Akko 3098N Mechanical Keyboard review
Linear loveliness and open to upgrades
The Akko 30908N mechanical keyboard arrived when as we began the slow march towards the Black Friday weekend. So, it was put through the gauntlet of typing out hundreds of deals and suffered more than its fair share of aggressive keystrokes and very rarely had any time off over the hundreds of hours that we tested it. How did it fair during this rough and ready period? We take a closer look.
- Supreme typing feel.
- Great build quality
- Multiple connectivity options
- Comprehensive upgradeability
- Robust materials
- Software gets picked up as a virus
- Dim lighting
What’s in the box?
- Akko 3098N Black & Gold Keyboard
- Instruction manual
- Keycap puller
- Extra keycaps
- USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable
- 2.4GHz USB wireless receiver
Unboxing & setup
The Akko 3098N comes wrapped up in a high-quality cardboard box, coddled in thick packing foam, meaning you can be fully confident in the safety of your keyboard during transit. The box has a slipcover with basic details about the keyboard, such as its size and the type of switches it uses. It’s pretty nondescript, but we’re fans of the more mature and reserved look, in comparison to the garish packaging often seen on many mainstream brands.
Setup was near flawless while wired, using the trusty old plug and play method which requires only the most herculean of tasks; plugging a USB cable in. All of the functionality is controlled with a combination of physical switches on the underside of the board, or various macros which are detailed in the included instruction booklet.
We ran into an interesting issue with the software wherein Chrome, Edge, and windows itself refused to open the .zip file because it supposedly contained a trojan virus. We managed to make it work by turning off windows’ security measures. Once it worked we were greeted by a functional but standard Macro/RGB control suite. The keyboard is fully functional without it, so you might want to dodge the irritating software problem to save yourself some time.
So, we took to the keyboard itself to customize our experience. The macros for connection and adjustment of the lighting work as you’d expect, but the macros do have a bit of a learning curve. Once we were confident the battery was charged, we plugged the included 2.4GHz receiver, and hey presto, the Akko 3098N was working flawlessly.
The colorway we received of the Akko 3098N manages to strike a balance between demure and deadly. The all-black chassis counters the ‘gold’ coloring of the keycap legends. This results in a slightly more professional look, without crossing over into boring. It looks fantastic and pops out much more than the piles of keyboards we’ve tested in the past that lack any personality aside from a few sharp edges and a sprinkle of RGB.
The Akko 3098N is technically full size as it has a complete Numpad, but through some choice repositioning and the removal of some less-used keys, the overall layout is slimmed down while retaining all the functionality you’d expect. This is reflected in the product’s name, it’s a 98 key setup, whereas a fully-sized board comes in at 104. It’s very clever, and we like how the arrow keys are nestled in between in the Numpad and main section, saving space and resulting in a very good-looking board without sacrificing too much usability.
Unfortunately, the ‘Black & Gold’ name falls a bit flat, as the gold in question is more like yellow, it still looks good but those of you who were hoping for a shiny, opulent gaming keyboard will be disappointed. But as mentioned earlier, it’s still an incredibly good-looking board. Of course, the obligatory RGB lighting is here and can be controlled via similar macros as we previously mentioned.
There are a total of 20 effects that you’re able to use on the Akko 3098, and you can adjust the speed, direction, and brightness. It’s a pretty comprehensively lit board, just a shame about the difficult software experience. It’s also worth mentioning that the lighting has some pretty limited brightness so it’s not the best option for those of you who want a vivid centerpiece for your desk.
It’s a weighty keyboard at 1.1.kg / 2.4lbs and as such, feels planted and solid, with no noticeable creaks and probably the least flex we’ve ever seen in a full-size keyboard. There is no fancy machined aluminum on the exterior, just durable and rugged plastic. Akko has an informative exploded view of the keyboard on their website which explains the weight, as the board is made up of multiple plates of varying materials. Each one plays a specific purpose and it all comes together fantastically. This is one of the best-feeling keyboards that we’ve used so far, and it’ll probably stay intact if you threw it at a brick wall.
In terms of materials, we’re talking about a mixture between ABS and PBT. The keycaps are all PBT by default, which is a conscientious offering as PBT caps are normally only found in enthusiast-level third-party upgrade packs, or other aftermarket options, which can get expensive pretty quickly.
As mentioned earlier, there are several layers to this keyboard, one of which is a thick, aluminum plate that sits over the PCB. We are fairly sure that’s where this board gets its considerable rigidity from, so far as we can tell the implementation of a noise-reduction foam layer helps prevent this strengthening measure from affecting the typing performance of the Akko 3098N.
Supreme is the best word to describe it. The keys smoothly dip down as pressure is applied and are well-stabilized to prevent any obnoxious wobbling. The noise-reduction foam keeps this board from irritating your coworkers and keeps the keys from bottoming out uncomfortably.
We also like the ASA keycap profile as the additional height over an OEM layout. It helped to keep typos to a minimum as the surface is distinguished from surrounding caps. These aspects make it an excellent keyboard for typists, as it remains comfortable after hours and hours of sustained use.
When it comes to gaming, a lot of the aspects that make it good for typing shine through here too, specifically the soft landing of the keys and the linear switches. We had no noticeable latency when using the keyboard in Bluetooth or 2.4GHz mode, though ultra-competitive gamers should stick to the USB cable just in case as no wireless connections are 100% reliable. The wired mode will also prevent the battery from dying mid-match, which still didn’t save us from repeatedly getting killed in Apex Legends, unfortunately.
The Akko 3098N comes equipped with the Silent Reds by TTC. It’s no secret that tactile and clicky switch types are the preferred option for a lot of keyboard enthusiasts out there, whether it’s for typing or an old-school keyboard user that wanted a taste of the glory days. There’s something about these linear red-type switches that make them feel far better than comparable linear key switches. We suspect the included sound dampening foams adds some much-needed tactility to what would have otherwise been a flat, and less satisfying typing experience. The switches also come pre-fitted with an O-ring, which helps with the volume and smoothness of each keystroke.
Of course, if you don’t enjoy these specific switches, this board is hot-swappable with any 3/4 pin switches. So, if you like the layout and other non-typing specific qualities of the board you can customize it with any switches or keycaps you think of. This is a welcome choice, as it’s often frustrating when larger manufacturers restrict this, while such a huge keyboard customization scene exists.
We were pleasantly surprised with the Akko 3098N. It is by far the best-feeling keyboard we’ve felt without tactile switches. It is satisfying, rapid, and makes for an effortless and accurate typing experience. Despite an all-plastic exterior, the board feels weighty, durable, and premium.
The inclusion of well-formed double shot PBT keycaps is unusually generous and the hot-swappable compatibility turns this keyboard into a good investment that can be customized with limitless combinations. The RGB lighting is far from the most vivid we’ve seen but gets the job done, the tall ASA profile of the keycaps occludes most of the light which is unfortunate as the brightness falls under par. However, if Akko wants to crack into the mainstream market, they need to address the issues with their software to make it more accessible.
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