The Leopold FC660 Keyboard: A Grumpy Review

šŸ“Œ Mid-June 2021
June 19, 2021

This is a great keyboard; how well does it live up to a grump’s standards, though? I’ve created an FAQ that serves as my review.

Is this the best keyboard ever?

What an odd question. I don’t know. Do I look like someone who has tried every keyboard in the world? This is the nicest keyboard I have personally owned, though. It really is very nice. Maybe IBM made a never-released prototype keyboard back in the day that was nicer. Maybe the Leopold engineers make a ZuckerBezos version for billionaires who still (by choice) type their own shit. I don’t freaking know. It is a very nice keyboard, though. Subjectively I like it better than any mechanical or non-mechanical keyboard I’ve tried.

Is the “silent” version of the keyboard really silent?

Nope. It gives a sound that’s a mixture of tip-a-tap and throaty “thwokka-thwokka.” Definitely not silent. Probably quiet enough for an office (depending on how quiet the office is) but far from silent. I’m glad I got this one instead of the regular non-“silent” version, though. It still gives enough audible feedback to be satisfying, but isn’t loud enough to be annoying.

Is this the best choice for all keyboard lovers?

If you’re part of the “mechanical keyboard community” you probably have developed certain very personal preferences about what your ideal keyboard should feel like. And chances are that this keyboard feels different than that. Has the automotive enthusiast community settled on the one vehicle that’s best for all car lovers? So why would the keyboard community have settled on one? It is a very nice keyboard, though. I like it a lot.

What about the Bynana Pyyl switch? It’s supposed to feel like Topre switches, right?

I have never tried a Bynana Pyyl switch. Maybe it’s a great, cheap alternative to a Topre board. Good for them and good for their customers! Go build a keeb with Bynana Pyyl switches and let me know what you think. Or maybe it’s a poor substitute. I don’t know, I’ve never tried one. I’m pretty happy with this Topre board, though.

Wait, Bynana Pyyl switches? Where can I get those?

I made them up as a generic example. Sorry. But I think there are keyboards that are a “poor man’s Topre” out there. I have no idea about how they compare. I read one review that said they’re nice, but a poor substitute for the real thing. But I’ve never tried ’em myself.

What do the keypresses feel like? I heard someone say that Topre “feels like typing on a cloud.”

I’ve never typed on a cloud and I have no idea what the heck that means. But it’s a pretty nice feel. The hardest part of the key travel is at the very top and then it gives way as you press it, so (if you press slowly and use your imagination) it’s a bit like popping bubble wrap or something. (But I’m just searching for a rough metaphor, so please don’t buy it and then complain to me that it doesn’t feel like bubble wrap.) The bottom of the key travel feels slightly dampened, but you can still bottom out somewhat hard if you press hard.

Have you modded the keyboard? I heard you can make it smoother and quieter if you lube the stems.

No. It’s smooth enough and quiet enough, so who cares? If my luxury toilet came with a really nice bidet spout that squirted almost the perfect stream, I wouldn’t remove the nozzle to mod it with putty to make it more perfect. (Why risk pieces of a putty mod squirting into your anus?) It’s a really nice keyboard. It does not require your assistance. And if you mess it up, that’s a lot of money to replace it. Buy it, love it, use it, be happy. No need to improve upon greatness unless you’re rich enough to risk accidentally making it shitty.

Does it exude quality?

As far as I can tell it doesn’t exude anything, which is just the way I like it. Nobody likes a leaky keyboard exuding things all over their desk.

The keys are made from PBT plastic, which is the best keycap material – it doesn’t wear down and get shiny over time, which is what happens with many other keyboards (including virtually all laptop keyboards) that use thinner/cheaper ABS keys. However, for whatever technical or other reasons, the spacebar is made of ABS so you can expect that to get shiny with continued use. There are replacement Topre spacebars out there that should work, though.

Can you get replacement keycaps?

Not really. There are compatible keycap sets on AliExpress, etc that consist of like, a spacebar and WASD keys and an Esc key. And they’re expensive. So that might be an option to add a little color accent to your keyboard or to replace a shiny spacebar, but not for much else. Also, because of this keyboard’s compact layout, if you do find a compatible keycap set (maybe for a Happy Hacker keeb? idk) you’ll need TWO of them because the right-hand Shift key is a non-standard size – it’s the same width as the left-hand one. My advice: keep the stock keycaps, love the stock keycaps, live in peace and contentment.

UPDATE: Your best options for keycap sets will be listed on kbdfans but the other caveats still apply (you’ll probably need two sets, they’re often expensive, and you should just be happy with the stock keycaps!)

I heard a YouTuber say that if you press really hard on the “H” key with nearly your full body weight, the keyboard exhibits more flex than you’d expect from such a premium product. Can you confirm?

What the fuck are you talking about? I’m sure there are infinite ways to wreck this thing, but why the hell would I try any of them? I bought it to use as a keyboard, not as a support for my bodyweight workouts. Jesus fuck. If you want something that durable, go to Home Depot and purchase a nice-looking brick. This seems like a solid keyboard, but I’m not gonna push my luck by putting it through shenanigans.

Okay, but I saw another YouTube video where someone demonstrated that if you place your finger on the Insert key and rock it vertically, it wiggles about 0.5mm, and if you get the angle just right it makes a squeaking sound. That concerns me. I don’t want to have to return a keyboard because of this.

Wow, you are concerned about some really, really stupid shit. It must be difficult for you to live in an imperfect world. Did you buy this thing to hunt for perceived defects or to type on? Because if you bought it to type on, it’s great.

You don’t understand. Someone else said they got a unit with slightly-misaligned Shift keys. Doesn’t that worry you?

See above. You gonna type on this thing or freakin’ dissect it looking for tumors?

What’s that mathematical writing on the front? Does it enhance or detract from the keyboard’s looks?

It’s a capacitance equation, apparently, because the keyboard registers keypresses based on capacitance rather than a physical contact switch. (I took physics in college but don’t remember much, so this is just what I’ve been told.) It’s a nerd thing. This keyboard was made by nerds, and just like a dog celebrates a good walk by peeing on something, a nerd likes to celebrate a product launch by putting something nerdy on it. I’m indifferent. It’s black writing on a medium-dark gray keyboard, so it’s legible but not especially prominent. Trying to remove it would probably mess up the finish, so I’m leaving it. Nerds will be nerds, and sometimes they pee on keyboards. What are you gonna do?

How do you live without backlit keys?

How do you sleep without a disco ball in your room? Okay, maybe I’m being overly snarky. The real answer is that I recently combined my desire to learn the Colemak keyboard layout with the desire to learn to actually touch-type, so after a few months I now don’t need to look at the keys anymore. People somehow managed to survive without backlit keyboards for many decades, and for touch-typists they are just an unnecessary feature that costs money and can break.

This is not a flashy keyboard to feature in your YouTube streams. It is a refined typist’s keyboard that doesn’t call attention to itself. It gets out of the way and allows you to type.

Wait, you use Colemak? So you can rearrange the keys to fit any layout?

You probably could, but it would mess up the countour of the keys and it would look and feel uneven and weird. Don’t do it. I kept the regular QWERTY layout, but type in Colemak. Once you can type without looking at the keys it’s really not a big deal. And because the keyboard is a dark gray with black key labels, the labels do not appear as prominent as they do on most keyboards.

Can you use the Hasu controller to change the layout?

Yes. It’s expensive, not a lot of places sell them, and it requires some surgery that will void your warranty, but there is a Hasu controller that will allow you to modify the layout, add layers, and maybe other cool stuff like macros or programmability or whatever. I might put one in at some point so I can type Colemak on any machine without making any changes to the computer, but for now I’m okay. If you want to get one, make sure that you’re getting the one designed specifically for this keyboard. Note that it does not provide all the same features as other aftermarket controllers, such as Bluetooth capabilities, so you may or may not consider it worth the money.

Will this keyboard make me a better writer?

Nope! You could upgrade to this from a thrift-store $5 keyboard and your novel would still suck just as hard. Sorry!

But a nice keyboard will give me more motivation to write!

Stop. You’re acting ridiculous. If you want to write you will find a way to write, whether that’s with a 5-cent pen or a $5 keyboard. If you don’t want to write you will find excuses and ways to procrastinate even if you own a $50,000 solid-gold keyboard. Someone who has spent years practicing tennis daily with a racket they found at a yard sale will beat you with your unused $5000 racket every time. The cost of your tools has nothing to do with your skills or motivation. Hemingway used a janky-ass manual typewriter or a pen; he would have considered a even shitty computer keyboard amazingly smooth and easy to type on.

So you’re saying I should skip the FC660C and get a manual typewriter instead? I really want to be a good writer!

Sigh. No. I used to have a manual typewriter. It was fun in the same way that visiting a history museum is fun. Would I want to write on it? No. People who still use typewriters in the 21st century are a special breed, and the ones who use a manual (non-electric) keyboard are an even smaller subset of those. If you’re looking at a buttery-smooth expensive computer keyboard you probably would not prefer the typing experience of a manual typewriter. Trust me on this.

What about gaming? I’m a gamer. Is this keyboard good for gaming? It will be hard to give up RGB, but if it’s good for gaming I might. Gaming?

Go away. Stop bugging me.

Okay, now that they’re gone, here’s the deal: I have no idea whether or not this keyboard is good for gaming. I am not a gamer. I do not care about gaming. Not one bit. But I find many self-professed “gamers” annoying.

Do I look like your research assistant? (No. The answer is no.) You are a smart and capable person – I know that’s true because you found your way here. Now use them smarts to go forth and find the information you seek.


Comments

On August 10, 2022 JG23 wrote:
Found this link from your mkb.com review and LOL this is very funny and spot on. Enjoyed reading it a lot!

On June 14, 2022 Kalven wrote:
Can I pull the space keycaps out and put it back reversely without sacrificing the typing sound and the way how it feels like when Iā€™m typing it
My reply: Sorry Kalven, I’m not sure. I’ve never tried to modify or disassemble the keys or switches so I’m not very familiar with its internals.




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