Review: Hexgears Impulse Keyboard (Hardware)

Reviewed by Krista Noren, posted May 13, 2019, last updated May 13, 2019
May 13, 2019
That's right, we're looking at another mechanical keyboard! In this review, we've got our hands on the Hexgears Impulse, a rather interesting piece of hardware that has both utility and style. Boasting spill-proof pudding keycaps, this one is definitely worth a look.
Krista Noren

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In the wild world of mechanical keyboards, you have a lot of brands, all with varying specs, looks, and attributes. There's a near-endless amount of keyboards out there, like budget ones that are affordable, niche keyboards that have special layouts, fancy types that have tons of features, and so on and so forth. Continuing on in our hardware adventures, we've come across a relatively new company: Hexgears. In the recent past, they've released a handful of keyboards prior to this, thanks in part to crowdfunding, making a name for themselves in the industry as a quality rookie manufacturer. Today, we have one of their newest products: the flashy Hexgears Impulse. 

Arriving in a very low-key black box, this keyboard looks fairly unassuming, at least, until you plug it in to your computer. You can get the Impulse in two different forms; either the bright RGB version, with pudding keycaps and a ring of lights, or the much more subtle black-and-white variant, which won't happen to turn your desk into a landing beacon for airplanes. Seeing as I prefer the fun of having a little party of lights on my desk, I went with the showy keyboard, though I'm certain that many will appreciate Hexgears for offering matching hardware that doesn't have those extra frills, and at a slightly reduced cost, too. Both keyboards have PBT keycaps, which are considered much more durable and premium, compared to the common ABS type. 

Tech Specs

  • Switches: Kailh BOX Brown, Kailh BOX White, and Hako Clear.
  • Keycap: Double-shot PBT
  • Lifespan: 80 million presses
  • Weight: 918 grams
  • Water resistance: IP56 rating
  • Nonremovable braided USB cable
  • Programmable macros

Against other competitors in the midrange mechanical keyboard market, the Impulse has two notable features that set it apart from the others. These pudding keycaps aren't just for show, as they also have the added effect of being water resistant, which will keep the keyboard safe in case you have any incidents that would involve knocking over your drink. You shouldn't be keeping anything liquid so close to your expensive electronics, nonetheless, but it's nice to have that peace of mind, just in case. Due to the keys being mostly translucent, the lighting comes through full-force, and it's the absolute peak of achievement for any fan of extravagant RGBs. From the constantly flashing outer ring of lights to the way the keyboard glows so vibrantly, this is something that people will do a double take at when they walk by your desk. 

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As previously mentioned, Hexgears allows for three switch options in its builds: Kailh BOX Brown or White, and Hako Clear. All of these are very uncommon keyswitches to see on a keyboard, making the Impulse doubly unique. This is a keyboard that'll wow people with its looks, and with the way it handles. I selected the Hako Clear for my review unit as they are a special type of switch, created by a group of specialist keyboard makers called Input Club. For the sake of not going too deep into keyboard terminology, they're like Cherry MX Browns, only with more force required for actuation and louder clacks. I absolutely did not expect just how much of a difference it would make, resulting in the keyboard feeling absolutely incomparable to anything else I've ever used. I fumbled with my typing on many occasions before I acclimated to using more pressure behind each key press, which is super satisfying whenever you feel the tactile feedback for every letter you type. Since I write a lot, I began to favor the Impulse for everyday typing, as I personally preferred it to red or brown switches, and though I don't game much with a keyboard, I had to test it out for the sake of curiosity. 

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In which, playing games with it proved to be not quite as pleasurable as typing on it. These keys are well-made, and they're going to last you a very long time, but they're also significantly stiffer than typical gaming keyboards with Cherry MX Reds or Blues. You know for certain when you've pressed something, from both the feeling of travel, and the response both audibly and physically, but you might end up adding a few seconds to each in-game action when you're dedicating so much effort into pressing each key. This, however, is an issue only related to the Hako Clear switch model, which is designed with a focus on typing. The Kaihl BOX switches are much easier to press, but are unlikely to be as enjoyable to operate when typing. For people who like to make a noise through clicks and clacks, the White switches are what you want, while gamers should go for the Browns. Regardless of your choice, they're all high-quality keyboards. 

I would be remiss not to further touch upon the RGB effects that this keyboard has, as it's one of the main selling points. You've got eight different lighting modes, and each of those has varying effects. By pressing FN + Pg Up or Del, you can cycle through each available scheme, ranging from single color tones, flashing rainbows, per-key lights, reactive flashes, and pulsing shades. Unlike most keyboard companies, Hexgears doesn't have dedicated software for its products, meaning you'll have to rely on those hotkeys to personalize your setup. It's not a huge problem, but it'd be nicer to just control things through a GUI. Additionally, you can set up macros, whether for gaming or for productivity, by using the hotkey combo of FN + F11. The row of keys from Y to P are available to program, which you do by pressing the aforementioned two keys, setting what you want, hitting FN + F11 again to exit, using FN + Y to enter macro mode, entering your macro, and then exiting macro mode with FN + Y. It's not at all an elegant procedure, but it certainly functions and is serviceable.  

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Retailing at $89.99, the Hexgears Impulse is a solid keyboard, with a premium build quality, special keycaps, and dazzling RGB effects at a very moderate cost. This is an impressive addition to anyone's setup, that'll be able to last you a long time, whether it's hardcore gaming sessions, for users that find themselves constantly writing. Those that adore colorful gaming setups and specialist-grade keyswitches will love everything that the Impulse has to offer, giving you an absolute value for the cost. 

Where to Buy

Verdict
Pros
+ Comes with beautiful pudding keycaps for max RGB awesomeness.
+ It's water-resistant, for those that might be a little clumsy with their drinks.
+ Uses niche keyswitches that stand out from anything else on the market, and are fun to use.
Cons
- The macros are a bit of a pain to set up.
- No software to help customize settings.
9
out of 10
Overall
After a few weeks of using the Hexgears Impulse, it has become one of my favorite keyboards to use, for both typing and gaming. If you want your keyboard to look distinctly unique from everyone else's, then you will no doubt love the pudding keycaps on the Impulse, which make for a very comfortable, quality, and stylish product.


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