The Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard was the world's first modular RGB mechanical keyboard when it was introduced way back in 2016, is still one of the best. The GMMK, as we'll call it from here on (otherwise that's a real mouthful), is modular in that you can hotswap any of the 104 RGB keyboard switches to create your own bespoke board.
Glorious initially set out to create an affordable line of “high-performance PC gaming accessories” for the masses, a line of quality gear to rival the industry leaders, and it has certainly hit that bar. In the process, it has managed to set some pretty impressive records, including the Glorious Model O Mouse (opens in new tab) which took the title of lightest RGB gaming mouse in 2020.
Switch: Wide array of Kailh or Gateron (supports Cherry)
Size: Full/TKL/Compact (60%)
Media controls: No
Wrist rest: Available (gross looking)
On the Glorious store, you have the choice to pair your base board with a great range of clicky, tactile, and linear Kailh or Gateron switches. If you've got your heart set on switches that aren't listed you can choose 'none', and once you get it home, you can even jam Cherry MX switches in there. Changing switches is a little fiddly but it's mostly just a case of getting in there with the included switch puller tool and yanking them out forcibly. Either way, before Glorious opened the doors, you needed to invest in a homebrew, or serious enthusiast board, in order to swap out your switches, or get your soldering iron out.
I'd say dealing with a fiddly puller tool trumps voiding your warranty.
It looks like the GMMK should live through all your switch-switching, too. It's heavy enough that it feels like it’s been milled out of a solid block of metal, and it looks super durable. It certainly doesn’t feel cheap. The design is minimal, with a small border surrounding the keys, encompassed by a gorgeous 2mm silver bevel—stylish, and ergonomic if you tend to lean your pinky on the edge. Other than that, there are no frills, no decals printed on the shell, and even the status indicators are just tiny, red LEDs, devoid of labels.
There are also no dedicated media controls, other than through the function keys, but there's really no need for swanky greebles here. Minimal to the max means the quality is left to speak for itself.
Even the software is no nonsense, which is really the theme Glorious went for with this model. And, although you're limited to just 3 customisable profiles, these can be imported and exported. Macros are there and are easy to record, but assigning them wasn't as intuitive as I'd have liked—it took me a moment to figure out how to assign them.
Thankfully the GMMK makes up for the baseline software with a couple of redeeming functionality features. For example, the n-key rollover (NKRO) means it registers every keystroke no matter how many are pressed at once, and the variable polling rate (report rate) might excite some users who feel the need to tune-up how often the board reports info to the CPU. I'm still skeptical as to whether the ability to change it really makes a difference, though.
The software itself is actually optional, so if you don't want to fiddle with polling rates, assign macros, or set up convoluted profiles for specific tasks, then you're good to go without an install.
Sans software, you don't have to forgo the fun of RGB illumination and can cycle through a range of light shows just using the function keys, though there are a few simple ways to customise the lighting more if you do bother downloading the software. There's actually a greater range of colours than the Glorious Model O mouse could handle, and the colour picker even has a cute retro windows theme that left me feeling highly nostalgic. Speaking of nostalgia, among the light shows included was Kamehameha mode for all the Dragonball fans out there: very distracting and impractical, but awesome all the same.
And, if your typing power level is over 9000, the superb double-shot injection ABS keycaps should be able to handle the pressure. And, although there are complaints floating around about the tendency for ABS to fade quite quickly, at least they come with Cherry stems, which means straightforward cap-swapping capability. The White Aura pudding top keycaps also look incredible as an accent to highlight certain keys among the plain black caps, especially paired with the black frame. They allow for an awesome soft glow, though it’s still clear that some LEDs are not as bright as others, and there's sadly only a single LED for the whole length of the spacebar.
The GMMK may be a little lacking when it comes to software, with pretty much the minimum passable profile slots nowadays, and few lighting tweaks available. It also lacks either USB or audio passthroughs, and dedicated media controls, but it works for what it is: a simple, modern mechanical board for the everyman. And at a price point that rivals many of the best mechanical keyboards (opens in new tab) out there.
A full-sized version of the GMMK, with the cheaper Gateron switches included, plain keycaps, and no wrist rest, or o ring dampeners, will set you back around $130—that's less than the similarly minimal Ducky One 2 TKL. Only the GMMK has a full set of keys, a fancier metal chassis, and the potential for you to live out your wildest key-switch fantasies.
Not only was the Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard the first fully modular board the world had ever seen, it underpins this legacy with a sleek, minimalistic style, and engineering quality that makes the functionality trade-off seem negligible—especially when you consider the leagues of switch customisation it offers. There have been others since, the Wooting One and Two boards, as well as the mighty ErgoDox options, and soon newcomer Mountain will ship its Everest board, but the GMMK is a real tough, simple, and eminently affordable act to follow.
So, although we have our gripes with the creepy Glorious marketing strategy, I'd say that's a win for the "Legion".