The Monsgeek M1 which was launched recently has been very well received and has gotten a lot of positive reviews. Offering a solid set of features like a premium build quality, south-facing switches and QMK/VIA support for a competitive price. Now the sister brand of Akko is releasing it’s second keyboard; the Monsgeek M2. The M2 is a 1800 style, or 96% keyboard.
Why choose a DIY mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards, in general, have many advantages over commonly seen “standard” keyboards which use rubber dome switches or scissor switches. Among these advantages are a longer lifespan, responsive feeling and overall a better typing and gaming experience. The downsides of a mechanical keyboard will mostly be their price and sound which is often a bit louder then you get with a traditional rubber dome keyboard.
Monsgeek is one of the brands that aims to give more people acces to highly adjustable and customizable mechanical keyboards. So if you want a mechanical keyboard without a loud sound, you can put in some extra sound dampening foam in your keyboard and choose some silent switches like the Akko Silent Pink. You cand the review of these silent switches here. If you are a person on the other hand who likes to let the world know they are typing you can get some loud, clicky switches like Cherry Blue or Box White’s from Kailh.
Luckily as mechanical keyboards are becoming more mainstream, prices are coming down as well. The goal of Monsgeek is exactly this; providing more people acces to affordable, high quality and highly customizable keyboards. They let you choose your switches and keycaps, change the sound profile by adding or removing sound dampening material without the need of soldering.
The Monsgeek M2 is a keyboard which has an almost full size layout while being a roughly as wide as a TKL keyboard. This is great for people who like to use a numpad but don’t want a keyboard to take up all the desk-space. You will have to sacrifice some keys ofcourse but being a VIA compatible keyboard this won’t be a big problem since you can always move keys and functions. With a compact form factor that eliminates unnecessary keys, a 96% keyboard can help minimize desk clutter and reduce strain on the wrists and hands during extended typing sessions. Another benefit regarding ergonomics is that the reduce width will also keep your mouse arm from over stretching.
What you get when buying the Monsgeek M2
The Monsgeek M2 comes in a similar package as the Monsgeek M1 did. The Packaging is mostly black with some branding. Inside the pre-assembled keyboard is covered by packaging foam, a plastic cover and a protective cover. Also included are a manual and an optional sheet of tape for modding the sound profile. Next to the keyboard a cutout has been made where you will find the accessories like a coiled cable, screws, sound dampening teflon stickers and screw-in stabs. The keyboard comes assembled together but you will need to open it in order to put in the screw in stabs. These come pre-clipped and can be lubed by the user to bring out the best feeling. While the Monsgeek M1 models all had golden colored side bars, only the silver edition has kept this color, all the others have silver colored sidebars now. The Monsgeek Logo has also been engraved inside the bottom casing now, a very nice touch.
Building the board
Before opening up the keyboard I lubed the housing of the screw-in stabs with Krytox 205g0 and used dielectric grease on the wires. I disassembled the keyboard, put the teflon stickers under on the pcb where the stabs go, placed and screwed them and put the keyboard back together. I chose to use all, the provided foam layers and to not include the optional sheet of painters tape. You can check out some tips for lubing here.
For my build I used the Akko Snow blue grey switches together with the Jelly Purple‘s for the Numpad. I liked the idea of having some tactile feedback when using the numpad. I lubed both the switches, the Snow Blue Grey‘s with Krytox 205g0 and the Jelly purple‘s with Trybosis 3203, which is less thick. The Jelly purples tend to have a bit less wobble thanks to the dust covers they use. Both switches are semi-loud in use.
Monsgeek M2 and keycap compatibility
The Monsgeek M2 requires two functions keys on R1 in 1.5u size. It is important to check if your keycap set includes these. If you order keycaps from the Akko website you can choose MDA or SAL keycap sets which include the needed keycaps. I used the Ocean Star keycaps for this keyboard which uses the SAL profile. The SAL profile is a bit larger then the ASA profile most Akko keycaps have and the standard rows are all flattened out apart from the F and J keys which are slightly curved to help your fingers find their way. Personally though I think a different set of keycaps would have fit the silver option better like a white on black keycap set.
Impressions and conclusion
Like the Monsgeek M1, the Monsgeek M2 makes a solid impression. Building the board was, again easy enough. There are no squeaks or rattling sounds. There is a ping when not using the teflon stickers, but adding this between the two halves removes this issue. The board is, even without the addition of foam a bit on the stiffer side. For me this is fine, I don’t care that much for the overly bouncy gasket-style. Personally I used all the foam because I like a more dampened board. What I like less is the limitation in keycap compatibility because of the need of the 1.5 function keys in R1. Ofcourse most respectable premium keycap sets from brands like GMMK come with these keys and Akko also has the SAL and MDA keycap sets which offer these. I was told though that that a successor in the future will not have this limitation.
Would I recommend this keyboard? If you are looking for a 1800 or 96% style keyboard, then yes this is a very solid option. You get a premium build keyboard, great software and lots of customizability. Just make sure you buy the international version if you want VIA/QMK. You can order this version directly from Akkogear.eu
Be sure to use coupon HELLOAKKO and get 10% off (Limited time offer).
What I liked about the Monsgeek M2
- Solid build quality
- Screw in stabs included
- QMK/VIA support
- Coiled cable included
- Engraved logo on the back is a nice premium addition
What I didn’t like
- Somewhat limited keycap compatibility
- Price difference in Europe vs US (but no import and custom fees)