ARMAGGEDDON MKA-3C “PSYCHFALCON” TKL Mechanical Keyboard Review
Armaggeddon is a gaming peripheral manufacturer that started off under-the-radar, going up against the likes of Razer, in a time when Logitech wasn’t serious about gaming hardware yet and Microsoft was busy doing the blasphemous act of gutting their own PC gaming hardware arm.
They’re much bigger now. Not enough to give Razer or Ducky a run for their money yet, but still enough to have their own booth at IT fairs and such.
With a design inspired by Corsair’s K series (and in turn inspiring a Valore branded “mechanical keyboard”), The MKA-3C is the fifth in a line of rather colorful mechanical keyboards aimed at the budget conscious gaming crowd, and is basically a cut down version of the earlier MKA-5R “Hornet”.
Like its predecessor, it is also “tenkeyless”.
It is currently the only one in the series without macro-able keys, instead having predefined hotkeys as if it were a laptop or media keyboard - down to accessing them with the FN button.
Like the Corsair K series, the MKA series have an exposed tray. Traditional enclosed trays gather anything from dust to skin cells, and cleaning all the\gunk up usually requires pulling all keycaps out with a key pulling tool, then using a brush to sweep the dust puppies out of every corner.
With the switch assemblies in the way, that’s a lot of corners, so having an exposed tray helps a lot.
There is a key puller included, but there’s no need to use it, at all. The complete lack of a traditional tray means users will be able to grip and pull the bottom of the cap and have it come off the switch easily.
Like its predecessor, the MKA-3C uses Kalih mechanical caps, which are licensed versions of the more popular Cherry ones. I wouldn’t worry too much about how this isn’t a Cherry - In my opinion, it certainly looks, feels and quacks like a Ducky with Cherry Blue. In fact, the Kalih assembly is so much like Cherry’s, that Kalihs can take commonly available custom caps meant for Cherry key assemblies.
The one thing Armaggeddon didn’t scrimp on for this model is the keycaps, which are PBT types that keep their color and paint job for much longer than the cheaper ABS ones - which have the tendency of print and paint buffing off after long periods of use.
Armaggeddon seems to have decided on “rule of cool” or “nostalgia” over readability on the etched letters. The font here evokes the kind of things that come out of this stencil set I used all the way back in primary school. To accommodate this style and the consistency required to pull it off, Armaggeddon also took the liberty of reducing the text on feature keys to just 2-3 letters.
Here’s a key, because this notation isn’t standard and will make you do a double take for a day or two:
PrintScr -> PS
Scrolllck -> SL
Pause -> PB (“Pause Button”?)
PgUp -> PU
PgDn -> PD
The nonstandard function key notation isn’t the biggest problem however...
Whoever thought the font on the keycaps was a great idea, I’m sorry to be such a boring adult, but look… you have an 8 and Capital B that I can forgive you for because at least the hole positions make both symbols look different enough.
But on this keyboard is a font where O is rendered as  and 0 is also rendered as , and one is not bigger than the other enough to tell the difference at first glance.
And then there’s a 6 and a capital G which look alike, only the cap G has a longer top.
“Keyboard warriors normally use muscle memory” is not an excuse, nor is “if you don’t like the font, buy your own replacement keycaps”. Don’t use this font. If you insist on using this font as standard, get someone to look through it and change any instances of letters and numbers that look the same!
The good news is that the font size is rather large and the function notations can be easily read even if the keyboard were an arm’s length away, but this can and should still be done with a different font.
The backlighting does its job of making the keyboard readable in a dark room. I still recommend that you play in a well lit environment, regardless. There’s no need to damage your vision more than looking at an LCD monitor for hours.
You can turn up and down the brightness using the FN+Up Arrow and FN+ Down Arrow respectively.
You can cause the keyboard lighting to cycle through 12 hard-wired backlight pulse patterns by pressing FN-F12. None of the effects stand out, aside from OFF (yeah), Always On and Breathing.
None of these effects are documented in the manual, only the FN-F12 combination is. There is no configuration software whatsoever; owners have to cycle through the effects until the desired one is running. This also means that, if you want to turn the backlights off, you may have to press the FN-F12 combination up to 11 times - because FN-F12 does not cycle backwards.
The lighting scheme is also unchangeable. This ain’t no Razer Chroma I’m afraid. To change the color of any LED means replacing the entire Kalih switch. Good luck with that - don’t like rainbow layouts? Bear with it or get another keyboard; usually quite a bit more has to be paid for full backlight software customization.
The above image was the result of me doing a rudimentary test, for rollover limitation with a set combination of keys - that I attempt to press 5 times each. The results shown here have been abridged for brevity, so only the last one is left - because I’m pretty sure nobody would want to read all 5 attempts.
Yes, I pitted the MKA-3C against an out of production, normally more expensive Sidewinder X4, and a Ducky Mini 2.0, which is 3 times more expensive. I have good reason to be particular enough to do such an imbalanced thing. No macros out of the box, very dependant on rollover, remember?
From rudimentary testing, the MKA-3C does not have an “infinite” rollover capability, because we get what we pay for. That being said, the results have 3 interesting points:
While not truly supporting N-key rollover capability, the MKA-3C *can do N-key rollover as long as all keys are in the SAME row*.
However, if the key combination involves keys from 2 separate rows, the 4th key onwards will not respond reliably.
The MKA-3C surprisingly passes 10 key tests on multiple levels despite (2).
It’s possible that the 4+ rollover flaw in this keyboard could be the result of a firmware defect, as opposed to a true hardware limitation. Too bad the MKA-3C isn’t one of the keyboards with upgradeable firmware, so this will be something owners will have to live with.
Even so, already the MKA-3C performs way better than a laptop membrane keyboard, and matches or beats out a lot of the models that tout “anti-ghosting” on the packaging. It’s something that the inclusion of macro functionality can’t substitute.
In conclusion, what you basically get for all of $59 (from Challenger) is a product that is no frills in terms of software customisation, yet has some pretty good gaming chops for its price. I can’t speak for how durable it is since testing durability takes months, or even years - but Armaggeddon seems confident enough to promise 2 years of limited support on the packaging.
Worth switching away from dime-a-dozen membranes or so-called “gaming keyboards”, or worse - membranes masquerading as mechanicals by the sheer gall of having a Cherry keycap mount?
I say if anyone hasn’t already become a convert from membranes to mechanicals, this is worth a try.
And, if you happen to find it on sale, all the better.
This keyboard is for:
Anyone who wants to try out a mechanical keyboard, for gaming or otherwise.
Anyone who wants a keycap-customisable, yet functional keyboard, on the cheap.
Anyone who needs a secondary keyboard that doesn’t compromise too much.
Anyone who already has a keyboard with confirmed 4+key rollover capability
Anyone with a similar product that has software customisation tools.
Possibly the cheapest mechanical keyboard you can get outside of scoring ancient IBM tanks
Driverless installation: plug and play
Replaceable keycaps - compatible with the most plentiful third party type.
Has good rollover for its price, despite not being properly 6+ rollover capable.
Easier to keep clean due to construction. I’m not kidding.
Even the plastic parts feel reinforced.
Ye gads the font
Can’t customise lighting outside of fixed effects
No macro capability out of box
Some media-enabled, “gaming clustered” keyboards are cheaper.