Let’s take a look at the iKBC CD108 Mechanical Keyboard

When I saw a full sized keyboard that came with Cherry MX switches, and PBT keycaps all for 59.99, I just had to buy it. This is the cheapest keyboard that I can find which includes original Cherry MX switches. The minimalist look coupled with the included keycap options makes this a great choice for someone who just needs to get work done. This is the keyboard you can take to the office without getting strange looks.

Admittedly, I was a bit worried as there are not much reviews on the iKBC CD108. 

After doing some research, the iKBC brand seems to be sub of the Vortex brand and is well regarded in the mechanical keyboards subreddit page. Their Poker and Poker II keyboards are flagship models with mostly positive reviews. General comments regard iKBC as having decent build quality and offering solid products.

Build and Quality

The outer case is made of a matte durable plastic. It is slightly rough to the touch which matches the feel of the PBT keycaps. The flip out feet are very sturdy with ample amounts of rubber. The entire keyboard weighs about 3-4 pounds and cannot be moved around much when resting on a table. Overall, it has a solid and durable feel and should last a long time with good care.

The PBT Keycaps are a night and day difference when compared to the regular stock ABS keycaps on my Cooler Master Rapid Fire and my Corsair K90. It has a subtle textured feel that is simply addictive to type on.

The included coloured special keycaps feels a noticeably smoother than the normal ones. Both are of the same thickness, but it suggests that a different plastic was used for the coloured keycaps. Granted they still feel better on the fingers than the stock ABS in my other keyboards. There are some minor imperfections on keycaps as seen below which won’t cause any functional issues. 

These minor imperfections does not affect usage in any way, and cannot be seen.

When the space bar key was removed, some glue can be seen holding the stabilizers in place. Although this seems due to the lower budget, it feels sturdy enough and should not be an issue.

Features

The keyboard is minimalistic in terms of features. Above the number pad there are designated keys for mute, volume down, volume up, and calculator. LED lights indicate num lock, caps lock and scroll lock.

You can also lock the Windows key using the Function Button + Windows Key.

Pros

  • The price. This is one of the cheapest keyboards on the market with Cherry MX switches.
    Also consider that the cost of a third party PBT keycap set is around $30 to $60. 
  • Solid build quality. You can throw this thing and it would probably be fine.
  • Original Cherry MX switches in a variety of choices (Red, Brown, Blue, Black, Clear). These switches are made in Germany by the Cherry company and are guaranteed for more than 50 million keystrokes per switch.
    You can learn more about Cherry MX Switches here.
  • All keys are PBT keycaps. This makes this a no-brainer deal. 
  • Includes separate keycaps for modifying the aesthetics of the keyboard.
  • Includes a keycap puller.
  • The printed lettering are basic, clean and looks professional. Here, it separates itself from other gamer oriented keyboards with the common futuristic fonts.
  • Simplicity. The keyboard is as basic as you can get, and this does look really good.

The following are some of the cons of this keyboard. Keep in mind that this is a 59.99 keyboard. As a result, I would say that these cons are negligible.

Cons (but not really) 

  • The keyboard is not backlit. This may not be a con, and if it is, iKBC has a backlit version of this keyboard for about $10 more. Personally, I think this version is better as it has a more professional look and feel.
  • The USB cord is not detachable. This is not a major issue as  the cord is long enough for most use cases and is of decent quality.
  • There is some glue around the stabilizer switches which seems to be a bit questionable. Rest assured as I have been whacking at this thing for a while now and have not seen any problems. All keys feel solid and not in any way wobbly.

Cherry MX Blue switch version

Bottom Line

This keyboard is great if you type a lot for work. For the cost of a Corsair keyboard, you can have a clicky Cherry MX Blue version at home, and a more subtle Cherry MX Brown version at the office. It is a solid, no frills mechanical keyboard with the reliability of Cherry switches. With the included keycaps, it looks clean, professional yet stands out from your regular office keyboard.

This keyboard just feels too good to type on. I have retired my Corsair K90 Mechanical Keyboard in preference of the iKBC CD108.

 

Cryorig R1 Ultimate Review

What’s the point of having a decent desktop computer rig without any aesthetic value? Yes, looks are almost as important these days for most enthusiasts. I mean, who doesn’t love sparkly and shiny things? This is half the reason I opted to upgrade my entry level (yet perfectly fine) Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler. The other half was because during code compilations, my CPU was spiking around 60-65 degrees celsius in temperature. In comes the Cryorig R1 Ultimate dual tower CPU cooler. And with a name that includes “Ultimate”, you bet your dollar that she’s gonna be mind blowing – both in look and performance!

Disclaimer: This review focuses more on aesthetic value, and less so on performance. While there was a definite drop in degrees when compared to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, I did not do full scientific measurements and testing. These measured guides can be found on the usual popular benchmark reviews and comparison websites. I’ll link a few at the end of this article.


So just some brief background on my current rig. Being a software developer by day, I only had modest requirements when it came to running video games. This includes a i7 4790K processor, on a Gigabyte Gaming 5 motherboard, with a Gigabyte WindForce GTX 960. For me, a GTX980 was a bit overkill for my heavy coding and YouTubing yet light gaming needs. Bear in mind that this PC build was completed before Nvidia launched their GeForce 10 series, which included the bang for your buck GTX 1070. All of this was beautifully encased by the renowned Phanteks Enthoo Pro full tower case.

While not a bad cooler, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo was the initial choice for me. It performed pretty decently, although I did see some occasional temperature spikes (especially during Android Studio gradle builds). It also looked pretty boring with a lot of empty space around it in the fully windowed side panel of the Enthoo Pro. I would always suggest a Hyper 212 Evo to any person who is looking to cut cost, and would like to upgrade from the stock cooler that comes packaged with your CPU. 

After spending weeks reading reviews, forums and Reddit posts, I decided on two things. One, water cooling wasn’t my cup of tea. Two, I wanted something with great performance as the Noctua NH-D15 that will match the black and white color scheme I was going for. The main problem I had with water cooling is that you had to go way up in price to find something that is dead silent which can out-perform the NH-D15. When I came across the very underrated Cryorig R1 Ultimate, I knew I found exactly what I was looking for.

The Cryorig R1 Ultimate is huge. And it weighs a lot. About 2 pounds to be exact. Here is a picture of it next to a 500ml bottle of water.

 

And here is a picture of me holding it.

 

I was a bit worried about the stress impact of such a heavy CPU cooler on my motherboard. After scouring through articles and forums, it seems that heavy CPU coolers are designed in such a way to support itself without putting much stress on the motherboard. This is due to the well designed backplate that you secure at the back of the motherboard prior installation of the heatsink.

Installation was a breeze. The included instructions was clear and the included screwdriver tool was easy to use. After installing the backplate, heatsink and then clipping the gracefully designed fans into place, it was all set.

Here’s some pictures of the completed look.

It really does fit in well with the color scheme of the other components and the case. The black and grey futuristic industrial look makes the build a pleasure to look at. The size is also more appropriate in proportions for the full tower Enthoo Pro as compared to the smaller Hyper 212 Evo.  

 

Performance

The Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO had my CPU idling at an average of 34 degrees celsius. After upgrading to the Cryorig R1 Ultimate, the average idle temperature dropped to 29 degrees celsius. I also noticed much less temperature spikes for any CPU heavy tasks. It was also noticeably quieter than the Hyper 212 Evo. Having not done any scientific testing myself, here are some good articles and benchmarks: 

http://www.legitreviews.com/cryorig-r1-ultimate-cpu-cooler-review_176339/5

https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/CRYORIG/R1_Universal/6.html

https://benchmarkreviews.com/27660/cryorig-r1-ultimate-cpu-cooler-heatsink-review/6/

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cryorig-r1-ultimate-twin-140mm-tower-cpu-cooler,4867-2.html