Glorious keyboard buyer’s guide 2023: GMMK 2, GMMK Pro, Panda switches and more
Glorious keyboards: Everything you need to know
Ah yes, glorious keyboards, the recent apple of every mechanical keyboard enthusiast’s eye. Not only have Glorious (up until recently known as Glorious PC gaming race) made a statement with the machismo logos and marketing style that walks the line between quirky and bohemian, but they have made some of the best mechanical gaming keyboards to date.
We are big fans of Glorious here at WePC, not only for the aforementioned amusing branding but for the commitment to quality and (usually) reasonable pricing. This pricing feels even more accessible in 2023 as we are tired of trying to afford nice gaming stuff in the midst of a living crisis.
However, it must be said that their gaming keyboards, however premium, are not named in the most easy-to-understand way. To that end, today we are going to go over their range of keyboards and figure out what the differences are, and by the end of this page, you’ll know which glorious keyboard is the right one for you. Let’s take a closer look, and where better to start than the beginning? Glorious’ first-ever mechanical gaming keyboard, the GMMK.
Glorious GMMK 1
Entering the keyboard market for the first time is a risky move to make. You run the risk of angering mechanical keyboard enthusiasts the world over, especially the very particular folks over at r/mechanicalkeyboards. The PC gaming community overall has grown to expect a very high level of product quality. So we’re sure the people over at Glorious breathed a collective sigh of relief when the GMMK was met with a very positive reception when it was released all the way back in 2016.
It’s still doing well all these years later, available with the timeless and ever-popular full-size, TKL, and compact 60% form factors. If you are an absolute minimalist, the GMMK is the one for you as the 60% variant is the most compact keyboard that Glorious currently produce. Additionally, Glorious did their homework so the GMMK 1 comes with a fully hot-swap compatible PCB that accepts both 3 and 5-pin Cherry MX style switches. These characteristics are what gamers and mechanical keyboard people really want. A keyboard that locks you into a certain ecosystem is a thing of the past.
Glorious also made some good decisions when it came to globalization, as the GMMK 1 is available in either the ANSI or ISO layout, catering to both North-American consumers and Europe. They also have a range of keycaps available in both ABS and PBT to further enhance the quality of the typing experience.
Depending on whether you’re a glass half full or half empty type of person, you could say they’ve either taken inspiration from or totally ripped off the design of WASD keyboards. Regardless, it’s a sleek look that avoids superfluous logos and keeps the keyboard from being over-designed, like what we continue to see from the manufacturers such as ASUS ROG and AOC.
In terms of pricing, it’s difficult to nail down as the pre-built variant is around $100, but adding different keycaps, key switches, and O-Rings can rapidly push the price north of $200. So if you’re tempted to buy the GMMK 1, be careful as the ‘customize’ button is a slippery slope.
Glorious GMMK Pro
Those of you who want a fully-prepped jumping-off point into the world of custom mechanical keyboards should go for the GMMK Pro. Not only does the GMMK pro come with a genuine 75% gasket mount aluminum frame, but it leaves the rest totally up to you, and all the parts are shipped individually, so you get the full keyboard-building experience. It’s worth noting here, that this is the only Glorious keyboard with a gasket-mount design, so if that’s your preferred mounting method, this will be the Glorious board you need to get.
Additionally, those of you who have a strong preference for volume knobs should only consider this one out of the Glorious lineup as it’s conspicuously absent from the GMMK 2, something we consider to be a misstep as the inclusion of a programmable knob is something we like here at WePC, and we continue to be disappointed by its relative lack of ubiquity in the gaming keyboard space.
Another conscientious offering relating to the DIY aspect of this board is Glorious’s online guide on how to fully disassemble this board and replace internal components to truly make the board yours. This is a generosity that most other companies and brands frequently neglect to provide, instead of leaving you to figure it out on your own and trawl through Reddit and other such online forums for advice. They’ve even made a comprehensive instructional video for those of you who prefer a visual reference.
The open-to-upgrades GMMK Pro has its limitations, however, as it’s only available in the 75% layout, so those of you who feel the need for Numpad will have to go for either the GMMK 1 or GMMK 2. Speaking of which, let’s move on to the latest and greatest of Glorious’ mechanical keyboard range, the GMMK 2.
Glorious GMMK 2
Here we are folks, the recently released GMMK 2. Viewed by Glorious at least, as the culmination of the qualities from both the original GMMK 1 and the GMMK Pro. The price of $119.99 may have you tempted to pick it up instantly, especially given the aforementioned praise, however, there are a few things to consider. First up is the pre-configured option that you get for that price is nowhere near as good as the GMMK 2. If your budget allows for it, we’d recommend some customization, luckily the online configurator makes this easy, too easy in fact, but we’ll get to that.
It’s worth quickly noting here, that the GMMK 2 is available barebones similar to the GMMK Pro for $79.99, so if you want to go full DIY you’re in luck as you won’t be paying for switches and caps just to replace them as soon as you unbox it. For those of you who don’t want to assemble the GMMK 2 from scratch, this is where it starts to get expensive. Adding lubed glorious Panda switches and their cheapest keycaps already puts the price to $199.96. Unfortunately, these caps are ABS so you’ll want to change them out for something better. So, again, the price continues to climb.
Adding more aesthetic keycap colorways can add another $50-$100, depending on the specific choice, one of those trendy coiled cables adds another $50, and so on and forth. Now you see why we said that the online configurator is too easy, you can make the total far over $400 if you’re not careful. This isn’t to say that the GMMK 2 is bad, but the pricing is could be described as a little misleading due to how quickly it can climb from the addition of ostensibly inconsequential upgrades.
More positive aspects of the GMMK 2 include its availability in both full-size and 65% layouts and the unusually generous availability of German, Spanish, and Nordic legends on the keycaps at no extra cost. We can only hope other companies follow suit to expand the currently American-focussed market to be a little more all-encompassing.
Why aren’t Glorious keyboard wireless?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a good answer for that as of yet, and neither does glorious, at least according to their posts on Reddit. For the time being, you are stuck with good ole’ USB-C. However, given the ever-decreasing latency when it comes to both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connections. We don’t expect that it will take too long for Glorious to cut the cord, but they’ll probably have to source suitable wireless receivers and put some development time into updating the Glorious core software to account for both wired and wireless keyboards.
As you might have noticed this far into the article, Glorious doesn’t just sell keyboards, they sell anything and everything surrounding keyboards too. This ranges from simple things like wrist rest and fancy cables to internal keyboard components. Let’s take a little look at what’s on offer when it comes to Glorious keyboard accessories.
Glorious mechanical switches
You knew we had to start here, what with the drama leading up to the release of the Glorious panda switches, initially known as glorious holy pandas. This drama was centered around issues of trademarking and actual manufacturing of the glorious panda switches, and the suspicious similarity to the original Drop holy panda switches. It’s a complicated tale fraught with intrigue, apologies, and angry Redditors. We’d recommend that you watch JTTR’s tear down and review of the Glorious pandas. He gets more in-depth about the controversy than we have time for, and it’s also a very comprehensive review of the Panda switch itself.
The only other Glorious branded switch on offer is the Glorious lynx key switch. Being linear it lacks any textile bump at the actuation point and, like most linear switches, it requires less force to actuate than tactile equivalents, specifically 7g less than the Panda. Weirdly enough, Glorious is yet to produce a clicky switch. This might be explained by the Cherry MX Blue-style ‘click’ sound falling out of favor in the eyes of many keyboard enthusiasts, however, enough proponents remain so we expect Glorious to take a piece of the clicky market sooner or later.
Glorious Panda vs Glorious Lynx
Just to be as throughout as possible, here’s a quick comparison between both Glorious switches, with specs included.
Glorious Panda switch specs
- Style: Tactile switch
- Actuation force: 67g
- Mount: Plate mount (3-pin)
- Housing: White, Opaque
Glorious Lynx switch specs
- Style: Linear switch
- Actuation force: 60g
- Mount: Plate mount (5-pin)
- Housing: Blue, Opaque
If neither of the Glorious switches floats your boat, they also sell Kailh and Gateron switches in all of their various flavors. Luckily, the GMMK, GMMK 2, and GMMK Pro are all compatible with 3 or 5-pin Cherry MX style switches, so unless you’re looking very far afield, any normal switch will be fully compatible, regardless of which board you go for.
We touched on this earlier, but it deserves some expansion here as Glorious produce a pretty wide array of keycaps in varying colors and styles, including pudding keycaps. While the PBT vs ABS argument has been won in favor of PBT keycaps for quite some time now, Glorious still offer some of their keycaps in ABS for those who need a more affordable upgrade.
If you’re looking for a visual upgrade, Glorious also produces their PBT keycaps in various colorways, ranging from vaporwave-style pink and purple to a military-inspired moss-green. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a truly premium-looking set of caps, you might like to consider their ‘celestial’ series of keycap sets, which are unique as the color gradient exists across individual keycaps, instead of abruptly changing from one cap to the next. Unsurprisingly you’ll be paying a premium for this level of artistry as the celestial keycaps retail for $99.99 per pack which can be difficult to swallow, regardless of how lovely they look.
Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of RGB lighting, there aren’t a lot of keycaps from glorious that are compatible with their vivid RGB backlight, you’ll either have to go for the glow-tacular aura keycaps (Aura being Glorious’s brand name for their line of pudding keycaps) or the lesser quality ABS keycaps. They are double-shot ABS, but ABS is ABS, regardless of how many times it’s been shot
Glorious modding tools
Given the open nature of their keyboards, it comes as no surprise that Glorious offers a full complement of modding tools to help you get the most out of the custom mechanical keyboard experience. This ranges from the mundane and standard fair like a key switch and keycap puller, and screw-in stabilizers, to the more enthusiast-level stuff like lube, switch openers, and fully-featured lubing stations.
Related Glorious pages
If you’re curious, we’ve covered Glorious a few times before, so here are some pages that might interest you.
Glorious keyboards: Final word
Hopefully, now you have been given a comprehensive education about the GMMK 1, GMMK 2, and GMMK Pro concerning the differences and pros/cons relating to each one. Additionally, we’ve covered Glorious’ range of accessories surrounding their keyboards, like the modding tools and keycaps.
We’ve also covered the two types of switches manufactured by Glorious, the Lynx and Panda. Their differing and specific characteristics, and which one you should go for. The general rule of thumb is linear for gaming and tactile for general use. However, given that most people won’t have multiple keyboards with differing switches, we recommend the Pandas, as tactile switches work for gaming in addition to normal use, but the reverse is less true.
So, bear all this in mind when you take a spin over to the official Glorious website, and you might just find the next keyboard upgrade you’ve been wanting.
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