Mini-Review: Miya Pro Sakura 65% by Ducky/Varmilo (MX Silver variant)

sakurasan

16 May 2019, 20:54

Just got this board with Cherry MX Silver switches. It's not a new board but it's got a unique look, so I thought I'd give it a quick review for other potential buyers. I actually took a risk and ordered it from the US (I'm in Europe), as US layout didn't seem available here, and the better price in the US almost covered express shipping+customs fees. On the flip side, returning it won't be practical, so... am I regretting my purchase?

First of all, it's a really, really good looking board (if you like pink). You get what you see in the marketing photos. The flowers on the space bar/Esc key are printed well. The body and outer keys are a nice pastelly pink. The text on the keys is a deep pink, matching the flowers. The typesetting on the named keys has kerning issues but it's not really detracting from the overall beauty. (Still, in a board that emphasizes aesthetics, one would think they'd do better.)

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I also really like the MX Silvers, even for typing. So far, I've had boards with MX Blues, MX Browns, and Topres (yuck!). I really like movement economy, easy-to-press keys, and small travel distances when typing (habit from laptops, perhaps) and I feel like this board provides the best speed & comfort for me.

The 65% layout is very nice with large Shifts and all keys in the right places, except Right-Ctrl, which I don't mind a lot. You pay for this, as this board is significantly wider than ultra-compacts, such as MINILA, Pok3r, HHKB, and also ~1 key wider than not-so-ultra compacts, like Vortex Race, Leopold FC660M, etc.

The board also provides a plethora of (all-pink) LED effects with adjustable brightness and speed (the latter using the software), which look super cool for the 5 minutes you experiment with them, before you turn them off and start using the board like the serious grown-up that you are (or pretend to be, considering you actually got this board).

Now on to the bad, in approx. order of severity:
  1. The Fn-Key needs to be pressed first in key combos with other modifiers. For example, if you want Alt+F4, you need to press Fn->Alt->4, in that order. If you press Alt->Fn->4, it won't work. Similarly, to get Shift+End (select to end of line), you need exactly Fn->Shift->[.]. Pressing Shift->Fn->[.] will result in a ">" (Shift-[.]). In other words, you will need to coordinate the order in which you press your modifiers, which, for me, is inconvenient and a performance hit.
  2. Super-loud, clunking space bar: Maybe the manufacturer hasn't figured out how to do the space bar/stabilizers on the MX Silver model yet, or maybe it's a common issue for all models--I don't know but this is the loudest space bar in my collection, producing a deep, cheap-plasticky clunk when you bottom out (which you will do often, especially with MX Silvers). No other keys have this issue. The feel itself is not bad, but the sound is annoying as hell, even to the typist.
  3. The manual instructs you to download the Miya software and tells you that you can remap keys with it. The utility starts off in Chinese but you can set it to English (icon to the upper left). Unfortunately, the part where you assign keys to other keys or key combos doesn't work (assigning to macros and media keys works fine). WTF, Varmilo? EDIT: Finally figured it out: you need to drag the keys from the depicted keyboard into the box that appears after selecting "keyboard" with "gaming mode" on. It works, but you cannot remap the Fn-layer. You also cannot make this keyboard send Shift+Esc (incl. Ctrl+Shift+Esc) as the key always switches to [`~] when Shift is depressed. You also cannot make a second Fn Key (only swap it with the Windows key).
  4. The board lights up either the PageUp or PageDown key LEDs to indicate whether it's in number-key or F-key mode. You cannot turn this off and you cannot even decrease the brightness: it's locked at max. This is annoying but ultimately fixable (I plan on removing/destroying the LED).
  5. Board rocks very slightly: feet are uneven by a tiny amount (<<1mm=0.04in). It's not really noticable during use.
So, overall, would I have returned the board, if I didn't have so many sunk costs and yet more costs to return? I probably would: 1+2 combined sour my experience sufficiently to make we wanna try another brand with MX Silvers. As it is though, I'm keeping it, and I'm enjoying it so far, hoping I will get used to that "clunk" between every word I type, or find a way to silence the space bar. In fact, if I manage to do the latter, I suspect I won't have any regrets.
Last edited by sakurasan on 16 May 2019, 22:56, edited 1 time in total.

Findecanor

16 May 2019, 21:27

Maybe the Space Bar noise could be improved by replacing the stabiliser-wire with a thicker one.
I don't know Varmilo, but that has been a mod could be made on some other brands' keyboards.

Another mod that could make a space bar more silent is using lubricant (thick, for stabilisers), but I'd try a wire-swap first.

sakurasan

17 May 2019, 20:43

Thanks for the suggestion, but it seems there's no access to the stabilizer without taking everything apart :/

Image
Image
Similar to this VB87M teardown: https://imgur.com/a/OMlUe

Do you think I should try a thick lubricant? I kinda don't want to open everything up for cleaning in case it doesn't work/somehow makes it worse... But I have to do something as it's not just the sound anymore: after a good amount of typing, my thumb is really unhappy from the shock bottoming out. Maybe they shouldn't put MX Silvers for the space bar or at least design specific cushioning/stabilizers for it? I wonder if there's some useful mod to the switches/stabs without taking apart the board? I've read about people using O-rings, do you guys think that could help with the hard bottoming out? I'd appreciate any tips/ideas!

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St0ckz

17 May 2019, 20:48

sakurasan wrote:
17 May 2019, 20:43
Thanks for the suggestion, but it seems there's no access to the stabilizer without taking everything apart :/

Image
Image
Similar to this VB87M teardown: https://imgur.com/a/OMlUe

Do you think I should try a thick lubricant? I kinda don't want to open everything up for cleaning in case it doesn't work/somehow makes it worse... But I have to do something as it's not just the sound anymore: after a good amount of typing, my thumb is really unhappy from the shock bottoming out. Maybe they shouldn't put MX Silvers for the space bar or at least design specific cushioning/stabilizers for it? I wonder if there's some useful mod to the switches/stabs without taking apart the board? I've read about people using O-rings, do you guys think that could help with the hard bottoming out? I'd appreciate any tips/ideas!
for plate mount stabs like those all you'd have to do is take that one switch out, allowing for the stab to unclip and slide out, it's a bit annoying to do but it's not impossible

sakurasan

17 May 2019, 21:20

It's a LED switch, so I think it's soldered?

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swampangel

17 May 2019, 21:24

sakurasan wrote:
17 May 2019, 20:43
Maybe they shouldn't put MX Silvers for the space bar or at least design specific cushioning/stabilizers for it? I wonder if there's some useful mod to the switches/stabs without taking apart the board? I've read about people using O-rings, do you guys think that could help with the hard bottoming out? I'd appreciate any tips/ideas!
The easiest thing to try would be adding an o-ring. Next is probably removing the space switch and replacing it with a stiffer switch (or a different spring in the existing switch). While you've got the switch out, popping the stabilizers out and doing a bandaid mod should also help with the bottom-out clack.
sakurasan wrote:
17 May 2019, 21:20
It's a LED switch, so I think it's soldered?
Yeah, modifying any non-hotswap board is bound to involve de- and re-soldering. If your board had switch opening cutouts you could avoid it for some things, like swapping springs.

sakurasan

17 May 2019, 21:39

Thanks, I ordered some O-rings from China, incoming any month now. Will try to post here how far is goes for this particular board/switch problem.

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