The mechanical keyboard Mionix Zibal 60, which will be discussed in this review, is not a novelty at all. On the contrary, it was presented to the general public back in April 2011, when the RGB theme did not dominate among manufacturers, and the Gaming direction was only gaining momentum. In other words, back in those glorious times when keyboards were like keyboards, not like disco lighting effects generators with multi-media combiner functions. In this regard, the Zibal 60 is already a retro device that provides a unique chance to plunge into the past and see what the game mechanics were like seven years ago.
|Model||Mionix Zibal 60|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Black|
|Changing the angle of the body||Yes|
|Built-in memory, KB||–|
|Ability to record macros||–|
|Handling rollovers||6 KRO|
|USB cable length, m||1,55|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Removable palm rest||+|
|External interfaces||2 x USB 2.0, 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||443 x 153 (203 with stand) x 44|
|Weight, g||1 350|
|Average cost, $||110|
Contents of delivery
The black packaging of the keyboard looks simple and solid. On its front part, the device itself is depicted almost in natural size, its name is indicated and the company logo is drawn in the lower left corner. On the reverse side, in 12 languages, it is told, and shown schematically in the figure, about the main advantages of the product.
Internal protection against damage is provided only by two cardboard inserts at the bottom and top. The keyboard and palm rest are wrapped in soft plastic bags.
The scope of delivery includes a short instruction manual and a plastic key for dismantling the keycaps.
Appearance and design
To describe the external design of the Mionix Zibal 60 keyboard, the slang word “old school” is best suited. She looks very standard. The body is completely straight, without design frills. The top corners of the keyboard and the front edge are slightly rounded. The surface is made of matte smooth plastic, very pleasant to the touch, but rather easily soiled and quickly collects fingerprints. The buttons are painted with the same paint and have a surface similar in texture. There are some complaints about the build quality. Although the Zibal 60 gives the impression of massiveness, a creaking sound is heard when twisting diagonally, which indicates either insufficient mounting screws or not the most accurate molding of plastic parts. On the positive side, during normal use of the keyboard, this drawback is not felt, and it seems to be quite solid and stable.
Included is a palm rest, which greatly increases the comfort of the device during prolonged use. It is hollow inside, but in the middle it has four dense plastic legs made in the form of columns and lined with rubber stickers. Fastening to the body is carried out by adjoining the double latches into the corresponding slots on the bottom panel of the keyboard.
Assembled, everything looks like this. If you raise the keyboard, the stand tilts down, but it is motionless in the direction of the top, which makes it seem like a single unit with the keyboard body. The outer coating of the stand is the same as that of the rest of the product.
In the printed layout block, everything looks extremely standard. Both Shift are long, Enter is single-row, the F1 button is located exactly above the number “2”. Of the differences that are striking, we can note the button with the Mionix logo, which takes the place of the usual Win-button in the lower left corner. In fact, this is a regular Fn key that works exclusively in combination with other buttons. In this elegant way, the company solved the problem of accidentally pressing Win during the game and then exiting the application to the desktop of the operating system. The Win key itself has moved to the right of Spacebar and Alt. The English engraving is traditionally laser-etched in the upper central part of the keys, and the font is very large and legible. Cyrillic has found shelter at the bottom right. It is additionally covered with white reflective paint, so when the backlight is off, it can be seen much better than the Latin alphabet.
There is nothing particularly unique in the digital block. All keys are in their place. The arrow buttons are marked with large triangles. The lock LEDs are very close to the number buttons, so in a normal seat, the user will only be able to see them partially. Above the diodes, a faintly distinguishable Mionix inscription is engraved.
The keyboard features classic “heavy” Cherry MX Black linear switches in an opaque package with at least 60 grams actuation force, 2mm actuation travel, and 4mm full travel. On most mechanisms, semi-circular backlight diodes are installed on top, but on both Shift, Enter and Backspace they are turned down for some reason. All of the long keys are surprisingly well stabilized and have virtually no play in any direction. And this is despite the fact that external, wire rods of stabilizers are used here, which make it difficult to dismantle the caps. The caps themselves are made of ABS plastic and painted on the outside.
Expanded legs increase the already decent height of the case by another 10 mm. There is nothing to catch on the sides, so rearranging the keyboard is not very convenient.
This is what the keyboard case looks like with the palm rest in profile. As you can see, the transverse inclination of the keys along the rows is extremely weak, but the wedge-shaped case is more than enough for the comfort of the hands when typing, regardless of whether the legs are deployed or not.
The keyboard signal cable is attached to the case exactly in the middle at the back. Protection against inflection against its background is lost, but it is there. A rather strange point is that the protected cable is not rigidly fixed and can turn a couple of tens of degrees to the left and right.
The total length of the cord is 1.55 meters. At the base, it is covered with a nylon braid and has a thickness of about 10 mm in diameter, which makes it very reluctant to bend. Toward the end, a splitter is made, combined with a ferrite magnetic ring against interference. Four separate thin wires without braid come out of it, each 300 mm long. These cables end with two USB connectors and two 3.5mm plugs. In addition to the thickness, it is worth noting that the braid is not made very high quality – in some places it diverges, and somewhere the pile is pulled out.
On the back, on the right side of the keyboard, there are two pass-through USB 2.0 connectors and two 3.5mm ports for connecting a microphone and headphones. It cannot be said that it will be convenient to search for them by touch, but it is still better than climbing behind the back of the system unit.
The base is completely flat, it has four rubber feet and a sticker with a serial number. Below you can see two sockets for attaching the palm rest.
Two folding legs are made entirely of plastic. There are no rubber grips on them, so when they are deployed, the keyboard can slide on the table. There are two mounting screws in the footwells that hold the chassis together.
The backlight of the Mionix Zibal 60 is exclusively green. There are LEDs under all keys, except Space. When starting the PC, the backlight is disabled by default and must be manually activated. There are three brightness levels and three modes: 1) backlight off; 2) only WASD keys are backlit; 3) the backlight of all buttons is on. When the backlight is on, the Latin alphabet is visible very well, while the Cyrillic alphabet is so dim that it is almost indistinguishable in the dark, and hardly distinguishable in ambient light. The Lock indicator LEDs are also green and very bright when viewed directly. Fortunately, at an angle, their glow does not cause irritation, except for the reflection on the ceiling above the table.
Mionix Zibal 60 does not have software, macro recording is not possible. All the few functions are implemented in hardware. The following keys work in combination with the Mionix logo button: F1 (mute); F2 (reduces volume); F3 (increases the volume); F5 (start/pause); F6 (stop); F7 (rewind); F8 (fast forward); F11 (change brightness); F12 (backlight mode selection). Enabling game mode with blocking Tab, Alt or Win keys is not provided.
Ergonomics and testing
When I first got my hands on the Mionix Zibal 60, it aroused very skeptical expectations about its ergonomics. It looked bulky, the case creaked when twisted, the stand seemed uncomfortable, all this was complemented by a very thick and rigid cable. However, when I sat down at it and started typing, the emotions suddenly became very positive. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, it is the right angle of the keyboard body, rows of keys and palm rest. Thanks to this, the hands lie on this device extremely comfortably. The palm rest has a “correct” width, and, like the entire keyboard as a whole, it is covered with a pleasant to the touch smooth and matte plastic, on which hands do not slip and do not sweat. The second point, which greatly pleased me, is the nature of the operation of the mechanical switches installed here. It is very accurate in terms of tactile sensations, fingers literally feel the moment the button is activated. The sound from operation, in particular from hitting the key on the stand, is muffled. To be precise, it is probably a third quieter than similar Cherry MX Black movements that I have come across. Due to what exactly such a difference is achieved, it’s hard for me to say, no dampers were found under the keys. The long buttons are exceptionally well stabilized and are always pressed clearly, no matter which part of them is pressed. The third point is the standard layout, which does not take time to get used to. Zibal 60 is very, very pleasant both when typing large amounts of text and in gaming applications. Prolonged use of this keyboard does not cause fatigue or other unpleasant symptoms in the hands.
It is worth saying a few words about the stability of the keyboard. With the legs unfolded, it can slide if you apply some effort. But in general, neither fast typing nor heavy gaming makes it fidget around the table or make extraneous overtones like squeaks or something like that.
Software and the ability to record macros or remap keys are not here. For some, this may be a disadvantage.
The background green backlight looks nice. There are no unnecessary lighting effects in it, and it does what it should – it just highlights the characters in a pleasant green tone. However, only Latin characters. Cyrillic will be indistinguishable in low ambient light.
Anti-ghosting is implemented in this keyboard at a basic level. Only 6KRO mode is supported, that is, only six simultaneous keystrokes in any combination are processed. By and large, this will be enough in 99% of game situations.
Mionix Zibal 60 is a mechanical keyboard from the past that looks like a rarity against the background of modern devices made of metal, shimmering in all shades of the rainbow. And although it cannot compete with modern keyboards in terms of appearance, and in general it looks bulky against their background, in terms of printing and gaming use, the Zibal 60 is very comfortable. Yes, there is no software, no macros, and you can’t play snake or create an atmosphere for a home disco. But then there are high-quality Cherry MX Black switches, well-stabilized long keys and a nice palm rest. Well, another nice little thing in the form of additional audio and USB ports at hand. After a week of working with Zibal 60, you involuntarily begin to wonder if there is any progress in the gaming keyboard industry at all, and if it is going backwards for an hour, offering the user a lot of extra features.
Mionix Zibal 60 has disadvantages that should be considered when purchasing it. Although the keyboard case is pleasant to the touch, it is quite easily soiled and can creak under diagonal loads. The signal cable is very thick and not flexible, its kink protection is not fixed at the entrance to the case, and the braid is not of very high quality. In fact, there is no highlighting of the Cyrillic alphabet. The rest of the keyboard has no pronounced shortcomings.
The Mionix Zibal 60 can be recommended for those who like the original Cherry MX Black switches and want a very simple mechanical keyboard with extra ports and backlighting.