Ajazz AK33 Keyboard Review
To a lot of us brand names are important; yet we often buy from big name brands such as Corsair and Asus not only because the product is good but because of the marketing behind it. So, why have I opened this review with such a statement? Well what happens if you’ve genuinely got a good product but no brand awareness and no marketing budget? Enter the Ajazz AK33 (red switch).
Ajazz? Never heard of them I guess, well me neither until now; but don’t let that put you off. The Ajazz AK33 is a tenkeyless mechanical Keyboard with red mechanical switches. The switches appear to be designed and manufactured by Ajazz themselves, but closely resemble a Cherry MX red switch. In addition to this the AK33 Keyboard features RGB illumination with both in-built illumination modes and a full custom mode.
As you can see from the images above the Ajazz AK33 arrived at pcG in a simple brown cardboard box that gives very little away as to what’s within. Of course this is somewhat in keeping with the AK33’s price point, here it makes sense that packaging and presentation is kept to a minimum. Even the label provides very little information; simply providing basic details on size, weight etc.
I was quite surprised and pleased when opening the outer cardboard box to find a smart inner black box complete with ‘geek’ logo and Chinese details. Although at this point you begin to get confused who the manufacturer of this Keyboard actually is: Ajazz/Geek? Especially as opening that smart outer box reveals a Keyboard nicely packaged and wrapped in an Ajazz soft foam bag…
In the box, other than the Keyboard itself, we find the detachable USB cable, Chinese Certificate and a Quick Application Guide.
At the time of writing the Ajazz AK33 (red switch) is available from Amazon for approximately £44 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Ajazz
First impressions of the Ajazz AK33 are really rather good, it’s a nice, seemingly well made tenkeyless Keyboard. With it’s aluminium face plate it even has a somewhat premium look to it also. At this point there’s really nothing to dislike about it, so far so good…
Looking at the back of the Keyboard we see a glossy design that’s sure to attract fingerprints, but I guess the back of a keyboard’s not something that we spend much time looking at. When flat there are four rubber feet that prevent the Keyboard from moving around on the desk. Even the back legs feature rubberised tips.
The back of the Keyboard features two legs that can be extended to raise the back of the keyboard up. These legs flip out to the back of the keyboard and once locked into position they stay locked. Meaning that if you push the keyboard backwards, the legs don’t have a tendency to collapse. The legs raise the back of the keyboard by approximately 10mm and it was in this configuration I did most of my testing.
As is common on modern Keyboards the Ajazz AK33 sports extra functionality via the use of its ‘Fn’ key, found to the right of F12. This allows access to media controls (F1 through to F5), Internet and Mail controls (F6 & F7) and illumination mode controls (F8 & F9). The cursor keys also sport additional ‘Fn’ functionality and allow control over the brightness, colours and speed etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of a detachable USB cable. The cable itself is rubbersied and measures in at approximately 1.6m, which is a little short, but it is both thin and flexible. The cable connects in an offset position on the left side of the Keyboard. Admittedly I would have preferred the connection on the right, but I still like the fact that it is offset and not centrally located. It’s also good to see the use of a Ferrite Bead in an aide to suppress unwanted noise/interference in the cable.
Rather oddly I’m unsure as to what mechanical switches the Ajazz AK33 uses, but when asked I was told that the switch was made by Ajazz themselves!? Judging by the markings on the switches this seems to hold true. One thing that we do know is that they are red in colour and in use they feel (to me) like very responsive Cherry MX red switches and that’s no bad thing in my mind.
Thinking about the Ajazz AK33’s performance and concentrating on those red mechanical switches themselves and the Anti-Ghosting and NKRO. I found the AK33 to be the perfect Gaming partner. In Game the keys were both responsive and light to the touch and in my mind every bit as good as my usual key switch of choice the Cherry MX red.
First impressions of the Ajazz AK33’s illumination are simply stunning, the AK33’s RGB lighting is both bright and vivid. Above left you can see one of the standard modes, while on the right we have a custom configuration; programmed via the Keyboard directly. But it’s when you want to change modes etc that things get a little frustrating. Not helped by the intrusions that are both poor and incorrect in places.
One you realise that to access all of the modes requires you to use the Fn and F8 keys you’re away. And, when you discover that the custom profile mode is actually accessed via Fn and ‘¬’ and not Fn and ‘~’ it all seems a lot simpler. And, to be fair it all works well, with the ability to further change colours and speeds. The only real fly in the ointment here is that in the custom mode if you only want a few keys lit, you’ll need to turn all of the other keys off requiring hundreds of key presses. Luckily you only have to do this the once…
Of course the software could have come to the rescue here, but unfortunately I would suggest that it doesn’t even work properly. I spent ages with the software and I even got others to try it out and quite simply I can’t get it to work. Everything that I can program seems to get lost and colour representation seems to be completely off. Bottom line is: Ignore the software for now, but that’s a shame…
Despite the poor software the Ajazz AK33 (red switch) is still easy to recommend. That’s down to the fact that it simply offers so much for so little. At around £45 the AK33 is surely the best and cheapest mechanical RGB tenkeyless Keyboard on the market.
The Ajazz AK33 arrived at pcG in a somewhat unassuming brown cardboard box that must be one of the simplistic examples of packaging yet seen. Rather surprisingly within the brown cardboard box was a far smarter black box, strangely adorned with a ‘geek’ logo. Within this we find a good level a packaging and presentation, now with a Ajazz logo!? It would appear that either I or the manufacturer can’t quite decide on the branding… 😮
Once out of the box I was somewhat surprised, given the low cost, as to just how good the AK33 looked. Not only does this tenkeyless mechanical keyboard look good it appears to be well made too. The mechanical switches used are not Cherry MX and are (apparently) manufactured by Ajazz themselves. They sport a red colour and feel, to me, somewhat like their Cherry MX red counterparts, with a very short travel and no palpable feedback and thankfully very little associated noise.
In use and in Game the red mechanical switches performed their role beautifully providing great response with no sign of ghosting or lag. The RGB illumination was also excellent with various modes on offer via the keyboard and a completely customisable custom mode. Here you can choose what keys you want illuminated and what colours, although it does take time to setup.
If that was all we got for our £45 the Ajazz AK33 would have easily won a Gold award, but unfortunately there’s also the associated Ajazz software. The software is so poor in fact it’s difficult to know if it is even working correctly. Unfortunately the instructions for the software are also nowhere to be found and the application is totally counter intuitive. To be honest the keyboard, as it stands is better off without it. But I must review all parts of a product, I’m afraid…
On its own the Ajazz AK33 is a stunning keyboard, simply let down by poor software. In fact the keyboard is so good it’s a shame that this software even exists. If you need Profile management and or Macros then the AK33 is simply not for you. But if you don’t, then there’s probably not another mechanical RGB keyboard out there that’s can offer so much for under £45.
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Many thanks to Ajazz for providing this sample for review