This isn’t breaking news to the majority of gamers, but mechanical keyboards just feel great to use. However, the price to entry can be a roadblock for many gamers, who can be forced into settling for an inferior membrane keyboard. That’s why Rosewill has the gamer on a budget in mind with their new Neon K90 mechanical keyboard.
With the Neon K90, you get a full-size mechanical keyboard with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a more expensive mechanical keyboard, such as USB passthrough ports and fully-customizable RGB lighting. All that, and the Neon K90 is currently available on Newegg for $74.99.
Disclosure: Rosewill is owned and operated by Newegg.com, which also owns GameCrate.
Design and Comfort
The Neon K90 is a full size keyboard, measuring 1.28" x 17.44" x 9.45". Construction wise, the K90’s frame is about what you’d expect in this price range – it’s not incredibly reinforced and has a bit of give to it, but if you’re not intentionally trying to break it, it’ll hold up. Aesthetically this is an unassuming keyboard, with an all-black look that will blend in in any environment. The one major flaw of the design is that the lettering on the keycaps is hard to read, especially if you turn the RGB lights off. The number keys have their labels pushed all the way to the top of the keys, leaving tons of unused blank space. Nice, clear lettering in the future, please, Rosewill.
The RGB lighting on the Neon K90 is surprisingly good for a keyboard at this price. The colors are vibrant, and in a nice touch, you can also adjust the brightness, colors, and lighting patterns directly on the board. You’ll want to keep that manual handy if you want to use the on-board controls, though, as some of the key combinations can be a bit esoteric (there's also control software that's easier to use). If you’re not a fan of the RGB lighting, or if you just want a break from it, you can quickly turn the RGB lighting off with a single press of a button.
The K90 Neon comes with a detachable magnetic wrist rest. The jury’s still out on whether these things are actually good for your wrists, but some people absolutely love them, so it’s a nice inclusion. This wrist rest lacks additional padding, but it’s still reasonably comfortable if you’re the kind of person who uses them.
If you do use the wrist rest, I recommend also using the two riser feet. Without the feet for additional support, the board tended to slide a bit when I bumped into it. Other than that, the most notable thing about the wrist rest is the strength of the magnet. Unlike some other magnetic wrist rests I’ve used in the past, this thing will not detach accidentally. Kudos to Rosewill on this one.
Performance and Features
The Neon K90 is available with either blue or brown Kailh switches. These switches are similar to the Cherry MX switches that most gamers know and love, except they have a bit of a heavier feel. My review model came with blue switches. They feel great for typing, with a good tactile resistance and consistency to them. For gaming, I got along just fine, and never felt like I was exerting too much effort or missing keystrokes. However, I know a lot of people prefer a more linear-feeling switch for gaming, like the Cherry Reds or Blacks, and that’s sadly not an option on the Neon K90. All that being said, I’d say the blue Kailh switches are comparable to Cherry’s blue switches, so if you like how those feel, you won’t notice a significant difference.
One of the most impressive features on the Neon K90 are the two – yes, two – USB passthrough ports. You just don’t see one, let alone two, USB passthrough ports on keyboards in this price range. You'll need to plug in two USB connections from the board to your actual system, of course - but moving those ports to more convenient locations on your keyboard feels great.
There’s a full row of media keys on the Neon K90, including a very large volume wheel. The Neon K90 also features onboard keys to switch between 6 or N key rollover and to enable and disable the Windows key. N Key rollover allows the keyboard to register an unlimited number of simultaneous key presses. It’s usually best to keep this on at all times, unless your computer is old enough to have issues with it (and if it is, you should probably upgrade). I’m not sure why this needed to have its own button dedicated to it, but it’s there.
The Windows key can sometimes be annoying when you’re in the middle of a game, where accidentally clicking on it will bring up the Start menu and break the flow of gameplay, so it’s cool to have the option to quickly disable it. Unfortunately, there’s no onboard indicator for either of these buttons. Having some kind of LED light right above the Numlock and Capslock indicators would have been nice.
The few design issues and build quality aside, this is a mighty fine keyboard from Rosewill, especially considering the price.