The AOC GK500 Keyboard Is Good for Gamers on a Budget

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AOC GK500 Keyboard
Photo: AOC

This review comes courtesy of Custom PC. Subscribe to the magazine here.

AOC has consistently churned out some of the best value gaming monitors on the market, offering a fantastic combination of performance and features for low prices. Now the company has entered the peripherals market with a new keyboard, mouse, and headset. So, can it achieve the same great-value excellence?

Well, $50/£42, the GK500 gets you a full-sized 104-key keyboard with Cherry MX-style mechanical switches and full RGB backlighting. That’s impressive, even if the switches are clones made by a company we’ve never heard of before – Outemu.

The styling of this keyboard is basic, with a thin baseplate that stretches no wider than the footprint of the keys themselves. On its top is a very thin layer of aluminium that’s painted black and has a bevel around its edges where the shiny metal shows through.

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Combined with the rather rough-looking legends on the keys – the white painted-on secondary function labels are particularly shoddy – and you have a keyboard that largely looks as cheap as its price suggests.

Looks aren’t everything, though, and the GK500 feels surprisingly solid. Despite its slimness, the base is quite rigid, so there’s no annoying bounce while typing.

On the underside, a pair of single-level flip-down feet can raise the back edge by around 1cm and they have thick rubber pads on them to prevent the keyboard from sliding around – plenty of expensive keyboards aren’t as surefooted. That said, the keyboard does easily slide around if the feet are stowed.

For physical features, the only extra you get is a magnetically attached wrist rest. It’s good to see a magnetic system used on such a cheap keyboard, but the rest itself is hard plastic, so it isn’t all that comfortable. Elsewhere, you get no extra keys, USB hub, or multimedia controls. The cable is also fixed rather than detachable. It’s a chunky, braided cable with an ample 6-foot length.

Media playback and lighting controls are available via secondary functions of the F keys and cursor keys, while further keys can be programmed via AOC’s G-Menu software. This software package also lets you set the polling rate, repeat delay, and repeat rate (when holding down a key); disable the Windows, Alt-Tab, and Alt-F4 key shortcuts; set n-key rollover; and adjust lighting. The latter only has preset lighting effects or a full static color, not individual key control.

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The switches are equivalent to Cherry MX Red, so they have the same linear (not clicky or tactile) action, with a 50g actuation force and lifespan of 50 million keystrokes. They feel as good as we’d expect, with a smooth, consistent, and light action and reliable response. With nippy 1000Hz polling and 1ms response time, this board ticks all the key performance boxes.

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The keys are quite noisy, with the lightweight housing doing little to absorb the key hits. However, you could quite easily tone down the worst of the noise with rubber ring dampers on the switch stems, or by adding some noise dampening or weight to the base.

As this keyboard is so cheap, it could be a great starter project for getting into mechanical keyboard modding. A quick paint job on the base and a new set of quality keycaps would give you a passable custom keyboard for less than the cost of most pricier models.

VERDICT

The GK500 is a very cheap mechanical keyboard but its sturdy base and responsive keys mean it nails the essentials, making it a decent option for those on a tight budget. Plus, there’s plenty of scope for modding it.

PROS

+ Incredibly cheap
+ Reliable mechanical switches
+ Surprisingly sturdy base
CONS
– Cheap-looking key legends
– Few extra features
– Loud keys

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SPECS

Dimensions (mm)
431 x 124 x 36-50 (W x D x H)

Weight
1.9 lbs with cable

Format
Full-size – 104 keys

Connectivity
Fixed 1.8m USB cable

Switch type
Outemu Red linear mechanical

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Switch life
50 million key presses

Backlighting
6-zone RGB

Polling rate
1000Hz

Keyboard rollover
25-key

Extras
Magnetic wrist rest

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