Vortex Pok3r: best 60% keyboard layout

From the creators of the Poker and Poker 2 keyboard, Vortex has recently improved on their flagship 60% keyboard form factor with the release of the Poker 3 (Pok3r). The first thing people notice about the keyboard is the lack of a number pad and FN keys. The arrow keys and FN keys are programmed under function layers that can be accessed by using a combination of key presses. This is a huge benefit when it comes to ergonomics, allowing the user to position the mouse much closer to the keyboard, reducing strain on your arm during long computing sessions. I highly recommend choosing between a 60% layout or tenkeyless layout if you do not use a number-pad frequently.

For more information regarding form factor and layouts refer to this guide. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology used about mechanical keyboards refer to the glossary.

Switch Options

Cherry MX Brown

Type: Tactile

Tactile: Yes

Clicky: No (quiet)

Force: 45g

Travel: 2 mm to register, 4 mm to bottom out

Cherry MX Blue

Type: Tactile and Clicky

Tactile: Yes

Clicky: Yes (loud)

Force:  ~50g

Travel: 2 mm to register, 4 mm to bottom out

Cherry MX Red

Type: Linear

Tactile: No

Clicky: No (quiet)

Force: 45g

Travel: 2 mm to register, 4 mm to bottom out

Cherry MX Clear

Type: Tactile

Tactile: Yes

Clicky: No (quiet)

Force: 55g

Travel: 2 mm to register, 4 mm to bottom out

My Personal KBC Poker III

My poker III is highly customized. The switches I’m currently using are referred to as ergo-clears (full explanation in the switch guide). I have replaced the original keycaps with a specialty set purchased separately. The original cable has also been replaced with a cable that matches my keycap set. Notice how my Space bar keycap is actually mounted upside down. This is intentional, and reduces the travel time it takes to press the key. Having the space bar mounted upside down feels more natural while resting your thumb on the key.  This keyboard has become my go to keyboard for most situations. Combined with my Surface Pro 3, and the arc mouse, this is my preferred mobile computing setup.

Pros:

  • Stock PBT Keycaps
  • Stock Aluminum case
  • Compact form factor
  • Durable build quality
  • Choice of black or white
  • DIP switch support for added customization
  • Price for quality

Cons:

  • White version prone to dirt and stains
  • With durability comes added weight
  • Paint on the aluminum case can chip and dull overtime
  • Lack of number pad for heavy data entry computing sessions
  • Overall Rating 93%

Making the Switch – KBC Poker 3 Final Thoughts

The poker 3 is my go to mechanical keyboard for most situations. I personally own several mechs, and find myself leaning towards my poker more often than any of the others. It is rare to find a mechanical keyboard that comes stock with PBT keycaps and an aluminum case at this low 100$ price range. To put this in perspective, I paid 65$ for the aluminum case on my Poker 2 alone.

There is a learning curve that comes along with 60% keyboards. I believe the learning curve is worth the improved ergonomics and freed desk space. If you happen to be a programmer that uses VIM, this keyboard works flawlessly with VIM’s commands and allows for long coding sessions without removing your hands from the keyboard. Using the FN key and finding the arrow keys, volume controls, and other often used keybinds has become second nature.

This keyboard proves power comes in small packages. Anyone interested in the 60% keyboard layout should be considering the Vortex KBC Poker 3 for their next purchase.