AOC, a company that makes monitors, showed off its first gaming mice and keyboards earlier this year. The Agon AGK700 is the most expensive and high-end of its first two keyboards. It costs $179.99 and is the leader of a small, new fleet. It has Cherry MX switches, dedicated macro buttons, media keys, and USB passthrough, which are all things you’d expect from a high-end full-size keyboard. It’s a little different, with a few pre-programmed buttons and extra keys, but nothing really sets it apart from other flagships. It’s just a competent and mostly well-balanced first keyboard from a new maker.
1. A Lot of Buttons
By default, a full-size keyboard has 104 keys. The Agon AGK700 has 108 keys, and in the top-right corner, above the number pad, there are media controls that let you skip back, skip forward, play/pause, and stop.
The Cherry MX Red (linear) or MX Blue (clicky) key switches on the Agon AGK700 are a part of this. Clicky switches, like the ones in my review unit, are good for both gaming and work, and they make the keys’ clacking sound louder. In an open-plan office, they can be a little awkward, but they are great for working from home. Just make sure to put your microphone on mute before you take notes during a Zoom call.
Along the top edge of the keyboard, there are eight preset buttons, and on the left edge, there are five macro buttons that can be changed. Game Mode, Home, Mute, and RGB on/off are some of the ones that are already set. Some are very specific, like the button that switches between WASD and arrow inputs, which helps left-handed gamers the most. In the age of streaming media, a Music button that opens Windows Media Player seems out of date. Except for the macro buttons, you can’t change what these buttons do through the G-Tools configuration app, so the ones you don’t use are just taking up space.
The keyboard at least looks nice. The dark gray, brushed aluminum top plate is a sleek base coat. The bright red volume wheel in the top center adds a pop of color, and there are a lot of RGBs. The tall, round buttons fill the wide bezels, making the 1.44-by-18-by-6.63-inch (HWD) design look smaller than it is.
But when you think about the detachable wrist rest, you can’t deny that this is a big keyboard that needs a lot of space. The leatherette-covered wrist rest is bigger than usual, adding 2.21 inches of depth, which is great for comfort but takes up a lot of extra space. The rest is very firm and gives your hands good support, keeping them at the right height for typing.
2. Look and Feels
The GK500, like the GM500, tries to be the middle of the road and appeal to all possible buyers. Even though this doesn’t include a Qwerty keyboard that can be used with either hand, if that’s even possible, it does have a high-quality finish that doesn’t stand out. The AGK700 is the high-end model in the series. It is made by the AGON brand and comes with extra features and switches that people like. This simple set of keys, on the other hand, has classic lines and a simple logo just above the cursor keys. Outemu-branded switches are used in the red and blue versions of the GK500. These offer a linear and tactile option at a lower price, and the brushed aluminum top plate hides a plastic base underneath. Because of this, the GK500’s keyboard looks and feels much more expensive than it should. This is one of its main selling points.
When you first touch this keyboard, you might be surprised by what you think of it. Even though the layout and overall design of the physical parts don’t deviate much from what’s expected, the plastic tops of these mechanical switches have a rough finish that isn’t expected. This seems to be done on purpose to give the AOC GK500 a little more feel under the finger when things get hot and sweaty, and I really like how this makes each key stand out more.
There are a number of switch options under the keycaps. There are Outemu Red and Outemu Blue switches, which give different levels of feedback. The red option we got to try moved in a straight line as expected and felt good to the touch. They seemed to be the same everywhere and, in the end, very responsive. Compared to the Cherry MX equivalents, they seem to need a little more force to work and have slightly noisier internals. This makes the GK500 sound a little more like a set of Cherry MX linear switches that have been used for a while. They can also sometimes feel like they have a little more side-to-side movement on some of the bigger keys.
All of these are things that, for the most part, the GK500 audience won’t notice. Mild wobbles and a barely noticeable difference in actuation force are the kinds of problems that fans will notice, especially if they are willing to grease their own board and pay twice as much. In the middle of a fierce firefight, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between this set of keys and the more expensive ones, and I’m more likely to be cursing over the sound of my keys being mashed than to worry about these things. When pushed in Apex Legends or spamming heals in Guild Wars 2, the Outemu switches felt as smooth as any other board when I compared them side by side.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the Agon AGK700 keyboard has a USB passthrough port on the far side. Even though more gaming mice are going wireless, it’s still nice to have a USB port nearby so you can quickly add and remove accessories.