Akko 3098B Black & Gold: more board for less money?
About two years ago I bought my first hot-swappable keyboard. I really liked the hot swap concept. After buying the board with Gateron browns I later switched to Gateron yellows. Soon I started to look at other possibilities like different kind of keycaps and cables. After that there was no turning back the rabbit hole, no light to be seen behind me anymore! I started watching Youtube video’s, reading blogs and forums regarding mechanical keyboards. Things like “tape mods”, “lubing”, “Thocky” etc. started to fill my head…. Ok I had to get my hand on new stuff! After having bought the Macaw keycap set from Akko for my Glorious board I started looking at what else they had to offer. I finally settled on the Akko 3098B.
Akko is a Chinese company which was founded in Shenzhen in 2016. They are widely known for their high quality double shot pbt keycaps like their Neon keycap set and beautiful special editions like the limited edition PC75B plus Year of Tiger 75% keyboard. Their keycaps come in beautiful boxes with a magnetic closing mechanism and a keycap puller. This for prices that are a lot more wallet friendly then those of GMK for example. The Cherry on the cake is here that there are no group buys or long waiting times. People gave Akko got some criticism about their keycap designs being quite similar to other more expensive brands in the past but lately they are releasing more unique designs.
Keycaps from Akko come in different profiles like Cherry, OEM and OSA but they also have their own ASA profile. This profile is almost the same height as OEM but the looks are more in line of SA. Akko has their own website for Europe as well. This saves extra risks of customs and tax costs as these are calculated at checkout.
Akko also sells various types of switches and collaborates with TTC and Gateron among others. Next the usual suspects Akko also has more and more switches in their CS line of switches. These switches are modified existing ones which have been adjusted after receiving feedback from customers. For the 3098B I have chosen the CS Silver switches which is a fast linear switch.
So much to choose from
After browsing online and comparing different switches I finally decided I wanted a 96% percent keyboard. This because I liked the fact my TKL was pretty compact but I missed my numpad. For me this was a good compromise. What I liked about the 3098B was the fact not all keys are were cramped together like some brands do. The next difficult task for me was to figure out which look I wanted. I finally decided I would go with something neutral with to option to add some flair to it.
Unboxing the Akko 3098B
The box itself has a cover which shows a nice image of the board itself in full color and on the back there are images of some important shortcuts like volume control and media keys. Inside the box itself the keyboard comes well protected with a dustcover, a plastic sheet and on top a nice protective layer of thick foam. There is a carton box at the top which holds the extra keycaps, a manual, an usb-a to usb-c cable, a wireless usb-a dongle for 2.4ghz connection and a keycap puller. Unfortunately there is no switch puller included. Lucky for me I had one laying around.
The board itself
The frame of the board itself is all black and has a little Akko logo on the front right. The standard keycaps are black with a yellow font and grey ones with the same yellow or “golden” font.
The added accent colors are very nice to look at indeed. Personally I am not using them at the moment because most of my setup is mostly (boring!) black. But I plan of putting them back in as soon as my matching aviator cable arrives! After a short test run with the keyboard I was very impressed by the stock feeling of the stabilizers. No rattling and need to throw these out for replacement. What a difference compared to my previous board! The stabilizers come pre-lubed but aren’t clipped out of the box.
Opening up the Akko 3098B
I gently opened up the keyboard by going around the frame with one of those triangular shaped opening picks. After that I removed some screws that were onder the keycaps and presto! Now the keyboard can gently be opened. Be careful not to take the SMASH approach, because the PCB has two removable wires connected to the battery compartment and daughter board. Between the PCB and upper frame is a layer of sound dampening foam.
On the bottom there is a blue silicone pad to reduce the hollow sound which a keyboard can produce. This isn’t worlds best solution but I was surprised by how good the keyboard actually sounds stock! Apart from remembering to put the cables back in their sockets be careful the align the little switch at the back of the PCB with the plastic slider seen in a cutout in the blue foam. Otherwise you will have trouble using the USB/MAC/WIN switch at the bottom of the board. I made this mistake the first time 🙂
Choosing between switches was one of the hardest things buying a new keyboard in my case. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with linear or tactile switches. I was leaning towards the Jelly Blue switches because they sounded interesting, having two tactile bumps. But I ultimately decided to go with the CS Silver, mainly because they got a lot of praise from people saying they were very fast and easy to operate.
Akko has an optional software called Akko cloud. It isn’t QMK or VIA but it gets the job done. There are customization options like macro’s, light affects and assigning different functions to keys. When first opening the software I immediately received both a firmware update for the keyboard itself and a software update. The software is completely optional and not required to use the keyboard. The included manual also points out the different shortcuts for using the wireless modes for example.
Overall I am quite impressed with what Akko delivers for around €99,- ex VAT. I think it’s insane value considering you get some great quality PBT double shot keycaps, extra keycaps in the gold theme, a wide choice of linear and tactile switches and a keycap puller. On top of that you get not only a wired option but also bluetooth + wireless 2.4 ghz. The size is just a little bit bigger then my previous TKL board but has almost the same functionality as a full size board. I love the fact there is a bit of space separating the arrow keys and the numpad from the main part of the board, this is the way! The stock stabilizers were actually very good and rattle free. The 3098B comes in many different colors and themes so chances are you will be able to find something that gets your freak on.
Too bad Home and End were sacrificed, who uses Ins? Well at least you can add those functions with the software Akko provides. Another thing I didn’t like so much was the fact the board was a bit hard to open. Oh and Akko, please provide a switch puller with your hot-swap boards 🙂 But that is just nitpicking especially since this board already is in pretty good useable condition straight out of the box. Even without mods this board is a solid option in this price range!
- Very good price to quality ratio
- Hot swappable
- Extra keycaps
- Almost full size in function
- Size just a bit bigger then TKL
- Very good pre-lubed stock stabilizers
- Wired + wireless options
- Wide choice of themes and switches
- Difficult to open
- Missing Home and End keys
- No switch puller provided
This review was originally posted by me in Dutch on Tweakers.net
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