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May 20, 2017

AVF Gaming Freak MXR9 Mechanical Keyboard Review

By: Low Chern Lin



With the introduction of Cherry MX clone switches i.e Kailh, Gateron, KBT, Outemu, Zealio, etc, mechanical keyboards are no longer a luxury that only the rich can afford. Budget friendly mechanical keyboards can sometimes cost less than RM100 mainly to cater for the budget users market, but you can never expect too much from a keyboard at that price. 

There are of course budget mechanical keyboard that is very well built and can sometimes be even better than some of the renown brands out there. As we all know hat the market segment for budget friendly mechanical keyboard is already very crowded with various Chinese brands, it'll be really tough for a new brand to join the bandwagon and survive without any scratches. 

The AVF Gaming Freak MXR9 we have here today is the company's first attempt to join the budget friendly mechanical keyboard market, special thanks to AV Future Link Sdn. Bhd for providing us with the keyboard for making this review possible. Let's see if the MXR9 has any worthy features that will allows it to survive in the alrady harsh gaming peripherals market.

Unboxing


The packaging looks okay in overall, but AVF should consider removing the 'Dark Wiccan' thing on the box to give the MXR9 a more professional appearance. At the back of the box, you'll find the keyboard specifications and features highlight i.e the hot swap switch design, NKRO mode and 6-KRO mode toggle, etc. 


There's nothing much you can find in the accessories pack, except for the user manual sheet, replacement for the arm rest clips, and the switch puller.


While the box might be a turn down, here's what you'll get in the box, a pretty decent keyboard at first glance. The MXR9 features a brushed metal top housing and a pre-attached plastic armrest with Mayan-inspired textures.


From the side we can see that the MXR9 has the commonly seen ergonomic curve on its keycaps, as well as a pretty good angle on its arm rest.


The MXR9 features a non-detachable but braided cable for extra protection, a ferrite core to eliminate any potential interference between your computer and the keyboard, and a gold plated USB connector that comes with a USB cover to keep the connector shiny for a longer period of time.


Like most mechanical keyboards nowadays, the MXR9 too has the commonly seen media control keys, LED controls and some other features such as WASD and arrow keys swapping, NKRO and 6-KRO mode toggle, etc. You can refer to the user's guide for these extra features available on the keyboard.


As for the keycaps, the MXR9 comes with the commonly seen ABS double shot caps that is much more durable compared to the traditional laser etched translucent keycaps.


While it comes only with Outemu blue switches, the hot swap switch design allows you to easily customize its switches without having to go through all the trouble of soldering and desoldering you switches. Do note that the design only allow the use of Outemu switches and any attempt to force in a non Outemu switch to the socket can be fatal ( to the switch ).


Like most mechanical keyboards out there, the MXR9 are using the same Cherry stabilizers for the ease of removal. The space bar however, is giving a hollow and dampened feel when you bottom the key, which we find it to be a little uncomfortable if you need to tap on it rapidly.


At the back of the keyboard, you'll find a ring type key cap puller next to the keyboard feet. As this kind of key cap puller can potentially scratches your key cap or pulling out the switch stem entirely, we recommend you to go for a standard wire key cap puller that is more easy to use and has less tendency to damage your key cap. 


As the keyboard feet doesn't makes too much of a difference even after raising it, you might want to skip it for good. What's commendable here is that AVF is not stingy with the rubber pads at all. It's large enough to provide the grip you need and it doesn't falls off easily like some of the extremely small rubber pads that we've seen in the past.


We'e seen numerous keyboards with ridiculous design fault on its cable routing path and it's good to see that AVF is actually paying attention in their product design, a cable routing path design that really makes sense.

LED Mode Preview


Key Rollover Test (KRO)


Key rollover is really commendable overall, as registering a large amount of key press simultaneously shows no signs of signal blocking and ghosting effects. While the NKRO and 6KRO toggle mode might sound a little ridiculous to most, there are some operating system that is incapable of detecting keyboards under NKRO mode. So, this is when the 6KRO comes useful.

Final Thoughts

It's hard to not being skeptical at first when we see a product that comes in a weird, ridiculous looking packaging. The Gaming Freak MXR9 has proven itself as the ugly duckling in this case. 

While the odd looking legends used on the key caps aren't actually something we prefer, the MXR9 are the very few budget friendly mechanical keyboard with a reasonable design. The arm rest is definitely something worth highlighting, as it is one comfortable attachment that is rarely seen on keyboards of its category.

The hot swap switch design is another commendable feature to have, but it's a brave move for AVF to bring its game to the next level by offering a lifetime warranty for its switches. If you happen to find one or more dead switch on the MXR9, AVF will send you the exact amount of switches required for the replacement to you, free of charge.

At the price of RM 189, we'd say that the MXR9 is a pretty sweet deal that is really worth considering if you're planning to invest for an entry-level mechanical keyboard without breaking the bank. 

Pros
  • Clean, solid build quality
  • Doubleshot keycaps
  • Comes with a switch puller
  • Good angle for the arm rest
  • Full key rollover (NKRO)
  • Very good value
  • Lifetime warranty for switch replacement
Cons
  • Switch hot swap are meant only for Outemu switches
  • Plastic ring type keycap puller can damage the keycaps
  • Very limited LED modes
  • The current packaging is a big turn down

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