Posted On 07/25/2016 By In Keyboard Reviews, Reviews

REVIEW: WhiteFox by Matt3o+Massdrop+IC

Page Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Packaging, Unboxing, and Contents
  3. External Build
  4. Internal Build
  5. Switches
  6. Layout and Function Keys
  7. Summary & Conclusion
  8. Full Gallery
  9. Where to Buy

Introduction

The WhiteFox is a 65% keyboard designed by the heavily involved keyboard community member Matt3o, that was made a reality with the help of the Input Club and Massdrop. It is currently dropping on Massdrop for $179.99.The WhiteFox is rather unique due to the fact that it was designed by keyboard enthusiasts for keyboard enthusiasts. The WhiteFox comes in both kit form and fully assembled, each with an impressive selection of switches, and four unique layout options.

Having a keyboard that is created by an enthusiast and active community member may seem like a trivial fact at first, but I assure you the details and thought that went into this keyboard are immediately apparent, and the final product is strikingly different than any major brand keyboard that I’ve ever used. I’ve reviewed too many keyboard from major brands, complained about something like the non-standard bottom row, cheap caps, bad quality PCB’s, etc, and had the company complain about my review with excuses like “well, company X has the same funky layout,” or “company Y uses the same factory for caps that we do.” In an industry with so many cheap products, excuses, and people designing keyboards with no real philosophy behind many of the huge decisions that go into creating a keyboard, the WhiteFox has been a huge breath of fresh air for me.

Packaging, Unboxing, and Contents

Packaging doesn’t often excite me, or really do much of anything at all for me. That wasn’t the case for the WhiteFox. The keyboard came packaged in an elegant white box, and had a personal “Thank You” card from Matt3o top and center immediately upon opening the box, making the unboxing an experience and not just a mindless task. I always was a sucker for personal touches, and the WhiteFox nailed that aspect.

Inside the box

Inside the keyboard, white/blue braided cable, milled aluminum feet, and hardware were neatly tucked away between a protective layer of heavy foam.
Specs include:

  • WhiteFox
  • 65% layout
  • CNC anodized aluminum case
  • Dye-sublimated PBT keys
  • Cherry Profile
  • White Costar stabilizers
  • Floating keys
  • Aluminum-and-rubber cone feet
  • Micro USB Connection

 

External Build

Case

IMG_7722 - Copy

The WhiteFox comes with a CNC anodized aluminum case, feet, and top plate. The keyboard is sturdy, and obviously has no flex whatsoever to it. The low profile case makes gives the keyboard a very sleek look.

Reverse side (rubber pads, feet, etc.)

The first thing I noticed about the back of the keyboard was the elegant laser etched graphic and batch info. The otherwise plain back had two holes to screw the included feet into, and a tiny hole that is used to press a button on the back of the PCB when flashing new firmware.

To install the feet you must take the the plate off with the included allen wrench, and then screw the feet on. I absolutely loved how easy it was to take the keyboard apart. The milled aluminum feet have rubber on the ends to keep the keyboard from sliding around on your desk. There were also three small rubber feet included to stick on the front of the keyboard if desired. I had no issues with the keyboard sliding around with just the back feet installed, but threw on the front feet as well just to protect the case and whatever I set the keyboard on.

Obviously, removing the feet isn’t as easy as folding down the back feet that are common on most keyboards, and the tilt is preset with no secondary option. For me, the keyboard sat on my desk and typed perfectly. If the keyboard is angled slightly more than you would prefer, Massdrop often has milled aluminum feet that are slightly lower than the ones included with the WhiteFox for around $12.

Keycaps

The keycaps are thick dye-sublimated PBT in Cherry profile. The simple centered font, and blue accent keys give the keyboard a very elegant visual aesthetic. A WhiteFox logo keycap was also included, another small detail that I really enjoyed.

I do think it is worth mentioning that the keycaps noticeably bleed light when the LED’s are turned up all the way, and the surrounding area is dark enough.I don’t really consider this a knock against the quality of the caps though, as the caps aren’t actually made to be backlit.

It is nice to already have the lighting if you ever want to swap caps out for ones made to be backlit, but as it stands the lighting is really best used for ambience in a well lit room, definitely don’t expect to use it to help you type in the dark on the stock caps if you hunt-and-peck.

Internal Build

As I mentioned before, the WhiteFox was a breeze to open up and gain access to the PCB. The first thing I noticed was that the PCB has the same Fox found on the box and the keycaps printed on it. They sure did go all out putting that little logo everywhere, though I’m not complaining because it is damn cute.

There was a slight bit of flux residue visible around each of the solder points, though with a white PCB this is completely normal. There was absolutely no visible issues with any of the solder joints (burn marks, too much/too little solder, uneven or otherwise cheap looking joints), leaving me with no reason to worry about the build quality of the PCB or quality control of the assembly process.

Switches

My review unit came with Cherry MX Blue switches, though I want to take a moment to discuss the full switch options available for the WhiteFox before going into detail on the specific switches in my keyboard.

The WhiteFox is available with a whopping 12 types of switches:

  • Cherry MX Brown 45g Tactile
  • Cherry MX Blue 45g Clicky Tactile
  • Cherry MX Clear 65g Tactile
  • Cherry MX Green 80g Clicky Tactile
  • Cherry MX Red 45g Linear
  • Cherry MX White 80g Clicky Tactile/Slightly quieter than Greens
  • Gateron Blue 45g Clicky Tactile
  • Gateron Brown 45g Tactile
  • Gateron Clear 35g Linear
  • Gateron Green 80g Clicky Tactile
  • Gateron Red 45g Linear
  • Zealio Purple 65g Tactile

There is a HUGE variety available, more than any common store bought keyboard. The obvious missing switch is a heavy linear switch like the Cherry MX Black, or Gateron Black and Yellow switches. I am unsure why these are not available.

Now, back to my actual keyboard with Cherry MX Blues. I don’t personally enjoy Blues, as I find them too light. I also had some issues with some of my switch clicks sounding different enough from each other to really annoy the OCD part of me. Having a metal case does make the “click” more pronounced and sharper sounding than a keyboard with a plastic case, so the minute details of each click are also easier to distinguish with the metal case. The switches did feel very consistent, and I had no issues with switch performance at all.

The WhiteFox uses Costar stabilizers which are a total pain-in-the-ass when swapping keys, but tend to feel better and more consistent than Cherry stabilizers.

My keyboard also came with preinstalled white LED’s mounted on the top side of each switch. All pre-built keyboards come with white backlighting, and the kit versions all come with enough white LED’s to cover the board.

Layout and Function Keys

One of the huge selling features of the WhiteFox is ability to select your layout. This time around four different layouts are being offered (True Fox, ISO, Vanilla, and Aria). My WhiteFox shipped with the Vanilla layout, which is personally my favorite of the bunch.

Beyond being able to customize just the physical layout of the keyboard, the WhiteFox is completely programmable using Input Club’s exceptionally easy-to-use configurator tool. Unlike so many different configurators, the Input Clubs is extremely intuitive and hassle free.

You have up to seven different layers to use, and programing keys is as simple as clicking the layer->key->selecting new function. I personally used the custom layers for media keys, gaming profiles, and macros, all of which really helped me make the most of the keyboards smaller layout than the TKL I normally use.

Summary & Conclusion

The WhiteFox is the real deal, and easily one of the best keyboards I’ve ever used. I honestly couldn’t really find anything at all about the keyboard I didn’t like, and had a complete blast putting the keyboard through it’s paces the last week, something that I can rarely claim.

I think it is also worth pointing out that I think this keyboard is the pinnacle of what Massdrop has done for the keyboard community to date. They helped take a community member’s dream keyboard, funded prototyping it, and designed a package that really makes it feel special. Quality, functionality, and presentation are all there.

Pros

  • excellent build quality and materials
  • extremely easy to program
  • very nice dye sub PBT caps
  • elegant packaging, with nice extras
  • huge selection of switches
  • available pre-built or as a kit

Cons

  • on the expensive side at $179.99

Final score: 9.5/10

Full Gallery

Where to Buy

Currently dropping on Massdrop for $179.99. 

 

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