I cannot wait for NZXT to release the next version of the Function MiniTKL gaming keyboard, because this first foray into the world of enthusiast keebs is so damned near close to being great. It's ultimately not, but only for reasons that will be incredibly easy to fix in subsequent versions of the board.
And once those issues are ironed out, the Function MiniTKL v2 will be one of the best gaming keyboards (opens in new tab) around.
The NZXT Function range of boards come in a range of sizes, and with a variety of colours, keycaps, and most importantly, mechanical switches. You can't offer a custom keyboard without a host of clickers to choose from. But that also means you're getting a full hot-swappable base board, no matter whether you've gone for a full-size, TKL, or MiniTKL build (opens in new tab).
And this is the essence of the enthusiast keyboard ecosystem; being able to offer ultimate choice to the end user. Thankfully, you don't have to deal with any of the myriad options unless you really want to. NZXT is offering each of its three Function boards as standalone options, with basic Gateron Linear Red switches, in either Matte White or Black designs, so you could just pick a board and click the buy button.
Size: Non-standard MiniTKL
Connection: USB Type-C
Switches: Gateron Linear Red | Clicky Blue | Tactile Brown | Aliaz Silent | Silent Black Ink
Switch type: 5-pin hot-swappable
Socket: 5-pin hot-swappable
Backlight: Per-key RGB
Keycaps: ABS (PBT options)
Dimensions: 338.5 x 123.4 x 40.3 mm
Warranty: 2 years
Price: From $100 (opens in new tab) | £95 (opens in new tab)
But, if you do want to go to town, NZXT's added keyboards to the BLD pages (opens in new tab) of its site so you can really drill down into the details. Even just down to the point of buying the barebones version of your preferred size Function keyboard. Then you can go elsewhere to pick your own choice of keycaps and mechanical switches if NZXT isn't offering exactly what you want.
There are five different Gateron switches that NZXT does offer, however, and PBT keycaps to replace the standard ABS plastic caps that come as standard. There are also colour accent caps to go on the enter, escape, and arrow keys, too.
I had NZXT build out my Function MiniTKL with grey keycaps, a grey base, and blue accent keys. Sadly, for a keyboard with per-key RGB illumination, the PBT caps don't have shine through, though the standard ABS caps do. Under those caps, however, lie the Gateron Silent Black Ink mechanical switches, which are outstanding. I love a heavy switch, and these silent beauties are built for 60g of pressure with a linear actuation. And they feel, and sound great.
Though it does bear saying that— as ever in enthusiast keyboard circles—that customisability comes at a cost. The base Function MiniTKL is $100, but the fully specced out beast I created via the BLD pages comes in at a heady $230. Which, if you hadn't figured, is a lot of cash. More than twice the price.
Though this is all largely positive, the underlying board itself, not the enthusiast-level customisation is what lets the Function down in the end.
The biggest issue I had when I first started using the MiniTKL is uneven sound of the board. Those $80 Silent Black Ink switches are fantastic on the standard keys, but as soon as you hit a key with a stabiliser, such as the spacebar, shift, or enter keys, you really know about it. The accompanying rattle is jarring next to the almost silent, smooth action of the rest of the keys. It's an ugly, audible note of punctuation throughout the entire experience, whether typing or gaming.
That's something the superior Mountain Everest 60 (opens in new tab) has got oh so right with its obvious attention to detail around all the keys on the board. Even down to the stabilisers.
I also had issues initially with the blue accented enter key sticking down. It took me a while to figure out why my messages in Slack were ending up many blank lines long. I feared it might be electrical, but it turned out to be purely mechanical as the keycap got stuck under the backspace key.
These are simple things, and wouldn't even need a version two to fix. What does, however, is the actual design of the base, mainly the left-hand side of it. I love, love, love the placement of the physical volume wheel; it's a far more usable place to have it than the traditional right-hand orientation. It's easy to access in-game, and makes total sense.
The three buttons arrayed beneath it, down the side of the board, do not.
I had not realised just how much I move my keyboard around as I shift about during my working day, transitioning into my gaming downtime. Turns out, it's a lot. And my preferred way of moving my keyboard is by putting hands either side to lift and shift. Which means I am constantly, accidentally hitting those buttons to mute my audio, turn on or off the Windows key, or change the brightness of the per-key LED illumination of the switches. It's a pain, and doesn't need to be a thing.
They're little things, really, but added together they actually make the experience of using the Function MiniTKL rather unpleasant, and have meant I've quickly ditched the keyboard from my home setup. But they're certainly not insurmountable, and there's a lot about the board I do like.
As I said, the volume wheel is grand, and the actual key layout is excellent, too. I mentioned in my review of the Everest 60 that I traditionally hate 60% keyboards, and while the MiniTKL isn't quite that smol, it does shrink things down while still offering all the functionality you want in a board without a numpad.
It's just that it's not going to be a board I can recommend in good conscience until Function v2 arrives later on down the line.