Mionix Zibal 60 Keyboard Review
Living up to the label of connoisseurs of Gaming peripherals must be a pretty daunting task. I mean who can really lay claim to such a grand title? Yep you’ve guessed it, here we have another product from one of Sweden’s finest. A mechanical Gaming keyboard in the form of the Mionix Zibal 60. As you can already tell, Mionix aren’t a new company to the team at pcG and have produced one of pcG James’ favourite Gaming headsets with the Mionix Nash 20, but also my own personal favourite Gaming mouse (EVER!) with the fantastic Mionix Naos 8200. So when we were offered the chance to finish off their trio of Gaming peripherals, how could we really say no?!
So what does the Mionix Zibal 60 bring to table? In fact there isn’t really a lot we haven’t seen before. It features a comfortable design with a detachable wrist rest, backlight key illumination with three different lighting modes and brightness control, six key rollover, an audio pass through, a powered USB hub, it’s even Plug’n’Play so there is no need for additional software of drivers. What it does feature that I haven’y personally seen before, are the slightly less common Black Cherry MX mechanical key switches and a boastful claim of ‘Rage proof durability’ (something that I for one will find handy 😉 ), alongside the typical high quality build and design that we’ve seen before from Mionix. My only real worry is the lack of on-board memory, dedicated Macro keys, recording and playback or RGB backlighting, does the Mionix Zibal 60 really offer enough features in todays market?
Let’s take a closer look!
The Mionix Zibal 60 Gaming Keyboard arrived at pcG within a box far larger than I expected (so big in fact, I was half expecting it to contain two keyboards!). Following a similar sleek and subtle design of the previously reviewed Mionix products, the Zibal 60 box is almost entirely satin black, with just the model name in the top left corner, Mionix logo in the bottom left and a brief product description in the top right. No mention of glitzy features of any kind. What we do get however, is a huge illuminated image of the Gaming keyboard hidden inside.
Flipping over the box and we get to see another image of the Zibal 60, but this time at a slight angle with pointers giving us a few of the keyboards key features, along with a list to the right telling us the rest as follows:
Lifting the lid of the gargantuan box, shows us why it is really so big. Not because the Zibal 60 is a particularly huge Gaming keyboard, but because the box contents are laid flat and well protected. Along the top we have a large cardboard bumper, beneath which is hidden the heavy duty USB and audio cables, then to the foot a separate bumper styled box containing the wrist rest, whilst the Zibal 60 is safely nestled in between.
With the box contents emptied out, we find ourselves with one rather sleek looking Mionix Zibal 60 Gaming keyboard, a wrist rest, quick installation guide and a key puller.
courtesy of Mionix
Dimensions & Weight
First impressions of the Mionix Zibal 60 are a little of shock… Not because the keyboard is pink in colour or covered in glitter (as you can see it clearly isn’t), but the Zibal 60 is certainly one heavy keyboard, weighing in at 1.56kg. The Mionix keyboard is very nearly as heavy as the humongous CM Storm Mech (or Battleaxe) we reviewed a little while back. As you can see from the above left image, the Zibal 60 review sample sent to us by Mionix, features a QWERTY layout, but instead of the UK layout we have a US. From a productivity and typing point of view this I’ve found in the past is a little impractical (especially when my muscle memory has been attuned to a UK layout for so long), but when it comes to Gaming the oversized left shift is in fact a huge benefit (and that’s what we are here for isn’t it?!). Running along the top of the Zibal 60, we find that many of the Function keys have double functions. When pressed in conjunction with the Mionix Active key (see lower left), we gain use of the keyboards media functions, volume and lighting controls. Looking across the lowest set of keys, you may have also noticed something else a little odd about the Zibal key layout. This being the Mionix Active keys placement where the Windows key would normally be, which is now instead installed on the right and something I’ve not seen before. As most of you are aware, many Gaming keyboards will feature a Gaming mode where you can turn the Windows key off (something I tend to forget about until it’s too late…), so having this layout does away with the need for this altogether. From an aesthetic point of view, the Mionix Zibal 60 certainly follows the same trend as the other Mionix products we’ve seen before at pcG, that being of a matte black and understated , which also helps to give it a subdued and almost stealthy appearance. Something I personally rather like. The paint used across the entire surface and keys has a great finish and also offers a very pleasant texture under hand, offering an almost anti-slip quality without that slightly unpleasant sticky feeling.
Looking to the underside of the Mionix Zibal 60 and just like many other Gaming keyboards available, we find there isn’t a lot to see at all. In the rear two corners we find two height adjustable feet beside two heavy duty anti-slip rubber pads, these are joined by a further two at the front of the keyboard. In-set along the front edge we find two clips for the included wrist rest, then dead in the center a typical specifications sticker.
Again like many other keyboards, the very front edge of the Mionix Zibal is largely featureless. One thing you can clearly see is the curvature of the edging itself. Because of this, the Zibal 60 should prove to be very nearly as comfortable without the wrist rest as it should be (hopefully!) with.
Measuring across the length of the Zibal 60, shows the keyboard to be 444mm in length. Right in the center of the rear is one of the keyboards key features, this being the heavy duty braided cable. Which it most certainly is, if the Mionx Zibal 60 was going to be your murder weapon of choice, you’d have a hard choice between battering your victim with it’s tank like build and weight, or to wrap the power cable round their neck. Seriously, you could probably tow a car with this thing!
From the sides we find at it’s highest point the Mionix Zibal 60 is 44mm, then by flipping the height extending feet up we gain a further 8mm. Otherwise from the sides we see the Zibal 60 is largely featureless. Something we can see is how good the general finish of the keyboard is, with all joins being of approximately the same distance and no excess plastic in sight.
Taking another look at the rear of the Zibal 60, we find the powered USB hub which is composed of two USB 2.0 ports and the audio pass through ports. Both of which are always a handy addition especially when your Gaming rig is situated to far away for quick access or hidden under your desk (why would you do this?!). Something that would’ve been nice though is if the USB indicator had been a little clearer, the subtle and stealthy black on black isn’t very clear even when in direct light.
In the upper right corner of the Zibal 60 we find the usual keyboard lock LED indicators for the Caps, Scroll and Num locks. Above this we have the Mionix name in the very same paint as the USB and audio jack labels. Here it actually works very nicely and certainly helps the Zibal 60 to attain that subtle and stealthy quality.
Overall I’m actually pretty pleased with the Mionix Zibal 60 Gaming keyboard. I really like its subtle and stealthy Scandinavian design and the build quality and solidity could be easily compared with that of a tank. The audio pass-through and USB hub is a welcome addition and the keyboard generally feels rather nice and uncomplicated, which is where a possible issue lies… With its subtle, understated simplicity, does the Mionix Zibal 60 offer too few features when compared to other Gaming keyboards available on the market today?
The Mionix Zibal 60 was tested on my Test Rig, a fresh installation of Windows 7 Ultimate N 64bit (service pack 1) was performed prior to testing. The Mionix Zibal 60 is a plug and play keyboard, so no additional software was required or installed.
The following games were used during testing:
Unlike many Gaming keyboards we’ve tested here at pcG over the past few months, the LED backlighting featured on the Mionix Zibal 60 is if I’m entirely honest, pretty basic. Using a combination of the Mionix Active key and F12, we get the choice of three lighting modes, these being full, WASD or off. Then by replacing F12 with F11 we can change the LED backlight brightness from dull, to slightly less dull, to very nearly right (just as long as the room you’re in isn’t too bright. Compared to the likes of the Razer BlackWidow Chroma, Corsair K70 RGB or Logitech G910 Orion Spark, the LED backlighting is certainly no revelation, offering less effects and less choice of colour. In fact just the one colour (two if you include off), admittedly I do rather like the Lime green which is the colour of choice for Mionix. Another issue with the LED backlighting which is an irritant more than anything, is the need to reset your lighting upon re-booting your Gaming rig as the Zibal features no on-board memory or software in which to safe them (luckily there aren’t hundreds of effects to wade through before finding the one you liked in the first place). It is worth bearing in mind, that the Zibal 60 isn’t quite as new (or refreshed in the case of some) as these three particular products. Perhaps we’ll see something new from Mionix in the near future with a more varied colour selection?
We here at pcG have taken a look at numerous different keyswitches in recent months, ranging from mechanical (Cherry MX, Kailh, Razer Mechanical and Romer-G), membrane, plunger and even scissor switches. Of all the mechanical switches we’ve even used most of the popular colours available (and some not so…). The Mionix Zibal 60 however features Cherry MX Black keyswitches, which are something of an unknown quantity to me as I had never used them before…
Initial impressions were not good at all… To type on Cherry MX Blackswitches, when just browsing, even when just using the typical WASD keyset for Gaming gave me wrist strain and made muscles in my hands ache I didn’t know were even there (to the point I personally believe 8Pack doesn’t lift weights at all, he’s just been using Cherry MX Blacks for a long time!). All in just a 30 minute test… These key switches certainly take some time to get adjusted to. However perseverance (or should that be endurance?!) is key, as not only will be able to eventually crush bricks with your bare hands (this may not strictly be true…), but I for one found them to fantastic (after some initial r & r). The keyswitches themselves are unlike Cherry MX Brown or Blue and offer no tactile feedback, so instead feel like a much heavier and more solid Cherry MX Red. The Red keyswitches require 45g of actuation force where as the Blacks need a firmer 60g, which makes them feel a little less spongy and make you fell less of a need to bottom out each key press. This also means accidental key presses are a whole less likely and helps to increase your confidence (if only by a little) when in-Game.
In short I am now a firm believer that Cherry MX Black keyswitches are going to be the key factor in determining my next Gaming keyboard! 😉
Choosing the right mechanical Gaming keyboard can prove a pretty tricky proposition for anyone, luckily we have a little something here at pcG from a little Swedish company, whose name always seems to be synonymous with quality assuredness.
The Mionix Zibal 60 Gaming Keyboard arrived at pcG concealed within a rather large box, following a similar stylish design of the Mionix products boxes we’ve seen before it. Once inside the package we find the contents to be safely and suitably stowed inside with adequate protection. Once removed from the box, my initial response to the keyboard was of shock… Weighing in at 1.56kg, the Mionix Zibal 60 is easily one of the heaviest keyboards we’ve seen here at pcG. Luckily for us, this also meant the keyboard was built with ‘Rage proof durability’ in mind, meaning the Zibal 60 is built like a tank. From an aesthetic point of view, it is not a bad looker either, looking rather understated and stealthy with its all matte black and almost anti-slip like textured coating. Then in use we also gain the dual USB 2.0 hub and audio pass-through both of which are handy features. The stand out features for me, are the Windows key only being situated on the right so your only ever likely to press it intentionally, the Zibal 60 is very comfortable when you’ve finally become accustomed to it and those Cherry MX Black keyswitches…
… Which initially were horrible to use. Causing aches and strains through casual use and whilst Gaming, even over a short period of time. Yet once you have become accustomed to Cherry MX Black keyswitches, you’ll find them surprisingly similar to Cherry MX Red, but the slightly higher actuation force required (60g Vs 45g) means you don’t feel the need to fully bottom out a key once pressed (or is this just me?!) and as a result everything feels more responsive, precise and generally more fluid. Which also gives you a higher sense of confidence when in Game. Sadly I can also tell you this doesn’t actually make you a better player. Luckily the tank like built quality of the Mionix Zibal 60 Gaming keyboard should easily stand up to that. 😉
As Gaming keyboards go, this Mionix number puts in a pretty good performance. I rather like the Zibal 60, its simplicity and have even grown very fond of its Cherry MX Black keyswitches. It won’t be for everybody though. The lack on dedicated Macro keys, recording and playback, limited LED backlight control and the need to reselect your chosen lighting upon re-booting your Gaming rig is quite frankly a pain. Yet even whilst priced at approximately £82.00, I’d certainly be happy to recommend this somewhat flawed gem to anyone.
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Many thanks to Mionix for providing this sample for review