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MoeeTech Glitter65 R1

The Glitter65 by MoeeTech is a nice keyboard kit with a distinctive appearance: thanks to the seamless aluminum case and unique drawer structure.

KBD.news
Published May 3, 2024
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I like a lot the Glitter65, MoeeTech's first keyboard design. The kit's milled and anodized aluminum case has a unique drawer style tray for the PCB, and the USB daughterboard comes with USB hub and card reader. While not impeccable (the unusual building process may cause you some head-scratching), once assembled, it's a gorgeous 65% board with a distinctive look.

TLDR; The Glitter65 is a great offer for those who don't mind a new assembly method and aren't afraid of a little challenge or minor inconveniences along the way.

First impressions

Oh, wow. Even nicer than I anticipated. MoeeTech seems to downplay the features and quality so that you start with lower expectations. The strategy apparently works because I'm impressed.

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I ordered two boards for this test, intentionally: an ink blue one from the higher standard (level1) and the white one from the budget friendly (level2) option.

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Externally, I can't see any difference in quality. However, as indicated on the product page, the budget run has several imperfections inside of the case (invisible after assembly). Choose accordingly!

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Disclaimer

So I ordered two boards for this review to be able to compare the two quality levels in which the Glitter is available. Actually, I paid some money for these boards but nothing near the full price: MoeeTech offered me a generous discount even beyond the 30% you could get by using the KBDNEWS coupon code.

As always, receiving something for free or cheap enough may cause all kinds of bias, both positive and negative. Read everything I write with a grain of salt.

Specs

  • wired barebone kit
  • 65% layout
  • MX, hotswap
  • plateless, drawer style structure
  • aluminum case
  • USB-C daughterboard with USB Hub and card reader
  • frosted acrylic RGB LED decoration piece (no per-key RGB or underglow)
  • Atmega32U4 MCU
  • Vial support
  • Weight of full build: 2,020g
  • extra carry bag

Unboxing & Contents

The Glitter65 is a barebone kit, so no switches, caps or stabilizers in the package, you have to source them separately.

It comes in a really fitting box: mimicking the drawer style structure of the board. Nice, quality cardboard, clean and simple design. Color of the packaging matched to that of the board.

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In the bundle you can find the gorgeous aluminum (6061) case (ink blue or white), frosted acrylic tray, sound dampening (thick silicone switch layer, thick bottom poron foam),…

Pic: Foam left off…

Foam left off…

…the three-part PCB consists of the main part, a USB daughterboard, and a third one for the decoration LED piece – to be connected by ribbon cables. Also an additional anodized piece for the tray, plus poron gaskets, ribbon cables, screws.

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No cable and no tools included. Prepare a 2.5mm hex screwdriver for the two fancy screws in the back. (The other screws which secure the USB daughterboard and an anodized piece are the usual tiny ones, 2mm I guess.)

Pic: Fancy screws

Fancy screws

Pic: Fancy screws vs your average one for stabs

Fancy screws vs your average one for stabs

Other than the usual contents, as a bonus for new customers, the keyboard is accompanied by a matching carry bag: black for the dark ink blue one and beige for the white version. Minimal padding, but fits the Glitter nicely.

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I'm not sure if it was updated recently because at least the patch in the middle looks differently now (photo courtesy of MoeeTech):

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Background

The Glitter65 R1 is MoeeTech's first keyboard model. With the team being located in Nanning City, Guangxi, China, this was originally a group buy domestically. However, there are some items allocated for the Western market. E.g. the carry bags are only for these kits and were not part of the original GB.

65% layout

The Glitter 65, as the name implies, comes in the popular 65% form factor. Basically a 60% keyboard with an extra column on the right.

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In addition to the few extra keys, this arrangement allows some room around the arrow cluster, which imo is essential for easier and better repositioning of your right hand (if you don't want to set up SpaceFN).

Drawer structure

The hallmark of MoeeTech's Glitter 65 is undoubtedly the drawer style structure. While not entirely original (backside rail, side mounting), it's definitely unique outside of the DIY realm. :)

Instead of the common layers and two-part case, you have a one-piece aluminum case here. Sort of. There is no top and bottom case but a main case practically milled from a single slab of aluminum.

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You can remove the back cover though, this is how you put in the tray with the main PCB, but otherwise there are no seams if you look at it from e.g. the sides.

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Other than aesthetic considerations, I thought this structure doesn't really have any practical significance until I realized that this way, you can lift the otherwise relatively heavy board with just one hand – thanks to the depressions on the back and front. (I only realized this when lifting another board with a similar weight which still seemed much more heavy because of the different grip – or the lack of proper grip to be honest.)

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That said, the assembly and disassembly is a bit different than usual, and the tray system has some cons too: you can't remove it with the caps and switches mounted.

All in all, I enjoyed the building process, especially the second one. :D

There shouldn't be any problem once you've put the puzzle pieces together, maybe in your head first. When stuck, take a step back. I followed the video on the product page which should be sufficient, except the positioning/folding of the ribbon cables. And in any case, feel free to reach out to MoeeTech, just like I did. ;)

Pic: The solution

The solution

So the tray fits the case only without switches and caps. However, the screw-in stabilizers have to be mounted before you push it in.

If in trouble, the thick bottom foam may have raised the PCB a bit, so you have to press it downwards while pushing the tray into the case.

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Build qualities

When it comes to milling and finishing, as already mentioned, there are two quality levels and two colors you can choose from.

Colors. Anode ink blue and electrophoresis white. The blue one is quite dark, neutral blue with low saturation, so it matches a lot of environments.

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Quality. If you only care about how your keyboard looks when assembled, there's no particular difference I noticed. However, holding both versions in my hand I have to say that the difference is clearly visible when inspecting the inner side of the cases.

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The higher standard (and somewhat more expensive) version looks beautiful in and out. The budget option has imperfections inside of the case, expect that if ordering this cheaper version. However, since this is not visible when assembled, it looks exactly stunning when fully built.

If you're also picky when it comes to hidden parts, go with the level1 standard.

Weight

Despite its 2.02kg, the Glitter feels much lighter than e.g. the 1.93kg Akko I'm going to test next week. And this is because of the shape of the Glitter's case. It's easy to grab with just one hand, thanks to the depressions both on the front and back side. And the rounded sides make it easier to grab with two hands too.

Plateless design

There's no plate, your switches sit in the PCB, so maybe 5-pin switches work better. However, there's a thick silicone top layer which helps with positioning your switches.

Pic: Not a plate but a flexible silicone layer

Not a plate but a flexible silicone layer

CNC & Price

I'm far from being an expert in CNC milling, but a pundit in this field told me that a simple rectangular case can be manufactured for much less (in much less time) than a curvy one.

Or more elaborately: What makes the most difference when it comes to relatively cheap models vs. more expensive higher end boards is the complexity of the overall shape and details, and the extra time manufacturing these kind of products requires.

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So given the rounded sides of the Glitter, all the smooth transitions both on the front and back, plus the cool decoration piece in raw brass color, the starting price of $111 seems more than reasonable.

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USB daughterboard, USB hub, card reader

Unlike with most keyboards, the USB daughterboard, beside the main USB C connector, accommodates two additional USB A sockets and an SD card reader as well.

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As if MoeeTech heard my thoughts: the other day I tried to save some photos I shot with a relatively old Nikon camera, and I had to realize that not a single PC or laptop laying around has a card reader anymore. I had to dig up an old USB mini cable, but now I do have a card reader again! :D

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Ribbon cables

Even if I wouldn't call it the Achilles' heel of the Glitter, the ribbon cables were the only annoyance during these builds.

So if you are interested in purchasing the Glitter, which in general I can only recommend if you think that the design and layout would work for you, the only real issue I found were setting up the ribbon cables peroperly.

You get two sets in the bundle so there's some room for experimenting, but I found that maybe the sockets on the main PCB could be positioned in a better way. Right now you have to bend and fold and pretty much abuse your cables so they can make it to the sockets on the daugherboards at the desired points.

Which wasn't self-explanatory for me at first, so I had to reach out to MoeeTech for assistance.

To be frank, these boards were shipped two months ago, and I was told new boards come with pre-folded ribbon cables now, neutralizing the issue.

Bottom foam

The cables cause another minor inconvenience though: Leaving the tray partially laying on the hotswap sockets, things may be quite crowded in the drawer. As already mentioned, this can make inserting the tray harder (just push the PCB downwards).

On the other hand, the whole PCB resting on top of the foam and folded ribbon cables creates a pleasantly soft typing experience. I have to confess I quite enjoyed this typing feel in contrast to harder and stiffer plates, but this may be personal and only a side-effect.

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Again, I was told the "issue" has been fixed since my boards were shipped out, and there should be a thinner bottom foam in the bundle if you order the Glitter now.

LEDs

While apparently a selling point for many, I personally don't care about RGB or any lights. This time was no different, so I started with looking up how to turn it off (FN+Home, the top key in the right column).

However, if you fancy RGB, there are a lot of options available.

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The diffuser is a nice frosted acrylic layer, but the extent of diffusion is not sufficient to perfectly smudge the light of the individual LEDs (some of the images on the product page depicting a smooth transition may be renders or fixed in post processing). That's why animations playing with individual LEDs work better compared to those modes when all of them are on. At least for my taste.

In addition, the LEDs are not placed at equal distances. This is apparently intentional and a result of all the sockets in the back (USB hub, card reader) but may surprise some of you. I just want to make this clear.

Software

Vial! Yay! No pesky proprietary software. Head to vial.rocks and start messing around with your keymap. As usual, I checked swapping some letters to roughly recreate my custom layout, and also to set up SpaceFN: everything works as expected.

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(I take testing more seriously since the Weikav Record Alice (which turned out only seemingly and partially VIA-compatible), and the Glitter checks all my boxes: seems fully compatible with Vial and works properly.)

Possible issues, building experience, opinion (update)

So in the reactions I was asked about the lack of supporting the hotswap sockets when inserting switches, and if it's an issue. In short: not in my experience, but here are some more details about possible issues.

Well, the tray structure allows pretty unique overall case designs but yeah, that’s the only real benefit I guess, and it has some drawbacks too. Not supporting hotswap sockets may be one of those but it wasn’t my concern with this build because 1) you can put in switches really easily, without any effort really. On the contrary: pulling keycaps often removes switches too. At least with the Gateron Quinns and Akko silent fairies I tried. 2) In addition, as already mentioned, the PCB sits on a really thick poron foam which doesn’t allow any wiggle room for the PCB and is enough support imo (I’m not sure about the new foam though).

The flex you can see at 6:35 in the video (on the product page) is interesting. Maybe the foam is missing there? My build behaves differently. In my experience there’s no flex in the PCB (no room for this because of the foam) but an overall springy suspension. The whole PCB moves up and down a bit while typing. A large part of this is caused by the folded ribbon cables I guess which may act like leaf springs, especially in the upper row.

Yep, and the potential inconveniences imo:

The tray fits pretty tightly. With the PCB protruding a bit here and there when not positioned 100% correctly (e.g. slightly lifted by the foam over the top plane of the tray) it might get stuck. Struggling with the tray is apparently cut out from the video (at 5:40) :). This isn’t really a problem since you do this once or only rarely, and all you have to do is pressing the PCB into the tray while sliding it into the case. However, don’t expect a buttery smooth sliding in of the tray. At least with the old foam, the new one may resolve this.

The other potential annoyance is that you have to remove all the caps and switches to be able to remove the tray. Guess who forgot tightening a screw in a stab and realized this only after fully building the board… ;)

All in all, I was told that some of the issues I mention in the review have been addressed in the meantime. New customers get their kits with an alternative bottom foam (two foams in the bundle now), pre-folded ribbon cable (?, not 100% sure about this), but also an updated carry bag/satchel. So this bundle is still evolving, you may have a different experience compared to mine with an earlier kit.

Pros

  • Aesthetics
  • Quality (level1!)
  • Vial, price, extras from the USB hub and SD card reader to the satchel, etc.

Cons

  • ribbon cables (fixed in the meantime?)
  • too thick bottom foam (fixed in the meantime?)
  • LED diffusion

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Conclusion

The Glitter 65 R1 by MoeeTech is a gorgeous 65% keyboard kit for a good price. Expect a slower building process because of the unusual tray system and tricky ribbon cables, but otherwise the milled alu case, USB hub, etc. more than justify the price which starts at $111. If you like the features and the 65% layout I can only recommend to try it.

Availability

You can purchase the Glitter65 R1 at MoeeTech:

There's a 30% discount when using the KBDNEWS coupon code!

Cast

Other products in the photos:

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Published on Fri 3rd May 2024. Featured in KBD #164.


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