Hexgears, the German peripheral manufacturer probably best known for it's low profile X-1 keyboard, has expanded their suite of gaming decks with a pair of mid-range, RGB-lit keyboards colorfully dubbed the Impulse and Nova. The Impulse is the full-size board built to be durable and water resistant, while the Nova is a compact tenkeyless option built around a CNC machined aluminum chassis.
The standout features of both decks in their bid to compete with the best gaming keyboards are the Kaihl Box switches, and the price tag. With the continuing price bloat around quality gaming keyboards, it's refreshing to see thoughtfully constructed, premium decks available for less than $100 (the Impulse starts at $79.99 and the Nova at $89.99). While the Nova and Impulse are light on the extras we frequently see festooning gaming keyboards, stuff like dedicated media controls or passthroughs, they emphasize form and functionality (and broad splashes of programmable RGB lighting).
The real selling point for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, however, is the Kailh Box switches these decks are built around, still a rarity in prebuilt keyboards. Both drivers offer three switch options: clicky Whites, tactile, quiet Browns, and Hako Clears. The Clears are particularly interesting, designed to discourage bottoming out keys by adding significant weight to the end of each keystroke. The idea is to create bouncy keys that make you a more efficient typist and spare your fingers unnecessary impact—each key actuates at 55g but bottoms out at 79g.
The Box switches are are also designed around self-cleaning assemblies, ejecting moisture and dust through drainage ports with each keystroke, which pairs well with the Impulse's waterproof design. The base of the stem fully blocks every switch entrance so it's difficult for spills to infiltrate down to the sensitive components on the PCB, and Box switches are also built to eliminate key wobble. These are noticeably more stable keys than those on boards built around Cherry switches, but there's no additional friction thanks to a lubricating nub built into each switch.
Anyone shopping for a utilitarian deck (with a healthy dose of colored lighting) will be well served by Hexgears' latest, and if you're hunting for a board that packs Kaihl's excellent Box switches, the Impulse and Nova are the best of the (very small) bunch.