sk 161 best linux tkl mechanical keyboard

EPOMAKER SKYLOONG SK61 best Linux compatible 60% TKL mechanical keyboard

SK 61 60% TKL Quick info for Linux users

Can I boot into the BIOS with the SK 61 TKL mechanical keyboard?
Yes. On a Dell computer, the function key to boot into Bios-mode is F12. To do so on a Skyloong SK 61 60% keyboard, simply hold down the FN and + keys.

How do I navigate the BIOS settings without arrow keys?
Simple. The FN plus Alt, Menu, Ctrl and ? keys act as arrow keys as described in the info sheet. I have tested this on a Dell computer and had no issues with navigating the various BIOS settings.

Is the SK 61 suitable for day-to-day Linux use?
If space is an issue because of text books or a drawing tablet then a small TKL keyboard is a great solution. And yes, it is perfectly fine to use because every key which the 104-key keyboards have has a shortcut. The info sheet includes a chart which lists all of them.

Here is the rest of my review.
First things first, I am not a gamer so my keyboard use is for typing only. By typing, I mean web design and programming. For several years, I’ve used RAZER keyboards because they have a nice feel but getting the lighting set up was a hustle. I am also not a fan of how fast the included armrest wares out so come Christmas 2021, I’ve started to look at something better.

Just a few days ago, Amazon delivered my top choice which i an SK 61 by EPOMAKER SKYLOONG. I was hesitant to go with a small 60% keyboard because I use the arrow keys a lot and as every Linux user knows, the tilde ~ key is essential as well. Luckily, the Skylong SK 61 does not disappoint and if space is a consideration then its tiny footprint is hard to beat.

Now I can finally have my WACOM tablet right beside the mouse and still have enough room to move freely. I absolutely love this keyboard. It’s a joy to type on and feels great even without an armrest. The best part is that it took no time at all to get used to it. After a day or so, I no longer reached for the ENTER key as I used to do and since I do most of my typing on this keyboard, I assume that switching between a regular sized 104-key keyboard and the SK 61 won’t cause much of an issue.

sk 161 best linux tkl mechanical keyboard
Best Linux TKL Mechanical Keyboard SK 61

SK 61 build quality

The EPOMAKER SKYLOONG SK61 build quality is simply fantastic. The keys feel perfect for fast typing and the braided USB C cable, although a bit stiff, is of above average quality as well.

Programming without the arrow keys

As every programmer knows, the arrow keys are a must unless one works mostly in Vim or Visual Studio Vim mode. Vim is good for editing but not having the arrow keys is not a big deal because they are there after all if I need them.

How to access the arrow keys on a 60% TKL keyboard

The EPOMAKER SKYLOONG SK61 design is super practical. When I need to use the arrow keys, I simply press the right-hand FN (function) key with my pinky and while holding it down, use the Alt, Menu, Ctrl and forward slash keys as the arrow keys. After a few hours, this comes so naturally that I don’t even have to think about it at all. If you own two cars and switch between then then you know what I mean.

The included instruction sheet clearly display all of the shortcuts which are available and for me it was instant love. I feel that my typing speed is slightly faster than using my old Razer keyboard and the brown Gateron switches also feel about the same as Razer’s green ones.

No RGB lighting

I work almost all of the time in an dark room and have set up my Razer keyboards to display a uniform dim white light which assists me when I have to perform awkward entries. This keyboard has not RGB lighting and instead uses several effects of which one of them is a blueish kind of back light. The white keys and low-level back light as all I need to work comfortably and had I known that this is not a big deal than I would have switched to this brand faster.

EPOMAKER SKYLOONG Sk 61 – The best parts

First of all, the design is flawless. Maybe I will add some foam dampening inside the keyboard housing but then again, I am OK with how it sounds. To me, the best part about this specific keyboard is the natural feel when typing on the PBT key caps. I have no plans to install the free software which would allow me to reprogram keys and access additional lighting effects. Speaking of, for Linux users it’s a huge bonus to simply set up a good backlit keyboard effect with just the function and p [ ] \ keys. Again, the included instructions cover all of that nicely.

I would say that the up arrow is perhaps the most important key for a Linux user and pressing the FN + ? key which is how the SK 61 triggers the up arrow key is easy to adapt to.
When programming in VS Codium, I usually use the mouse anyway because once I write a block of code, I usually have to scroll, select, copy and paste stuff all over the place. Still, the missing arrow keys are not an issue. If they were, I’d just buy some full-size keyboard and move on.

Lastly, I truly appreciate having the number keys correctly labeled. For some weird reason, RAZOR places the numbers above the symbols which is weird. Even more so when using brackets which, as any programmer knows, are essential keys. This feature alone is worth switching.

Final verdict

The EPOMAKER SKYLOONG SK 61 TKL mechanical keyboard is my favorite typing device. If it weren’t for Blender, I’d buy a second one for the other workstation right now but Blender makes heavy use of the number keys. Then again, I might just revert to the old days when I used Blender on an iMac. Back then, the missing number pad workaround was no big deal. Luckily, I can try this for a while and if I don’t miss the number keys then I’ll double up. The SK61 keyboard is that good.

I am not an affiliate and this is no paid product review. So if you want to check the Epomaker Skyloong SK 61 on amazon.ca or amazon.com if you are in the US and check out what others are saying about this fantastic little TKL keyboard. If you are a Linux user then think about not having the arrow keys or, not having them without an additional hot key press. I’ve quickly gotten used to it. Btw, I bought the version with the white keys as shown in the photo above. Thank you for reading.

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