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Best Optical Switch Keyboard - Redragon K586-PRO Review

Redragon K586-PRO: Full-Featured Bang for Buck

 

Opinions in this review were formed after using this keyboard for many hours, over several days. The emphasis will be on value and functionality for the intended user. For this keyboard, the intended user is the enthusiast GAMER, or a PRODUCTIVITY user who needs MACRO Keys on the left side of the keyboard, and desires a full-sized keyboard with flexible RGB LIGHTING, and a VOLUME ROLLER.

SPECIAL Features

  • New OPTICAL Switches = 2x lifespan of standard mech switches; 50 million presses x2 = 100 million = better value
  • MACRO Keys on left hand side for GAMERS and PRODUCTIVITY USERS that require them
  • MULTIMEDIA controls and customizable PER-KEY RGB lighting effects at a fair price

 

STANDARD for most recent Redragon Keyboards

  • 18 RGB Modes + variations = vibrant, accessible from keyboard via FN+ Combos
  • N-Key Rollover, WIN Key Lock, FN + FKey for alt Multimedia features
  • OPTIONAL Software for granular settings: specific RGB values, Macros, Profiles

 

PRO Features

  • HOT-SWAPPABLE Switch Socket = user-replaceable, same or different switch styles; 2 each of BLUE/RED/BROWN/BLACK included
  • BLUE Opto-mech switch is as light as standard Outemu Brown's 55g of peak force required for tactile actuation, standard Outemu Blues = 60g
  • DEDICATED MULTIMEDIA buttons + Volume/Brightness ROLLER; DETENTS on Roller (not a button)
  • MACRO recording from keyboard to "G" keys
  • SINGLE PER KEY RGB customization can be RECORDED/RECALLED via "M" set of keys like profiles
  • G1 through G5 are RGB and part of standard keyboard animated RGB array
  • RGB SIDE BARS with adequate presets (3 animated modes + 8 solid colors + OFF = 11 presets)
  • DETACHABLE WRIST-REST hard plastic but nice matte texture; MAGNETS are strong = won't separate accidentally
  • Above features cost nearly 2x as much with other brands

 QUIRKS

  • RED LEDS for status, "G" MACROS & "M" ½-sized buttons and 4 Media keys. ON or OFF, no dimming. (BACK/PLAY/NEXT) are always on.
  • Roller only controls overall Windows OS volume, does not work for volume within media Apps
  • May not work with old KVMs with low power USB ports, Mac/Consoles not officially supported

ALTERNATIVES with a similar feature set

  • K580-PRO = Outemu OPTICAL BLUE/BROWN switches, no "G" MACRO on the left side, no "M" RGB Preset Keys
  • K587-PRO = Ten-Keyless (TKL) version, with LEFT side Macro Keys, detachable cable; no "M" RGB Preset Keys

 

ERRATA/ADDENDUM to MANUAL BOOKLET (See below for more details)

  • RGB PER-KEY is via MR + one of the "M" buttons. Replaces the FN+[~] combo for better functionality
  • FN+PrtSc = FACTORY RESET of keyboard MACRO/RGB settings (as with other recent Redragon Keyboards)

Redragon K586-PRO Optical gaming keyboard

Read on for a discussion on standout features, quirks, personal preferences, and suggestions on alternatives.

HOT-SWAPPABLE = USER-SERVICEABLE and CUSTOMIZABLE Switches.

Opto-mechanical switches are the latest advances in key switches. Instead of using flexible metal contacts within key switches to actuate a key-press signal, new optical switches use the BLOCKAGE of tiny IR beams for actuation, and a signal is sent electronically. This means the complexity is moved to the PCB and the switches are easier to design and function. As long as the IR beam can be blocked, the switch is working. The result is a doubling of the mean time between failures (MTBF) of the switches to 100 million key presses! Another benefit of moving the complexity to the PCB is that the key switches can easily be made to be hot-swappable.

Examining the 8 supplied spare switches, it is easy to see that there is a central stem that extends downward when the switch is pressed to block the IR beam. Unlike the standard 3-pin switches there is only a single central stem, and no additional pins to fit into sockets or to solder. Gateron and Kailh also make similar optical switches. However, with the lack of specific detailed info, it's not clear that they are hot-swap-compatible at this point.

* Hotswappability should be an essential feature for the value-conscious consumer. With the included spare switches, a keyboard is easily serviceable by the end-user. When optical switches become as popular as regular 3-pin switches they'll be readily available to swap out entire sets for the different key switch styles.

 

✩ LEFT SIDE MACRO KEYS

Redragon offers three keyboards with MACRO keys to the left of the main keyboard area. The K586, K587 and the K585 all have dedicated MACRO Keys on the left side. The K587 is a Ten-Keyless design, while the K585 is a LEFT-hand only HALF keyboard. The K586 is the only full-sized keyboard with those MACRO Keys to the left. Most keyboards with MACRO keys implement them above the function keys. This is a distinguishing feature found in top-of-the-line or specialized keyboards.

 

The REC button is used on-the-fly to record MACROS. MACROS are made up of 2 components, KEY-PRESS and TIME.

On this keyboard, this feature can record up to 64 chars over 30 sec duration for each "G" key. Very useful if you often perform repetitive tasks in your non-competitive games or productivity workflow. (NOTE: MACROS are discouraged in competitive gaming and may be considered a form of unacceptable cheating.)

Note that the 5 "G" keys on the left also use OPTICAL switches and are standard sized keys. They are RGB and colors animate in synchronicity with the RGB lighting modes. The 6 "G" buttons above the Function keys are not part of the RGB array, but do have RED LED lighting when a custom MACRO has been set (REC and G6-G10). Unclear if these buttons are laser-etched or ABS double-shot like the main key caps.

✩ RIGHT SIDE MULTIMEDIA CONTROLS

Found only on high-end keyboards, there is a MULTIMEDIA Roller to control Volume or Screen Brightness. There is steady medium resistance while rolling and about 16 palpable detent stops during for a full revolution.A toggle button switches between volume mode or screen brightness mode.

This is a useful feature if you listen to audio or view video on your machine. It's not difficult to perform key combination FN-F2 / FN-F3 to change sound volume, but it is much nicer to use the roller.

Note that the roller only affects overall WINDOWS OS volume, and did not appear to work from within audio or video applications. My setup does not have a monitor with a brightness that can be controlled from within WINDOWS, so I was not able to test this feature. I suspect this is probably more useful on a laptop or a tablet device.

 

✩ NEW RGB LIGHTING FEATURES

All recent Redragon RGB Keyboards offer the same 18 lighting modes controllable from the keyboard. One new feature on the K586 is the addition of RGB lighting zones on the lower left and right sides. These new lighting zones are separate from the main key RGB lighting. There are fewer modes but they are quite adequate.

Another standout feature is the ability to have PRESETS of the PER-KEY RGB lighting via "M" buttons.

It has been possible to customize RGB color setting on a PER-KEY level on Redragon keyboards, but it requires that you manually do it for each individual key. This becomes a hassle if you reset to clear out other settings, or if you want to change the lighted keys for a different game or application. The "M" set of buttons above the Function keys come with 4 game presets and you can create your own to memorize and save over the "M" keys. When a custom RGB setting is saved, the MR + the customized "M" button will both light up in RED. Ability to save RGB customization is an unexpected but very welcome feature, and it can be done entirely from the keyboard.

Note: There is a slight delay after pressing one of the "M" buttons before the lighting changes. To exit the custom RGB preset, simply enter one of the 18 RGB modes.

✩ BOOKLET ERRATA/ADDENDUM

1) RGB PER-KEY: The included manual needs to be updated. FN+[~] does not enter the PER-KEY mode. It seems this key-combo has been superseded by the "M" button feature. Pressing MR then one of the "M" buttons (M1-M4) goes into the PER-KEY Mode described, the color of the blinking [`~] key indicates current palette. However, the first default 'color' is OFF. So it is unclear you're in that mode until the color is changed via FN+[→] to get to RED. Then it'll be apparent that the key is blinking and you are in the PER-KEY customization mode as described in the booklet. Follow the rest of the instructions, skip the FN+[~] step. The description above can be confusing, especially just reading a bunch of text. Best would be to experiment and try things out.

2) FACTORY RESET: With so many features, blinking status lights and key combos it can get overwhelming quickly. I couldn't find it in the included booklet, but on another Redragon keyboard, the FN+[PrtSc] combo resets the keyboard back to factory settings, REMOVING all user-customized MACRO/RGB settings. Helpful when experimenting.

✩ SOFTWARE PACKAGE

In trying to figure out why PER-KEY customization didn't work as described in the booklet, a firmware update from the Download page was applied. There were no obvious changes. I only stumbled on the correct process by accident after noticing the [`~] was blinking after many key presses. So unclear if firmware needed an update.

Briefly about the software. Almost all the features are accessible from the keyboard without the need to install the software. Personally, I prefer a leaner OS, so I don't install the software, the keyboard controls are perfectly fine. The software allows more granular and additional control of RGB settings, Macros, Key bindings, etc. It can be installed if you need those features specifically.

✩ OVERALL BUILD

Despite costing much less than similarly featured keyboards from name brand keyboards, there are many nice details on this keyboard. The cable has a comfortable soft braided sheath that unlike the coarse material used in old Redragon mice like the M601. There is a ferrite bead near the gold-plated USB-A terminal to reduce noise from high-frequency interference. There are generously-sized rubber pads on the flip-out feet, on the bottom of the keyboard itself, as well as on the wrist-rest. The magnets for the wrist-rest are recessed by an angled ledge and are quite strong. The casing of the keyboard is matte black plastic, but there is no flexing at all - likely due to a metal plate mount for key switches. Even with the extra inch or so from the left side MACRO keys, the keyboard does not feel over-sized, especially when the wrist-rest is detached.

✩ PERSONAL PREFERENCES & ADJUSTMENTS

- O-RING Sound Dampening

A mechanical keyboard makes mechanical noises, it's part of the appeal. Some prefer a little less noise, however. A simple and affordable half-solution for noisy typing are O-RINGS. A set of 120 can be found for less than $1 online. The o-rings are applied to the stems of each keycap to decrease the travel by 1 to 2 mm and act as a bumper when a full keypress bottoms out. This helps to reduce the sound of the impact. The process is a little tedious but can dampen a portion of the sound while furiously typing. Note that the sound from topping out when a key is released is not affected. For the very low cost involved it is something to consider.

- BLUE vs BROWN Switches

More comprehensive discussions of switch types are easily found online. BLUE vs BROWN will be briefly considered here.

BLUE switches produce a 'TICK' with each keypress. This is slightly less pronounced when there are other louder noises while typing - such as when keys bottom out or top out. However, the 'TICK' of a BLUE switch is particularly noticeable by those not doing the actual typing. So BLUE switches may not be desirable in a common space - such as a living room, sleep area, or a work office.

BROWN switches are also tactile like BLUE switches. There is a speed bump like resistance when a key is pressed, but there is no additional audible 'TICK' generated by the switch. Most BROWN switches are as light or lighter than BLUE switches by feel as well. Bottoming out and Topping out sounds are same as BLUE switches.

In general, enthusiasts enjoy the extra clicky-ness of the BLUE switch, and it is the most popular switch by far. For touch typists, the tactile non-clicky BROWN switches are generally preferred, particularly in an office environment.

- LEFT SIDE MACRO Key

For repetitive tasks whether in gaming or productivity work, macros can be amazing. Feature-wise it is well implemented on the K586-PRO. It is easily accessible from the keyboard to record and use.

 Note: There can be a bit of a learning curve for some adjusting to additional keys located just left of the main keyboard area. It may be that it is the particular way I use the corner of the Ctrl and Esc keys to orient my hand placement. I end up accidentally pressing one of the Macro keys. I'd sometimes press G5 instead of Ctrl, or G1 instead of Esc. Hopefully inadvertent presses will resolve after prolonged use and muscle memory kicks in.

✩ OVERALL VALUE

This is the most full-featured keyboard in Redragon's catalog. If your workflow requires heavy use of MACROS on-the-fly, and custom RGB PER-KEY Profiles to help you orient on your keyboard commands, then this is a great keyboard to consider. A quick search on popular online stores shows similarly featured keyboards from name brands priced almost twice the MSRP! The asking price of the K586-PRO is inline with the cost of entry-level keyboards from those same brands, making this keyboard a very good value.

 

✩ ALTERNATIVE Keyboards from Redragon

If after reading this review, the K586-PRO does not entirely meet your needs there are two other Redragon keyboards with similar feature sets that are worth noting.

The K587-PRO is essentially a Ten-Keyless version with the K586-PRO. There is no num-pad, and there is no "M" set of keys for recalling PER-KEY RGB Settings. However, the benefits are a smaller, more portable keyboard with a detachable cable. The VOLUME Roller and the LEFT SIDE MACRO Keys are present. The Keyboard also features the same BLUE OPTICAL switches.

 The K580-PRO is for those that find LEFT MACRO keys unnecessary and can do away with the "M" set of RGB customization feature. It retains all the other features of the K586-PRO, including hot-swappable Optical switches and MEDIA controls.

The standout option here is that Redragon offers a BROWN OPTICAL Switch version of the K580-PRO. Great for touch-typists. At the time of this review (09/2019), it is the only Redragon keyboard featuring Outemu Optical-Mechanical Brown Switches.

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Hope this long review is helpful in deciding whether the K586-PRO is right for you.

Thanks for reading.

Robhi

 


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