The market of mechanical keyboards has been on the rise for nearly a decade, with an ever-growing number of products and the sales volumes to match. The high margins triggered the diversification of many known companies to include mechanical keyboards into their products portfolio, as well as the founding of many new companies, be it either as daughter companies of established manufacturers or as entirely new startups. Most of these new companies failed to reach a global presence, mainly due to the lack of resources and production capabilities.
Established manufacturers, however, took advantage of the growing market and diversified outside of their region’s borders. One of these companies was Redragon, a Chinese manufacturer of PC gaming peripherals. Although the brand was unknown outside of Asia until recently, Redragon has been around since 1996. They also are one of the largest gaming peripherals manufacturers on the planet, with over 1.000 employees.
In today’s review, we are taking a close look at one of Redragon’s most popular mechanical keyboards: the Devarajas K556 RGB gaming keyboard. Designed by the company to be a jack-of-all-trades gaming keyboard, the K556 boasts top performance, full programmability, RGB lighting, and a very competitive retail price. With its name roughly translating as “god king”, we definitely hope that the product will live up to it.
Packaging and Bundle
We received the Devarajas K556 RGB in a relatively sturdy cardboard box with a carrying handle. The artwork on the box is based on a colorful rendering of the keyboard itself. Inside the box, the keyboard is protected only by a nylon bag, with the walls of the box being virtually the only layer of shipping protection.
Inside the box, we found a user’s manual, a vinyl sticker, a plastic keycap puller, and a metallic switch puller. One can, in theory, replace the switches of the keyboard without dismantling it, either for mixing-&-matching different switches or for replacing a bad switch.
The Redragon Devarajas K556 RGB Mechanical Keyboard
The core design of the Devarajas K556 is similar to that of many other minimalistic mechanical keyboards, with the exception of Redragon adding a few features to aesthetically enhance the keyboard. It has a metallic top and side plates, with chamfered and polished edges, and a plastic bottom frame. The top plate acts as a support for the mechanical switches, with the keys “floating” over it. Redragon’s logo can be seen on a metallic badge right above the arrow keys.
We received the US layout version of the Devarajas K556 RGB. The company fully adhered to the 104 key ANSI layout, with the sole overall deviation being the replacement of the right OS key with an Fn key that allows for additional keystroke functions. Most are simple multimedia functions, but there is a rudimentary macro recording feature available, allowing for the on-the-fly programming of basic keystroke macros. It has a 6.25× Spacebar and seven 1.25× bottom row keys.
Redragon is using a futuristic font on the keycaps, which have both the primary and the secondary characters printed towards their top edge. They also painted the sides of the keycaps glossy black, making them partially reflective.
The bottom side is very simple and plain. There are two large anti-skid pads near the bottom of the keyboard and two smaller pads surrounding the tilt adjustment feet surround. The feet are small considering the weight of the keyboard and will easily fold if the keyboard is forced backwards. Moreover, when the keyboard’s feet are open, the front anti-skid pads barely make any contact with the surface, meaning that the front metal part of the keyboard is what actually touches the desk – which is not healthy for desks made of softer materials, such as real wood. A sticker with the keyboard’s basic data and serial number is present at the center.
Beneath the keycaps of the Devarajas K556 RGB, we find Redragon’s dust-proof Brown switches, which are made by OUTEMU. OUTEMU is a Chinese manufacturer that effectively copies Cherry’s products, meaning that the OUTEMU brown switches are an almost direct copy of Cherry’s tactile MX Brown switch. OUTEMU is also using clear plastic for the switch housing, much like what Cherry does with their RGB switch variants. Redragon also copies Cherry’s cross-type supports for the larger keys, even though most keyboards that come with OUTEMU switches stick with the classic bar supports.
The RGB lighting of the Devarajas K556 RGB is crisp and well applied. The basic colors are bright and clear, with minimal backlight bleeding around the keys. Redragon’s glossy keycaps, however, reflect some of the LED lights and it is not a pleasant visual effect, especially when seen from side angles and not from the user’s point of view.
After taking the keyboard apart, we are left with a green PCB and its metal support plate. The assembly job is clean and we can see Redragon applying clear lacquer over the vital parts of the assembly, probably to enhance their resilience against moisture and acids.
The heart of the Devarajas K556 RGB keyboard is branded as an eVision VS11K09A-1 – which, however, actually is a keyboard model number from another Chinese OEM. The actual manufacturer of the MCU is Sonix and the MCU itself probably is the SN32F248B. This MCU is very popular amongst Asian designers and manufacturers. It features a 48 MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 CPU, 8KB of RAM, and 64KB of Flash ROM, which generally tend to be enough for a gaming keyboard.