Review of The GMMK TKL


Introduction:

     The Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard, or GMMK for short, was released by the company Glorious PC Gaming Race near the end of 2016. Since then, they’ve unveiled the TKL version of their full-size board which I’ll be reviewing today. 

One of the coolest things about the GMMK is its hot swap feature. This means that you can change your switches out on the fly.

Want a heavier spacebar? No problem! Switch not registering? Don’t worry about it!

The great thing about this hot swap feature is that you won’t have to order a soldering iron or take your keyboard apart. 

All you have to do is use their handy tool that comes with the keyboard, pop that sucker out, and push in the new switches. This is an amazing feature that will undoubtedly relieve your worries knowing that you don’t have to order a new keyboard in order to try a different switch type.

Background:

 

     The GMMK line of keyboards consists of two boards that you can buy. Currently, there is a full size and TKL edition. They are both available pre-built or customized where you can pick the switches and keycaps (black or white doubleshot shine-through ABS). You can pick either Gateron or Kailh branded switches that come in a pack of 120 to install in your keyboard. 

Both GMMK models come installed with RGB lighting.  Here are some of the main selling points of the Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboards:

  •  Minimalist design with no in your face branding or over the top aesthetic. 
  •  100% anti ghosting (full NKRO or N-Key Rollover) where every single key stroke registers regardless of how how many keys are pressed simultaneously.  
  • Hot swappable where you can pop switches in and out in less than 5 seconds each without having to solder or disassemble anything. 
  • RGB lighting that produces any color in any combination with multiple lighting effects. 
  • Ability to record and assign macros to any key with the GMMK software. 
  • 3-way cable routing to guide your cable where you want it to go. 
  • Sandblasted aluminum plate for a quality feel and look.
  • LED indicators for number, caps lock, and scroll lock. 
  • The full sized keyboard comes with a non-removable braided 6 ft. USB cable while the TKL model comes with a removable braided 6 ft. Micro USB cable. 
  • “Raised key” or low profile design that allows you to clean the keyboard easier. 

This aside, let’s get into the review!

Packaging and Contents:


Front of GMMK TKL Packaging

     The front design of the packaging is minimalist and straightforward. In the top left, you can see the product name and the model. The TKL Barebone edition you see means that switches and keycaps don’t come with it. I chose this option since I already had some spare switches and keycaps that I could easily install myself. The Company “Glorious PC Gaming Race” and its logo are printed next to the keyboard model. 

An image of the keyboard is printed on the box with information related to lighting, layout, build, and hot swap compatibility. 


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard Back of Packaging
Back of GMMK TKL Packaging

The back of the box reveals the product specs and expands on the unique hot swapping capability that most stock mechanical keyboards don’t have. It’s worth noting that the description lists the following in regard to switch requirements:

  • Switch brands supported: Cherry / Gateron / Kailh
  • Plate mounted
  • SMD / LED compatible switches (Optional) 

As I’ve said before, I bought the Barebone Edition kit which means that you must buy / install the keycaps and switches separately. If you want a working keyboard right out of the box, Glorious PC Gaming Race allows you to buy a customizable pre-built Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard (GMMK) through their website. 

What’s inside:


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard Packaging Contents
Inside of Packaging

     Opening the box reveals a few documents sitting on top of the plastic cover that protects the keyboard underneath. 

Check out the contents below:


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard Packaging Contents
GMMK TKL Packaging Contents

Here is everything aside from the keyboard spread out so you can get a better look. 

The following accessories (top row) were placed underneath the cardboard compartments inside the packaging (described from left to right):

  • A red “Ascend” keycap (Not for everyone but it’s “free” so that’s a plus)
  • A high-quality braided 6 foot detachable Micro USB cable
  •  Round sticker of the Glorious PC Gaming Race Logo
  • Metal switch puller
  • An optional right-angled USB  plug in case you want to route your cable to the right. 

As for the booklets you see in the  bottom row (from left to right):

  • A switch replacing guide
  • User Guide
  • A preview of their other products

Let’s check out the guides below to see what they say:


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard How to Replace Switches
How to Replace Switches on the GMMK

I’ll summarize the 5 steps and include some additional information on how to replace switches on the GMMK below:

Step 1 – Remove Keycap: Use your own keycap puller or the one that comes with the GMMK (located on the underside of the case as you can see in the top right corner of the guide) to clamp the underside of the keycap and pull straight up. Don’t worry if the switch comes out as well since you can always pop it back in. For longer keycaps like the spacebar or other keycaps situated on a switch with stabilizers, be sure to clamp and remove from the middle of the switch or you’ll risk breaking the keycap.

Step 2 – Remove Switch: With the keyboard facing you, use the metal switch puller that came in the packaging to clamp the top and bottom tab located on the north and south side of the switch. Firmly grasp the switch with the tabs pressed inwards and pull straight up. Keep in mind that some switches pop out easier than others. The difficult ones may require some wiggling before they come out. Be careful when you use the metal switch puller since it’s very easy to scratch the case with it.

Step 3 – Readjust Pins: Before you insert a switch, make sure that it’s compatible by reading Page 9 of the User Guide (Read for more information below in the User Guide section that follows right after this one). Make sure that the two copper pins on the underside of the switch are perfectly straight before you insert the switch into the board. For a couple reasons, the pins may be bent but you can easily straighten them out with a pair of tweezers or pliers.

 Step 4 – Insert Switch: Align the switch with the holes on the keyboard and insert it straight down. I definitely faced some resistance but a firm press and the switch just popped right in without a problem. You can open a text editor like Microsoft Word to make sure the switch works. It is perfectly safe to swap switches when the keyboard is plugged in. If the switch doesn’t work when you press it, you can troubleshoot by making sure the pins are properly inserted before inserting it again.

Step 5 – Insert Keycap: Once the switch is properly inserted, you can put the keycap on.


Front of User Guide


GMMK Table of Contents


Back of User Guide

This is your standard User Guide that came with the GMMK. Here are the different sections of the booklet:

  • Mechanical Keyboard with Modular Switches
  • Product Basics
  • Setup & Support
  • Product Features
  • Hot Key Index
  • Keyboard Layout
  • How to Change Switches and Keycaps

  • Mechanical Switch Requirements
  • Keyboard Software
  • LED Light Settings
  • LED Light Animations
  • User Defined LED Effect
  • Other Commands
  • Warranty

Switch Compatibility: 

     The user guide states that the GMMK is compatible with Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh switches. 

I can confirm that plate mounted Zealios and Box switches like Box Jade and Box Navy work just fine. It’s mentioned that “other switch brands may be compatible but their fit on the board may vary. 

For the “best LED performance, an SMD-LED such as the ones made by Gateron are recommended,” as a non-LED switch would block the light. If you want the brightest backlighting, switches with clear housings are the way to go. 


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard TKL with Covering
GMMK TKL in the Protective Covering


Barebones Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard TKL
GMMK “Barebones” TKL

The Barebone GMMK I bought came with a protective covering. As you can see, the GMMK’s design is minimalist and looks pretty sleek with the black casing highlighted by the silver perimeter. It doesn’t have any obnoxious logos or extra decoration which I personally think is a big plus.  

Build: 

     The GMMK feels quite sturdy with its aluminum top plate and solid plastic case.  There is no flex or creak to the board which contributes to a higher quality feel.  


Casing / Minimum Bezel


Eye Level Shot

The GMMK models are low profile which means that the sides of the switches are visible. The space that the board takes up is minimal since there’s no extra bezel on the sides of the casing.

The silver case lining is angled and the sides are flat with rounded corners which makes it look more sophisticated and less like a boxy slab. 


Foam Grip


Folded Foot


Unfolded Foot

Flipping the board over reveals two foam grips at the bottom and two foldable feet at the top. 

The foldable feet have rubber on them to provide that extra grip when you need it. While the board can still move around if you push it hard enough, this thing definitely won’t be sliding all over your desk with casual use.


Back of the Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard TKL
Back of the GMMK TKL

Here you can see the back casing in all of its glory. The keycap puller on the back is a nice bonus that can be stored safely in the slot. Safe to say, you won’t have to worry about it falling out since I could barely pull that thing out myself.

Stabilizers and Hot Swaps: 


Spacebar Stabilizer


Shift / Enter / Backspace Stabilizers

     Now let’s talk about the stabilizers. A common complaint about these is the stab rattle. Maybe I got lucky with mine but I didn’t really notice any rattling. That is, until I replaced the clicky Box Navy with a tactile Cherry MX Brown for my spacebar…

Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the water cup shakes with each step that the approaching T-Rex makes?

Now imagine that with these stabilizers. But instead of the rattle syncing up with a monstrous reptile’s stride, it’s aligned with your key presses. The horror!

Just kidding. While they’re definitely not the best, I wouldn’t say these stabilizers are any worse than your average stock keyboard. One common solution is to apply some dielectric grease at the points where the metal wire (found right underneath the stabilizer) touches the plastic stabilizer housing. 

Hot Swappable Switches: 

     The hot swappable switches is the main selling point of the Glorious Modular Mechnical Keyboard.  The great thing about changing switches is that the design makes it so incredibly easy. 

Again, no soldering tools or other fancy equipment required. All you need is your plate mounted switches.  


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard without Switches
GMMK TKL with Box Jades / Navies

I decided to use some Box Jades and Box Navy switches that I had laying around.


Step 1


Step 2


Step 3

Here’s a little demonstration of the switch installation process. 

Step 1: Choose the plate mounted switch you want to insert for the key and make sure the pins are straight / properly aligned with the holes in the PCB underneath. 

Step 2: Making sure the pins are inserted, push the switch straight down until you hear it pop in.

Step 3: Make sure the switch is seated flat against the top plate and admire how amazingly simple that was.  

How to Remove the Switch: 

Say the switch isn’t registering or you want to try another because why not? The process of removal is just as simple.


Step 1


Step 2


Step 3

Step 1: Find your metal switch puller and choose the switch you want to remove.

Step 2: Firmly clamp the switch tabs inwards (Located on the top and bottom of the switch / Just above the case’s top plate)

Step 3: Still clamping, pull the switch straight out. Giving it a controlled wiggle if the switch is being stubborn but be careful not to break anything. 

Keycaps:

     If you buy the keycaps that come with the GMMK, you have the option of selecting from either black doubleshot ABS or White Doubleshot ABS. Both sets come with shine-through legends to highlight the RGB backlighting.  

It’s also worth mentioning that both GMMK Models have a standard bottom row so you’ll never have to worry about finding compatible keycap sets. 


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard with Box Jades and Box Navies
GMMK TKL with Box Jades and Box Navies

Here’s the keyboard before I put the keycaps on. I decided to use Box Jades with the heavier Box Navy for the spacebar, Escape, and Function keys.


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard Before Keycaps
Ready for the Keycaps

I’ll be putting on KBDfans’ Carbon Black Dye-Sub PBT keycaps. 


Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard with KBDFans Thick PBT Dye-Sub Carbon Black Keycaps
Ready for some Clackin!

The final product! The lighting looks a bit weird since the camera kept adjusting to see the legends. The keycaps are much darker than they look in this image. 


GMMK “Raised Key” or Floating Switch Design

Here you can see the GMMK’s low profile case design with the switch sides exposed. As the product description states, the low profile nature of the case makes the keyboard much easier to clean.  

Lighting and Software:

     Altogether, there are 18 different lighting modes that you can configure using the board itself. Here is the entire list of effects: 

  • Breath
         Effect 1: Single LED color changing effect
         Effect 2: Pulsing / Breathing mode
         Effect 3: Single LED color (No changing effect)

  • Touch
         Effect 1: LED spreads from point a key was pressed to other keys
         Effect 2: Keys light up and fade when they are pressed
         Effect 3: LED light spreads to the entire row of the key when pressed

  • Wave #1
         Effect 1: Wave effect (with fade)
         Effect 2: Wave effect (less fade)
         Effect 3: Wave effect in an oval shape

  • Wave #2
         Effect 1: Diagonal oscillating LED effect
         Effect 2: Single color LED Lighting
         Effect 3: RGB LED color cycle

  • K-Effect
         Effect 1: All random colors on all keys changing slow (fade)
         Effect 2: Random colors on all keys changing fast (no fade)
         Effect 3: Each row has its own color, changing slowly (fade)

  • Drawing
         Effect 1: Wave like spreading of LED lights from center
         Effect 2: Heart shape pulsing and fading from LEDs
         Effect 3: Matrix style LED effect

Watch the video below to see some of the different lighting effects in action:

If you want to configure the lighting further, you can visit the Glorious PC Gaming Race website to download their lighting software. I’ll provide the link below:

https://www.pcgamingrace.com/pages/gmmk-software-download

Once you’re there, be sure to follow the instructions and click the link that matches the beginning of your Serial Number (S/N) and GMMK model size.

Next, extract the files. You’ll want to run the application called “GMMK Keyboard Editor.” 

You’ll need to make sure your keyboard is plugged into your machine before you can run the application software. If you try and run it without the keyboard plugged in, the application won’t open at all.

This is what the window looks like when you open the application:


Image of the GMMK lighting Software
GMMK Lighting Software

As you can see, it looks pretty simple to use and it really is. You can access and save different profiles with the click of a mouse. Macros are easy to configure and if for some odd reason, things are getting  You can select different lighting modes from the dropdown menu up top and adjust things like speed and color without an issue.

I initially found it a bit odd that the lighting modes listed in the software are different from the names described in the booklet. But then I realized that there was no way they could fit those huge names into that tiny menu without it looking like a CVS receipt. You’ll definitely have to compare some of them since not all of them are self explanatory. 

For example, “Wave like spreading of LED lights from center” and “Heart shape pulsing and fading of LEDs” was listed as “Heartbeat sensor” and “Kamehameha” respectively in the application menu. 

You can even go further and select “Custom” to make certain keys different colors. Perfect for when you can’t remember the key combo required to cast your favorite spell in that one RPG. Or when your boss tests your ability to memorize obscure shortcuts that most people never use. Whatever you’re using it for, this keyboard has got your back!

Conclusion:

Pros:

  • Hot Swap feature
  • Standard layout
  • Easy to clean
  • Minimalist design
  • Bright RGB lighting controllable via keyboard or software

Cons:

  • Rattly stabilizers 
  • The floating switch design isn’t for everyone
  •  Average quality case

     The Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard, or GMMK for short, is one of the only readily available stock keyboards that is hot swappable with RGB per-key backlighting. Both TKL and Full Size models are amazing options for those who want the freedom to try out different switches without breaking the bank. Switch installation and removal is extremely easy, providing a great solution to finding your favorite switch. Altogether, I’d highly recommend the GMMK for its hot swapping feature, quality RGB lighting, and affordable price tag. You won’t regret it.

The post Review of The GMMK TKL appeared first on KeyboardWhiz.



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