Mionix Zibal 60 ReviewManufacturer: Mionix
UK price (as reviewed): £109 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed):
Is it just us or does it feel like we’re in the midst of a quiet revolution in the world of keyboards? We ask because we’ve noticed that there are noticeably fewer all singing, all dancing lights-on-any-surface-that-will-take-them keyboards that were popular a year or two ago. If it didn’t have an LCD screen on it, it just wasn’t cool.
Instead, we’re seeing more subtly premium keyboards creep into the market like the SteelSeries 7G and the Razer BlackWidow
. These boards tend to have more of a focus on build quality and first-class components rather than flashy extras and as a result feel more grown up than their over styled neighbours.
Grown up is certainly the phrase we’d use to describe the Mionix Zibal 60 too, which is the Swedish company’s new entrant into the super premium keyboard arena. Its muted black colour and absolute lack of any flash or fanfare actually took us aback when we opened up the box - the Zibal certainly doesn’t look like it costs £105 when you first lay eyes on it.
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Thankfully it feels far more premium than its understated design would have you believe - the black plastic frame is extremely solid, pleasingly tactile and has a nice matt finish that did a good job of fending off finger prints. Adding to the premium, bomb-proof feeling is the sheer weight of the keyboard; the Zibal is by far the heaviest keyboard we’ve ever had the misfortune to have to try and lift. We see now why Mionix lists ‘rage proof durability’ as one of the features of the Zibal - we don’t think we could break it even if we wanted to.
The headline act of the Zibal, and indeed of most of the keyboards that fit into the super premium price bracket, is the fact that it uses Cherry switches, rather than the more traditional rubber domes or membrane that the keyboard you’re looking at now probably uses. This gives the keys of the Zibal the kind of light touch that is a feature of Cherry switches as, unlike rubber domes, you don’t need to bottom the key out for the press to be recognized. However, one disadvantage of Cherry switches is that typing on them can often result in a clacking sound for every key press, something which some members on the bit-tech
team find annoying.
Those who do a lot of typing may also find the fact that Mionix have used the MX Black Cherry switches a compromise as they don’t offer any tactile feedback when they are actuated, unlike the brown or blue Cherry switches. This makes them great for gaming - you’ll rarely be tapping the keys lightly when pwning n00bs in CS:S - but actuation feedback can be useful for those who touch type and like knowing when a key press has been registered.
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Aside from the Cherry switches and extreme durability the Zibal is surprisingly light on features for a £100 keyboard. Each key is backlit by a green LED, which is a surprisingly complex task on a mechanical keyboard as every key needs to be lit individually. The intensity of the backlight has three settings and it can be cycled through three different maps (all on, all off, just WASD lit) too. Unfortunately the backlight is very dim, even on its highest setting, so it’s not really noticeable in normal, daylight conditions. It was a little patchy on some of the larger keys too.
Rounding out the Zibal are a number of media keys. These are located on the F1 to F8 keys and are activated by using a special Mionix function button, much like you would find on a laptop. The board also contains a USB hub and pass-through ports for your microphone and headphone jacks.
We’ve loved our time with the Mionix Zibal 60; its solid chuckability, premium materials and lovely typing action make it a pleasure to use, and its lack of superfluous gaming features such as LCD screens or macro keys make it feel lean and efficient, rather than lacking. However, its stratospheric price makes it's almost irresponsible to recommend to everyone. Most will be perfectly happy with a more affordable offering such as the Cyborg V5.
If you’re set on making the pricey switch to Cherry switch keyboard though, then you’ll love the Zibal. If, however, you have to actually worry about things like rent, how much petrol prices have gone up and whether or not you can afford to go out for dinner again this month then it’s clearly a luxury you can do without.