The Aukey KM-G17 is a hulking keyboard at a budget-friendly price with clickable blue mechanical switches, dedicated macro keys, and more RGB lighting than most of its competitors. While the more expensive competitors on our best gaming keyboards list have a better build quality and more features, this $59 (at the time of writing) keyboard offers an impressive feel and features for the money, making it one of the best cheap mechanical keyboards you can find.
Aukey KM-G17 Specifications:
|Switches||Aukey Blue clicky mechanical switches|
|Storage on board||Yes|
|media keys||Volume button, secondary Fn buttons|
|Cable||Attached braided 5.2 m USB-A|
|Software||Aukey KM-G17 Software|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||18.1 x 7.8 x 1.4 in|
Design of the Aukey KM-G17
The Aukey KM-G17 is a full-sized keyboard with a larger-than-normal case that can accommodate a built-in, non-removable, matte plastic palm rest for low comfort, five macro keys and a volume rocker in the top right corner. There is no doubt that this behemoth of a keyboard is a general purpose device; Aukey clearly designed it with the gaming market in mind. Whether that’s a good thing is a matter of personal preference.
We probably need to put that “behemoth” descriptor into context. I measured the KM-G17 at 18.1 inches wide, 7.8 inches deep and 1.4 inches long with a weight of about 2.5 pounds. The top can also rise about 0.25 inches using the flip-out feet under the keyboard, which offer only a single angle of adjustment. That’s significantly larger than most keyboards I’ve tested, but it’s not far from other full-size boards, especially considering the non-removable palm rest. So his behemoth is relative.
Less relative is the sheer amount of RGB lighting that Aukey packs into the KM-G17. All keys feature RGB backlighting, as does the volume knob, and strips of RGB LEDs along the sides. Those strips are designed to diffuse the lighting underneath, resulting in a pleasant glow rather than blinding light. I liked the look more than I expected.
The Aukey KM-G17 makes its status as a budget keyboard clear in a few ways: it has ABS plastic keycaps that aren’t quite as durable as their PBT counterparts, for example, and it’s saddled with a thick connected cable that can really pull the keyboard to the connected system without additional stability from a desk, unless the system is directly behind the keyboard. (Mine is on the left.). At 5.2 meters in length, the cable is also shorter than most, but at least the braiding makes it kink-resistant.
Typing experience on the Aukey KM-G17
The KM-G17 features Aukey Blue mechanical switches with 4mm of travel, 50g of required actuation force and 1.9mm of travel, along with an estimated life of 50 million keystrokes. That’s comparable to Cherry MX Blue shifters that also have 4mm of travel, but with 60 grams of actuation force and 2.2mm of travel. Aukey’s switches also make a very distinctive “click” when actuated, which seemed damn near deafening due to the non-mechanical switches I was using prior to this review.
Those clicks sound pretty standard for the most part, and I didn’t notice any excessive ping on any of the keys. However, the clicking sound was slightly thinner than Cherry MX Blue switches and other vendor-specific click switches I tested. That was a bit of a surprise – I’ve encountered a lot of pinging in much more expensive keyboards. Keep in mind that there will be some variation between units when it comes to ping issues.
Typing on the Aukey KM-G17 was a little uncomfortable at first due to the built-in plastic palm rest – I usually don’t have that – and the height of the keyboard compared to the Logitech MX Keys for Mac I bought shortly before starting this review . But it didn’t take long to acclimate myself to the KM-G17, and my typing performance is actually comparable on both keyboards.
I took the TypingTest.com Standard Test with Medium Text to measure my performance with the KM-G17 and the MX Keys. (The tests were recently changed, so I can’t directly compare it to other keyboards.) The average results after three tests were 117.33 words per minute (WPM) with 98% accuracy on the KM-G17 and 116.66 WPM with 99.66% accuracy on the MX keys.
Bottom line: If you like to click mechanical switches and don’t mind a built-in palm rest, the Aukey KM-G17 won’t disappoint, and as long as the build quality is somewhat consistent between units you shouldn’t worry too much about pinging. Aukey’s design is comfortable to type on, responsive and should be about as durable as other mechanical keyboards.
Game experience of Aukey KM-G17
The Aukey KM-G17 offers all the features you would expect from a gaming keyboard. A built-in game mode disables keys that can wreak havoc if pressed while playing a game, full n-key rollover ensures input is picked up accurately, and a 1000 Hz response time is standard for most keyboards. The category is where these are basic features.
I’ve been able to walk, run and rabbit hopping lately Valorant card without any problems. There were times when my teammates complained about the clicking when I forgot to stop holding down my push-to-talk button, but that’s not the Aukey KM-G17’s fault. And I must confess that clicking keyboards can make intense moments even more dramatic.
But otherwise the Aukey KM-G17 performed exactly as expected. This isn’t my favorite form factor for gaming – I much prefer a smaller keyboard, which means I don’t have to bend my shoulders to reach the WASD cluster, while also making use of my larger mouse pad. That’s another preferred thing, though, and some people will prefer full-sized keyboards.
Software and features of the Aukey KM-G17
Aukey does not have a central app to manage all its products. Instead, the company offers a utility designed specifically for each product on its website. The software first checks for a firmware update for the device and then provides access to a range of standard functions.
The software is divided into four sections: Adjust, Lighting, Game Mode and Macros. The first menu, Customize, is used to assign functions to each key on the KM-G17. There are nine categories of functions: Default, Keyboard, Mouse Function, Macro, Combination Key, Run Program, Multimedia, Windows Shortcut Key, Forbidden.
Four of those options are fairly straightforward: Default makes sure the key works as intended, keyboard allows you to remap keys, mouse function can be used to simulate mouse input, and Forbidden disables the key. Macro executes tasks that you have created. Combo key selects up to three keys that are entered when the assigned key is pressed, meaning you can type “thx” for example by pressing a single key. Run Program launches an app for you, Multimedia controls video and audio playback, and Windows Hot-key performs common OS tasks, such as launching Task Manager or using the clipboard.
The Lighting menu is used to control the RGB lighting of the Aukey KM-G17. Unfortunately, there is only one RGB zone, which means that every light on the keyboard is controlled simultaneously. But the software offers 19 ready-made lighting effects and can be used to adjust the speed, direction and brightness of those effects, in addition to creating a user-defined lighting effect.
Game Mode is the simplest menu: it switches between the game mode (which probably needs to be renamed, but that’s up to Aukey I guess) and decides how that mode behaves. There are options to disable Alt+Tab, Alt+F4 and the Windows key or a combination thereof when the mode is in use.
Finally comes the Macros menu. Here you can record multiple keystrokes and mouse input to create complex workflows that run at the touch of a key. Aukey offered ways to set a delay timer, as well as a fixed delay, for when to wait before moving on to the next entry.
The Aukey KM-G17 uses onboard storage to store an indefinite number of profiles; I made more than 10 of these without any problems before deciding to quit.
One thing to note: the KM-G17 uses a custom window that doesn’t include traditional Windows minimize, maximize, and close buttons. This is fine, but I also noticed that the window responds slowly when dragged and doesn’t seem to use the same animation as other windows. It’s much smoother, which is disturbing for reasons I can’t describe. That’s not a deal breaker, but it’s definitely odd, and it’s something that could deter someone from using the program.
The Aukey KM-G17 is a surprisingly attractive keyboard that doesn’t skimp on features despite its budget price. It doesn’t have all the intricacies of premium keyboards – an aluminum top plate, detachable cable, removable palm rest, and doubleshot PBT keyboards are some of the most notable omissions in Aukey’s offerings.
Still, there are some ways the KM-G17 beats more expensive keyboards. The RGB lighting, for example, is as plentiful as it is brilliant, and none of the keys on this review unit ping when pressed. Having a braided cable is also nice, even if the cable is a bit thick for my taste.
Aukey knew exactly who this keyboard was targeting: people looking for a full-featured keyboard, featuring its RGB lighting, mechanical click keys, and built-in palm rest. Anyone looking for all of these features, or even just two of them, would do well to consider the KM-G17.