Vortex Race 3 Keyboard Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Reviewed Mar 06, 2020 at 07:45 am
Vortex Race 3 Picture
7.6
Gaming
4.5
Mobile/Tablet
7.9
Office
7.2
Programming
3.5
Entertainment / HTPC
Connectivity Wired
Size
TenKeyLess (75%)
Mechanical
Yes

The Vortex Race 3 is a solid overall mechanical keyboard. It's one of the better-built keyboards we've reviewed so far, and it's offered in a wide variety of Cherry MX switches, so you'll be sure to find one that suits your needs. The keys have a linear level design and feel very nice to type on. The typing experience is light with the Brown switches, but the ergonomics of the board aren't the best. It only features one incline setting that can be set by screwing in additional feet. It also has a non-typical layout with a TKL 75% design. It's about the size of most 60% or 65% keyboard but features a few more keys like a TKL keyboard. This enthusiast keyboard also comes with colored keycaps for a more unique style.

Our Verdict

7.6 Gaming

The Vortex Race 3 is good for gaming. Its keys are quick to actuate, and it feels very responsive. It's also one of the better-built keyboards we've seen so far, so it should last you a while. However, this version lacks backlighting, although there's one with RGB lighting.

Pros
  • Amazing metal build quality.
  • Excellent typing quality.
  • Low latency.
  • Macro-programmable keys.
Cons
  • No dedicated software with interface.
  • No backlighting.
4.5 Mobile/Tablet

The Vortex Race 3 is a wired-only keyboard that isn't designed to work with mobile smart devices.

7.9 Office

The Vortex Race 3 is a good keyboard for the office. The model we tested has Cherry MX Brown switches, which offer an excellent typing quality with great tactile feedback. It's also quiet enough to use in an open-office environment, but going with clicky switches might not be. On the upside, it's a very well-built keyboard that should last you for years, and it's also fully compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, which makes it very versatile.

Pros
  • Amazing metal build quality.
  • Excellent typing quality.
  • Fully compatible with Windows and macOS.
Cons
  • No dedicated software with interface.
7.2 Programming

The Vortex Race 3 is a decent keyboard for programmers. It has an excellent typing quality and is available with many different Cherry MX switches, so you should find one that suits your needs. However, it doesn't have the best ergonomics, although the keycaps have a linear level design which is quite comfortable to type on. Programmers should also appreciate the ability to program every key and to create three additional layers.

Pros
  • Amazing metal build quality.
  • Excellent typing quality.
  • Macro-programmable keys.
Cons
  • No dedicated software with interface.
  • No backlighting.
  • Wired-only.
3.5 Entertainment / HTPC

The Vortex Race 3 is bad for use with a home theater PC. It's a wired-only keyboard with no trackpad, so you need to run a cable from the couch to the computer and a separate mouse for navigation. Although our unit doesn't have backlighting, you can get one that does.

Pros
  • Amazing metal build quality.
  • Excellent typing quality.
Cons
  • No dedicated software with interface.
  • No backlighting.
  • No trackpad.
  • Wired-only.
  • 7.6 Gaming
  • 4.5 Mobile/Tablet
  • 7.9 Office
  • 7.2 Programming
  • 3.5 Entertainment / HTPC
  1. Updated Feb 04, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  2. Updated Mar 06, 2020: Review published.
  3. Updated Mar 03, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Height
1.1" (2.8 cm)
Width 12.5" (31.8 cm)
Depth
4.6" (11.6 cm)
Depth With Wrist Rest
N/A
Weight
1.76 lbs (0.800 kg)

The Vortex Race 3 is a very compact keyboard. Although it's described as a TKL 75%, its dimensions are closer to a compact design like the Ducky One 2 Mini V1 or the Obinslab Anne Pro 2.

9.0
Design
Build Quality
Keycap Material PBT

The Vortex Race 3's build quality is excellent. The frame is entirely made out of metal. It feels solid and doesn't flex at all. It features Dye Sub PBT keycaps that feel durable, and the keys themselves are very stable, although the spacebar has a small amount of rattle. The incline feet are screwed in and feel sturdy, but the rubber pads feel a bit cheaper and might peel off over time.

6.5
Design
Ergonomics
Board Design
Straight
Minimum Incline
Medium Incline
N/A
Maximum Incline
Wrist Rest No

The ergonomics are mediocre. This board has a straight design and usually lays flat. However, it comes with a set of feet, which will give you a small incline. They need to be screwed in, though, so it's not as easy to set or take off as typical folding keyboard feet. Some people might need a wrist rest, but unfortunately, it doesn't come with one.

0
Design
Backlighting
Backlighting No
Color
No Backlighting
Individually Backlit Keys
No
Color Mixing
No Backlighting
Effects
No
Programmable
No

The Vortex Race 3 doesn't have backlighting, although there's a variant that supports full RGB lighting.

Design
Cable & Connector
Detachable
Yes (Wired Only Keyboard)
Length 4.9 ft (1.5 m)
Connector (Keyboard side)
Micro USB

The included micro-USB cable is detachable, which is nice. The cable has white markings and gives off cheap overall vibes, but on the upside, it's very easy to replace if you want to modify the style of your keyboard.

0
Design
Wireless Versatility
Bluetooth
No
Bluetooth Multi-Device Pairing
No
Proprietary Receiver
No
Battery Type
No Batteries

The Vortex Race 3 is wired-only and can't be used wirelessly.

Design
Extra Features
Media Keys
Hot Keys
Macro Programmable Keys
All
Trackpad / Trackball No
Wheel No
USB Passthrough
No
Numpad No
Windows Key Lock
Yes
Lock Indicator No Indicator

Every feature available on this keyboard is accessible through the board itself. All media keys are hotkeys on the F keys, and you can program macros on all keys as well. The macro recording sequence might be a bit tricky at first, but it works well. You can create three additional layers, and each has a different LED light color, which is situated under the spacebar. You can also activate Game Mode to prevent your Windows key from minimizing your game by pressing Fn+End.

Design
In The Box

  • Vortex Race 3 keyboard
  • Extra colored keycaps
  • Mac Command keycaps
  • Incline keyboard feet
  • Screws
  • Micro-USB to USB-A cable

Typing Experience
Typing Experience
Keystrokes
Key Switches
Cherry MX Brown
Feel
Tactile
Operating Force
51 gf
Actuation Force
38 gf
Pre-Travel
1.9 mm
Total Travel
4.0 mm

The Cherry MX Brown used on this board might feel a bit less tactile than others. Its tactile bump isn't as pronounced as other keyboards we've reviewed like the Ducky One 2 Mini V1. Also, while our unit features Cherry MX Brown switches, this board is also available in a wider variety including Blue, Red, Black, Clear, Silver Speed, and Silent Red. Different switches will result in different keystrokes and typing experience. If you're interested in a TenKeyLess keyboard that's hot-swappable and allows you to change switch types without soldering, check out the Keychron C1.

8.5
Typing Experience
Typing Quality

The typing quality provided by the Vortex Race 3 is excellent. It's very natural to type on once you get used to the linear profile of the keycaps. They also feel very nice, and the tactile feedback is good. All keys are stable, including the spacebar. Overall, typing on this keyboard feels great, and you shouldn't feel fatigue after a while.

Typing Experience
Typing Noise
Noise
Quiet

Typing noise on this keyboard isn't too loud and should be suitable for an open-office environment.

8.2
Typing Experience
Latency
Latency Wired
7.7 ms
Latency Receiver
N/A
Latency Bluetooth
N/A

The Vortex Race 3 has great latency. It isn't as good as keyboards that are designed specifically for gaming, like the Razer Huntsman Mini, but it's good enough for most gamers.

Software and Operating System
5.9
Software and Operating System
Software & Programming
Software Name No Software
Account Required
No Software
Profiles
4
Onboard Memory
Yes
Cloud Sync
No
Macro Programming
Onboard
Ease Of Use
No Software
Software Windows Compatible
No
Software macOS Compatible
No

Although this keyboard doesn't have downloadable software with an interface, you can still customize some things directly on the board itself. All four layers can be saved directly on the board, so your macros will stay if you use the keyboard with another computer.

8.2
Software and Operating System
Keyboard Compatibility
Windows Full
macOS Full
Linux Full
Android No
iOS No
iPadOS No

This keyboard has great compatibility. All keys work on Windows, macOS, and Linux, making it quite versatile. However, since it can't be used wirelessly, it won't be the best option for mobile smart devices.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Vortex Race 3 is available in a lot of different switches. Most of our review should still be valid for all of them, but the overall typing experience should change drastically depending on which switches you go for. You can choose between Cherry MX Brown (which we tested), Red, Blue, Black, Silent Red, Silver Speed, and Clear. There's also a variant of this keyboard that has RGB backlighting. This variant is available with Silent Black switches rather than Clear switches.

Compared To Other Keyboards

The Vortex Race 3 is a mechanical keyboard that stands out for its unique design. It's categorized as a TKL 75% layout, which is about as small and compact as a 60% or 65%, but has a few more keys, similar to a TKL layout. It's available in many different switches, which is great. It's also one of the boards with the best build quality we've tested thanks to its full metal frame. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best keyboards, the best mechanical keyboards, and the best keyboards for writers.

Keychron K2

The Vortex Race 3 and the Keychron K2 are both 75% keyboards with a similar layout, but the Vortex is wired-only while the Keychron is wireless with Bluetooth connectivity. The Keychron is more versatile because you can use it with mobile devices and pair it to multiple devices at once. If you're planning on using it for gaming, though, the Vortex is better because it has lower latency and macro-programmable keys. Also, it has onboard memory to save custom profiles. Both keyboards are available in various switch options, and the Vortex has a variant with backlighting.

Ducky MIYA Pro

The Ducky MIYA Pro and the Vortex Race 3 are both wired mechanical keyboards that are available in various switch options. Even though the Ducky is a compact 65%, it's still wider than the TKL 75% Vortex, which offers more keys. The Vortex has lower latency, making it a better choice for gaming. Our unit doesn't have backlighting, although there's a variant that does. The Ducky has software for customization, which the Vortex lacks, but it's hard to use.

Obinslab Anne Pro 2

The Obinslab Anne Pro 2 and the Vortex Race 3 are quite different. The Vortex is a wired-only 75% keyboard, while the Obinslab is a compact 60% and can be used wired or wirelessly. The Obinslab's wireless connectivity makes it more versatile because it can be used with more types of devices. Also, it has a multi-pairing feature that lets you pair up to four devices simultaneously. The Obinslab is much better for gaming due to its lower latency and software support. Our Vortex unit doesn't have backlighting, but you can a variant that does. Both keyboards provide an excellent typing experience and are available in various switch options.

Keychron K4

The Keychron K4 and the Vortex Race 3 are very different keyboards. The Vortex is a wired-only keyboard and can only be used with desktop operating systems, while the Keychron is a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and has a multi-device pairing feature. Both keyboards can be configured with your preferred type of mechanical switches, and neither of them has software support for customization. However, all keys on the Vortex are macro-programmable using a macro recording sequence on the keyboard. Our Vortex unit doesn't have backlighting, but you can get a variant that does. If you plan on using it for gaming, the Vortex has lower latency.

IBM Model M

The Vortex Race 3 is much better than the IBM Model M. It has a better build quality, each key is macro programmable, and you can save up to four layers of customization directly to the keyboard's on-board memory. However, the Model M offers a better typing experience and it's more comfortable to type on.

Redragon K552-RGB

The Redragon K552-RGB and the Vortex Race 3 are both TenKeyLess mechanical keyboards with significant differences. The Redragon has clicky Outemu Blue switches and full RGB backlighting, which the variant of the Vortex we tested lacks, although there's a variant with RGB lighting available. The Vortex has a non-typical TKL layout that's similar to the size of a 60% keyboard but with several more keys. It also has significantly lower latency, more solid-feeling build quality, and better typing quality. Our version has Cherry MX Brown switches, but it’s also available with a range of other Cherry MX switches, including Red, Blue, Black, Silent Red, Silver Speed, and Clear, as well as Silent Black, specifically available for the RGB variant.

Das Keyboard X50Q

The Das Keyboard X50Q is a slightly better keyboard for professionals than the Vortex Race 3. Its full-size design gives you access to more keys but does take a bit more space on your desk, especially if you use the included wrist rest. On the other hand, the Vortex is better-built thanks to a metal frame, but it doesn't have any backlighting like the Das, although an RGB variant exists. The X50Q also gives you access to 'applets' to show you desired information, which the Vortex can't do.

Ducky One 2 Mini V1

The Ducky One 2 Mini V1 is better than the Vortex Race 3, although mainly because it has backlighting, which the Vortex lacks. The Vortex has better build quality, and it's better for gaming because it has lower latency. Also, even though both of our units are fitted with Cherry MX Brown switches, the Vortex's are lighter and easier to actuate. The Ducky provides a better typing experience. That said, both keyboards are available in a wide variety of switches, so the typing experience depends on which ones you get.

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