The popularity of smaller mechanical keyboards has been on the rise for years, and they’re finding a home on the side of enthusiasts who love modability and professionals who love the compact size and satisfying typing. The Ducky Channel One 2 Mini was the first keyboard of this type that I used, and though I loved it I found the 60% layout without nav and arrow keys was a bit limiting when not gaming. I now have the Vissles V84 mechanical keyboard in for review. It’s a 75% TKL keyboard with hot-swappable mechanical switches, customizable RGB backlighting, Bluetooth or wired connectivity, and a competitive price. I’ve been using this keyboard for a few weeks for gaming and productivity to see what it’s all about and, ultimately, whether or not it’s worth your money.
Vissles V84: Price, availability, and specs
Vissles supplied Windows Central with a review unit of its V84 wireless TKL keyboard. It has a 75% layout, 84 keys with white PBT keycaps, customizable RGB lighting, and proprietary VS-II mechanical switches (though you can choose other switches). It starts at about $100 at Amazon, or about $109 at the official Vissles website.
There are actually two Vissles V84 versions on offer. The regular version comes with black keycaps and your choice of Red, Blue, or Brown switches. The Vissles V84 “Pro” model that I’m reviewing here has white PBT keycaps with proprietary VS-II linear mechanical switches.
Here’s a closer look at the exact specifications of the Vissles V84 I’m reviewing.
|Number of keys||84|
|Hot-swap design works with any MX switches|
|Operating force||56 ± 10gf|
|Up to five devices|
|N-Key rollover||NKRO (Wired)|
|Compatibility||Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS|
|Battery||3,750mAh (up to 180 hours)|
|Weight||1.9 pounds (864g)|
|Dimensions||12.4 x 4.9 x 1.5 inches|
|316mm x 126mm x 39mm|
Vissles V84: What I like
The Vissles V84 is a mechanical keyboard with 75% layout, meaning it retains arrow and navigation keys that help with productivity. It’s all built into a plastic base, and the board comes with magnetic feet attachments for angled typing and fabric pads for more grip. The board is naturally angled toward the user, but the small feet definitely add a bit of comfort if you’re used to something a bit more aggressive. An included faux-leather palmrest is included in the package.
The board weighs in at about 1.9 pounds (864g), making it a bit heavier than some of the competition that doesn’t have a sizable battery inside. It’s probably not going to be the best travel companion, but it’s also not egregiously heavy. The board comes by default with a plastic clip-on bezel installed. Removing it gives the board a more modern look, though you’ll likely see more dust build up due to the key sides being exposed.
I’ve been using (and loving) the V84 for gaming and for productivity. The VS-II linear switches are dreamy with 4mm total travel, 2mm±0.5mm pre-travel, and a 56±10gf actuation force. I don’t really have a preference when it comes to switch types, but those who like a smooth actuation will love this. I can type fast when I need to be productive, and on the gaming side it’s easily responsive enough if you’re not engaging in ultra-competitive esports.
The V84 isn’t really advertised as a gaming keyboard, but you get NKRO rollover when the keyboard is connected with the USB cable and 6KRO when it’s using Bluetooth. The former means that you can press all keys simultaneously and have them register, while the latter means a minimum of six keys will register simultaneously. One huge benefit of the V84 is its hot-swappable switches. It can take on any 5-pin switches you might have lying around, allowing you to switch certain (or all) keys to something with different feedback. Swapping them out takes only a few seconds if you’re using the included puller tools.
The V84 “Pro” model that I’m testing has white keycaps made from PBT. It’s a bit more durable than the usual ABS plastic that’s used, though the color does show more dirt. The centered black font looks great, especially when you get the built-in RGB going. There are 19 different backlight modes with quite a bit of variety, as well as nine monochrome settings if you’d like something a bit less flashy.
RGB lighting can be controlled via the software (which I cover in the next section) or with keyboard shortcuts. The package includes a handy starting guide with clear instructions on how to change lighting, set up custom macros, and how to connect with Bluetooth.
Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity is solid, and the keyboard can recognize up to five different hosts. That means you don’t have to spend as much time setting things up fresh when you swap devices. Interestingly, once I’d set the keyboard up for Windows on one PC — it comes set up for Mac by default — it remained that way when I connected to another Windows PC. A long USB-C to USB-A cable is included for those who want to stick with a wired connection, especially important when gaming.
An onboard 3,750mAh battery provides lengthy battery life, especially if you turn off or tone down the RGB lighting. Vissles quotes 180 hours if the backlight is completely off. I’ve used it for a full workweek without needing to plug in; if you’re in an office setting, you can plug it in over the weekend to be sure you have a full charge.
Vissles V84: What I don’t like
Getting the Vissles V84 connected with Bluetooth only took a few seconds, but getting it switched over to a Windows setup was a bit of a pain. The included Windows keycaps were easy to replace, but dealing with the buggy accompanying software held me up. It’s downloaded from a random Google Drive, which Defender flags as malware. Once downloaded and installed, the software wouldn’t launch properly at first, with multiple crashes and no explanation of what was causing the issue.
The software doesn’t recognize the keyboard unless it’s plugged in with the USB cable, and there’s no automatic switchover when it recognizes that it’s attached to a Windows PC. The software lets you change keys, but it must be done manually. I had to get fancy with the Windows on-screen keyboard, as the Windows key on the V84 was coming up as a second left-Alt. This software seems to only be available for Windows, so anyone using the keyboard with macOS, iOS, or Android will have to stick with the onboard physical controls.
Once the keyboard is set up properly, the software lets you set up macros, customize lighting, go into gaming mode, and change any keys as you see fit.
Vissles V84: Competition
The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed is one of the best keyboards around, especially if you’re looking for something that focuses primarily on gaming. It’s wireless, it has a slightly smaller 65% layout without a top function row, and it connects via Bluetooth, 2.4GHz, or USB-C. It’s available with Razer’s Yellow (linear) or Green (clicky) switches, and it starts at about $130 depending on the keycaps.
The Razer Huntsman Mini is a 60% keyboard (no arrow keys) designed for minimalists. It has an aluminum base, detachable USB-C connection, Razer Chroma RGB backlight, 1,000Hz polling rate, and your choice of clickly or linear switches. This keyboard starts at about $90.
And if you’re looking for a 75% keyboard closer to the Vissles V84, something like Keychron’s K2 wireless board starts around $95. It comes with Gateron Red, Blue, or Brown switches, it has an RGB backlight, it can connect to three devices, and it has a 4,000mAh battery. It also has an aluminum frame and comes set up for Windows instead of Mac. Connect with Bluetooth or USB-C.
Should you buy the Vissles V84?
Who it’s for
- Those who want a mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches and keycaps
- Those who want to keep arrow, nav, and function keys on their board
- Those who want a nice blend of productivity and gaming functionality
- Those who want to spend about $100 on a mechanical keyboard
Who it isn’t for
- Those who need a number pad
- Those who want something with a stronger focus on gaming
- Those who can’t be fussed to deal with buggy software, factory Mac setup
I’ve enjoyed my time with the Vissles V84, and I plan on keeping it on my desk for the foreseeable future. The software, which is required to get the keyboard set up for Windows, gave me some trouble at the start. And that’s not to mention the random Google Drive download and the Defender malware alert. But once I got it set up, I was able to mostly ignore the software and just use the excellent hardware.
The keycaps are slightly cupped and have a bit of grit to them to keep your fingers in place, the proprietary VS-II linear switches are super comfortable for long days of typing, and it even works well for gaming. If you’re a fan of RGB, you can likely get things set up to your liking. It doesn’t have the same extensive RGB as something from Razer, but it’s still appreciated.
A huge battery keeps the keyboard running for days on end, and the Bluetooth connection with up to five profiles makes it easy to swap between devices. And the fact that you can swap out switches and keycaps should help get would-be enthusiasts into the world of modding.
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Vissles V84 mechanical keyboard
The Vissles V84 is a 75% mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches, quality keycaps, customizable RGB lighting, and comfy VS-II switches. It works well for gaming and for productivity, and it will no doubt be a good starting point for enthusiasts interested in keyboard building. If only the software could keep up with the hardware.