It’s been quite a while since I last touched a brand-new CHERRY keyboard, but the G80-3000s series keyboards we’re looking at today are not the classic design that some of us are familiar with. Despite the familiar name, the G80-3000s has a modern keyboard look which I assume to be more “acceptable” by younger users who are not into the old-school CHERRY keyboards design.
I used to own a CHERRY G80-3494 and it is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made after getting to know more about mechanical keyboards. While I sold the keyboard to fund other projects, it is a decision I regret until this very day.
Unlike the G80-3494 I used to own, the new G80-3000s is a lot more affordable, and you can easily get the non-RGB TKL variant at the price of RM 239. Now the price is great but how does it perform in terms of the quality and typing feel?
Unboxing and Closer Look
Other than the box design itself, CHERRY also kept the content of the box simple. You don’t get any fancy accessories inside the box, no keycap puller, no extra keycaps, or any other extras.
The cable is not detachable by the way, some users might not be happy with this, but I don’t really find it to be an issue if you don’t plan to bring this keyboard around. Most of the users are just going to leave the keyboard connected to the computer anyway.
Both the G80-3000s FS RGB and G80-3000s TKL RGB have a very clean design, and you can see no gimmicky details anywhere on the keyboard, except for the additional key between ESC and F1 that is used to launch the CHERRY Software Utility by default.
You’ll find some useful function keys for the FN layer on the function keys row, but if you need more functions aside from these, you can always use the CHERRY Utility Software to assign or map the functions you need. The RGB lighting can be customized using the software.
G80-3000s NBL version use PBT keycaps, while RGB version uses ABS keycap with UV coating. Nonetheless, the keycap surface finishing is surprisingly good and mildly textured for a better typing experience. I’m not a fan of the type of legends they used for the keycaps but hey, that’s rather personal, right?
One of the characteristics that make the G80-3000s unique is that it doesn’t have a metal plate in between the switches and the PCB. In other words, the switches are direct PCB mounted, similar to what you’ll get on the old-school G80-3000 keyboards.
Since it doesn’t have the mentioned metal plate, the keyboard is very lightweight and sports a “flexing” and bouncy typing experience. Some might argue that it’s not going to be as sturdy as the modern-day keyboards with a metal plate in between but it has a unique typing feel to it that I find a little difficult to describe with words.
For the switches, obviously, it’s going to be CHERRY switches because the keyboard itself is made by CHERRY. It comes in four switch variants of MX Red, MX Red Silent, MX Blue, and MX Brown but unlike the classic CHERRY MX switches with an already impressive lifespan of 50 million keystrokes, the G80-3000s is equipped with the new CHERRY MX switches with 100 million keystrokes.
The stabilizers used here are the CHERRY stabilizers used by many brands nowadays and they’re factory lubricated so you don’t have to go through the trouble of lubricating it yourself. Upon removing the longer keycaps like the modifier keys, spacebar, etc, I can see the excessive lubricant on the stem of the stabilizer, which I find to be a bit too much.
At the bottom of the keyboard, we can see CHERRY’s approach with the rubber fit and kickstand but what really interests me is that the case of the keyboard is secured with a clip design rather than screws. So, taking it apart for cleaning and servicing will require some delicate prying tools so you don’t damage the clips.
The Software – CHERRY Software Utility
If you plan to customize the RGB lighting or assign extra function keys on your G80-3000s, the CHERRY Software Utility is the one you’ll need.
The software has a clean and straightforward user interface that is easy to navigate but you can’t perform overcomplicated customization with the software. As I don’t really play around much with the RGB stuff, I’d say what the software has to offer is reasonable enough for users who just want things to be as simple as possible.
Moving on to the user experience, here are the points I’d like to say after using these keyboards as my daily driver for some time.
If you’re into or wanted to try the G80-3000 type PCB mounted switch keyboards, this feels really close to that albeit there’s a slight difference overall as you bottom out the keys. Perhaps due to the different keyboard chassis design.
The full N-key rollover feature is something that I really appreciate but for most use cases, it’s very unlikely for you to press more than 10 keys at once. So, I don’t really mind even if it only comes with a 10-key rollover if it has a properly optimized key rollover design.
Even though this keyboard is not designed for gaming purposes, but as far as the responsiveness goes, I’d say it’s fine for most users. At least I don’t see any kind of obvious delay or keys not registering during my tests with fast-paced games.
One thing I did notice while using the full-sized unit is the spacebar. Tapping hard on the left side of the key will cause the right section of the keycap or stabilizer to pop out, which renders the key unusable. It only happened on the full-sized model, and not on the TKL variant. After checking the stabilizers, we found out it is caused by the excessive lubricant on the stabilizer which eventually made its way into the stabilizer stem. In our case, this issue can be easily fixed by cleaning up the excessive lubricant on the stabilizer and the keycap stem.
We have notified the local distributor and CHERRY of our findings. The official response we received is that they will investigate the lubricant application during the manufacturing and there is an upcoming PCB refresh in the pipeline.
Is the modern CHERRY G80-3000s worth it or should you pass? Well, I’d say the non-RGB TKL variant that is priced at RM 239 is worth a try if you’re looking into experiencing a CHERRY-made keyboard with PCB-mounted switches. The RGB variant G80-3000s TKL and G80-3000s FS which are priced at RM 309 and RM 399 respectively, is more of an option for those who are into RGB lighting.
As one of the entry-level options available in the market right now, the G80-3000s seems like a reasonable option to me, considering that it’s made by CHERRY. One thing to take note of is that the upcoming lineup from CHERRY will be using a new PCB design and that is good news for users who prefer to have a flipped spacebar.
As a daily driver for light usage i.e. office work, typing, I’d say the typing experience is nice. You can’t do a direct comparison with a fine-tuned custom mechanical keyboard for sure, but I believe the unique typing feel on the G80-3000s is probably something only existing CHERRY G80-3000 users will appreciate.