Written by @Rye_Bread
I’ve always had a thing for keyboards. Back when I was working primarily in the General Sales department, I spent many an hour testing out all of the cool demos we had on display trying to find my favorite one. Even now that I work in the Systems Department, I still find moments to wander back into the keyboard aisle to keep myself acquainted with what we offer. Plus, I still get the opportunity to help customers put together their dream setups and keyboards are no small part of it. I get excited whenever we get new keyboards in stock. Among the bigger brands putting out new models, we’ve been getting some cool options from our in-house brand: Inland. There’s a new foldable Bluetooth one, a 40% mechanical, and some really sweet 75% prebuilt and barebones keyboards. I’ve already got a couple keyboards on my wall, plus the one I’m using right now. Not to mention my collection of various other gadgets and baubles. I have absolutely no room for another keyboard.
I got one anyway.
The very first thing I noticed when I opened the Inland Gaming MK Pro Barebones was how solid it was built. I was genuinely surprised at how hefty it was. Speaking of opening, included in the box are the barebones keyboard itself, some documentation, and a baggie with a tiny screwdriver and an allen key. I immediately got to work on assembling my new keyboard.
The switches I chose were the Cherry MX Black Clear Tops. Ask anyone who knows me, I am absolutely horrible with seemingly easy decisions. I either make them spontaneously or take forever. This was one of the latter moments. After talking to another coworker who’s admittedly more into keyboards than I, I settled on my choice. They weren’t the ones he recommended, but he gave me some insight into others I was considering (thank you, Jim). These are linear switches with 63.5 centinewtons (cN) of force. Compare this to your more common MX Red switches that require 45 cN of force, they’re noticeably heavier. Cherry touts these switches as “Powerful, Direct and Retro” on their site, alluding to the fact that they are based on the MX Nixie switch which was popular in the 80s.
I went for the Inland-branded Black & White ASA keycaps for two reasons: 1) I have never owned a keyboard with an ASA keycap layout, and 2) This keycap set has a bit of a retro vibe to it that I thought would fit well with rereleased retro switches. Without getting too deep into it (trust me, that’s an article unto itself) there are over a dozen profiles out there and each type has a huge effect on acoustics and shape. ASA is a newer profile and, by extension, a little more uncommon than others. They sit up tall and have bevels in the center of each keycap to better guide your fingers into them. I personally think they are among the best looking keycaps out there. Their more rounded appearance gives them a stylish look that would match perfectly with more pastel-based color combinations (Looking at you, Inland). There is potential to make a genuinely very cute keyboard with these.
Assembly was fairly straightforward, and I had no issues whatsoever. Everything fit into place perfectly. While connecting the switches, I noticed a very small amount of give in the PCB that hinted at foam being used to absorb sound. Once everything was together, I immediately plugged it into my Surface Pro and began typing. The quick brown fox jump sover the lazy dig. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dig. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. It took me a few tries to get acclimated to the new layout. The keycaps I chose don’t let light through the legend, but I was able to appreciate the Gaming MK Pro’s RGB between the keys and through the lightbars on the sides. RGB is controlled by holding down the function key and pressing the Backspace key to switch patterns, the left/right arrow keys to adjust speed, and the up/down arrow keys for brightness. A point of concern I have for some other keyboards is that sometimes the lighting can get choppy, especially with reactive lighting. I’m happy to report that the lighting was buttery smooth here, no matter how quickly I typed or how many keys I mashed.
Disassembly was easy, only requiring me to remove 8 allen head screws with the provided tool. I used the screwdriver to remove the secondary board from the main PCB, which houses the Mac/Windows switch and the USB Type C port. With further disassembly, one would be able to replace the preinstalled foam with another material of their choice if they want a more fine-tuned sound profile. For those interested in even further tinkering and customization, this keyboard would make it easy.
About halfway through typing this, I swapped from my daily driver to the Gaming MK Pro. It feels and sounds great, especially since I’m getting more used to the feel of these new switches and keycaps. I might just make this my new dedicated keyboard for writing up articles and school assignments. I honestly couldn’t happier with the quality of this keyboard, and especially at the price point it’s hard to bet.
Inland has been knocking it out of the park lately, and their keyboard products are no exception. I can proudly recommend the Barebones keyboard as well as their keycaps. They paired perfectly with the Cherry MX switches I chose, and I’m already trying to figure out what other combinations I may want to try next. Hopefully Inland expands upon the Gaming MK lineup with more accessories. I really would love to see more options for the frame and more keycaps. I’m excited for what’s to come!
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