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Review: Max Keyboard Blackbird Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Review: Max Keyboard Blackbird Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Sam ChenFebruary 13, 2015

The Almost Perfect Tenkeyless

max-keyboard-blackbird-tenkeyless-mechanical-gaming-keyboard-custom-pc-review-21It’s been well over a year since my last mechanical gaming keyboard review and I’d have to say not much has radically changed in the mechanical gaming keyboard landscape. Cherry MX switches are still the most popular mechanical keyboard switches out there and for the most part, most new mechanical gaming keyboards on the market are becoming some sort of ODM sourced product from some mass keyboard manufacturer in China.

Today we’ll be reviewing the Max Keyboard Blackbird, which is a new tenkeyless mechanical gaming keyboard from the guys who brought you the Max Keyboard Nighthawk series mechanical gaming keyboards. Whereas the Nighthawk series was an off the shelf ODM model with a couple small customizations from Max Keyboard, the new Blackbird tenkeyless is more of a custom design with features implemented based on input from keyboard enthusiasts. Today’s review will be focused on the Max Keyboard Blackbird with the Cherry MX Brown switches and blue LED backlighting although the Blackbird also comes in models with Cherry MX Blue switches and red LED backlighting as well.

Tenkeyless, mechanical and fully backlit? Excited! Let’s dive right in to the review!

Features and Specifications

ManufacturerMax Keyboard
Key SwitchCherry MX Blue/ Brown/
KeycapsDouble Shot Injection Molded
BacklightingAll Keys, Side Panel
Red, Blue
3 Levels
3 Modes
Key Rollover6KRO or NKRO
Polling Rate1000 Hz
InterfaceUSB 2.0
USB Hub2 Port, USB 2.0
USB Cable6ft, Braided, Gold Plated Connector
Dimension14.75 in x 6.5 in x 1.25 in
Weight2.4 lbs
Warranty1 Year
Additional FeaturesGame Mode, Custom LED Lighting, Media Keys, Timer Function
Additional AccessoriesFoam Wrist Rest
Check PricingClick Here
About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief. You can find Sam's full biography here
  • victory

    Hi Sam, glad you reviewed the best backlit tenkeyless out there (take note Shine 3 TKL, Francium, and Quickfire TK fanboys!). And no, I don’t work for them; I’m just a customer who got the Blackbird today. Just a few small quibbles: I wish you had a few more sentences explaining these unique features that set the Blackbird apart from everyone else: the double shot keycaps (1st backlit TKL to have them) and the timer and sleep functions.

    Also, a couple of the “unfortunately”s you listed are actually positives for some people: 1. Detachable cable – these can potentially have connectivity issues over time as the connecting area may wear down or can have undue stress placed on it, whereas the Blackbird’s attached, braided cable doesn’t have these worries; 2. Dedicated macro keys – many ppl do not need nor want these, especially in a TKL where form factor, reduced key clutter, and doing the “basics” well are much more important. Still, great job overall, keep it up!

    p.s. For those worried about cost: the extremely high quality, reliability, and durability makes this worth it – dual-layer pcb, double shots, more features than is almost possible to pack into a TKL, ability to customize more than with any other company, customer service that is second to none… btw, Max Keyboard is currently having an unbelievable Black Friday sale until 12/2, so head there and strike while the iron’s hot!

    • Hey victory, thanks for the comments. I felt like the double shot injection molding on the key caps were quite important, so I updated the part talking about the key caps. It’s definitely a very important feature to the keyboard. Thanks for that.

      As for the cons I listed, those are great points. That said, I can’t help but feel like an attached cord could go through some abuse at the point of attachment especially if somebody yanked on the keyboard or decided to use it as an easy way to carry the keyboard. On the other hand, a detachable cord could potentially see issues in the connecting area, but Max Keyboard uses gold plated connectors and unless you’re planning to plug in and remove the connector 100 times a day, it shouldn’t be an issue for years and years to come. Of course, as long as you treat your keyboard with care (most of us I hope!), the differences are moot.

      Either way, you’re right. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment. Huge thumbs up to Kent and Jerry over at Max Keyboard for their hard work!

      • victory

        Thanks for taking the feedback into consideration, nice update. Cable-wise, it just feels like the connection is so solidly reinforced, and with the cable management, stress can be alleviated from the connection point itself. Also, I could similarly use your point about yanking on a keyboard with a detachable cable: obviously it could disconnect inadvertently, or partially loosen and then start bending at the connector tip at awkward angles. Anyway, pros and cons, for sure.

        Absolutely, Kent and Jerry are amazing!! I peppered them with a bunch of pre-sales questions and they were always quick to respond, very helpful, and really friendly.

        Btw, when I was researching mechanical keyboards, I watched your Blackbird unboxing/impressions vid more than a few times (I got the same config btw) – love how you immediately put out there that it could be a ‘game changer’. And it is! Anyway, I need to stop typing such long responses – but it’s just so pleasant typing on this thing!

        • byr

          Hi Victory, I was wondering after a few months of use with the BB keyboard, have you found anything that you dislike? do the tops from the keycaps start to get “shiny”? or does it hold up to a lot of usage? Cheers.