Those of you who have been following the work I’ve done on this site for some time will know I picked up a nerve injury in my hands due to using poor ergonomic equipment. This has resulted in me changing everything I use for work from my chair and desk to my keyboard and mouse. Initially I got the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, a great options for comfort, but in some aspects the Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard blows it out of the water.
As usual here are the manufacturer specs:
- 20″ Split (Hidden storage compartment stores excess cable)
- NEW- 16.8M Color Per-Key RGB Backlighting
- NEW- 10 fully customizable Lighting Effects: Freestyle, Monochrome, RGB Wave, RGB Spectrum, Pulse, Loop, Rebound, Rain, Breathe, and Starlight
- Genuine Cherry MX RGB Mechanical Switches
- Fully-Programmable with the SmartSet Programming Engine (No software or drivers)
- 9 Customizable Profiles (Layouts & Lighting)
- Enhanced layout with Escape position over tilde and an extra programmable double-wide Game Key
- More powerful macros- up to 100 per layout and custom or random delays
- Tap-and-hold key actions so each key can support a quick tap action and a separate press-and-hold action
- Multi-modifier tokens for the “Hyper” and “Meh” keys
- Colemak layout support
- Momentary Fn key (Toggle option)
- 9 Game Keys
- Multimedia Controls
- NEW- Detachable Palm Supports with premium cushioned Palm Pad. Soft thick foam supports your wrists during extended sessions the quick-glide surface won’t slow you down, and the sweat-resistant surface ensures maximum durability.
- NKRO Mode
- Game Mode
- 9 Programmable Game Keys
- Braided Cables
- NEW- SmartSet Programming App (Windows & Mac)
- 1MS Response Time
- 100% Anti-Ghosting
- 4MB Onboard Memory
This mechanical keyboard is one of the most unique pieces of gear I’ve owned for my PC, one I’ll likely keep using it as my main keyboard for many years to come. According to the manufacturer the Freestyle Edge RGB is the first split mechanical keyboard designed specifically for gaming with input from serious gamers to meet the strictest standards for quality and design. Presumably this comes from their own Counter Strike Global Offensive eSports Team, Team Kinesis. The device is fully customizable with interchangeable keys, genuine cherry mechanical switches, extensive remapping options, and extra programmable keys.
Having it be split in two also allows for a single module to be used primarily as a single unite alongside a mouse for optimal comfort and no wasted space. This is thanks to the adjustable 20” braided cable that links the modules to give you unparalleled freedom to customize your setup. Personally I didn’t adjust the length of mine, but I certainly used the space between the modules to my advantage. My favorite being a configurations that allowed me to have cereal while working without worry that I’ll spill the good stuff on my keys.
As mentioned before the keys are all programmable, so that means you can configure them in any way you desire using the Kinesis Gaming SmartSet App. The app functions as a configuration tool on your PC, however it stores all the configurations on the keyboard itself. This means no need to install software or drivers ever. Just download the no-install SmartSet App, open the VDrive using F8 and SmartSet Key then launch the app. Once you’re finished programming your keyboard close the VDrive using the same button combo and enjoy your configurations. Opening and closing the VDrive every time you need to configure your keyboard may seem cumbersome, but you’ll likely only do this a few times since the keyboard has nine different fully configurable profiles.
The app also facilitates the customization of the RGB lights under the keys. Each RGB key can be individually set to a colour of your choosing, or you can use one of the 9 cool preset RGB effects programmed into the keyboard. This comes in handy for setting each profile with a unique RGB layout similar to the Mad Catz R.A.T S3 gaming mouse that I reviewed before. With almost limitless RGB configurations and the textured WASD and arrow keys we received from Kinesis I was able to deck out my unit to my liking. It’s even possible to change every other key on the keyboard excluding the 3.5x space bars. As for the 1.75x Ctrl and Shift keys on the right module, they can be substituted by Caps Lock keys with a custom legend.
The Freestyle Edge RGB also profits from the capability to adjust the angle of its use in one of the most unique ways I’ve seen on a keyboard to date. Now mind you this comes as part of the keyboards optional lift kit, a well constructed lightweight attachment that sits below each module and allows them to be tilted 5,10, and 15 degrees for improved palm support. I personally prefer the 5 degree configuration more than the other two, but I assume that is due to the height of my desk in relation to my arm rests on my chair. Tilting it to 15 degrees has my hands at an awkward angle causing strain during prolonged uses. This may be different for each user given that we all have different preferences with regards to comfort.
It should also be noted that the lift kit is not required to benefit from the comforts this keyboard provides. It does come packaged with comfortable detachable palm pads for each module. They’re held on by clips and hopefully the manufacturer will offer replacements for them on their site, because palm pads like these do degrade over time and usually when that happens the keyboard is still fully functional.
I can’t fathom why anyone would want to use a regular keyboard after using the Freestyle Edge RGB Split Mechanical Keyboard. Yes there are hundreds of other mechanical keyboard options out there and even more with RGB, but those aren’t the main reasons for getting one of these. That has to be without a doubt the ergonomic benefits offered by the product. The included palm supports and split design allows for optimal comfort. Add to that the ability to extend the length of the cable between the separate keyboard modules and you have what is easily the most comfortable keyboard I’ve used to date.
These comfort benefits can be improved even further using the optional lift kit, however I can’t comfortably endorse it given its $24.95 USD price tag. Even the keyboard’s price made me cringe at first. $219 USD is a sizable sum, but after spending a few weeks using this device as my primary keyboard, and learning more about it, I can safely say it’s worth the price. Especially given that it comes with a 2 Year Limited Manufacturer Warranty. Now that being said I do think dropping the $19 and selling it at $199 USD will attract more consumers, but that’s a decision for Kinesis Gaming to make. Yours will be if you think it’s worth the price now that you’ve read my review.
The Freestyle Edge RGB used for this review was provided to us by its Manufacturer, Kinesis Gaming.