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Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard
Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 9

Previously, I was testing out the FC660M PD mini mechanical keyboard from Leopold. Today, we’ll be looking at the same brand, but a different product. It’s longer and it isn’t as striking when it comes to the keycap’s colours. It’s got a more retro feel to it as it brings you back to the keyboards of the 1990s. Let’s dive in, this is the Leopold FC980C electro-capacitive mechanical keyboard.

Unboxing the product you’ll get:

  • Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard (45g Topre)
  • USB Type-A to USB Mini Type-B cable
  • User Manual and Guide

Form Factor

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard

The Leopold FC980C mechanical keyboard utilises a 98-key layout, which has an offset arrow cluster, as well as a set of slightly cramped right modifier keys. This keyboard would be ideal for those who wish to save some space on their desktop, and not want to sacrifice the numpad at the same time. Best of both worlds right here, and I am one of those people.

I do like the idea of having a 60% keyboard as it saves space, but having so many keys taken away from me, I’d have to constantly look at the keyboard to find numbers and memorise function keys. The keyboard aligns well with my body and how I usually lay my hands on the desk. Even with the numpad, there isn’t too much overhang on the right and I can easily reach the numbers easily without lifting my hand. The keyboard does seem to be very wide, as the function keys and delete keys are all at the top, but I’ll get into the details on that later.

Build Quality

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 10

As for the build quality on the Leopold FC980C, I have no complaints whatsoever. The board feels solid and has a nice hefty feel to it. I don’t bring my keyboards around with me much, but if I do, I don’t mind popping this one into my backpack anytime. Also, there is no rattling sound from any of the keys when I give it a little shake.

On the bottom, there are four pieces of rubber feet to prevent the keyboard from slipping. There are also two additional rubber feet on the kickstand as well. It also comes with a cable routing path for you to redirect the mini USB cable depending on how you prefer your setup. The mini USB cable feels sturdy and it has a length of 177.8cm, so it should fit most desktop setups.

Switches

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 11

For the Leopold FC980 Series, Leopold has come up with switch choices for it. The M model bearing the Cherry MX switches, while the C model would carry the Topre switches. And the one that got sent to us, is the C variant with a 45g Topre switch. With a price tag of over RM1K, the Leopold FC980C mechanical keyboard is one of Leopold’s highest end keyboard.

Now, you might have noticed that keyboards with Topre switches are way more expensive than say, keyboard with Cherry switches. In a sense, Topre is arguably one of the best switches a typist could ask for in a keyboard. But due to its low demand and oversupply of Cherry switches in the market, it would naturally fetch a higher price. Take a walk around any mall, you’d find that the general consumer keyboard brands to have:

  • Mainstream gaming brands: Cherry MX / Gateron
  • Chinese OEM brands: Kailh / Gateron / Outemu
  • Razer: Razer Proprietary
  • Logitech: Romer-G / Cherry MX
  • And many more…

So, how does a Topre switch work? According to Deskthority, a Topre switch uses a capacitive sensor instead of a metal contact in the switch housing to detect each keypress. Each key has a sensor mounted on the PCB with a metal conical spring right on top of it. Then, a rubber dome is fit on top of the spring to imitate the resistance and tactile feel of a keypress. Simply put, each keypress is registered when the sensor detects a capacitance change when the spring depresses.

Keycaps

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 12

Moving on to the keycaps, these are what gives the Leopold FC980C its retro look. They are single-shot PBT keycaps that have gone through dye-sublimation legend printing. As for its colours, it has a dual-tone retro colourway – beige white and grey, with the legends in black.

Compared to the double-shot PBT keycaps that are being constantly produced by the Chinese brands, dye-sub PBT keycaps are less efficient to produce. Despite that, they still provide an amazing typing (note I didn’t say gaming?) experience nonetheless.

User Experience

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 13

Typing is one of the main things I do when I work. Almost 80% of the time, I’m just constantly typing without even moving my mouse. I’ve been using the Leopold FC980C (45g) for the past month, and I must say, this is one of the best keyboards I’ve used for typing. Every time I press a key, it just feels so solid, smooth and satisfying. The sound isn’t annoying, and dare I say it, it actually helps improve my accuracy in typing. I know, some people may argue that key click sounds are just a “state of mind”. But to me, it is very real. I noticed that I make less typing mistakes with this keyboard.

About the part where the delete key is way at the top, I was annoyed by it at first. With that said, the more I typed with the keyboard, the less mistakes I make. And because of that, I’ve grown away from delete key. Well, most of the time. I must point out, that I needed getting used to the right shift key being shorter cause of the arrow clusters. But, it didn’t take me long to remember that I have to shift my fingers slightly to the left to hit that shift key right, pun intended.

Conclusion

Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 14

Just because I’m a writer, I can’t say that the Leopold FC980C will produce the same pleasant typing experience I had for everyone. Everyone has their own perspective and preferences to a keyboard, it’s a very personal thing. But what I will say is, that the FC980C is truly made for those who wants the best typing experience they can get on a keyboard. If I could afford one, this might be my final keyboard for a long time. Even if it doesn’t match my PC setup or have any RGB lights.

To the gamers out there, I would say that this keyboard might not be for you. Of course, you are more than welcome to try it out. But before you do, please manage your expectations.

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Leopold FC980C Mechanical Keyboard Review: Topre Retro Vibes 15

At the price of RM1,299, this keyboard is reaching out to a niche audience. From the build quality down to the keycaps and switches, I truly believe the people in this very niche circle will appreciate everything the Leopold FC980C has to offer.

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