The Redragon Devarajas K556 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review: Jack Of Most Tradesby E. Fylladitakis on February 4, 2021 9:00 AM EST
The Redragon Devarajas K556 is a fully programmable mechanical keyboard, which is exciting for a keyboard at this price range – until one finally gets to trying out the software. The software is a mere 4 MB download from the manufacturer’s website and is so basic that does not even have a name – it is just “keyboard software”. Nevertheless, it does allow for the selection of the lighting effects and the per-key programming of the keyboard and it can store up to three layout profiles. Everything is packed into a single screen, from the left side of which the user can choose one of the 20 lighting effects, adjust its direction, brightness, and speed.
The software offers per-key programmability but is very basic. The only options are the remapping of a key to another key or multimedia command or the use of a programmed macro. The macro recorder only records keyboard keystrokes, with the sole advanced option being to include the actual delays or not. We find it extremely unlikely that any advanced gamer or professional would be able to make practical use of the software - it is so basic that it may be useful to only a handful of users, under specific usage scenarios.
Per-Key Quality Testing
In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high-quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users. It is worth noting that there is typically variance among keyboards, although most keyboard companies will try and maintain consistency - as with other reviews, we're testing our sample only.
The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduce the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typically sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.
The results that we received from the testing of the Redragon Devarajas K556 are rather mediocre but consistent with those of keyboards using OUTEMU switches that we reviewed in the past. The disparity across the main keys of the keyboard is significant and users with exceptional tactile senses will actually discern the difference between certain keys. The average actuation force is 41.3 cN, which is low, significantly lower than what we would expect from a Brown switch clone. It may feel too light to people who are used to using a keyboard using other kinds of similar tactile switches but one cannot know the difference if that is the first mechanical keyboard they are using. The low actuation force may have the positive side of reducing long term fatigue if one’s fingers are trained enough not to bottom down every keystroke.
I always try to use every keyboard that we review as my personal keyboard for at least a week. My typical weekly usage includes a lot of typing (about 100-150 pages), a few hours of gaming and some casual usage, such as internet browsing and messaging. I personally prefer Cherry MX Brown or similar (tactile) switches for such tasks but the audible tactile Blue switches are also close to my personal preference. As such, the OUTEMU brown switches of the Redragon Devarajas K556 RGB should have been almost perfect for my needs. Aside from a short learning curve, as my fingers were not used to the light force required by these switches and were bottoming down most keystrokes, the Redragon Devarajas K556 RGB indeed was nearly perfect for my professional needs. It was comfortable for long-term use and the keystroke feedback was light but adequate. The only thing that I missed was advanced programmable macros that I sometimes use, which were impossible to program with the rudimentary software this keyboard comes with.
When it comes to gaming, the Redragon Devarajas K556 actually has very few features that would actually assist a gamer. The macro recorder is elementary, and the vast majority of users will not be able to make practical use of it, reducing the list of gaming-related practical features to the RGB lighting profiles. As such, the keyboard does work fine and is comfortable for long-term gaming but does not really offer any gaming edge over any other similar mechanical keyboard.
Redragon markets the Devarajas K556 RGB as an advanced mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting. For its retail price, which usually is around $50, it does seem like quite the catch. The company is, however, very careful with the marketing quotes, which seem to be focused on the metallic top plate of the keyboard, the removable switches, and its RGB backlighting, barely revealing that it can utilize macros and entirely skipping the mention of any programming capabilities. With the extremely basic software and the programmability of the keyboard being rudimentary at best, it is apparent that Redragon does not want to put attention on something that will backfire.
In terms of quality, Redragon did a quite good job considering the price range of the Devarajas K556 RGB. It is a well-made keyboard, with a solid frame and it is carefully assembled. Users who want a keyboard with a minimal desk footprint and/or a keyboard that they can easily clean will certainly appreciate its design. The keycaps are double-shot and are not better nor worse than those of most keyboards around this price range.
Our only long-term reliability concern is the application of the mechanical switches and, by that, we do not mean that OUTEMU’s switches are unreliable. Sure, these switches are certainly not as good as original Cherry MX products and that was proven during our testing, yet their long-term reliability is not poor at all. The issue here is that the switches are removable, which is both a boon and a curse. This design does allow for the user to easily replace a switch should it go bad, or even for mixing different types of switches on a single keyboard, yet the contacts are not permanently soldered onto the main PCB. Exposed contacts are susceptible to corrosion, which will not happen in a year or even two, but will inevitably happen over enough time.
It is apparent that Redragon released the Devarajas K556 RGB in order to compete against other mechanical gaming keyboards in terms of value, seemingly offering a quality mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting at a significantly lower $57 retail price. However, the difference in terms of features and versatility over programmable gaming keyboards with better MCUs and proper software is by all means immense. If what you want is a mechanical keyboard with RGB backlight but do not really care about any advanced options, the Devarajas K556 RGB is a solid choice over advanced gaming keyboards that will cost twice as much (or more). On the other hand, if a truly versatile mechanical keyboard is what you need for your gaming and professional needs, the basicness of the Devarajas K556 RGB will probably disappoint.
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Wereweeb - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - linkThere's nothing "inherently premium" about mechanical keyboards. They were very common a few decades ago, and as someone who's used to type for a living, even these Outemus are much better for my fingers than the horrible chiclet keys that became the standard for laptops.
Operandi - Friday, February 5, 2021 - linkFYI, its not decades ago its today. Today if you want a high-end, premium (whatever adjective you want to use) typing experience you get a mechanical keyboard. If you just need a keyboard get whatever is cheap.
psychobriggsy - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - linkI bought an 'Omoton' tenkeyless mechanical for about £24 a couple of months ago. It uses Blue Outemu switches. It's okay, I think the switch sounds a bit 'springy metal'. I suspect a single OEM has made a couple of keyboard designs and these are simple rebrands. The main issue is occasional 'first key response' not occurring, which is odd on a wired keyboard.
mrvco - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - linkMy first MX mechanical keyboard was a Redragon. I only used it for a short period of time due to the noise made by the Cherry Blue (CLICKY) switches, I stuck it in a box and sold it earlier this year for the cost of shipping to some teenager that was happy to get it. I also can't abide the Razer gamer aesthetic, but if you can't or won't pay a bit more for a Ducky, GMMK, etc., then it's probably not a bad deal for a 100% starter mech.
IguanaC64 - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - linkI have owned a Redragon VATA keyboard and it works as well as it did when I bought it a bit short of two years ago. My only complaints about it are the software (not hard to use except for macros, and there doesn't seem to be a continuous loop option for the macros). The LED colors are not very true (really only apparent if you try to make them white). The separate macro keys could not be programmed in the software (macros for the regular keys could be programmed just fine).
On the plus side, you could change the keys out for cherry switches if you wanted and it's supposed to be "spill resistant". It was cool that it came with examples of all the different types of switches inside the box so you had spares or could test the clicky-ness of the different types.
I bought a MSRP $180 Logitech Orion. Software was great and the lighting was great...it was absolute garbage hardware. I started getting a lot of chatter after about 8 months. They sent me a replacement. That one was starting to give me chatter after another 6 months before my son spilled something on it. For such an expensive keyboard, it was annoying that they didn't make it spill proof at all.
I'll take a semi decent/reasonably priced keyboard over a much more expensive one that's going to make me angry when it breaks (esp in the timeframe those Logitech keyboards did) due to incredibly stupid design flaws. My next keyboard will likely be Redragon (but maybe not this one because I really like separate macro keys...games that have anti-macro logic seem to be fine with these types of macro keys).
WaltC - Thursday, February 4, 2021 - linkWhat would be nice in these mech kbd reviews is, first, an included link to the manufacturer's product page, and secondly, some kbd measurements in inches & centimeters (w X h.) I ask because mech kbds tend to be too small for my hands--at least, every one I've tried feels like my fingers are in a straightjacket--not comfortable. This one doesn't appear any larger from the photos. So I tend to stick with non-mech kbds. Seems like a decent price, however, for this kind of kbd.
hansip87 - Friday, February 5, 2021 - linkDunno, but i don't see why people are so willing to buy standard profile mechanical keyboard. i mean my Logitech K740 or even my office's basic K200 is faster to type than my own standard mechanical keyboard with standard profile height. low profile mechanical keyboard should be the norm rather than this tall as heck keys.
RSAUser - Sunday, February 7, 2021 - linkWell considering I am using a wrist wrest and the keyboard feet are out, taller keys are good.
If I wasn't using a wrist rest I'd probably want low profile keys. Do remember, for mech keys you should not be bottoming them out, so it's not an issue that they're taller and is more of a preference thing.
I do want to try out a low profile keyboard for a week or two, currently have only ever used blue, brown and red, settling on brown, always full-sized. Want to try out the Logitech G815, but not really wanting to drop ~$200 on it as a test, and don't have any friends with it (me and about 10 friends swap keyboards with each other whenever someone is interested, have gone through the original K556, coolermaster mk750 (my current), the steelseries 64 something (forgot the suffix bit), a corsair K95 (was very tempted by this one), and a G513 in the recent year or two.
thuckabay - Friday, February 5, 2021 - linkI could never purchase from a company that worships Satan: see Revelation 12:3, 12:9.
m16 - Saturday, February 13, 2021 - linkYou shouldn’t be using satan boxes (computers, smart phones and tablets) then, made by atheist, Hindi and Muslim men and women.