I love gaming keyboards. I confess to having spent quite a bit of money on them over the years and I just find them easier to type on, possibly as a result of spending so much time in my past playing games on them. The Havit HV-KB390L is something a little different however. Not only is it a God awful name (The title of “low profile mechanical switches backlit keyboard” doesn’t titillate either does it?) but it’s something you don’t see too much in the gaming community; a low profile keyboard. We took it for a spin in our full review.
I’ll start with a little surprise I found when I opened up the package. I immediately thought this was a wireless device. Sadly (maybe?) not, it simply comes with a detachable USB cable for convenience when routing the cables. There’s precious little else in the box with the keyboard and cable coupled only with a short user manual, and some warranty tickets. This suits me down to the ground as you shouldn’t be needing much else if you’re in the market for this type of keyboard. You’ve probably done your homework and know your way around keyboards in general.
- Size: 354*127.5*22.5mm
- Layout: US Layout
- Operating force: 45±10gf
- Key number: 87 keys
- Travel(Total): 3.0mm
- Interface Type: USB
- Anti-ghosting: N-Key Rollover
- Net weight: 520g
- Voltage: 4.75V±10%
- Current: ≤ 50mA （No backlight）,≤ 250 mA （brightest backlight）
- Cable length: 1500mm (Black USB cable)
- Service Life: >50 Million Key Operation
- Fully Compatible with: Win10/8/7/Vista/Mac/Linux/IBM PC
Let’s get some niggles out-of-the-way shall we? Whilst the keys on this unfathomably low profile keyboard are back-lit, the back lighting is a single colour with no RGB mode available here which will irk the more hardcore of the PC Master Race community. The lighting it does include is also of only an acceptable level. Due to the close proximity of the keys and the low profile of them also, there is little bleed of light from the keyboard base. This is highlighted more when you compare the back light on those keys that stand apart from the rest of the keyboard body) ESC, arrow keys, etc).
There are also a bit of sin committed on the layout itself. This may be completely personal but the “\” key is situated right above the compacted “Enter” key which makes typing a little more cumbersome for those coming from a more conventionally-sized keyboard.
Aside from that however there’s a lot to love here. The 87 keys are underpinned with Kailh low profile Blue switches which, if you’re familiar with the colour coding generally used across the gaming industry, are particularly “clicky”. Blue switches had long been the go to switch type for hardcore gamers (although this might have changed in the more recent past), and typing on this as well as gaming actually takes me back to my clan gaming days, and that’s despite the loss of around 7mm of height from conventional keyboard key caps. It’s not something that ever caused me an issue and that transition might have been helped by the fact I might spend as much time on a conventional keyboard as I do on a laptop keyboard which are, of course, more low profile.
There are a number of back light options here despite the lack of RGB. Presets include a wave mode, a key press mode, hedging, breathing, ripple, and many more. You can also define your own back lighting scheme in the Havit software that you will have to install to configure such things.
The software is unlike the software you get with other gaming peripherals in that you download a separate driver/software install per peripheral. There isn’t, for example, a Havit Gaming software package which packages up configurations and profile settings for all of their peripherals. When reviewing this keyboard I was simultaneously using the Havit MMO mouse, and this was a separate install – weird. That said there are enough options to keep most people happy. USB report rates, response times, per application profiles, lighting effects and, of course, macro recording and assignment. I actually quite like the software and it feels lightweight and unobtrusive with all options accessible from the main page (the same can be said with all of their software installs in my experience).
The most important part of this review is of course how the typing experience is, both for productivity and for gaming. Productivity first then, and it’s fantastic. Yes, it’s a little louder than some will be used to but if you’re buying a gaming keyboard with “blue” switches you no doubt know what you’re letting yourself in for right? The keys are tactile, have good travel and almost all the keys are where they should be (bloody short Enter key!). My only issue typing came when I reached for the number pad but that’s not a criticism that can be labelled at a keyboard specifically purchased for the smaller footprint and no number pad is it? No, the typing experience is great and I actually found myself making fewer mistakes throughout this review than I do normally when typing using my daily gaming keyboard, the Logitech G910. There is a concave shape to the keys but it’s subtle and moving across the board is easy both touch typing and when you have to seek out that elusive key (again, usually the bloody Enter key).
Moving into gaming and I actually had a few issues converting. I moved away from Blue switches for gaming some time ago moving first to Cherry MX Browns (same tactility or thereabouts but a quieter key press) and then on to Romer G with Logitech. The slightly wider keys here due to the low profile took me a while to get used to in some FPS games, but nothing too strenuous. During gaming is specifically when the rubber feet came into play as I like to have an elevated board when ‘fighting the good fight’ online. I used a custom lighting profile that highlighted all of the keys I would usually assign to weapon switching and other game-specific binds, and I could find them easily in anything but bright light. Let’s face it, if you’re gaming in bright light (i.e. daylight) you’re doing something wrong right, so that wasn’t a real issue for me. If you are a Daywalker however you might want to whack the brightness up to max and reach for a blind if seeing those specifically assigned back lights is important to you.
I think my only real gripes with this board are the strange Enter key size, and the back lighting not being RGB. It doesn’t pretend to be RGB in the slightest, but perhaps RGB has become synonymous with “gaming” in terms of functionality you’d expect from a keyboard in 2017. The fact that this board can only be purchased as a US keyboard layout will bug some, but as a UK layout guy myself I can honestly say I haven’t had any issues using this board for a fair few hours of productivity.
I’m glad I got to test out a low profile gaming board and I can honestly see myself using something like this moving forward. I’m becoming more and more aware of the aesthetic nature of my surroundings in my man cave and I’d prefer something like this than some of the “RGB all of the things” type of boards some manufacturers are putting out there. I can then at least not feel my rig is screaming out to play games when I’m trying to put in some productivity. Good job Havit, now ignore the last paragraph and give me an RGB board.