Built around Drop's ENTR mechanical keyboard, the Lord of the Rings Dwarven edition speaks to me deeply, with each press of its keys resounding like drums. Drums in the deep. But the most pertinent question for my fellow Tolkien lovers is this: What price are you willing to pay for something that, while studded with impeccable artwork, is essentially a rather basic keyboard underneath that Dwarvish facade.
Bathed in shades of rock and stone, Drop's Lord of the Rings Dwarvish ENTR keyboard is part of an ongoing series for the company. There are currently three in the LOTR set so far aside from this Dwarven board, including the Black Speech keyboard and one for the airy Elvish inhabitants of Rivendell, too.
Just as the others do with their respective keycap sets, this one comes with a series of warm accent keycaps from the accompanying Durin's Forge set. Each keycap is either lovingly decorated with thematic iconography by Oshetart, or spread with Khuzdul phrases—such as the space bar's Dwarven battle cry, "The Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!"
Each letter key also suggests a Dwarven equivalent legend or two, though the accuracy of the board's Cirth legend has been put into question. One commenter makes it known in the Q&A section, stating "Every book I own and images I have found online say that the Runes correlate with different letters and numbers than the keyboard shows."
Connection: USB-A to USB-C
Switches: Holy Panda X Switches
Backlight: White only
Keycaps: Dye-subbed PBT
Dimensions: 14.2 x 5 x 1.25 inches
Warranty: 3-Year Standard
As I understand it, translating scripts like that of Dwarvish runes one-to-one against our own alphabet isn't an easy task. Either way it's nice to look down at my keyboard and be greeted with familiar, runic inscriptions, despite their potential inaccuracy. And while it may not be the greatest purchase for anyone looking to actually practice their Dwarvish, it's something I'm willing to look past considering it's one of the best decorated boards I've had hands on.
Swapping the keycaps around with the helpfully included keycap puller was a breeze, and though it seemed rude to dethrone the great Smaug in favour of the lidless Eye of Sauron, difficult choices had to be made on my part as well as in the Drop design room, it seems.
As with any cult franchise-associated gaming gear, it's difficult to placate your inner nerd without incurring a premium price. The decision for Drop to up the standard ENTR's $99 price tag by $100 for all that Lord of the Rings artwork is a little on the cheeky side. Already I'm reeling from that price hike, but I steady myself and see the board for what it is: a sturdy anodized aluminium board, with lovely, recessed keycaps.
I must admit the lack of shinethrough on the keycaps, along with the limitation of white LEDs, is a little disappointing. It means I can't have the Eye of Sauron wreathed in flaming orange RGB lighting as it should be. Still, in the words of Gimli, son of Glóin: "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." So let's power through.
What I've found with the shape of the keycaps, interestingly, is that less and less I'm finding myself hitting two keys at once. The shape of each keycap kind of cradles your fingers so that they sort of slide into the middle on each keypress. Together with the delightful soft, tactile switches, the typing experience is really satisfying—like pressing into a bouncy ooze that surrounds your fingertips and pushes back just enough. Not to everyone's liking, sure, but Holy Panda X Switches are where it's at.
The main issue here is that, where the standard ENTR has the option of Halo True or Gateron Yellow switches, the LOTR version is limited to Holy Panda X only. Yes they were once considered the switch GOAT, but you're a bit stuck on the customisation front if you decide tactile isn't for you.
And it's not like you can swap your keycaps out after the fact, since it's sadly not a hot swappable board.
One of my main issues with Drop gear, too, is that getting hold of it outside the US is a little difficult without incurring charges. Though, since Corsair recently acquired Drop it should soon be a little easier to get hold of Drop designs around the world so hopefully we won't be counting that as a problem for too much longer.
Still, that doesn't change the fact you can get the best 60% keyboard on the market—the Mountain Everest 60—for less than its original $140 MSRP today. With that, even Drop's standard ENTR board looks much less appealing at $99, let alone this one at the steep price of $199.
Granted, you are getting a few more keys here than with the Everest, but you're missing out on hot swappable key switches, keycap shinethrough, and the ability to attach a matching numpad at either end of the board.
✅ You're obsessed with LOTR: You could do a lot worse when it comes to Lord of the Rings merchandise, and the artwork is impeccable.
✅ You're a soft tactile switch liker: You could do a lot worse than Holy Panda X when it comes to keyswitches.
❌ You hold substance over style: Underneath the decoration, and the fancy keycaps, its a super basic keyboard.
❌ You're looking for customisability: Sure there are some fancy keycaps and you can swap them out but you'll struggle to find something to match the profile and there's no other key switch options.
For the same $200 price tag as this board, you could nab Logitech's wireless G715. It's also TKL but with the addition of in-line media controls, keycap shinethrough, and a selection of switches to pick from. Alternatively, a full size gaming keyboard like the Wooting Two HE—our favourite gaming keyboard right now—which comes in at a few dollars less, even. The Wooting comes with adjustable, analog switches, and a numpad built in, which makes it really hard to recommend a pretty-but-boring board like the LOTR ENTR, accurate runic inscriptions or none.
Really it comes down to weighing up the kinds of benefits you could get from the above, against the gorgeous Lord of the Rings themed artistry. Of course, I'm tempted by the precious (sorry) LOTR ENTR design, as would any Tolkien fan be. And if lovely switches, beautiful artwork, and finger-cupping keycaps are your speed, then great. But it's closer to style over substance with the LOTR ENTR board.
For those who put functionality and customisability higher on their priority list, you can do much better for your money elsewhere.