You’d be forgiven for not thinking the Ducky One 3 keyboard is a gaming keyboard at all.
After all, where’s its gaudy RGB lighting as standard? Where are its weird bells and whistles like tuning knobs and programmable buttons? But the Ducky One 3 doesn’t need any of that. It’s already the coolest keyboard there is. It doesn’t need to dress up as anything it’s not.
That’s not to say the Ducky One 3 is plain and boring, however. Far from it. It comes in several colourways, all cheerily named. There’s the blue, grey and yellow ‘Daybreak’, the Pink and navy ‘Fuji’, the cream and mint green-coloured ‘Matcha’ and the all-yellow, er, ‘Yellow’ mode. There’s also white and black keyboards available with backlighting. We’ve been sent a Fuji-coloured keyboard to review, and it’s simply a delight to look at. And use, of course, but more on that in a bit.
Ducky One 3 Keyboard Review: So Much Choice
But what colourway you’d like your Ducky keyboard in is far from the only decision you have to make. The keyboard comes in a variety of sizes: there’s a full-size with numberpad, a TKL (‘tenkeyless’, meaning there’s no numberpad), SF (‘sixty five’) and a Mini (no numberpad and no arrow/home section). Perhaps the most important decision to make when choosing a Ducky One 3 keyboard, though, is what type of switches you’d like it to have. And there’s a lot to choose from.
Look at the store listing for the Ducky One 3 on Overclockers, and you’ll see there are 89 items listed. All for the same model of keyboard. That gives you some idea of how many different configurations there are, and it’ll help you realise that this isn’t a keyboard aimed at casual users. Heck, there’s a good chance you didn’t know just how many different types of keyboard switches there are. If you thought a keyboard was either mechanical or not, you’re not alone.
Ducky keyboards use Cherry switches, and there’s eight different types to choose from. All named after colours, they vary in how ‘clicky’ they are, how noisy they are, how light or heavy they feel to press, and the travel distance on each press. What type of keyboard you prefer to use is a wholly personal choice – PC Gamer has an excellent guide covering the different types of switches available.
I opted for Cherry MX Brown switches on my Ducky One 3. Described to be a good balance between typing and gaming, they’re just the right amount of ‘clicky’ to provide that satisfying feel on each keystroke. Perhaps you prefer something a little quieter or louder, and that’s fine. It’s worth spending some time researching what kind of switches will best suit you before jumping into a purchase.
Ducky One 3 Keyboard Review: Fantastic build quality
A Ducky One 3 keyboard isn’t cheap: depending on the size you choose, it’s going to cost you between £130 and £180. But this is a seriously premium product. It’s solid and well-made. It’s moulded out of plastic, of course, but doesn’t have a cheap, plasticky feeling that many gaming keyboards have. My full-size Fuji Ducky One 3 has a somewhat matte feeling to the base and the keys, making it really pleasant to grip without leaving an odd sensation on my fingertips.
The supplied USB-C cable is braided, and comes in a colour to match your keyboard choice (mine’s pink!). It’s plenty long enough to work with just about any desk setup and rather than being attached to the keyboard the USB-C can be pulled out at any time. That makes it easy to move around your desk or unplug to clean or customise. (Yes, the Ducky One 3 keyboard is highly customisable, and we’ll get on to that shortly.)
It’s also pretty weighty, so you don’t have to worry about it moving around your desk as you use it. Weighing just over a kilogram, it’s going to stay put thanks to an even weight distribution. And three-way feet mean you can find the perfect tilt angle for you.
Even though you’ve chosen a colourway for your Ducky One 3 at the point of purchase, you don’t have to stick with it. The real draw of Ducky’s keyboards is how customisable they are. As standard, they come with a set of keycaps to switch out to allow you to personalise your keyboard. And compatible keycaps are widely available if you want to create something unique.
Keycaps are incredibly easy to change. Use the included tool to pull off a keycap, then simply push a new one into place. Even if you’re new to the ideal of customisable keyboards, it needn’t be daunting.
The Ducky One 3 even allows you to switch out the mechanics of your keyboard. If you decide the switches you opted for aren’t right for you, the hot-swap Kailh sockets mean switches can be changed quickly and easily without needing to buy a whole new keyboard.
Ducky One 3 Keyboard Review: The Best There Is?
GameSpew has reviewed a lot of gaming keyboards over the years from all different price ranges, but nothing comes close to the Ducky One 3. This really is in a league of its own, aimed squarely at people serious about what type of keyboard they use. It’s helped me see ‘gaming keyboards’ in a different light; they don’t all have to sport gaudy, over-the-top designs (although you can get a Ducky One 3 with RGB lighting if you want). Rather than focus on gimmicks, Ducky puts its time and attention into what matters: creating a quality user experience. And it really shows.
Yes, the experience of using a Ducky One 3 will vary greatly depending on what type of switches are on the keyboard. Not everyone enjoys the same level of click-clack. But that’s the joy of this keyboard – how endlessly customisable it is. This is a next-level typing and gaming experience that can be tailored to exactly how you want it. And even after you’ve purchased it, you can continue tweaking and personalising to your heart’s content.
If you do buy a Ducky keyboard, chances are you won’t need to replace it for many years to come. I certainly won’t be letting mine go any time soon.