EpicGear DeFiant Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
Peter Donnell / 3 years ago
EpicGear has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years, and we’re very happy to see the DeFiant Mechanical Gaming Keyboard in the eTeknix office today, marking our first EpicGear peripheral review! With that in mind, I’m not really sure what to expect from his keyboard, but a quick look at the specifications tells us it should be pretty damn interesting.
Equipped with per-key LED backlighting, swappable mechanical switches, “extreme anti-ghosting” which I’m guessing is full key anti-ghosting with a PR spin on it, gaming mode, volume control wheel and as you’ll see in a little while, a lot of extra bits and bobs come with it too!
One thing that is cool, is the swappable switches, the keyboard comes with one type of switch, in this case MMS Purple, which are said to be fast like MX Red but with the tactile click of an MX Blue. However, you can buy packs of switches and literally pull the switch out and plug in another one, giving you a rather interesting level of keyboard customisation.
- LED backlit with on-the-fly programmable per-key-lighting
- EG MMS™ – Modular-matrix Structure mechanical keyswitches
- 1000Hz extreme-polling, adjustable 125/250/500/1000Hz
- Fully programmable keys
- Extreme anti-ghosting
- N-key rollover: 10-key
- System audio volume control wheel with one-touch mute
- Dedicated GUI software with 4 customizable gaming profiles
- Gaming mode option, Windows key deactivation
- Gaming grade braided cables
- Approx. dimension: 455 x167x26 mm
- Approx. weight: 1000g
- 2 year manufacture warranty
EG MMS™ Switch types:
- EG Grey – linear
- EG Orange – tactile
- EG Purple – tactile & audible click
EG MMS™ Switches Specifications:
- EG MMS™ – Modular-matrix Structure mechanical switches
- Actuation Force: 50g
- Actuation Point: 1.5±0.2mm
- Bottom Travel: 4mm
- Life Span: 70-million keystrokes
- High-strength alloy contact plates
- Double-blade contact points, patented
- Dual-cross contacting area, patented
- 30μ gold plated contacting area
Packaging & Accessories
The box for the Defiant comes in two variants, a standard boxed version, and this rather awesome flight case. The case houses all the components, the keyboard, cables and more, with protective foam that should make it extremely friendly for the travelling competitive gamer.
The case has a flexible material design, but it’s still pretty tough and will do a fantastic job of absorbing knocks and bumps.
Under the keyboard, there’s a large recess, where you’ll find the extra accessories, and there are a lot of them!
There’s a setup guide, key cap/switch pulling tool, stickers, side bars, wrist rest, rear control back and colour bars.
A Closer Look
Let’s kick things off with the add-on gear. First up are these two funky side bars, they clip onto the keyboard and provide you with a screw adjustment to change the height of the keyboard even further than the keyboards built-in kickstands.
There’s a clip on rubber wrist rest, with is nice and soft, but also very durable and easy to clean.
A rear mounting back, with adds four control switches and a USB pass-through port.
This clips onto the back of the keyboard and those four buttons are fully programmable in the downloadable software. Technically this is its own peripheral, as it doesn’t connect directly to the keyboard and requires its own USB cable.
Five tubs of coloured light bars. This keyboard isn’t RGB, It’s pink, yellow, green, blue and red, and to change the colour of a switch you have to take the key cap off and change the rod in the switch, as the lighting is in the chassis of the keyboard, not the switch.
So now we move onto the keyboard! As you can see, it’s a fairly standard form factor keyboard and comes with a long braided USB cable.
The keyboard has a nice base, with a flat chassis design and the key caps are mounted above it, rather than recessed into the body.
There’s a cool custom font on the keys, which should allow for lots of lighting to pass-through, while just generally making them easier to see.
On the top row, you’ll find the usual F-keys, which also come with Fn-shift functions for multimedia control, pretty basic control, but enough to skip through songs while you’re gaming.
Here you can switch from N-key to 6-Key rollover.
In the top right, a nice light bar design for the control LEDs, as well as a metal scroll wheel for volume, which is also clickable like a mouse wheel to give you a mute control.
Finally, a full-size number pad, all pretty standard stuff, but it’s a keyboard, you don’t want it to be unfamiliar, so this is a good thing.
There a slight wedge shape to the keyboard, but it’s still pretty slim overall, and isn’t as thick at the back in real life as it looks here; you can adjust the angle more with the kickstands, or with the side-mounted add-ons.
On the base, there are five durable rubber grips to help keep the keyboard firmly locked in place on your desktop.
And the two kickstands have rubber grips of their own too, so you should lose too much traction while they’re deployed.
We did say that this keyboard comes with a lot of extras, and well, here they all are! Every single one of them is optional and not really needed, but damn does it look cool with them all in place, if a little big.
The rear bar not only adds another USB port to the back of the keyboard, giving you somewhere to connect a headset or any other peripheral for that matter, but also four buttons on the top left. These can be easily customised, but they’re easily suited to being profile switches.
The keyboard does have quite high mounted keys, and can be a little weird feeling while typing, but this is quickly fixed up with the rubber wrist rest, which is very nice to use and while it is subjective, I prefer the keyboard a lot more with this in place.
The side mounts allow you to adjust the height of the keyboard further, but I’m confused to their real purpose. Why doesn’t the keyboard just have two sets of kickstands or something, as these make the keyboard excessively wide, even if they do look rather cool in their own bizarre way.
The key caps are pretty nice to type on, but they’re just full of surprises too. Pull off the key caps and you can see those rather nice looking Purple switches; you can easily swap the caps for any MX stem caps.
Go one further, pull out the whole damn switch! You can buy different switches from EpicGear and plug them right in! This is great if you break one (unlikely) or just want certain controls to have a different response.
The LED lighting diode is right on the PCB for the keyboard too, not in the switch.
That means the lighting passes through the plastic stem in the switch.
Remove the stem, and slot in one of the coloured ones that came in the box to change the colour.
This sure as hell isn’t as practical as RGB lighting, it does take some time, but it’s a nice solution that keeps the cost of the switch down and allows for them to be interchangeable.
As you can see, the effect works wonderfully, giving you a nice multi-colour effect. The keyboard has per-key lighting too, so you can quickly dial on any keys you need, and even enjoy the usual set of fade, transition and other effects too.
Software is one of the biggest features of this keyboard, with a comprehensive suite that allows you to fully re-program any key to suit your needs, which can be a huge advantage for work and gaming.
There’s a powerful macro editing tool too, which can be set to any key or trigger you require, which is a huge benefit to MMO and MOBA game types.
Overall, this is a great keyboard to use for work and gaming. The keys are light, fast, and still have a tactile click to them, bridging the gap between MX Blue and MX Red type switches quite nicely.
The EpicGear DeFiant isn’t easy to find in the UK outside of eBay stores, but it’s readily available in many markets and no impossible to get in the UK if you shop around. We found it at Amazon for £118.29, which is pretty on-par with a lot of other gaming mechanical keyboards. You can also pick up a bundle of green, orange and purple switches for the modular features for 49,90 EUR, or buy both as a bundle for 129.90 EUR.
I’ve never seen or used a keyboard quite like the EpicGear DeFiant, and that’s a wonderful thing, as the market can seem a little repetitive at times, with many keyboards just being the same. Is this the innovation the market needed? I’m not so sure, but having something unique to offer is no bad thing and I can certainly see this keyboard proving popular with gamers who want something fresh.
The design is completely crazy, with so many modular parts it’s hard to see what EpicGear were actually aiming for here. The rear add-on panel is quite large, and only adds a single USB port and four buttons, and could have easily been integrated into the stock keyboard design. The side panels make the keyboard super wide too, and while they do help increase the keyboard height if you want them to, this is a feature that could also have been built-in. The one that does make more sense is the rubber wrist rest, it’s perfect and does a great job of giving you a comfortable typing position. That being said, every add-on is modular, you can pick and choose, and they have the welcome bonus that they look pretty cool too. While I can see they’re not perfect, I can’t imagine using this keyboard without them. It would be like having a supercar that looked boring, you want all the crazy extras, that’s part of the fun. All of this is very subjective of course.
The build quality is decent, nothing ground breaking, but nothing wrong either. What I do love the most is the modular switches, being able to tweak the feel of the keyboard on a per-key basis isn’t something you see often and could prove popular with competitive gamers. I’m not a fan of the whole light bar thing, not that the effect doesn’t look stunning, but it’s very time-consuming to swap the colours and you’ll likely only want to go through that process once.
Performance wise, the DeFiant delivers on all fronts. The keyboard is light, fast, and agile to type on and it’s a blast for working and gaming. If you’re looking for a solid keyboard for your desktop, this is ideal, and with all those extra add-ons, modular switches and all kinds of other crazy tweaks, it’s a perfectly imperfect break from the norm.
- Modular switches
- Light bars
- Unique add-ons
- Excellent switch performance
- Detachable wrist rest
- Comprehensive software
- Per-key lighting
- Braided cables
- Competitively priced
- Unique design
- Add-ons do make the keyboard quite large
- Light bars are cumbersome to install
- Some of the add-on features could have been more easily integrated into the main keyboard design
“The EpicGear DeFiant is a major departure from most mechanical keyboard designs, offering you extensive performance and aesthetic customisation options that are sure to appeal to a lot of gamers. Its design is an acquired taste, but the rock solid performance of the DeFiant is something any PC gamer can love.”