One of my goals for reviewing keyboards is to get into reviewing some ‘higher quality’ boards. I’d love to teardown a Mechmini, or a Minivan, for example. Or build up a Bantam-44. A lot of it has been about switches. Third tier switches are fine, but Gateron and Cherry would be great!
The Xiaomi Yuemi MK01B meets all my criteria. I’m pleased to have a look; read on!
There doesn’t seem to be a listing for this keyboard on the official site yet, so I’m linking GearBest, which is from where I got this board.
There is a black and a white version, with each having blue or red Cherry MX switches (or it’s possible that red switches are only available on the white board, and blue switches only available on black board – I’m still unclear on this.)
This board started north of $100, but it looks like it’s settling around $89.99.
I love this board. The size, the shape, the weight. I love the layout. I love the metal case. I’m not a fan of blue clicky, but that could be remedied with the white/red board. This is a wonderful keyboard.
- Xiaomi Yuemi MK01B
- Braided Micro-USB to USB cable
- Key puller
- Manual (of which no part is in English)
Package and Manual
The package is a typical keyboard box. A printed black corrugated box, with a photo of the keyboard. On the back are some specs, and just general information.
On the inside, the keyboard lives in an egg-crate style holder, with a plastic cover over the keys. This cover could be used on the desk, too, to protect the board from dust when not in use. This is a [possibly unintended but] very nice inclusion.
Unfortunately the manual leaves a lot to be desired. That said, there’s really not much that needs to be covered in the manual, as this board is very straight forward.
Officially 35.80 x 12.80 x 3.16 cm, and 0.94kg. This is a fairly slim (not much bezel) keyboard, with quite a bit of heft.
This is a Tenkeyless (or “87 key”) board.
One thing I particularly liked about this board is how well it fits on a 15″ Macbook. The cable does exit straight out the back, so the board can’t push all the way against the screen. But with an angle-adapter for the micro-USB, this would work very well to cover the keyboard on a laptop!
Build Quality and Disassembly
This board is impeccably built. That’s evident right when it’s first handled. There’s just a weight to it….
Have a look at the micro-USB connection – nothing extra, nothing too fancy, just a perfectly aligned, through-case micro-USB port.
The feet also, are nothing extravagant. They serve their purpose, and have rubber feet that will keep the board from sliding around.
I was surprised that the board is held together by this bunch of screws. Basically self tapping screws (ie, not machine screws). This is one of my two (albeit very minor) complaints about this board. Proper machine screws with a hex head (instead of torx like these are) would look nicer. (That said, the screws really aren’t seen in normal use anyway – they’re hidden under keycaps or feet, etc.)
I’ll disassemble this board more fully below, but here are a few other shots. You can see below that there are posts for alignment (those aren’t screw holes).
The summary of the build quality of this case is that it is absolutely superb. The case is secure, (even stiff?) and there’s not one sign of poor build quality or even manufacturing error at all, anywhere on this board.
The plate is metal. I failed to test if it was magnetic (I don’t think it’s steel) but it has a weight to it that makes me wonder. The product description indicates that it’s Aluminum (“aluminum alloy” to be exact).
The case is very simple, but practically perfect. The feet are rubber coated, and non-slip. The bottom is almost unmarred by anything, too. Little printing, not many accouterments.
Such attention to detail is that the screw holes on the bottom of this keyboard are covered by the feet. Just a minor, but very nice, little touch.
Below see the case with the feet extended and not extended.
The plate cover is just plastic. The plate cover snaps into the case, and makes things very snug.
The parts that are visible from the top are nice and thick, and look great. Between the keys, it’s very thin; if you disassemble this board, when pulling this plate off be careful! or you’ll break it.
The plate (above) snaps into the case (below) and is also screwed down by the (many) Torx screws seen above.
PCB / Controller
The PCB is sandwiched between the plastic plate seen above, and the plastic insert that resides in the metal case. This is the nicest PCB I’ve seen in my limited experience tearing down keyboards.
The switches are plate mounted on a steel plate, which has bent edges. This helps with spacing, and probably alignment during manufacturer. And this plate is likely what adds a big chunk of the weight felt from this board.
Layout and Keycaps
Again, this is a Tenkeyless board. Tenkeyless (TKL) happens to be my layout of choice. Numpad? who needs that!! Arrows, on the other hand…. can’t live without those.
And this MK01B is a fine example of TKL. The spacing is all exactly standard, and the bezel is very slim. There’s not much extra space – it’s a small footprint.
With TKL, you retain the function row, and there’s normal spacing to that too. I’ve had other boards where the FN row was too close to the num row, and that’s cumbersome (even if the board can be smaller).
The switches are double shot; primarily black, but with an opaque white for the stem and lettering. This mostly worked, but when considering the LEDs underneath (as you’ll see later) – not all of every key’s lettering lights completely.
Life ain’t nothing but Switches and money
Xiaomi uses genuine Cherry MX switches here – in my case Cherry Blue.
The LEDs are North facing, to line up more properly with the keycap lettering. Every key has a round red led except for two keys: The windows (or CMD) key bottom left, and the Home key top right. These are red and blue (or white, not really sure).
Here’s a small sample of the keyboard sound when typing connected to (and rested on) a Macbook Pro.
The only means of connecting this board is through the micro-USB to USB cable. When connected to a Macbook, there will likely be a popup and you may have to type a couple of keys. This is to let you Mac know what type keyboard it is. After I did this, the keyboard worked flawlessly.
User Interface and Operation
There are no drivers or anything to install with this keyboard, so the interface is simply the switches. The Fn key (lower right) is used to modify the keyboard’s backlight, but other than that, there’s not much interaction with the board except actual use.
As far as I can tell, there are no programming options for this board. Maybe once Xiaomi gets this board on their site, there will be a more in depth English manual that will shed some light, but for now, accept no programming.
In this case there isn’t RGB, but simply a single emitter color. On this black board, the LED color is red (with the two blues mentioned above). The intensity can be adjusted to 6 different output levels, including off, by pressing the FN key and up or down arrows.
The color is actually quite good. Since it’s a single color led, it’s easy for the keyboard to do it well, with no PWM or flickering issues whatsoever. Also worth mentioning is that the two non-base-red LEDs do match the base-red LEDs when they’re on.
What I like
- Build quality is absolutely superb.
- Single color LED, with no modes (I like the simplicity)
- Size is great for use with a Macbook 15″
- The weight keeps the keyboard placed on a surface very stably
- Real Cherry Switches, at a reasonable cost.
What I don’t like
- Wish an angle micro-USB was included
- Better yet, I wish the mciro-USB port exited out the side
I have a bunch of flashlights to review, including the Lumintop SD75, which will probably be up next. And an Emisar D1S too. Those are my current priorities.
- This keyboard was provided by GearBest for review. I was not paid to write this review.
- This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com. Please visit there for the best experience!
- Whether or not I have a coupon for this keyboard, I do have a bunch of coupons!! Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. Note I’ve upgraded that sheet so that now, you may subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!