Mechanical keyboards are growing in popularity in the gaming market. As a result, we now have a number of products to choose from coming from dozens of manufacturers, making it difficult for newcomers to introduce a truly innovative product. Today we are having a look at the EpicGear Defiant, GeIL’s latest gaming keyboard, which is the first modular and expandable mechanical keyboard and comes with EpicGear’s own proprietary switches.

Introduction

Golden Emperor InternationaL, commonly known as GeIL, is one of the oldest and most well-known manufacturers of high performance computer memory products. The company was founded in 1993 and was almost completely focused on memory related products until 2009, where they had their first diversification attempt towards the power supply market. In 2011, GeIL established their own gaming peripherals brand, “EpicGear”, through which they offer a variety of gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and other peripherals.

With the recent high popularity of mechanical keyboards, nearly all gaming peripheral manufacturers are offering at least one such product. Every manufacturer is trying to innovate and differentiate, but this is becoming increasingly difficult as there have been a large number of new products released during the last couple of years. In order to offer something unique compared to the competition, EpicGear came up with a “fully modular keyboard” design, the Defiant. The Defiant can be expanded by attaching external accessories to it (palm/wrist rests, extra macro keys, etc.), but its mechanical switches can also be removed and replaced.

Packaging and bundle

EpicGear supplied us with a sample of the Defiant, as well as a pack of 24 MMS switches. The keyboard comes into a sizable cardboard box that offers adequate shipping protection. The artwork on the box is relatively simple, focused on a picture of the keyboard itself.

Alongside with the Defiant, EpicGear supplies a quick start guide, a keycap/switch removal tool and three large orange stickers with the company’s logo.

The extra switches pack includes eight switches of each of the three switch types that EpicGear is currently retailing, as well as one keycap/switch removal tool. EpicGear retails this pack and it is ideal as a sampling kit prior to purchasing the entire keyboard. If for some strange reason the user wants to mix the switch types on a single keyboard, it can also be used to replace some of the keyboard’s switches.

EpicGear is currently marketing Grey, Orange and Purple switches. We do not have the detailed specifications of EpicGear’s switches, but these essentially seem to be copies of the Cherry MX Red, Brown and Blue switches respectively, with the actuation distance reduced to 1.5 mm (the stock Cherry MX switches have an actuation distance of 2 mm) and their life span allegedly increased from 50 million keystrokes to 70 million keystrokes. We test all three sets of keys in this review and produce our own comparason force diagrams.

The EpicGear Defiant Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
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  • qlum - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    So judging from the article they basically went with a unknown oem to produce them inexpensive mechanical keys which may perform a little less consistent but allows them to include some spare switches while also keeping the price down.

    Interesting enough to see. I think we may see more of those in the future driving down the price of mechanical keyboards as a whole.
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I agree. Cherry switches are overpriced as hell, and this keyboard is proof of that. The hype surrounding Cherry and their, what is it, 8 different tactile strengths, and the fact they are "German" just goes to show the need for other generic competitive mechanical switches.

    This keyboard is mostly interesting because of its price. But overall it looks like a decent keyboard that should last quite a few years.
    Reply
  • althaz - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    Are they overpriced though? They are only a little better, but they *are* better and this keyboard isn't cheaper than alternatives from more recogniseable brands.

    There are some cheaper mech keyboards out there - they are about half the price of this board, but they are also very inconsistent (a nice way of saying "shithouse").
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    Yeah, silly thing for people impressed by gimmicks Reply
  • Zaggulor - Friday, May 13, 2016 - link

    The clones do vary in quality and feel. Different factories have altered the design a bit.
    Gateron branded ones are supposedly smoother and nicer than Cherries in linear types. Greetech Green switches have also gotten praise (basically comparable to Cherry MX browns).
    Kaihl Black switches have been described to be bit more pleasant than Cherry Blacks by some people as well.

    And I also haven´t really heard THAT much negative about other brands in general, besides some users reporting more variance in switch resistance than they have had with Cherries.

    Then we also have clones of Topre switches that are used in Royal Kludge RC930 keyboard.(awesome brand name, btw). These are apparently very competent switches, but with somewhat different feel than the original and come with shock absorber bands installed straight out of the factory. It´s roughly 50% of the price of Topre Realforce boards, so it should be a good deal for many who aren´t necessarily crazy about Cherry type switches. Here is a review: https://www.keychatter.com/2015/03/12/review-royal...

    Interesting thing about this Epicgear board are not really the switches themselves, but the ease of changing the switches without having to open the keyboard casing. But there are other boards out there that offer this option too:

    "Teamwolf" brand has similar capability and they have also multiple color leds lights to go with that. http://www.amazon.com/Teamwolf-Zhuque-Mechanical-K...

    In general, you can now get perfectly adequate mechanical keyboard for 40 bucks. With most of the "bells and whistles" you can get from more expensive brands. Only thing you really give up are the actual Cherry switches and not getting thick doubleshot ABS or PBT keycaps out of the box... and perhaps the control software is not quite so polished.
    Reply
  • Ogewo - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    How about testing some ergo? Once you go ergo you never go backo. Kinesis, Matias, etc. Reply
  • Zan Lynx - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I went back. I found flat keyboards felt better, years ago. I'm going to give it another shot with the Keyboardio though. Reply
  • Ogewo - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Keyboardio certainly looks nice. I wonder how stable the "tent" orientation is, though. I like lots of curve\vertical orientation. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I went back too after going through several ergonomic keyboards. I gave several models a few months each, but always found the experience pretty miserable if not worse for my wrists and the tendons in my hands that move my fingers.

    What I would like to see is some AT testing of a few inexpensive membrane keyboards because I have a sneaking suspicion that they'd be competitive despite costing 1/10th to 1/20th of the price if you take into account the loss of programmable macros and RGB lighting. However, I realize that doing so may cast the mechanical keyboards in a bad light and generate some vendor animosity which would might cause problems getting flagship product samples in for review.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I think they've tested some membrane boards in the past... What you're suggesting might hold true as far as features, but it doesn't change the fact that membrane boards *require* you to bottom out on each and every key press which is ultimately more tiring for anyone that has weaned himself off that. Reply

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