Ducky Tinker 65 review - compact and clever

Ducky Tinker 65 keyboard with standard rainbow RGB backlighting

Ducky Tinker 65 keyboard with standard rainbow RGB backlighting

The Ducky Tinker 65 keyboard is an almost perfect plug-and-play mechanical keyboard ideal for gamers who like to customise their setup. There’s been an influx of mechanical keyboard ASMR content across social media in recent years, and so where before keyboards were seen as just another part of a basic PC hardware build, they’re almost a market all on their own at this point. So the aptly named Ducky Tinker 65 is a great first step into the world of keyboard building, thanks to the wealth of customisation it offers.

The Tinker range was created with, well, tinkering in mind, and this is evident almost straight out of the box. It’s all pretty basic, but that doesn’t diminish its strengths. If anything, it only serves to show how great it is, because it doesn’t need to be flashy to prove its worth. It’s a pretty slick and compact bit of hardware and although at first glance it looks like a pretty standard mechanical keyboard, it contains a whole bunch of features under the hood.

Ducky Tinker 65 keycaps and switches
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The Ducky Tinker 65 has a fully hot swappable PCB, meaning you’re at complete liberty to swap out the switches if you fancy a change, and you can use any 5 or 3-pin Cherry MX-esque switch you like, whether you prefer brown, blue, or red switches. This means for keyboard enthusiasts who already own several sets of switches, you can dive right in with the customisation as soon as you’ve got it out of the box. Especially since the keyboard comes with its own Ducky-branded switch and keycap pullers, making it an extremely user-friendly board. This means no warming up the soldering iron or preparing for major surgery, you can simply tinker at will.

The Tinker keyboard isn’t just for the keyboard collectors, however, as it most certainly caters to gamers, too. Boasting a 1000hz polling rate and the ability to map the keyboard to almost anything you want, the Ducky Tinker 65 puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to mould it to your tastes (listen, hitting an accidental Q when you’re trying to W key into a gunfight has happened to the best of us…). There isn’t anything specifically angled towards gamers with the Tinker 65, but there are no concerns when it comes to responsiveness and a level of trust when you’re swapping abilities on the fly or spamming the crouch button trying to make friends with the enemy team. The Tinker 65 is, however, a 6KRO board, meaning you can’t hit more than 6 buttons at any one time, but realistically most gamers won’t tend to run into that problem. It does also have standard mechanical switches, but unless you’re a professional gamer, it’s still a valid choice for gaming.

It’s also surprisingly good for typing, too. I’m using the Ducky Tinker 65 as we speak, in fact, and it feels reactive enough to serve as a decent keyboard for those who type a lot. The stabilisers come pre-lubed, and although no mass-produced stabiliser and switch lubing can ever beat the hand-crafted, the Tinker 65 feels and sounds great. It also contains two sheets of foam, one in the case and one between the PCB and plate, and it means that any of the standard annoying sounds you might get from other mechanical boards are softened, which makes it great for anyone who looks to use this as their standard keyboard. It’s all well and good going on just feel alone when you’re wearing a headset or earphones for the majority of the time, but if you’re typing a lot or using it day-to-day, you don’t want it deafening you with a bunch of clacking and pinging. So considering this is a budget keyboard, it’s a nice feature for Ducky to include.

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Ducky Tinker 65 with box
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However, one of the main sticking points with the Ducky Tinker 65 is, actually, the tinkering aspect. It’s great for first-timers, but if you’re really looking to make the Tinker your own, there’s a fair amount you’re hindered by. A bunch of other keyboards have the same hot swappable PCB, so aside from that, you’re actually pretty limited in what you can change up from a hardware point of view. If you really wanted to, you can get inside the case, but it involves yanking the top portion off which involves a lot of groaning and complaining from the board, so it doesn’t particularly feel as though it’s made for that level of adjustment. To call a keyboard the Tinker, it would’ve made far more sense to make it easily accessible for keyboard enthusiasts to dig around the guts of the board.

And if aesthetics are your thing, the RGB lighting doesn’t seem to work quite the same as other Ducky boards. It’s the same process of key combinations to change the colour scheme, but it feels fairly limited, and although the lighting itself is vibrant, it’s a fiddly process trying to find the right one. As well as this, the stock keycaps that come with it don’t have transparent legends, meaning you only really see a small portion of the RGB backlight anyway. Of course, all of this is tinkerable, so it fits with the board’s personality, but it would make far more sense to have the aesthetics easily accessible so you can enjoy tinkering with the actual functionality instead.

All in all, the Ducky Tinker 65 is a great little board perfect for those wanting to dip their toes into keyboard building, but will likely hinder enthusiasts who know what they’re doing. It unfortunately feels like they missed the boat slightly with the choice of name. It means well, but when getting into the nitty gritty of it, there are far more boards on the market that will allow you to really create something of your own. The price point is reflective of this though, and at around £120, it’s still a versatile and affordable mechanical keyboard.

Ducky Tinker 65 review
The Ducky Tinker 65 is a compact starter keyboard at a fair price but falls ever so slightly short of its namesake. It could benefit from a lot more freedom in customisation, but is great to plug-and-play.
8 out of 10
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