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March 23, 2016

Unboxing & Review: Redragon Vara Gaming Mechanical Keyboard


Redragon has been around for years as the OEM of Gaming Peripherals for few prestigious brands but they've been flying under the radar for all the while and in fact, we've only heard of its name just recently. Isn't it peculiar? Well, we're ready to feed your curiosity as we have a Redragon Vara mechanical keyboard in our test lab today, special thanks to Redragon Malaysia for the review unit!

While the first impression we have is that the Redragon Vara is just another China made mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX imitation switches, we've came across quite a number of China made keyboards that actually exceeded our expectation - let's see if the Redragon Vara is able to impress us just as well.

(The Redragon Vara retails at RM250 and is available from Novero Gaming Store)

Unboxing

Here's what you'll get inside the box: a user's guide, a plastic ring type keycap puller and the Redragon Vara Gaming Mechanical Keyboard.


The Vara comes in the standard ANSI layout where most custom keycaps set will fit.


A ferrite core is attached to the USB cable to minimize the electrical interference that could potentially affect your performance.


The USB connector is gold plated so the USB connector will stay shiny and attractive for a very long while.


The ergonomic curve is very common nowadays as mechanical keyboard available on the market usually comes with a different height of keycaps for a different row.


Unlike most traditional design mechanical keyboard, the Redragon Vara comes in a unique hollow design where the metal mounting plate is revealed.


The LED brightness adjustment on the '-' and '+' key.


The lightbulb icon on the scroll lock is meant for turning on/off the LED and the letter B on the home key is to activate the breathing mode for the LED.





A side by side comparison of the Redragon Vara keycap (left) and Cooler Master MasterKeys L keycap (right). Both keycaps are done using the double-shot injection method that produces better keycaps that will last much longer than the ordinary painted and etched keycap. 


For the LED backlit, the Redragon Vara comes only in red color.



Unlike most Cherry MX clone, the LED appears to be mounted at the bottom of the switch.


The Redragon Vara uses the Cherry stabilizers for all the longer keycaps.


The mechanical switches used on the Redragon Vara is a type of Cherry MX clone name Outemu blue switch by Gaote Corp, a brand name of Kaihua Electronics like Kailh. Personally, we find Outemu superior over the Kailh even though they're from the same company.


We went a little further with a teardown and we're glad to say that the PCB looks extremely clean, much to our surprise.


The solder joint isn't as neat as we thought, solder that doesn't stick too well to the board is visible on the joint of some switches. It didn't affect he overall experience as of for now, but Redragon should adjust their automated soldering machine to improve the finishing quality.


Key Rollover Test (KRO)

The key rollover is really commendable overall, we're able to hold down each and every key with no signs of signal blocking and ghosting effect. 

Final Thoughts
We're very surprised with the build quality of the Redragon Vara, for real. Not only that it doesn't flex much even with excessive force applied to it, the switch quality and alignment is surprisingly consistent as well. In short, this is a worthy mechanical keyboard to consider if the Cherry MX boards are way too much for your budget.

While it's rather noisy due to the clicky Outemu blue switches as the only option and the rather limited LED modes, the amount of key rollover and the arrow keys switching feature is something really impressive. Redragon should really consider for the Vara with Cherry MX red and black equivalent linear switch and Cherry MX brown equivalent tactile switch from Outemu.

Pros
  • Clean, solid build quality
  • Doubleshot keycaps
  • Full key rollover (NKRO)
  • Very good value
Cons
  • Only comes with Outemu blue switches
  • Packaging is rather thin and lack of proper protection

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