Royal Kludge RK71 Mechanical Keyboard Review – RK Blue Switch

 

At this point, I’ve already reviewed quite a few 60% mechanical keyboards with the likes of the Anne Pro 2, Geek GK61 and the Motospeed CK62, and while it appeals to a lot of keyboard enthusiasts because of its extremely compact form factor, for some it just doesn’t fit well especially with power users that use a keyboard for productivity 99% of the time. There are also some keyboards that tried to mitigate the loss keys by having a different layout, like the Ajazz AK33 that has an 82 key compact form factor, the problem is, the size of the keycaps is not standard which make it difficult to customize. There is also the Drevo Calibur 71 key with dedicated arrow keys and nav cluster but is significantly longer in length. What we have here today from Royal Kludge is probably one of the best layouts that I’ve seen so far when it comes to a compact form factor that still has dedicated arrow keys and nav cluster. As usual, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about this keyboard and see if it is really worth your hard earned money.
Royal Kludge RK71 Mechanical Keyboard Review


MY EARLY BREAKDOWN


Pros:
Perfect use of space with the new layout, Dedicated arrow keys and nav cluster, Works properly on both wired and wireless mode, Good build quality, Has magnetic stand and Bluetooth dongle slot
 
Cons: Cheap keycaps, Limiting color scheme, No software (for this version)
 


SPECIFICATIONS


Model Name: Royal Kludge RK71
Layout: 71 Keys with Dedicated Arrow Keys and Nav Cluster
Connectivity: Multi-Device Bluetooth Connectivity and Wired Mode
Mechanical Switches: RK Blue/RK Brown
Illumination: ICE Blue LED Backlight
Built-in Rechargeable Battery: 1000mAh
Power Saving Mode: Yes
Compatibility: Windows/Mac OS
Interface: USB Type C
Other Features: Magnetic Height Adjustment Stand, Magnetic Bluetooth USB Dongle Slot

WHAT’S IN THE PACKAGE


Keyboard, User Manual, USB Type C Cable, Magnetic Stand
Royal Kludge RK71 Unboxing and Review
 

FULL REVIEW


Design and Construction


At first look, the Royal Kludge RK71 is very compact and slim and it is slightly longer than the 60% keyboards that I’ve reviewed before. It does have a nice weight to it of around 642g and it feels really solid for a keyboard made of plastic.
RK Blue Switch
On the front side, we have the royal kludge logo.
71 Keys Keyboard
And flipping it on its side we can see that the keyboard is slightly angled for a more ergonomic design with a quite interesting polygonal design and side glow illumination. Aside from the red color accent, I like this edgy design. The bottom housing is high-profile so the key switches are not visible, it also uses the standard OEM profile for the keycaps to help with the overall ergonomic design. 
royal kludge
At the back, we have the USB type C port and a design that compliments the overall edgy feel of the keyboard.  
royal kludge rk 71
At the bottom, we have 4 rubber feet, 2 of which you can attach the included magnetic keyboard stand for height adjustment. We also have the usual technical information like the power rating, serial number, and the certifications. We also have here at the bottom the on and off switch for the Bluetooth connectivity. There is also a slot ready for a Bluetooth dongle in case you want to bring this keyboard along with you which I think is a pretty nice touch. The keyboard doesn’t come with a Bluetooth dongle though so you have to purchase that separately if you haven’t owned one already. The slot is actually magnetic which is pretty cool. 
royal kludge rk71 review
The keyboard’s form factor is pretty slim and longer than usual, It uses the standard ANSI layout so replacing the keycaps on this is going to be a piece of cake. But what’s good about this is that we have dedicated arrow keys at the lower right bottom as well as dedicated nav cluster. The only issue is that we lose the menu key, we only have the alt, function, and control. It also lacks a couple of keys from the nav cluster like the print screen and scroll lock, but at least we have the most important keys here. 
royal kludge rk71 unboxing


Functions and Legends


In terms of the functions and its legends, we have the key for switching between game and office mode using the tab key, and then we have the usual function keys up top that doubles as the numbers row, we also have 5 keys for Bluetooth connectivity with the Q, W, E, R and T keys, and then a couple of keys to switch between windows and mac using A and S keys, we also have the windows key and mac’s command key at the lower left corner. The letter P doubles as the Bluetooth pairing mode key, and then we have the lighting effects keys with the insert and home key. And lastly, We also have the usual speed and brightness adjustments using the arrow keys. All of these functions can be toggled by pressing FN + the corresponding key. 
royal kludge rk71 keyboard review
I’ve also noticed some key combinations that determine the function of the keyboard, for example, you can press FN+Left control to swap between function keys and number keys, but you can also press FN + Function keys to trigger them on the fly. Aside from that you can also press FN + Left Alt to interchange Left Alt key and Windows key. And lastly, you can also press FN + Capslock to interchange Caps lock and Left control.
royal kludge rk71 71 keys keyboard
In terms of the fonts used, aside from the legends, it is actually quite clean, the fonts are at just the right size and the legends are also translucent and not painted which matches the fonts. 
71 key keyboard

Lighting Modes


The Royal Kludge RK71 has a ton of lighting modes with 18 different effects, but for this particular version that I have right here, we only have Ice Blue color option. Looking at the manual, I think they will also release an RGB version of this.
 
To change lighting modes, just press FN + Home.
 
Now, for the RGB version of this keyboard, you can change the colors by pressing FN+End.
 
You can also change the brightness by the usual FN + Down and FN + Up arrow keys, and of course, you can also change the animation speed by pressing FN + Left and FN + right arrow keys.
 
And that’s pretty much it when it comes to the lighting effects. 
 
If you want to reset the keyboard to factory settings just press FN + Spacebar.
71 key mechanical keyboard
To change the lighting modes on the side glow illumination, just press FN + Insert. You can cycle through different static colors plus color cycle and color spectrum effects. 
71 keyboard
When it comes to the LEDs on this keyboard this one uses SMD LEDs which are mounted to the board itself and not on the switches. Looking closer we can see just that through the holes on the switches. The LEDs are bright enough and pretty substantial for typing at night or in a dim environment.
71 mechanical keyboard


RK Blue Switch


The Royal Kludge Rk71 uses their own brand of switch which is RK Blue for this particular keyboard, RK blue requires 50g of actuation force, work travel distance of 2.2mm and a total of 4.0mm travel distance. 
rk71
As per my close testing, the RK blues, being a clicky and tactile switch are very satisfying. Blue switch by popular opinion is good for typing as you will really feel every key press with its high pitched click and tactile feedback. 
rk71 keyboard
Now, as usual, we’re going to do some switch comparisons. We’re going to compare the RK blue to the Gateron blue on the Geek GK64 and Cherry MX blue on my switch tester.
 
Like I said earlier, the RK blue requires 50g of actuation force while the Gateron and Cherry MX blues both requires 55g, but as per my close testing, the Cherry MX blue feels the heaviest, the RK blue sits in the middle while the Gateron blue feels the lightest. The difference among them is really really small and for some, it might pass as almost the same. I really feel like the smoothness of the Gateron switch makes it a little bit lighter than most switches that I’ve tried. Speaking of smoothness, the Gateron as always is the smoothest, surprisingly followed by the RK blues and then Cherry MX blue. I might be wrong with this one but that is what I’ve observed. Now in terms of click sound, the Gateron blue is the loudest, while the RK blues and Cherry MX blues sounds almost the same. The difference between the clicks on these switches are also not very different from each other and all of them sounds good for me personally. I think so far, this is the most difficult switch to compare because there are a lot of factors to consider not just the actuation force but things like smoothness, tactile bump and click. Personally, I still prefer the Gateron switch because of its smooth travel. But I was surprised by how good the RK blues feel, the Cherry MX blue is, of course, Cherry MX blue and you can’t go wrong with that.
rk71 review

Stabilizers


In terms of the stabilizers, it is not super wobbly but you’ll definitely hear some rattle and high pitched sound when being tapped. As per close inspection, it does come with factory lube on it.

 

Overall, aside from some rattle, it is well-balanced.

rk71 unboxing

Keycaps


The keycaps on the RK71 is made of painted ABS Plastic with laser etched fonts, unfortunately, it is not double shot so it is thin and feels a little bit cheap, not to mention it is also quite loose.
rk blue switch
Since this is ABS plastic and only painted with black, the keycaps will inhibit shine overtime and the legends will fade much easier compared to keycaps with double-shot molding. With regards to the keycaps being loose, as per my testing for a few days, it doesn’t really come off with normal typing, you will only notice that it is loose if you flick press it on its side or if you try to remove it manually. 
rk blue


Bluetooth Connectivity


The Royal Kludge Rk71 can be connected up to 5 devices simultaneously and you can easily switch between them.
 
To connect the keyboard to your device, you just have to press FN + P to activate Bluetooth mode, then press FN + any keys from Q W E R and T and then press FN + P again for 3 seconds until it blinks indicating that the keyboard is now in pairing mode. Pair your device, and you’re good to go. 
rk switches
In terms of Bluetooth performance, when it comes to the latency, as per my testing I didn’t saw any significant difference between wired and wireless mode, as you can see here they are basically the same. And I can also verify that with my actual real-world testing because I didn’t encounter any input lag on both typing and gaming experience.
rk71 keyboard review
When it comes to range and signal strength, although this keyboard only uses Bluetooth 3.0, I didn’t encounter any disconnections or missing keys when using this via wireless mode. I can also use this as far as I can until the text and details on my monitor are barely readable.
 
So overall, the Bluetooth functionality on this keyboard is pretty good.
rk 71

Battery Life


Now since this keyboard has Bluetooth functionality, it has a built-in 1000mAh of battery, and as per specifications, charging time is around 3 hours. While charging, there is a red LED indicator on the spacebar that turns off once it is fully charged. A full charge should last up to 10 hours of continuous working time, as usual, that would vary depending on how you use the keyboard, if with illumination or not. As per my testing, I was able to use the keyboard normally via Bluetooth with LEDs turned on for about 19.5 hours and this is with the power saving mode engaging from time to time when I am away from the keyboard for a while as anyone would normally use this keyboard. The power saving mode will turn off illumination after 1 minute if it is not being used and will go into standby mode after 5 minutes. This will prolong the battery life of the keyboard and should last you a day without needing to recharge.
royal kludge rk blue
Finally, let’s discuss the overall performance of this keyboard.


Performance


Typing Experience

 
With regards to the typing experience as one might expect with a blue switch, it is very satisfying to type with. The click is good without overly sharped high pitched sound, and the tactile feedback is also nice and is perfectly sync with the click. I have no issues whatsoever with the RK blue switch, I just hoped that the keycaps are a little bit tighter than it is. Though like I said earlier, I didn’t encounter any keycap coming off unintentionally.

What I like about this keyboard when it comes to the typing experience is that it has dedicated arrow keys as well as a dedicated nav cluster while still maintaining a very slim and compact form factor. With this, I don’t have to mess with layers and key combinations just to use these valuable keys. Now the question in my head is, why go for a 60% keyboard if you can go with a 70% one with just like a couple of columns added. Well, of course, that would depend on anyone’s personal preference. The same argument can be said with a regular keyboard vs a one-handed keyboard. so Let’s just say, every keyboard has its own purpose and a place in our heart.

Now, it is worth noting that there is a little bit of transition time required when using a 71 key layout like this, because usually, if you’re used to 60% keyboards like me, our muscle memory tends to go to the top right corner to hit the backspace, but since there’s a couple of columns added, sometimes I hit the insert or home key instead of the backspace. But once I was able to familiarize myself with this layout, I really appreciate having these dedicated keys. 

royal kludge rk blue switches


NKRO/N-Key Rollover

ow, this keyboard, like most keyboards nowadays has NKRO feature or NKey rollover, which allows you to press multiple keys at the same time without conflicts. In wired mode, as per testing, I can press multiple keys at the same time and they are all registering, I can easily press up to 10 keys at the same time in wired mode. But in Bluetooth mode, the maximum keys that I can press at the same time without conflicts is up to 5 keys. Personally, 5 keys are more than enough for normal day to day typing tasks as well as for gaming.

rk blue switch review


Gaming Experience


Speaking of gaming, the performance of the Royal Kludge RK71 is also pretty good. In popular opinion, gamers tend to prefer linear switches without click or tactile feedback because they are always going to bottom out the keys anyways, and sometimes they don’t prefer the clicking sound to get in the way with the in-game sounds, but that, of course, is subjective to anyone’s personal preference. Some prefer clicky switches to make sure they feel every action they take in-game. For me personally, it doesn’t really matter, as I am more focused in-game rather than anything else and more often than not, I am using a pair of headphones. Performance wise, I have no issue with the RK blue switches.

rk blue switches
Now, before we finish this review, one interesting factor that you need to consider about this keyboard is its color scheme, like I said this version only has ice blue illumination and that the side accent designs’ color is red so you’re just limited to that. But if you’re set up and your other peripherals are already red and blue, then you’re good to go.


And lastly, this version of the RK71 doesn’t have any software, and I was able to verify that only the RGB version will have a software. 

rk71 blue switch


VERDICT


Alright guys, so to conclude, the Royal Kludge RK71 is really an interesting keyboard to consider if you’re looking for your first compact keyboard. If you’re coming from either a full-sized keyboard or a ten-key-less one and you’re looking for a smaller keyboard that still has dedicated arrow keys and nav cluster, then this is worth checking out. Aside from its limiting color scheme and poor quality keycaps, it has a pretty decent design and overall great build quality structure wise, it has satisfying RK blue switches and works flawlessly in both wired and wireless mode. It also has some features that I really appreciate like the magnetic Bluetooth dongle slot and the magnetic stand with rubber feet for height adjustment. The side illumination is also a nice touch, although I feel like it could have been better if the color is more neutral like silver or grey instead of red so it would be easy to match it with anyone’s setup. Overall, this keyboard is still pretty easy to recommend with everything taken into consideration. The price is also quite competitive at only around 50usd which is right around the corner of a budget mechanical keyboard. 
 
 
 



 
Thanks to Royal Kludge for making this review possible, you can get this keyboard from their official Aliexpress Store, link below.
 
If you like this one, please consider subscribing to my channel by hitting the button below. Have a great day!
 

WHERE TO BUY:

ROYAL KLUDGE OFFICIAL ALIEXPRESS STORE: 

Royal Kludge RK71 Mechanical Keyboard

ROYAL KLUDGE OFFICIAL AMAZON STORE:
RK71 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard

  • Price may vary depending on existing promos
  • The views and opinions on this review are solely based on my own personal experience, your results may vary
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One Thought to “Royal Kludge RK71 Mechanical Keyboard Review – RK Blue Switch”

  1. TN

    Great review!!! A couple of questions: How do you control the Media keys in Windows/Linux? Does the RK71 come with software?

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