For roughly a month now I’ve given up my IBM model M for something newer but with an instantly classic design. Nanoxia sent in the wonderfully designed Ncore Retro mechanical keyboard. The design of this keyboard is reminiscent of typewriters of the early 1900s, with all the modern keys and back lighting were used to. We’ll be comparing it to a Model M from 1988 that I still use daily, quite a comparison to live up to.

First look

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First impressions are excellent overall. The packaging is stiff enough to protect the keyboard and well designed including thick foam. The keyboard has a pleasant sturdiness and weight to it thanks to the aluminum. Included in the package is a cleaning brush as well as a key removal tool. Warranty information is inside the included book and is for a year from date of purchase. Other information is printed clearly on the packaging itself including the water resistant design, switch type and N-key rollover.

Taking a peek inside

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Removal of the keys is a quick and simple process providing access to the screws holding the keyboard together. There’s quite a few but they’re all phillips and easily removed allowing us to see the PCB. All of the visible solder joins look good there’s no signs of poor construction. We can see that the feet are screwed to the backplate instead of being a single piece are held in by screws, an excellent choice for replaceability. Although we waited until after testing was complete to open the keyboard it went back together without any issue and works

Video tour

I apologize for any flicker in the footage due to not having any option for syncroscan on my phone.

Performance

The keys on the Ncore Retro feel consistent with little variation outside of the space bar. Kalih white switches are rated for a 50 gram activation force. However this keyboard came in at 56g across the board when measured with few exceptions the most notable ones being a higher weight on the left alt key(60g) and a lower weight on the space bar as expected at 52g. NKRO is one of the highlighted features for this keyboard and in practice it seems to work as advertised. I tried to see if I could trip the controller up but with only 10 fingers it wasn’t happening. Typing speed is a bit slower than a keyboard like the Model M(where I can reach 85WPM). Clocking in at 70WPM-75WPM on the Ncore Retro the keyboard isn’t slow but the key cap design definitely took some time to adjust to.

Wear

After a full month of use I haven’t noticed any wear on the key caps to date. I am fairly hard on keyboards I work in IT typing in consoles all day and articles all night. With no noticeable wear, I have no qualm saying this keyboard should be more than durable enough for years of use. Cleaning is also easy thanks to the raised key caps and included brush.

Closing thoughts

It’s nice to see keyboards coming to the market that aren’t just aimed at gamer. On a subjective basis although the white switches aren’t the buckling springs I’m used to they’re good none the less. At 99.99 it’s far from the cheapest keyboard on the market however it’s in the lower range for mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboards as a rule carry a premium and others can scale up to nearly 300 usd making the Ncore Retro a well priced option. A combination of unique aesthetics, excellent key response and an overall sturdy design make this keyboard an excellent choice for all but the most visually boring desks.