Cyberboard R3: Building my retro-futuristic keyboard dream

While I’ve reviewed a lot of the best gaming keyboards of my time, there is one thing I haven’t done: build one.

If you, like me, are new to this burgeoning hobby, you might be wondering where to start. I decided to start my journey big – with the Angry Miao Cyberboard R3. With its retro-futuristic LED array and Wes Anderson-inspired color offerings, to call it unique is an understatement.

It comes in a fairly simple form with no switches, stabilizers, or even keys. And yet the Cloud White variant that was delivered to me has a sticker price of $ 620. Ouch.

Like many DIY projects, it was time consuming and expensive, but in the end it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

The journey begins with decision paralysis

With the Cloud White Cyberboard R3 delivered, I immediately fell into a huge hole in decision paralysis. The color I had no choice on, so that was the easy part. But I hadn’t really thought it was a bare plank.

At first I thought, “Oh, I’ll find this. But that’s when I really learned how the custom mechanical keyboard world goes. Without even realizing it, I had taken the red pill.

Most of us are only familiar with common brand names like Cherry, Kailh, and Romer-G switches, all of which are used on a variety of relatively common mechanical keyboards, but suddenly I could choose from names like Gateron. , Halo, Topre, Boba, Outemu… and I couldn’t make up my mind.

I figured out that the Boba U4T switches would suit my liking for strong touch switches, but they were hard to get where I’m based, and with the review embargo fast approaching, I couldn’t risk it. the slow shipping options offered by international sellers.

A messy shot with the parts to install on the Cyberboard R3
Niels Broekhuijsen, Digital Trends

There was no turning back, but I still chose the blue pill. After all, Angry Miao just released the Cyberswitches, Cyberstabs, and O21C keys so tactile that I spotted in product photos that match exactly the look I wanted: as retro as it gets.

This keyboard has an LED matrix that is 5 pixels high, weighs as much as a typewriter, and the white of the clouds was not the white of the clouds at all. It was creamy white, but I actually prefer it more than flash white. But the beige O21C accents matched the non-Cloud White finish, and with a tint of gray and some orange accents, I was in love.

Is this what I was afraid of?

The Cyberboard R3 has a joint backing with a lot of foam

Then came the time for construction. I had pushed it away for a while as my mind was busy with other things, but a relative told me to build the Cyberboard – that would be a nice distraction.

And, oh, it was. I turned on the studio lights, cleared my workspace, and got to work. It started with disassembling the keyboard. I gently placed my trusty detail rag so as not to scratch it and tore her stomach. A sterilization later, I was greeted with the layers of foam, PCB, more foam and finally, the top plate.

I had read that a great thing is to lubricate the stabilizers and the switches. Having decided that I didn’t have time to do the switches, nor to find the right type of grease, I at least lubricated the stabilizers with Volkswagen G 052 150 A2 Lithium grease. I had a tube of it in the corner, and it was going to have to do the trick. Do not judge me.

I put the stabilizers in place and reversed the process. The keyboard lit up when I installed the backplate containing the battery, so I fumbled to turn the device off.

Then it was just a matter of pressing all the switches in place, making sure none of them had bent pins, and putting the keys in place. With this, the construction was finished.

Construction of the Cyberboard is almost complete
Niels Broekhuijsen, Digital Trends

It all took me a total of… about an hour, maybe 90 minutes – and that includes taking photos along the way. I suddenly understood why people tear up switches and manually lubricate them before installation – it’s meditative.

I know I didn’t take this step, but I wish I didn’t have a million other things to worry about and a deadline – all I wanted to to do was grab the switch puller and forget about all of life’s problems for a few more hours.

Let’s talk about the Cyberboard R3 itself

So far, I haven’t really said much about the keyboard itself, have I? Now that it’s built, let’s dive into it a bit. Like I said, this is the third revision of the table, although it doesn’t really matter.

Angry Miao says the new design is based on a joint holder instead of a top holder, the lighting matrix is ​​brighter and has a higher refresh rate, Bluetooth switching is improved, and the PCB has a dual layout with ISO and ANSI – but the basic design is the same. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

A nice photo of the Cyberboard R3, fully built

The build quality is about as solid as it gets. It comes in a fancy carry case but has a terrible odor (you know, the smell of a fresh mouse pad when you first unroll it) and has a perfect paint finish. And did I say this keyboard is heavy? With all the parts installed, it weighs well over 6 pounds – my laptop weighs less than half.

Typing on the Cyberboard is a one-of-a-kind experience. Cyberswitches provide excellent tactile feedback, more powerful than any tactile keyboard I’ve typed. Landing on the heavy Cyberboard, each switch makes it seem like the response you get is only inside this switch – there is no clicking or movement that echoes the rest of the keyboard.

My daily appointment Logitech G915 TKL, which I painstakingly paid $ 267 for, looks like a cheap toy in comparison, but it’s much more practical. Let’s get into that.

All is not perfect

Cyberboard R3's lighting array is beautiful

If it’s not yet clear, the Cyberboard R3’s hardware is absolutely sublime – I’ve personally never experienced anything like it. Let’s just say that I finally really understand why the market for custom mechanical keyboards is exploding: the end result is simply better when you do it yourself. Much better.

But there is one quality where the Cyberboard R3 is a disappointment: firmware and software. The standard lighting effects can be described as limited at best, and when changing the lighting mode for the LED array, the main input area seems to forget which mode it was in.

But only sometimes. That’s not even the biggest issue, though – the biggest issue is that the Switch’s lighting can’t be customized anyway. That’s okay – it looks better off anyway with the retro look I chose.

An overview photo of the Cyberboard R3
Niels Broekhuijsen, Digital Trends

Then there is the tortuous labyrinth that you have to go through to customize the lighting of the LED matrix. To adjust the LED matrix to your liking, you must use Angry Miao’s website to create (with extreme patience) or download effects, and install them through the effects loader software, including the Effects loader program. installation is entirely in Chinese and Windows asks if you are sure to trust it. Fortunately, it has an English option once installed.

The clock is also not showing the correct time, nor can I get it, and somehow the battery indicator mode is not centered. What’s up with this?

Not for everyone, but it’s not meant to be

To say that the Cyberboard is a product that I recommend is difficult. This is mainly because I think it’s not really a keyboard for everyday use. Yes you can choose to use it as is and yes it would be comfortable but its price is far from the mass market. This white variant comes with a sticker price of $ 620, and you’ll still need to add switches, keys, and stabilizers, which can easily increase the cost from $ 150 to $ 200.

So if you get one, you’ll want to keep it. At least I know I would. It is a functional centerpiece – a collector’s item. You won’t be driving a Ferrari on a daily basis either. If you want a recommendation for a daily custom board, look at something like the Keychron Q1.

But it’s not like none of it matters. The R3 sold out within hours of launch, so even if you wanted to, you couldn’t buy it anyway. At least until the next round of pre-orders. I understand why: it really is a wonderful piece of punching equipment.

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About Johanna Gooding

Johanna Gooding

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