DeepCool KG722 Review (Page 2 of 3)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

We are no strangers to small keyboards, especially as we have seen the 60% Cooler Master SK621 and SK622. However, this is my own first look at something smaller than a tenkeyless keyboard. My fascination was real when I unboxed the DeepCool KG722, especially seeing a keyboard without the function row or the arrow keys off to the side. It also means we have to deal with a few more secondary functions, as you will see shortly. Otherwise, the KG722 looks quite like a sleeper keyboard with its full black design and very slim bezels. In fact, the only thing that really stands out is the turquoise escape key on the top left side. Furthermore, there are no letters on the top of the keyboard, because everything is on the front-edge of the keycaps. All in all, I like how clean this keyboard is.

The full black exterior makes the keyboard look quite minimal and the small dimensions adds to this feel. With a width of 310mm, depth of 101.6mm, and height of 39mm, this is the smallest keyboard I have ever used. Compared to the aforementioned Cooler Master keyboards, this one is wider and taller, which is not too surprising, considering the KG722 has regular height keycaps and has a few more keys included. In terms of mass, the KG722 also weighs a very light 584g. In terms of build quality, the exterior is all plastic with a metal plate underneath, which ensures the overall durability and feel. The keyboard does not have any flex and feels extremely sturdy. While the compact size helps in this regard, I am very happy to report the KG722 is a physically well-built keyboard. Unfortunately, we do not have any wrist rest included with this keyboard.

As I have already alluded to, this is a 65% keyboard with a QWERTY ANSI layout. The whole keyboard is generally standard, although there are some things to point out due to the nature of its size. For example, the bottom row is mostly standard until you get to the right side of the space bar. Here, we have 1U sizing for the Alt, Fn, and Ctrl keys in order to fit the arrow key cluster all on the right side. Similarly, the right Shift is also slightly smaller to accommodate the Up-arrow key. At the top, the freestanding grave accent and tilde key, or "`/~", is off to the right side of the Backspace, rather than its regular position to the left of "1". Finally, the right side of the board shows the non-standard positions of Delete, Page Up, and Page Down. Other keys that are normally on the right-side of the board have been made into secondary functions. Finally, there are no separate indicator LEDs. Instead, keys like Caps Lock will glow white when it is active.

As for secondary functions, there are quite a few, so I needed to keep referring back to the quick start guide throughout my usage. All of the combinations can be illuminated by pressing the Fn key. Secondary functions are activated by pressing Fn and the corresponding key. Starting from the top, all of the keys on the top number row, up to the "=/+" key can be used for F1 to F12. I, O, and P are used to replace the top row on the right side of your keyboard, which are Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause. Similarly, J, K, and L are used to replace the other keys in the cluster of six normally found above the arrow keys, including Insert, Home, and End, respectively. Fn + Right Alt activates the Menu key. Windows Lock is set by pressing Fn + Windows key. Finally, if you make any changes, you can reset the whole board by pressing and holding Fn + Esc for three seconds. I am surprised we do not have any media keys implemented as secondary functions, as this is pretty typical for modern keyboards. The other secondary functions are for backlighting purposes, so I will go over them later on in this page. If you want to reassign different keys or make macros for them, you can use the DeepCool utility, which we will also be looking at later.

The keycaps on the DeepCool KG722 are made out of ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, plastic. I prefer PBT keycaps over ABS, as they are harder, keep their color better, and do not shine or look greasy after prolonged use. ABS keycaps are the more economical option. These use a typical OEM profile. The keycaps are laser engraved, which means the keycap is painted over in the opaque color, and the legends are etched out with laser. While this can lead to fading over time, DeepCool has addressed this by placing the legends on the front of the keycaps, where your finger will not come into contact here as often. The choice of font is clean, if not a bit office-like, but it is very legible. The keycaps use standard MX stems, which is no surprise considering we have Gateron switches underneath.

As for key rollover, the DeepCool KG722 offers NKRO over USB. NKRO is abbreviated for N-key rollover, which refers to the number of keys independently scanned by the hardware. This fixes issues of ghosting found on cheaper keyboards. While ghosting is a marketing term, there are cases where keyboards will not be able to recognize more than one keystroke at a time, causing for missed keys. This can be frustrating when you are playing games or even if you are just a very fast typist. On an aside, the original usage of ghosting in keyboards actually referred to a third key being registered when two other keys were pressed, which thankfully is not a problem with most modern keyboards.

Before continuing on, one of the selling points of the DeepCool KG722 is the key switches. There are three main types of keyboards in the market today. The cheapest but most common is the membrane keyboard, which is the easiest to make, but also has poor typing feel and response due to squishy keys. Next is a scissor switch keyboard. This can be thought of as an enhanced rubber dome with two extra interlocking plastic pieces connected to the key and the keyboard. This creates a better tactile response and typing experience in comparison to the aforementioned membrane. Mechanical keyboards cost the most, because each key switch is an independent part. These switches are generally composed of a base, stem, and spring, with varying degrees of tactile and audible feedback.

Our unit of the DeepCool KG722 features Gateron Red switches. This features a linear travel and relatively light pressure required to push the switch. According to Gateron and DeepCool, these key switches are guaranteed to last fifty million actuations. You can see a lot of the specifications are similar to the Cherry MX Red switches as these are clones. This means we have an initial actuation distance of 2mm and an overall travel distance of 4mm. This has an actuation force of 45g. We have bottom LEDs, which should allow the front-facing legends shine even brighter, but we will see shortly. I would have liked to see multiple switch flavors provided by DeepCool instead of just the linear switches.

Flipping to the back side, a big label is here with some certification information and serial number to identify the DeepCool KG722. In each corner, you can see there are sizeable rubber pads to keep the keyboard in place. Unfortunately, we do not have any feet to prop up the KG722, if you so desire. This is a bit strange to me, even if DeepCool was trying to emphasize on its portable aspect, I would appreciate some kickstand feet. Otherwise, not pictured here is the USB Type-C connection, which sits on the back edge closer to the left side of the keyboard. Internally, DeepCool has put 32KB of memory to store up to ten profiles for key assignment and lighting.

As my fascination with this small keyboard started from the unboxing, I quickly finished my photos and plugged the DeepCool KG722 in to use. Since then, I have been typing with it for about a month. In reality, I have to say there are a lot of positive points with the DeepCool KG722. However, the biggest adjustment I had to account for was losing my function and right-side keys. I could no longer quickly close programs quickly with Alt + F4, as now I needed another finger to press the Fn key, and I often pressed "`" instead of Delete when typing. The shorter right Shift may also be annoying to some, but my smaller hands meant my pinky always only reached just far enough.

As for the typing experience, I am quite used to linear switches, even for daily typing, so Gateron Red switches felt normal to me. I did like the good "thock" made by bottoming out the keys and the metallic ping was pretty much nonexistent. It does help that I placed this keyboard on top of my desk pad to cushion these sounds, but I think the pings are minimal. The Gateron Red switches felt crisp with a smooth travel and consistent feel across the keys. Longer keys like the Enter or Space bar felt consistent, even when pressing on the sides. Otherwise, there is a bit of key wobble, but I think it is actually better than some other keyboards I have tried, such as the Corsair K70 RGB TKL. I did not encounter any issues like debouncing or chattering while testing the DeepCool KG722.

The front facing legends on the DeepCool KG722 with the south-facing LEDs result in bright and consistent lighting under the keycaps. The light does spill out around the key to illuminate the rest of the keyboard, but the effect is a bit less with how close the keys are together. In terms of changing lighting effects, all of these are again changed with secondary functions. Right Ctrl can be used to cycle through various static and reactive effects. Page Up is used for cycling the direction of certain effects, while Page Down always jumps back to a single color, static mode. The "/" and Right Shift can be used to modify the different effects furthermore, as "/" can set a static color that is applied with other effects where only some of the keys are illuminated, while the Right Shift modifies the active effect color. Finally, the Up and Down arrow keys can be used to change the brightness. Overall, I appreciate the level of customization with the backlighting.

DeepCool's software for the KG722 can be found from their website and it is a 27MB compressed file to download. This utility is called "DeepCool Gaming Keyboard", and it looks like it will be used for all of their keyboard offerings. After installation, you can check if there is any firmware update necessary for the keyboard, although I did not need one while writing my review.

As for the KG722, there are two primary pages to look at. Both can be found under the "Device" tab, and the first is the key remapping window. This lets users reassign all of the keys on this keyboard, letting them choose between macros, other keyboard or mouse functions, multimedia keys, combinations of keys, shortcuts, profile switching, or launching applications. You can also disable the key if you so desire. All of the changes you make from the default will be listed at the bottom under "Custom List". You can also see there is a "Performance" area where you can change what Windows Lock controls, reset the current profile, or reach the Windows keyboard properties for more changes. The second area of changes is the backlighting, as seen in the second screenshot, where users cycle between multiple different lighting effects, while also changing the brightness or effect direction. You can also make your own custom effect if you want. Finally, you can create your own macros under the "Macro" tab.

Overall, the DeepCool Gaming Keyboard utility is functional. It is easy to use and offers users a good level of customization with up to ten different profiles for saving all of their modifications. The software did not crash or behave oddly during my use, which is another plus.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Conclusion