I just built my first mechanical keyboard, and it did not go as planned
Glorious has always been a contentious peripherals brand. It’s got its worshippers, some so loyal they practically say its name in hushed, reverent tones. But it’s got its haters too, those who see through the hype and know that it doesn’t always deliver where it matters.
With such a divide among the mechanical keyboard community, I was curious to find out which camp I would fall into. So, when I connected with Glorious and was invited to put together my own keyboard-building kit via its online configurator, the keyboard enthusiast in me simply could not resist.
As one YouTuber once put it, the Glorious GMMK Pro is the “gateway into custom keyboards.” This isn’t just about keyboard modding; this is building it from scratch.
But, much like PCPartPicker or, to an extent, Corsair’s new PC building kits, the brand really does make it easy for a custom keyboard neophyte like me to build a board without having to worry about things like compatibility and choosing from the hundreds of mechanical switches on the market. And, the process of choosing your switch plate, top frame, keycaps, switches, and even rotary knob is a fun (and addictive) experience.
Unfortunately, what I had imagined being an hour-long build turned into a three-hour ordeal, and it wasn’t due to the process of building a keyboard being hard and rigorous. By the end of the build, it was easy to see why Glorious is so beloved and so disliked at the same time. And, I found myself torn between loving the final product and being hesitant to build another keyboard again.
Why are stripped screws still a thing?
The kit I put together, which for the record Glorious sent me as a free media sample for review, isn’t exactly cheap. The barebone keyboard alone, which doesn’t include switches and keycaps, costs $169.99 in the US (Glorious does ship internationally as well).
That’s essentially already in the same price range as many pre-built mechanical keyboards. And you’d still have to purchase switches, which will set you back between $74.97 and $104.97 if you opted for Glorious’ own, and keycaps that start at $34.99. While those Glorious switches and keycaps are pretty fantastic, if you get the bare minimum GMMK Pro build kit with Glorious-branded parts, you’re looking at a $279.95 investment. That’s pretty steep for most people.
So, you can imagine my disappointment that while trying to take the base kit apart to mod it, I was thwarted by one stripped screw that had molded itself into its hole. My review unit had two screws that immediately got stripped from the first unscrewing attempt using the right size screwdriver. I managed to pry one off but spent about 20 minutes trying different tricks to remove the other before finally giving up and taking the board to a jeweler. They ended up breaking the screw’s head off while using a pair of pliers to carefully wriggle the damn thing free. (RIP to the screw that went through this herculean saga and whose body is, to this day, still stuck in the aluminum switch plate that came with the base kit.)
Now, I’m not one to complain about such trivial matters – it happens, screws get stripped. But, when a product costs as much as the Glorious GMMK Pro does, one would justifiably expect better quality parts inside and outside.
Glorious needs better quality control
Don’t get me wrong; everything else I got in my kit feels solid and high quality. The top frame, the switch plate, and the keycaps all feel premium and robust. It would just behoove Glorious to do an inventory of its products’ smaller parts and make sure it’s switching out low-quality ones with more robust alternatives, especially for something as customizable and modifiable as the Glorious GMMK Pro.
There’s also the matter of quality control. You’ll find many YouTube videos and Reddit forums discussing issues Glorious keyboards are prone to having and how to fix them, and, my friends, the lists are long. From keyboards suddenly becoming non-functional to individual keys either not responding or being sticky.
YouTuber boardzy complained in his review of the GMMK Pro that “In typical Glorious fashion, my package was lost for months…” which only reminded me of how long it took for my package to arrive (not quite as long, but long enough that I forgot all about it).
I can understand the long shipping time, as not everyone offers one-day shipping like Amazon Prime. But frankly, I think we’ve been so spoiled by that service that we now expect everyone to do the same – even though most companies can’t afford or don’t have as many factories to accommodate such a tall order.
What’s harder to excuse is the fact that the polycarbonate switch plate I requested, which would cost customers an extra $19.99 to get, has one screw hole drilled a tad too big for all the screws that came with my kit. As a result, I’ve got a switch plate whose lower right edge isn’t properly attached to the circuit board (PCB). That doesn’t bother me too much, and it doesn’t seem to have affected performance, but I can imagine a lot of discerning keyboard enthusiasts would take issue with it.
And, while my assembled keyboard is now functioning beautifully, I also had the unfortunate task of needing to troubleshoot it because the keys weren’t responsive when I first plugged it in. The only things that worked were the volume dial and the RGB lighting. Luckily, it was a simple, albeit bizarre, fix of changing the current profile in the Glorious Core app. But, it took some internet sleuthing to find the solution.
This is – excuse me – a damn fine keyboard
To be fair, the Dallas, TX, company is fairly new in the business, starting out in 2014. It’s also a modest boutique brand compared to the likes of Razer and Corsair. So, while there may be quality control and shipping issues, it’s likely a lack of manpower may be somewhat to blame.
I also have to applaud the excellent customer service. Not only is there a chatline, but the email customer service, which is still available during its chat’s off-hours, is very responsive and knowledgeable.
All things considered, the Glorious GMMK Pro really is worth the hype. I haven’t done my full testing and review of it, but I can tell you now that both the Glorious Panda and Lynx switches are, for lack of a better word, glorious to type on – not to mention, noticeably better quality than many of the other switches I have in my collection. The keycaps themselves feel luxurious and keep your fingers in place, the coiled cable is incredibly robust, and that RGB lighting is simply a stunner.
Do I love my Glorious GMMK Pro? So far, yes. It looks and feels amazing, and I’m hoping its performance lives up to expectations as well. Still, I don’t know if I’m ready to build another keyboard after this. I’m not saying never ever; just that my first time was not all that pleasant and it might take a bit of time to do so again.
Plus, there have been more than enough complaints about several different issues that it’s about damn time Glorious pays heed.
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