Review: Glorious GMMK is a great customizable mechanical keyboard
If you want a solid mechanical keyboard that you can customize from the get-go, consider the Glorious GMMK.
It’s always going to be about personal preference and taste, but for me, mechanical keyboards are the way to go. I enjoy feeling and hearing each and every keystroke as I type, and I love the ability to customize my keyboard to suit my own aesthetics and taste, even as they change. While the world of the best mechanical keyboards runs deep, a lot of the better boards are pretty expensive, with only a small window of time where they are available for purchase (group buys), or they’re super limited in quantity due to the expensive process of manufacturing a niche product.
While I’ve reviewed several Keychron mechanical keyboards here already (the K2V2, K1V4, K4V2, and K3), I think it’s time to venture out to some other mechanical keyboard brands out there. One such brand is Glorious PC Gaming Race, aka Glorious. But don’t be fooled by the name — the mechanical keyboards from Glorious are still compatible with Mac, as any keyboard is technically plug-and-play compatible. But if you want to remap and program macros and change the RGB lighting and stuff, you’ll need a PC since the software is not available for macOS. In this review, I’ll just be reviewing the physical keyboard performance.
It’s important to note that the Glorious GMMK comes in three sizes: Compact (60%), Tenkeyless (TKL), and Full Size. It also has the option of coming fully assembled with switches and keycaps, or you can go with the Barebone Edition, which requires you to install your own switches and keycaps (sold separately). If you go for a pre-built GMMK, it comes with Gateron Brown switches by default and standard black (or white, if you can find the White Ice colorway) backlit keycaps.
For this review, I have the Glorious GMMK TKL Barebone Edition in Black. I installed Glorious Panda tactile switches ($25 for 36 switches), and started with the Glorious White Aura Keycaps (around $28). However, I have since changed them out to the PBT Islander Base Kit set (about $100 retail) from TheKeyCompany (TKC).
Glorious GMMK Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Bottom line: Glorious GMMK TKL is a great mid-size mechanical keyboard. You can get this pre-built with Gateron Brown switches and standard backlit keycaps, or you can even get a Barebone Edition and install your own switches and keycaps (sold separately). It’s a solid chassis that feels hefty, doesn’t feel too tall, and bright RGB lighting. It also has kick-up feet to provide more of a typing angle if needed.
- Comes in three sizes for your needs
- You can choose to get it fully assembled or Barebone (DIY)
- Both versions are fully hot-swappable
- Removable USB-C cable
- Solid, hefty build and kickstand for more typing angle
- Prebuilt option only comes with Gateron Browns
- Barebone Edition is cheaper, but requires separate components
- Not compatible with 5-pin switches without extra work
- Software not available on macOS
Minimal but fully customizable to suit your needs
Glorious GMMK review: What I like
The Glorious GMMK is a simple and minimalistic board, which is what some people prefer. With the GMMK, regardless of size, you get a solid piece of aluminum that feels solid and fairly hefty. It also does not have a tall case height or frame around the switch sockets, making this even easier to clean. A silver accent lines the top perimeter to give it a touch of elegance. Since the GMMK does not sit too high, a wrist rest is not required to use this keyboard comfortably (unlike the Keychron K2), but I still prefer to use one.
To reiterate, I received a Barebone Edition GMMK TKL. So what I received was basically the keyboard body, with the plate mounted sockets ready to have switches popped in. By default, the GMMK only takes compatible 3-pin switches, including standard Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh switches. There are 5-pin switches out there that are meant to be used in printed circuit board (PCB) mounts, which the GMMK does not have. However, you could use 5-pin switches with the GMMK if you want — you’ll have to clip those two extra stems, which are normally there to provide extra stability in PCB mounts.
For my GMMK TKL build, I got three boxes of Glorious Panda switches, which you can purchase directly from Glorious. They come in packs of 36, so for a TKL (87 keys), I needed three boxes. Installing them was easy — just align the pins to the socket holes and then press them down until they click. Since the Glorious Pandas have an opaque housing, the RGB lighting effects may be a tad dimmer than what you would get with a transparent body switch.
Glorious Pandas are a great tactile switch
If you decide to pick up a Barebone Edition GMMK, I would definitely recommend the Glorious Panda switches to go along with them. Or if you have an existing hot-swap board, and prefer something nice and tactile, then Glorious Pandas are a great choice. I’m still fairly new when it comes to exploring the different kinds of switches out there, but Glorious Pandas are becoming one of my favorites, and for good reason.
First, these are known in the mechanical keyboard community to be one of the better tactile switches out there. When I say tactile, that means these switches are smooth and will have a nice bump when bottoming out — quite snappy, and they have a nice “thocc” sound to them. So if you don’t like keyboards that are too clicky but still want some feedback while typing, then tactile is what you want, and the Pandas are great for this.
My previous tactile switch experience has only been with Cherry and Gateron Browns, so when I started typing on the Glorious Pandas, I immediately felt a difference. The Pandas are not as “scratchy” as the Browns since they’re smoother, and the “thocc” sound from it just sounds better than what you get with Browns. Of course, it’s popular in the community to lube switches, but I’ve been using the Glorious Pandas as-is, so just stock with no extra lubing. You could lube them for an even smoother feel and quieter sound, but that’s totally up to individual preference.
The Glorious GMMK is a good, all-around introduction board
Most of my mechanical keyboard experience so far has been with Keychron. However, as I’m venturing out, I appreciate Glorious’ GMMK because it’s a great mechanical keyboard to start with for many people. It’s pretty affordable compared to what else is out there, and the GMMK has solid build quality.
The chassis itself does not sit too high, so it’s more comfortable to use, even without a wrist rest. It has a slight incline naturally, but you can pop the little kickstand feet out if you need more typing angle. The minimalistic design also doesn’t scream “gamer mechanical keyboard,” even though Glorious brands itself as a gaming peripheral company. And since this is not a tall case with a frame surrounding the keys, it feels easier to clean. The bottom of the GMMK also has a little section to hold a switch puller (also included), which is convenient if you plan to change your switches out.
I originally got the Glorious White Aura keycaps (basically Glorious’ version of puddings), but since the GMMK is fairly minimal and sleek, it would look great with almost any keycap set. I managed to get my hands on PBT Islander from TKC when they had extras available, and I put them on the GMMK TKL that I put together. Since the GMMK is black, no matter what color keycaps you put on it, the end result will look nice; unless you need your case body to match your keycaps (yes, there are many of these people out there).
Overall, the GMMK is a great mechanical keyboard for beginners, whether you want something prebuilt or fully customized from the get-go.
You’re going to need a PC to do any key reprogramming
Glorious GMMK review: What I don’t like
My biggest issue with the GMMK, which also applies to many other larger computer peripheral companies, is that the software is proprietary and not available on macOS. If I ever needed to reprogram the keys on my GMMK, I would need to do it on a PC with Glorious’ software, which is annoying. I would like to see compatibility with other universal keyboard configurators, such as VIA or QMK. Many smaller keyboard makers are compatible with such programs, so I wish Glorious and other bigger brands would reconsider OS compatibility — not everyone who likes to use mechanical keyboards is a PC user.
As good as the GMMK is, if you’re a Mac user, you won’t be getting the most out of the keyboard, and some of the F-row keys are jumbled around (i.e., F3 doesn’t bring up App Exposé, but F9 does instead). You’ll also need to use the Fn key with F7 to play/pause audio, and F5 for going back a track, and F6 for skipping.
And while I would take the Barebone Edition over the prebuilt one, it’s a little disappointing that the prebuilt only comes with Gateron Browns for switches. Most other keyboards that I have checked out have multiple switch options when purchasing, like Gateron Reds or Gateron Blues, as well as Browns.
The Barebone Edition may look cheaper, but you’ll also need to consider the fact that you need to purchase separate switches and keycaps, which could cost more than a prebuilt GMMK, depending on what you go with. For example, a pack of Glorious Pandas costs $25 for 36, and you need three of them for a GMMK TKL. The Glorious Aura keycaps are around $28, but my PBT Islander Base Kit set costs $100 by itself. Yes, keycaps and switches can get expensive (welcome to mechanical keyboards).
And just note that the GMMK is plate mounted, so the hot-swap sockets have enough holes for 3-pin switches. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not compatible with 5-pin switches — you just need to make sure you clip those extra two stems to make them fit.
If you absolutely need your mechanical keyboard to work seamlessly with macOS, and you want wireless Bluetooth capabilities to boot, then I’d recommend a Keychron. With Keychron, there are several layouts available — K2 for 75%, K6 for 65%, K4 for 96%, and K8 for TKL — so you can pick the one that is right for you. The Keychrons also have a toggle to switch flawlessly between Windows/Android and macOS/iOS mode. However, Keychron does not have any software available for reprogramming keys, even on Windows.
Glorious GMMK review: Should you buy
You should buy this if …
You want a good starting mechanical keyboard
The GMMK is a great starting point for those who want to get into mechanical keyboards. It has three different sizes, and the prebuilt version comes with Gateron Browns, which are a great beginner switch.
You want something that is fully customizable
The GMMK also comes in a Barebone Edition, so you can install your own switches and keycaps and change them out at any time. The prebuilt version is also hot-swappable, so you are not just limited to Gateron Browns.
You want a minimalistic mechanical keyboard
Despite coming from a company all about PC gaming peripherals, the GMMK has a fairly minimalistic design that doesn’t scream “gamer keyboard” like other brands coughRazercough. The minimalistic design and colorway of the GMMK also mean it looks good with a wide variety of keycap sets.
You should not buy this if …
You need a specialized layout
Unfortunately, the GMMK only comes in Compact (60%), TKL, and Full Size. So if you need or want a layout that is anything besides those (40s, split, 75%, for example), you’re out of luck.
You want other colors for chassis
The GMMK pretty much only comes in black — there is also a white colorway, but it’s often out of stock or unavailable. If you want a body or case that matches your keycap set, then you’ll need to look elsewhere.
You want a wireless mechanical keyboard that works seamlessly with macOS
The software for the GMMK is only available for Windows, so if you want to reprogram any keys on the GMMK, make sure to have a PC around. Also, the GMMK has no wireless functionality, so you’ll always need to have it plugged in when using it.
If you are looking for a good starting point for mechanical keyboards, the Glorious GMMK is a good option. It comes in Compact, TKL, and Full Size, so you can pick whichever one suits your needs the best. For newbies, the prebuilt option has everything you need: Gateron Brown switches and standard backlit keycaps. But if you want to customize the experience yourself, the Barebone Edition is a little cheaper, but you’ll need to buy your own switches and keycaps — the possibilities are pretty much infinite for customization.
Just keep in mind that if you are going to use this for macOS, the function row keys may not be the same as what you’re used to, and media playback requires the fn key. There is also no GMMK software for macOS, unfortunately, and there are no wireless capabilities here. And while it is advertised as only compatible with 3-pin switches, you can clip the extra stems off of 5-pin switches to work with the GMMK.
Glorious GMMK Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Bottom line: The GMMK Modular Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a great starting board for beginners. You can get it prebuilt or go for the DIY route, which allows for much more customization.