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DailyProcrastinator

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Drop Carina 60% Build

A Fun & Easy Build with RGB Flair!

 

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Intro:

 

Right now this is a really popular market segment, 60% layouts are all the rage and the Carina seems to tick all the right boxes.
     
What’s the deal with 60% layouts?

60% layouts have risen in popularity mostly due to the growth in the custom keyboard space. They are a great choice as you can enter the world of customs for a fraction of the price compared to other larger layouts, and for most users you do not lose too much functionality. This keeps things simple and minimalistic (everyone's favorite word). 
     
Why would you want this?
For a basic typist, or gamer who wants to build a custom, 60% layouts are great. Question where or not you need some additional keys like arrows or an additional column of function keys, if so look at 65%, layouts, otherwise this is the layout for you! The Carina offers many desirable ‘wants’ as well, you get hot-swap switches with all the flashy RGB you could ever want!

 


 

Why I bought this:

 

I knew this was not my ideal layout, as a 65% is already limiting for myself, however adding a simple 60% to the collection is something I wanted. And the frosted acrylic body caught my eye. The board itself is a good value option and in a competitive market segment, If anything it would be enjoyable to build and review.

 


 

Parts (USD):

 

This is another buy where the bulk of parts came from Drop. 

Spoiler

 

Case +PCB Drop Carina Hot Swap Mechanical Keyboard Kit $120.00 https://drop.com/buy/drop-carina-mechanical-keyboard-kit
Switches KAILH Box Heavy Dark Yellow - 70pc $31.50 https://kbdfans.com/collections/kailh-switches/products/novelkeys-x-kailh-box-heavy-switches-10pcs
Key caps Drop Skylight Series Keycap Set - Horizon $45.00 https://drop.com/buy/drop-skylight-series-keycap-set
Cable White - V2 COILED CABLE WIRE MECHANICAL KEYBOARD GH60 USB CABLE MINI MICRO TYPE C USB PORT FOR POKER 2 XD64 XD75 XD96 MOBILE PHONE $12.90 https://kprepublic.com/products/v2-coiled-cable-wire-mechanical-keyboard-gh60-usb-cable-mini-micro-type-c-usb-port-for-poker-2-xd64-xd75-xd96-mobile-phone?_pos=3&_sid=30ecce9aa&_ss=r&variant=12175927214124
Total:   $209.40 Hot Swap - Plate Mount Switch & Stabs - RGB

 

Keep in mind that depending on your region there is shipping cost from Drop, as well as any items from KBDFans or KpRepublic as they ship from China.

 

 

At $120 the Drop Carina feels like good value, depending on what your definition of value is (more on this in the conclusion). And the Drop Skylight series keycaps are a nice touch for a reasonable price as well. I added a white coiled cable to another order but the Carina comes with a plain white cable, so purchasing one is not required.

 

My switch of choice was something linear, and heavy. Kailh Box Heavy Dark Yellows it is! These switches are also phenomenal value, and are RGB friendly. 
 


 

My thoughts on the Drop Carina:

 

The Carina has been in my hands for a few months now. I took delivery on January 7th 2021, and I had it assembled and ready the next day! The key features for me being:

  • Hot swap sockets for both 3 & 5-pin switches
  • RGB to the max, per key lighting and tasteful under glow
  • Well designed and made acrylic casing
  • USB-C with dual ports on both left and right, plus included white cable
  • Easy assembly and instructions

 

The PCB brings in the entire aesthetic feel with a gloss white finish, and while this goes mostly unseen, a nice touch, especially if you happen to be staring at the under glow RGB. Speaking of under glow, there is good spacing between LEDs, you get a nice full color spectrum, and great light coverage. 

Spoiler

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The labeled PCB makes it all that easier for a first-time builder. A nice touch!

 

The acrylic holds up, this has been well designed and the lighting does an excellent job shining evenly throughout the entire case. For the price I am pleased as I think for many, this would be one of the main features to pick this over other options. It has solid large rubber feet and a nice angled design.

Spoiler

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The included stabs are boring old clip-ins, I was expecting this, but it would be easy enough to implement a superior screw in design, ultimately for this price range not a deal breaker by any means.

 

I went for the default Aluminum backplate, you can opt for Brass or Copper, but these come at an additional cost of $30 & $40 respectively, making the overall price less competitive.

 


 

Pictures:

 

As this is a hot swap board and a more compact layout it was a quick assembly process. For more thorough details on assembly check out my past review of the OLKB Preonic and upcoming KBD67Lite.

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Mildly triggered that there is no blue 'Forward Slash' keycap included in the Drop Skylight keycap set... Oh well.

 

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This is where the white PCB is noticeable as it blends in, any other color would be very noticeable.

 

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Type Test:

 

My switch of choice was the Kailh Box Heavy Dark Yellow (linear), un-lubed, stabs lubed with TriboSys 3204.

Spoiler

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     * Amplified audio by 10db * (Audio recorded with a Blue Snowball Mic, at approximately 15cm from the keyboard)

 

 

Worth mentioning, box switches, f#cking amazing, the stability these add to the feeling of the keys is massively noticeable. One of those things that you won’t notice until you try and have hands on experience, so this is something that I highly recommend everyone tries.

 

Which has me thinking, stem switch on Zealios?

 


 

Conclusion:

 

Overall I like the board and the features, it delivers on all fronts and other than some nitpicking on the choice of stabs, hence I have no real complaints. At least none that prevent me from recommending it.

 

For those looking at a budget custom mechanical 60% hot-swap boards, this would likely top that list. However, this segment is growing, and there is stiff competition, at the time of this review I think the biggest competitor is the KBD67Lite, a 65% layout (more keys) for $10 less, at $110usd (shipping not included), it comes in and out of stock with a wireless version also available. 


For that price the KBD67Lite has very similar features, per key RGB, an ABS case with a polycarbonate back plate, hot-swap sockets, it even address my complaints with the Carina, screw in stabs included, additionally a nice carry case. Case and backplate construction is somewhat sacrificed vs the Carina, but you get a few other features in a better layout, so when looking to buy these are options to weigh. When I ordered the Carina the 67Lite was not an option, but now it is, and I have since purchased one.


Another big competitor is the new GMMK Pro, mine has just arrived 2 days ago and I am in the process of assembly and testing, it comes in at a slightly higher price of $170usd, but the extra $50 is going to good use. You get a much more solid construction, per key RGB and 5-pin hot swap sockets remain, with the addition of a better 75% layout, and a highly coveted rotary knob. My review of that is coming soon as well, but my initial impressions are very good. It is hard not to justify the extra $50 for a more usable layout that lacks no features.

 

So while the Carina is an aesthetically pleasing board, I find that my mind now goes to other options. Within the time frame of ordering the Carina, to receiving it, a lot of new competition is now purchasable. 


Personally this is not my daily use board, as said earlier I have a hard time scraping by with anything less than a 65% layout. But otherwise, I have no reason not to recommend this board, if you have weighed your alternative options.

Drop has done a great job here, but now faces more competition than ever before.

 

 

Reviews on the KBD67Lite and GMMK Pro are soon to follow.
 

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