Leopold is one of the most reputable mechanical keyboard brands out there in the market. Recently, the brand has made its comeback to the Malaysia market and we are delighted to have the chance to test out their top of the line Leopold FC980C electro-capacitive mechanical keyboard. Read on to find out what Leopold has to offer for this keyboard with the price-tag of RM1,299.
Topre Electro-Capacitive Switches
Leopold has made two different variants for the FC980-series and their difference is the choice of switches.
- FC980M – Cherry MX switches
- FC980C – Topre Electro-Capacitive switches
The FC980M was sold in Malaysia previously around RM550 and we are not sure if this time the distributor is bringing back the M variant or not. However, the key point is that, at more than double the price, the C variant is definitely catching everyone’s eye.
The only reason I could really think of why Topre switches are so expensive is the supply & demand curve, especially there is way less production for the Topre switches when compared to the Cherry MX switches out there.
Instead of having a metal contact in the switch housing, a Topre switch employs a capacitive sensor to detect the keypress. Each key has a sensor mounted on the PCB with a metal conical spring on top of it. Rubber dome is laid on top of the spring to replicate the resistance and tactile feel of pressing a button. In other words, the keyboard registers a keypress when the sensor captures a change in capacitance when the spring depresses.
Head over to Deskthority to learn more about the switch.
Seasoned keyboard enthusiast would immediately recognise the 98-keys layout is similar to the famous Cherry G80-1800 series keyboard especially with the offset arrow cluster and the slightly cramped right modifier keys.
Of course, they are not 100% replicating the G80-1800 layout as the Cherry keyboard has 8 keys on the top left cluster.
For users who are looking for a compact keyboard but don’t want to sacrifice the Numpad and arrow cluster, this is a way to meet the user’s requirement. Just that one has to retrain their muscle memory and get used to the slightly offset arrow cluster as well as the modified right modifier keys.
The overall construction of the keyboard is extremely solid. The chassis itself is the conventional 2-piece design instead of the current popular floating keys design. Personally I think this is still the best design for a keyboard in terms of the typing feel and sound.
There are four pieces of rubber feet underneath the chassis as well as two extras on the kickstand.
The removable mini USB cable can be routed through the provided cable route depending on your desktop setup.
PBT Dyesub Keycaps
Leopold has opted for the best keycap option available for the FC980C. What we have here is the single-shot PBT keycaps with dye-sublimation (dye-sub) legend printing. Obviously, with the rise of the Chinese mass manufacturing of the double-shot PBT keycaps driving PBT keycaps price down, however, this is not the same case for PBT keycaps with dye-sublimation legend printing.
It still remains as the less efficient in the manufacturing process, however, some users out there would swear by that minuscule advantage in typing experience as well as that inky contrast of the legends.
I have been using the keyboard for a month for my work as well as gaming. For obvious reasons, as a casual gamer, I can’t really comment on the actual use of the keyboard for competitive gaming. It is noteworthy to mention the 6KRO limitation on this keyboard, so don’t expect it to play well with games that require multiple simultaneous keyboard input.
The typing experience, when compared to the other Topre switch keyboard, is pretty obvious. The FC980C feels way more solid than the HHKB because of the use of steel plate under the keyboard. That also contributes to the robust and stable stabilisers on the long keys. Putting the keyboard side by side with a Topre RealForce keyboard, the difference is down to the switch feel. The FC980C has slightly more aggressive key bounce back as if the rubber domes used here is stiffer.
If you’ve never experienced any Topre switch before, the closest switch I could describe is the Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Clear. Don’t get put off easily even if the keyboard is technically sporting a rubber dome underneath it because the feeling is entirely different.
All in all, as a writer, I absolutely enjoyed using the keyboard for my work. Since a keyboard is a highly subjective device for each and every person, I can only recommend the FC980C to those who appreciate a good quality keyboard with solid typing experience. If you’re here wondering if you should get this board for your conquest in Apex Legends, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
At the end of the day, at the price of RM1,299, the steep price point would drive most of the consumers away from this keyboard. Those who stayed and decided to get this keyboard are either those who have done the market research or those who want to have a taste on the Topre “Endgame” switch.