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Midrange Custom Keyboard Kit: ID80

One of the biggest problems with building custom keyboards right now is the lack of industry scale. Since the companies are so young, it is hard for them to achieve advantages through mass production. Thus, custom keyboards are often quite expensive, sometimes reaching up to $650 and beyond. Additionally, since the companies are so small, they cannot afford to hold any of their stock. Consequently, they produce low stocks of products that are typically sold out within months or days. In fact, the understocked NK65 keyboard kit was sold out within 25 seconds.

However, there is a keyboard that bucks many of these trends. The ID80 kit, produced by a company called Idobao, is a 75% keyboard kit that has a useful and airy layout, high-quality materials, and has been in stock for more than 8 months, abnormally long for a mechanical keyboard kit. Plus, it's $140 currently, so it's relatively inexpensive considering the high quality.

The ID80 kit with the "Godspeed" keycap set.

This layout, although technically a "75%" layout, has just 80 keys compared to the normal 84. Something you should understand about cutting out those four keys is that it does not decrease the total footprint of the keyboard. What it does do, however, is allow there to be space between different sections of keys. This makes the keyboard look much better, in my opinion, and also allows you to feel your way around the keyboard better.

Another interesting part about this keyboard is the two-piece case. Usually, the case is just a box with the top removed, in which you place the circuit board, plate, etc. However, with the ID80, the top part of the case wraps all the way around the keyboard, with a panel in the bottom coming off with screws. There are holes especially cut for the switches on the included PCB, and since the layout is unique, almost no other PCB can fit in the case. Although that part is a bit annoying, this PCB is extremely capable and I don't think I'll ever need another anyway. Additionally, having a seamless case, at least on the top, adds a lot in terms of aesthetics.

The case material is a thick layer of anodized aluminum, which is about the highest quality you can get in a keyboard (the nicest ones have brass parts as well). Having the thick case also adds a deep, thock-y sound to the switch noise, which is always welcome. There are six colors you can get the case in: silver(pictured), grey (my favorite), black, purple, gold, and blue. The case has high-profile sides, so the switches will not be visible under the keycaps.

This is a very impressive keyboard kit, sure to work well and look great for a long time. It also looks great, with the aluminum making the keyboard pop against any desk. For $140, it's a good option for many keyboard builders, and the layout is also one of the most popular. Overall, a strong choice for any keyboard build!

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