or audible feedback from switches.
– Quality of materials used in the construction isn’t on par with what you might expect for the price.
– Unable to set the entire keyboard to one colour.
– Limited secondary media shortcut keys.
– Sadly only available in a full US layout with a single spaced return key (at least at the time of writing). Not much of an issue when playing games, but can be for productivity related tasks.
– There is a small but noticeable lighting flaw with nearly all of the lighting modes which sort of messes up all but one lighting function. (See lighting section of the review regarding enter key on the numeric keypad).
– Key Lock indicator LED’s are far too bright.
PACKAGING & CONTENTS.
The Velocifire VM30 Full Sized Mechanical Gaming Keyboard comes supplied in flat cardboard retail packaging accompanied with an instruction booklet. The keyboard is supplied wrapped in a thick clear plastic bag and the only additional protection offered to the keyboard are some double thick cardboard inserts.
The illustrated English instruction booklet advises on the use of the keyboard, lighting functions, system requirements, overview & features, specifications and warranty details.
There is no software or drivers included in the box, however, such is not required. The manual indicates the keyboard is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7 & 8. It also states “and all workstations” whatever that is supposed to mean, sadly there is no mention of Mac or Linux systems which at this time I am unable to independently verify.
Having tested on Windows 7 Pro 32-Bit and 8.1 systems the keyboard is plug and play, with the OS installing any necessary software as soon as it is plugged in and is usable within seconds of being plugged into either system with all features working without the need for additional software.
Measurements taken at their greatest point using a digital calliper accurate to within 0.1%.
The keyboard measures 44.6cm x 14.2cm and 32mm deep with feet retracted or 23mm with feet folded away. (The height measurements are from the surface the keyboard is sat on to the top surface of the keyboard frame and do not include the key caps).
The following are some key cap measurements taken with a digital calliper and are accurate to within 0.1%. The measurements are taken of the top surface of the key caps.
Space bar = 113mm x 14.4mm
Arrow & Letter Keys = 13mm x 14.4mm
Enter Key = 37mm x 14.4mm
Left Shift Key = 37mm x 14.4mm
Right Alt Key =4 6mm x 14.4mm
Backspace Key = 32mm x 14.4mm
The spacing between keys is 6mm
The keyboard weighs 914g (this reading unavoidably includes a small section of the cable).
The switches on the Velocifire VM30 keyboard are made by Kailh and are clones of the Cherry MX black design. The Cherry switch patent expired in 2007 which opened up the gate for numerous clones to hit the market, some good and some not so. The Kailh switches are well regarded and are used on some equally well regarded Noppoo keyboards.
The black Kailh switch is described as…
– Non clicky (the only noise they make is when bottomed out on the keyboard frame).
– Non tactile (there is no bump when the key hits the activation point).
– Smooth & Linear (the resistance from, the key is consistent… linear).
The switch has a high actuation force of 60 +/- 20g (reds and blues have an actuation of 45g so that blacks are notably stiffer). The travel distance to the actuation point is 2mm and the keycap mount is Cherry MX compatible.
The black switch is comparable to the red switch just stiffer requiring a greater force to press. Due to the resistance offered by the black switch they are considered tiring to use for productivity, they are however an easy key to double tap and an ideal switch for those that find the reds a little soft or mushy.
Mechanical switches are much more durable than rubber dome keyboards. With mechanical switches having a rated lifespan of 20-50 million keystrokes and rubber domes rated to last around 5 million. Unfortunately, while it is not clear, I suspect that the switches on the VM30 are PCB mounted as when the switch is firmly pressed there is notable flex on the top surface of the keyboard.
With a background sound level of 34.5dB typing on the keyboard registered a sound level of 54.6dB. In comparison the Razer Black Widow Ultimate Stealth Edition with brown switches registers a sound level of 59dBa when typing. As previously mentioned, if the keys are only pressed to their actuation point and then released they make no sound, this is true at least for the alpha / numeric keys.
Keys that are larger than 13mm x 14.4mm are fitted with additional plastic mounting supports which are not entirely securely mounted to the keyboard frame. These do slightly rattle a little when a key is pressed regardless if the key is bottomed out or not.
To allow you to put the following section into context allow me to make the following statement. I currently own a Corsair K70 (MX brown switch), Max Blackbird (MX brown switch), Redragon K552 RGB (OUTEMU blue switch), Havit KB366L (OTM blue switches) and a Havit KB380L (rubber dome) keyboards.
I have also reviewed some 10+ other keyboard, ranging in price from £20 to £120 coupled with my 22+ years of PC ownership and 18+ years of consultation work within the IT industry I hope it’s fair to say I am very aware of what sort of build quality should be expected for the price paid when it comes to PC keyboards.
While the black Kailh switches of the VM30 are very good sadly a £50+ price tag and quality switches does not imply a quality board. The fact is the quality of the board is on par with a £15 MS or Logitech media keyboard and even that’s a little generous. (Granted, you aren’t going to find a stainless steel finish or mechanical switches on those such keyboards but the comparison otherwise stands).
The keyboard frame is entirely made from plastic with a thin layer of brushed stainless steel added to the top. This adds a layer of quality to an otherwise cheap feel offered by the plastics, sadly however, with my particular sample there are a number of small scratches on the metal facia out of the box.
On the top of the keyboard, there are three key lock led indicators and just above the arrow keys can be found “Velocifire” branding printed in black and red. The key caps have an ABS internal cap this provides a smooth surface on the face of the key so the lettering is undetectable to the touch.
The plastic used sadly feels rather cheap and poor quality, the moulding process has left a rather rough and even some sharp edges on the key cap undersides. Keys that have a secondary function have raised and painted indexers depicting their secondary function, this is too small to actually detect by feel what the indexer is. Personally, I prefer my key caps with a smooth finish as such lumps and bumps can be a distraction. That said the raised markings are only found on the top row of function keys.
Keycap wobble is consistent with all my other mechanical keyboards and none are of concern. One pleasant surprise at least is the spacebar, this like all of the larger keys makes a little noise when pressed due to the loose supports (which is slightly amplified over the other keys due to the large void under the spacebar) however compared to all the other spacebars in my keyboard collection it is by far the quietest and least rattly.
The edge of the keyboard is entirely covered with a smooth basic quality plastic and is devoid of any features. The underside of the keyboard by stark contrast is rather over engineered and I can’t help but feel that money has been wasted on aesthetical decisions that would have been better spent elsewhere on the keyboard.
The centre of the underside is fitted with a plastic panel that has a satin brushed effect finish and the edges are fitted with a matte black plastic with very fine grooves running vertically. Between these two very different sections of plastic there is a small raised section again with finely textured grooves running vertically.
In the four corners of the keyboard, there are rectangular rubber non slip pads, these serve to protect any surface that the keyboard is placed on and also prevents the keyboard moving about during use. It’s only a small point, but I have to say I like these as they strike a good balance, all too often such pads are either ineffective or too effective requiring the keyboard to be lifted when a slight adjustment is required.
You would also be surprised by the number of keyboards that lack pads at the top corners. They assume that people will just use the retractable feet and not bothering to add anything for those who like a flat keyboard which results in slippery board when the retractable feet are not used.
The retractable feet are again another good feature, they lock into place securely have excellent non slip tips, a sufficient gap to deploy with ease and only retract when intentionally done so and not when the keyboard is moved. Easily the best or equal best feet of a keyboard that I have seen or used and notably superior to those on my K70.
Also located on the underside are some cable management grooves allowing the cable to be routed out of the back of the keyboard on either side or in the centre. There are some interesting and welcomed features on the underside the quality of materials used, however just isn’t what one would expect for such a priced keyboard.
To give an example of the build quality if the edges of the keyboard are held in the hands and I twist slightly (and I do mean slightly) forward with the left and backwards with the right hand the keyboard clearly warps. If I do this with either my K552 RGB or Havit KB366L keyboards that are both in the same price range as the VM30 there is absolutely no movement as they are far more structurally solid and made from better stronger materials.
I realise this may sound like an odd thing to do and something you wouldn’t obviously normally do with a keyboard, but I believe it gives you an indication of the quality of construction and materials used.
The cable protrudes from the rear of the keyboard by 179cm if using the central exit point on the rear of the keyboard (excluding the USB connector). 4.9cm down from the connector is a 2.6cm x 1.35cm ferrite EMI suppressor and the cable is coated with a black PVC sleeve and the connector is not gold plated.
By default, when the keyboard is first installed and each subsequent time the PC is switched on the keyboard is lit up with each row showing a different colour.
The bottom row (Ctrl, Windows key, Spacebar etc…) lights up purple.
The second row (Shift, \, Z, etc…) lights up blue.
The third row (Caps lock, A, S, etc… lights up green.
The fourth row (Tab, Q, W, etc…) lights up yellow.
The fifth row (`, 1, 2, etc…) lights up orange.
The sixth row (Esc and the function keys) lights up red.
The light remains on constantly and does not change colour or brightness
The lighting is controlled by holding the “FN” key and tapping one of the following keys.
FN + Scroll Lock = This changes the lighting function.
FN + Pause Break = In the default light setting this increases the light brightness, in all other modes it increases the light movement speed.
FN + Print Screen = In the default light setting this decreases the light brightness, in all other modes it decreases the light movement speed.
The lighting functions on offer are as follows…
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock once = The colour pattern remains the same as default, however rather than remaining a constant brightness the lights fade in and out, this is often called a breathing mode. At the default speed the lights fade in and out once per 6 seconds, at its slowest one cycle takes 11 seconds and at its fastest it takes 2 seconds.
Hold FN + tap Scroll Lock twice = In this mode the key colour lighting is the same as the default mode, however only 3 rows light up at a time. At first the 2nd, 4th and 6th row light up, then as the lights for these rows switch off the 1st, 3rd and 5th row light up. The lighting does not fade in and out, one set comes on then as it goes out the other lights up. The default switch over time is 1 second, this can be slowed to 2 seconds or sped up to two times a second.
I had noticed a small problem with this lighting function. The bottom row of keys are lit purple and the second row is lit blue. When the bottom row lights up the enter key on the numeric keypad does not light up. It does, however light up when the second row lights up (the blue keys) but the enter key is lit purple and not blue.
As such you have the second row in blue, the fourth row in yellow and the sixth row in red with a single purple key (the enter key) lit on the numeric keypad… a bit of a blatant error if you ask me. (To save constantly repeating myself from here on in, this problem, sadly affects all of the below lighting modes).
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock three times = This is the same as the previous mode, except that the light fades in and out between row changes. The default speed is 6 seconds between changes and can be sped up to 2 seconds or slowed to 1 seconds.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock four times = This activates a scroll pattern flowing from the top of the keyboard to the bottom. At first the top row lights up, then the fifth and then the fourth, as the fourth lights up the sixth goes out. The third then lights up as the fifth goes out and the second lights up as the fourth goes out.
This pattern continues and repeats in this manner with one cycle of the scrolling light taking approximately 1 second to complete. This can be sped up to (faster than I can accurately measure) at its fastest, it is faster than I can measure and at its slowest it is the same as the default speed.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock five times = T his mode is identical to the above mode, except that the scrolling pattern starts at the bottom of the keyboard and scrolls upwards.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock six times = I call this Tetris mode, the keyboard starts off unlit the top row, then lights up, as this goes out the fifth row lights up and as this light goes out the fourth row lights up. This continues until the bottom row lights up which then remains lit as the top row again lights up and the light again moves down the keyboard.
When this light reaches the second row that then remains lit and another series of light moves down the keyboard. This continues until the entire keyboard is lit and then the process starts over from the beginning. At the default speed the time taken to fill the keyboard is 28 seconds and it can be sped up to 8 seconds or slowed to 60 seconds.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock seven times = This mode is identical to the above mode, except that the scrolling pattern starts at the bottom of the keyboard and scrolls upwards.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock eight times = In this mode the 1st and 6th rows light up, then as they go out the 2nd and 5th rows light up and as they go out the 3rd and 4th rows light up. As the lights on the 3rd and 4th rows go out the process starts again, the default speed for one cycle is 4 seconds, this can be sped up to 1 second or slowed to 5.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock nine times = This is the same as the last mode, except the light pattern starts in the middle and works its way outwards rather than inwards.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock ten times = This is a mix of Tetris mode and the previous lighting mode. First rows 1 and 6 are lit up and they move towards the centre of the keyboard with rows 3 and 4 remaining lit. Then rows 1 and 6 light up again this moves to rows 2 and 5 which remain lit once again rows 1 and 6 light up and for a brief time the keyboard is entirely lit.
The sequence then plays backwards with first rows 1 and 6 going out, then rows 2 and 5 move towards the edges of the keyboard followed by rows 3 and 4 before starting at the beginning again. By default, one cycle takes 13 seconds and it can be sped up to 4 seconds or slowed to 18 seconds.
Hold FN + tap Scroll lock eleven times = This switches the backlight off.
The diffusion, brightness and colours are excellent and very well done with no sections that are poorly lit. There is, however a rather noticeable lack of a memory function for the lighting, every time you boot up the keyboard constant full backlight setting. Depending on your desired standard light setting this could prove annoying and requiring a bit of a phaf to set up every time you boot.
There is also one additional lighting related problem with the VM30 and that is the Key lock LED indicators. They are blue, which is nice, but they are far, far too bright to the point of distraction. Quite honestly, there are key ring torches out there that wish they were as bright as these indicators and some resistors or less powerful LEDS are most defiantly required.
Only one real comment to make here… no included wrist rest.
When writing or using a keyboard for productivity this is less of an issue, but for gaming one really is required for comfort. As such you will have to buy one separately while one can easily be obtained separately it will never be attached to the keyboard so when moving the keyboard, you then have to move and align the wrist rest separately, which can be a little annoying.
It does however mean that you can buy a nice comfortable foam pad like the Grifiti Fat Pad which is far more comfortable than any plastic bundled rest.
This is going to be short and sweet, black switches are not that good for typing on (for the majority of people at least). Due to the resistance offered it will slow down the speed at which you type and within a page or so your fingers will start to show signs of strain.
They are perfectly fine for an email here and there, browsing and gaming, but for repeated, prolonged typing the black switch just isn’t suitable unless you regularly bench press 5kg weights with a single finger.
The VM30 does not have any dedicated shortcut or media keys, but coupled with the “FN” button some of the function keys do serve as media keys. The keys are as follows…
FN + F1 = Play previous track.
FN + F2 = Play / Pause.
FN + F3 = Play next track.
FN + F4 = Stop.
FN + F5 = Mute.
FN + F6 = Volume down.
FN + F7 = Volume up.
Sadly, unlike similar keyboards there is no IE, Email or Media Player shortcut keys.
The VM30 has but one dedicated gaming feature and that is N-Key Rollover. NKRO allows each key press to be correctly detected regardless of how many other keys are being pressed or held down at the same time. By tapping FN + F9 you are able to switch between 6KRO (which will only recognise 6 simultaneous non modifier key presses up to 4 modifier keys, a mode which any modern USB equipped keyboard is capable of) and NKRO which will theoretically recognise every key on the keyboard being pressed at once thanks to additional hardware within the keyboard.
In all honestly since the invention of Full Speed USB ports all modern keyboards are now capable of 6KRO as such the NKRO feature is largely a gimmick. Honestly the number of people with the skill for more than 6 simultaneous key presses and the number of games that would require such input are both limited in numbers. But if it makes you happy it’s there for when you need it and it works.
If you want to test your keyboard the Microsoft applied sciences NKRO test can be found [HERE].
Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.
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