If you think that mechanical keyboards are expensive, then I can assure you of the opposite. Now everything has changed and the battles among manufacturers for the sympathy of gamers in the segment up to one thousand hryvnia flared up in earnest. The Aula brand is well known for its budget products in the peripheral segment, and it is not surprising that the company has also joined this competition. The result was the Aula Dawnguard mechanical keyboard, which has just about everything and is practically free. Let’s see what it is.
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||KRGD Blue|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory||+ (three profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||Yes|
|Handling rollovers||6KRO / NKRO|
|Backlight||+ (fixed by buttons, six colors)|
|USB cable length, m||1,6|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||132 x 444 x37|
|average cost||999 UAH|
Contents of delivery
Aula has chosen a black and blue color palette for its packaging. In terms of informativeness, everything is so good that you don’t even have to go to the official website – more than there is here, you still won’t find out there.
Internal protection against damage is weak. Two soft dampeners on the sides and a soft packing bag.
The package includes a huge instruction in several languages and a key for dismantling the keycaps.
Aula Dawnguard looks pretty good. By design, this is now a fashionable “skeleton”. There are no flashy elements in the design, it is well-considered and restrained. The top panel is metal and painted in dark gray. Although the metal here is not the thickest, the curves on the front and back edges give it additional strength. The keyboard has good rigidity for diagonal bending and does not emit extraneous squeaks under load. The total weight of the device is 800 grams (762 grams without cable).
The key layout is fully ANSI-standard, with long single row Shift and Enter keys. The F1 button is located in its usual place above the number “2”. The cover of the keycaps is slightly rough to the touch, with a cylindrical depression in the middle. The engraving of the Latin alphabet is applied exactly in the center at the top, it is thick and resembles a stencil type with spaces. The thin Cyrillic alphabet is painted in the lower right corners of the keys. The Fn button is located in place of the right Win key.
The position of the digital block, editorial buttons and arrows is standard. Rectangular lock-indicators are hidden above the right “arrow” and placed vertically. If you count from top to bottom, then there are Num, Caps LEDs and the Win key lock indicator.
Our old friends and budget KRGDs in a transparent case and with blue pins are used here as switches. These are non-linear mechanisms that make a delicious clacking sound when triggered. Main characteristics – 60 grams of force required to activate, 2 mm of travel to actuation, 4 mm of full travel. The reset point of the movement is 0.4 mm from the start. As you understand, in this 1.6 mm gap, you can make an arbitrary number of repeated clicks without clicking. Endurance is declared at the level of 50 million clicks. The backlight LEDs are soldered on the printed circuit board. Long key stabilizers are internal, making the keys easier to remove for cleaning. But the stability of pressing is “lame” – long buttons pretty much “dance” in the horizontal plane. By the way, the keycaps are made using double molding technology from ABS plastic, which partly explains the stencil application of the font. Well, at least the Latin engraving will be almost eternal.
The minimum profile height of the keyboard on the back row of keys with legs folded is 37mm. With the legs unfolded, the height increases to 50 mm. The buttons are practically devoid of tilt. The keyboard case is slightly wedge-shaped in profile.
The cable enters the keyboard housing to the right of the center, it has a short and soft bend protection.
The signal cord has a length of 1.6 meters and is covered with a nylon braid. It is of medium thickness and quite flexible, although it can remember a given shape. Not far from the USB connector there is a ferrite filter to eliminate signal interference.
The back panel of the keyboard is covered with diagonal stripes interspersed with a matte and glossy surface. There is a sticker with a serial number in the center, and four rubber feet are located at the corners. The leg in the middle of the front face is plastic.
Folding legs have thin strips of rubber. If the legs are folded, the keyboard clings to the table surface tightly. When unfolded, it can slide slightly.
The backlighting of the keyboard has six colors. But in fact, they are statically assigned to certain keys and the presence of lighting effects only lights them up in a certain sequence. There are six levels of brightness and the ability to turn on and off the backlight on the buttons individually. Cyrillic is not highlighted. In principle, for those who do not own blind typing, this option is not bad for working in the dark. Lock-indicators shine in blue color of the average level of brightness.
Aula Dawnguard has ample opportunities for hardware customization of its functions without the participation of software and using combinations with the Fn key. Below are all the commands that we were able to reproduce.
|Fn+ESC||Resetting the keyboard to default settings|
|Fn+F1||My Computer Tab|
|Fn+F10||Decreasing the sound volume|
|Fn+F11||Increasing the sound volume|
|Fn+F12||Key lock (child lock)|
|Fn+PrtSc||Switching anti-ghosting mode in 6KRO|
|Fn+SckLk||Switching anti-ghosting mode in NKRO|
|Fn+1–8||Enable Lighting Layout for Game Modes 1-8|
|Fn+9–0||Customizable key illumination. To configure, select mode 1 (button 9) or 2 (button 0). Then press Fn + End, press all the buttons that you want to highlight and press Fn + End again to write the selected configuration|
|Fn+Ins||Light effects – 4 options|
|Fn+Home||Light effects – 4 options|
|Fn+PgUP||Light effects – 4 options|
|Fn+Del||Light effects – 4 options|
|Fn+PgDn||Light effects – 4 options|
|Fn+End||Recording the backlight layout for two individual modes|
|Fn+Win||Enabling game mode, locking the Win button|
|Fn+↑||Increasing backlight brightness|
|Fn+↓||Decrease backlight brightness|
|Fn+→||Decreasing the speed of the backlight effect|
|Fn+←||Increasing the speed of the backlight effect|
Aula Dawnguard uses its own, extremely simple software that needs to be downloaded from the official website and installed. After a forced start, it is permanently active. The application has only one screen. On the left, there are three profiles that you can switch between by clicking on them. A little lower is access to the macro editor. Even lower is the backlight control, which allows you to select and customize one of 20 lighting effects. In the lower left corner is a reset button to factory settings.
Any keyboard buttons are available for reassigning commands, with the exception of Fn. You can bind any of the keyboard commands, a macro, or a multimedia button from those that are usually assigned to F1-F12.
In the editor, macros are saved by name in the left column. Recording no more than 31 commands with delays occurs on the right. You can set the delay time or specify the playback method. At the end of the recording, you can edit it by inserting LMB, MMB and RMB mouse clicks, a delay or pressing or releasing a key.
Ergonomics and testing
In terms of ergonomics, the Aula Dawnguard is nothing special. Without a palm rest, it turned out to be a bit tall. Partially, the situation is improved by the tilt of the body and legs, but still, the hands get tired with prolonged use of this device. Of the good things, there is a completely standard key layout that does not require time to adapt. The keyboard also holds the table perfectly and does not slip, at least when the legs are folded. The feeling of the device improves and a fairly strong case.
The keys on the KRGD Blue work responsively and may well “come in” to lovers of clicking mechanics. At least for those who have not used more advanced versions of such switches. They also have a lot of drawbacks – noisiness, poor stabilization and a large dead zone between the activation point and the reset of the mechanism. But here already, as they say – who likes what.
The lighting in Aula Dawnguard looks colorful, but at least separates the logical zones between groups of buttons. The keyboard is still gaming, and the fact that the backlighting of the buttons can be adjusted to the specific needs of the player and genres of games is positive. It is a pity that there is no highlighting of the Cyrillic font.
The keyboard software is generally good. It is simple, stable and clear in terms of setting up the main functions – backlight control and key remapping.
Aula Dawnguard supports both full-fledged NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate all buttons simultaneously and in any combination, and six simultaneous presses, in case the UEFI / BIOS of the motherboard does not understand anymore and does not start.
Based on my experience with the Aula Dawnguard keyboard, I can’t say that I was impressed with it. On the other hand, the device does not cause much rejection, it works quite normally and for its own money there is almost everything that is required for games. Mechanical switches, a rugged case, NKRO anti-ghosting support, some kind of backlight, software, macro recording, and even a braided cable.
Among the shortcomings here we can note the lack of Cyrillic backlighting and poor stabilization of long keys.
The Aula Dawnguard is an interesting option for budget conscious buyers who vacillate between a membrane and mechanical keyboard due to price and who like clicky switches.