HomeGame GuidesReview: Ducky One 3 TKL Aura wired gaming keyboard with Cherry MX...

Review: Ducky One 3 TKL Aura wired gaming keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches

Published on


Introduction

Just like gaming mice, gaming keyboards are a hot topic, but unlike the mice which see their advantages most notably in gaming, a high-performance keyboard sees its benefits with virtually every interaction with a computer. For example, you don’t need a 1000Hz mouse for desktop use, many people will never tell the difference between one and a standard 125Hz mouse, but on a keyboard, the way the keys press, the noise feedback, the weight of the board, the key cap size and layout… All these aspects matter and can enhance or limit productivity and performance in anything you do on a computer.

Seeing people talk about Ducky keyboards over the years had always intrigued me as I’d dabbled with Corsair RGB gaming boards with Cherry MX Red/Brown switches or a time, but they weren’t quite as silent as I’d liked, and the fixed cable was annoying when it came to cleaning at times, so I went back to Logitech wireless models for the long haul.

Ducky’s release of the One 3 Aura range covers the most popular form factors, and in today’s review, I will be talking about the TKL version, sent in by our friends over at Overclockers UK.

Here is a look at how the other models in the One 3 Aura range differ in size/layout:

Specifications

Model reviewed DKON2187ST
Trigger switch

Cherry MX / Kailh / Gateron

LED array RGB
Connection USB 2.0 spec via a Type-C port, Type-C to Type-A cable included
Keycap material ABS multi layered
Printing technology Double shot
Dimensions

370x140x40mm

Weight 908g
PCB Double-layered PCB, N-key or 6-Key Rollover
Manufactured in Taiwan
Special features

Onboard RGB lighting control, DIP switches for keyboard configuration, hot-swappable Cherry switches via Kailh hot-swap sockets, acoustic dampening layers

Price £144.95

First impressions

Taking the TKL Aura out of the box you get a feel for the heft of the keyboard. It looks like it will be lightweight, given the deceiving size, but it really isn’t. The ABS plastic construction is also frosted-translucent, which adds to the aesthetic.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

There are no other front facing areas with the branding on display, and even the logo shown above, located on the back of the TKL, is hard to see unless the light hits it just right. Ducky are relying on brand reputation here as well as the bespoke keycap styles included to allow people to recognise that this is in fact, a Ducky.

Included in the box are a set of additional keycaps, should you with to tailor the styling a little, it’s nice to see different keycaps included like this.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

To get the keycaps out, Ducky included a branded keycap puller, as well as a switch puller if you ever wish to replace or change any of the Cherry MX switches. Using either tool was an easy experience and no real skill or brute force is required to get the keys or switches out. This will make cleaning the keyboard much easier as well.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

Comparisons

My primary keyboard is the Logitech MX Keys, a board I’ve grown fond of since release due to its productivity features and typing comfort. Placed next to the Ducky TKL Aura, the size difference is dramatic. Whilst the MX Keys follows a modern trend in ultra-low profile designs with low profile keys, the One 3 is somewhat the opposite, with a high profile and full size keycaps. The height only increases as you use one of the two height riser positions on the underside.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

The One 3 isn’t wireless either, so having a cable attached, however small, could also add further inconvenience for those who like to move their keyboards around depending on what they are doing.

Having said that, this being a TKL means that additional desk space is freed up for the mouse to move around more freely, especially useful for those with smaller desks. Perfect for gamers who like to adjust sensitivity on a per-game basis which could result in a need for more mouse travel.

Features & Customisation

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

The underside of the One 3 houses a bank of dip switches that can be toggled. I’d never seen these before on a keyboard so had to do some digging to find out what they are for. These allow customisation of how you want to configure and use the keyboard. The number of variations are quite vast, such as the use of the function keys and lighting, and a full breakdown can be found in the official One 3 user manual which covers this is more in-depth detail.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

The hot-swap ability of the switches is also implemented very well. It’s easy to work with and the tools included are good quality, too. I had no trouble taking out multiple keys and switches in just a few seconds. Past keyboards required some brute force to pull a stiff keycap out, no such problem here.

Likewise, customising the keycaps with a bundled keycap range is also very welcome. Each of primary keycaps appear to be double layered (excluding the space bar), a translucent layer sits on top, with the printing and base layer visible underneath.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

Ducky market this as a longevity/unique styling feature, and I can certainly see this being the case. The caps feel high quality and I can see them retaining their textured matte finish for many years due to this. Memories come flooding back of keycaps that go shiny after 6-12 months of heavy use due to only having a thin single-layer finish.

Performance

Typing on the One 3 TKL is a joy. The Cherry MX Red switches generally have superb feel, but the addition of the acoustic layers inside the keyboard add additional dampening for more refined feedback. Take a listen on the video below on how loud the keystrokes are:

Keystrokes are tactile whilst still having a full mechanical action and feedback, it’s almost like a combination of the subtleness of a premium membrane keyboard such as the MX Keys, but with the action and feel of a mechanical setup. As I’ve used Cherry MX Black and Brown switches before in other keyboards and feel the MX Reds in this implementation is perfectly suited for both gaming and long-session desktop usage.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

The responsiveness and rollover performance were also excellent. I found no issues with the USB connection either, whether plugged directly into the monitor’s USB hub via a short cable (not included), or using the Ducky braided cable connected to the back of the PC.

The height of the keyboard in its flattest position felt just about right, whilst the raised positions add additional palm/finger support. From an ergonomics perspective, all seems to be excellent.

Issues

I did however come across a few problems that made me switch off the RGB lighting in almost all ambient room lighting conditions. The way the translucent keys are designed means that light leaks around the sides of the keycaps when using most RGB settings, leaving not enough light to pass through the top of the keycaps as well as the keyboard plastic itself. This results in the printed characters on the keys being hard to see in low room lighting, which is quite annoying when working in the dark.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

Above is an example of the RGB lighting set up for an all-red illumination with just some natural light coming into the room from the side.

If I close the blinds, this all changes and the keycap tops are harder to read, I changed the RGB to white/blue for the below photo, so the camera has an easier time capturing the issue, the same applies to all other colour variations of the LEDs to the naked eye.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

As you can see, the characters are much harder to see, and this applies to any brightness level. I found it easier to read the characters of each key with the RGB off entirely and just relying on the monitor’s ambient glow to see which key is which!

On top of that, the scroll lock, caps lock and num lock LED indicators are also very bright, which causes a distraction in dim room lighting situations.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

These RGB lighting issues appear to be an oversight above all else. The same problems most likely don’t apply to the other variations of the One 3 range that don’t have the translucent plastic, it would be interesting to hear from our readers on this one, do you have one of those other versions of the One 3? Let us know in the comments on your experience with RGB lighting.

Cool Factor

There’s no doubt that Ducky is a cool brand with a loyal following. The engineering quality behind the One 3 TKL appears to be very good, and the inclusion of features that other boards don’t have is also welcome, you can even do whacky (even if a bit gimmicky) stuff with the RGB lighting…

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

… But it is a bit of a shame that not all aspects offer as premium an experience, such as the hard to read keys when RGB lighting is enabled.

Conclusion

One thing I really like about Ducky is that no software needs to be installed to customise anything. All functions are adjusted directly on the keyboard using key combinations. The dip switches allow core functional changes to be made on the fly, as well as saving multiple profiles if desired. You could have a configuration for gaming, and another for desktop working, or one for low light situations, and another for bright conditions. These are well thought out features that deserve some praise.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

I would like to have seen two cable lengths included in the box, most monitors these days have USB hubs built into them, and having a short cable neatly plugged in as shown above is tidy and convenient. Given the already high price, these sorts of inclusions would be an expectation to see in the box.

It’s also a shame that there are no multi-device profiles available, only usage condition profile. These days many of us work on several devices at the desktop, such as a work laptop when working from home, a tablet as a secondary screen and so on.

Ducky One 3 TKL Aura Keyboard

Being able to switch between multiple devices with a key press would have been excellent, and of course this means adding connectivity such as Bluetooth, which in turn would increase the price.

Having the option, though, would have been nice.

Pros

– Premium construction
– Included tools
– On-board features
– Excellent performance

Cons

– Key characters hard to see in low light
– Only one length cable included
– No multi-device connectivity
– Price

 

Report a problem with article



Latest articles

More like this