James Donkey 619 Review

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Ask me three years ago if a full sized keyboard was the right size for me I’d have said yes. Ask me now and I’ll give you an entirely different answer. That doesn’t mean I don’t like full sized keyboards, it’s just that I’ve learnt that I don’t really need every key on a full sized keyboard.

The James Donkey 619 is a keyboard that is better value for money than most $60 and even $80 keyboards

 Get the James Donkey 619 TKL in Black 

The gamer look is something I can live without but I understand that there’s people seeking this appeal. Not just for gaming the 619 is worthy of daily use especially if your budget tops out at $60USD.

At the asking price for the 619 it’s a very hard keyboard to pass-up even with the way it looks. Alpha and numerical keys can be programmed. It comes in two sizes and two colours. There’s backlighting, floating keycap design, a metal plate but the hidden gem are the Gateron switches.

 Get the James Donkey 619 Full Size in Black or White 

Features

Small breakdown of James Donkey 619 features

Look at all this value

ProsCons
Aluminium alloy plateDoes flex when on desk (explained below)
Yellow ABS chassis-mounted feetUnappealing gamer aesthetic
Floating keycapsKeycap font has noticeable defects
Textured double-shot ABS keycapsYellow feet are a bit over the top
Height adjustableReports of difficulty waking computer (firmware update - details below)
Rubber pads to prevent movement
Key and LED management software
13 backlight settings
Programmable keys
Macro programmable
On-the-fly keyboard changes (details below)
Multimedia keys via Fn combination
NKRO
Standard bottom row
Braided detachable USB
Keycap puller

James Donkey 619 logo on yellow feet - side

Best and biggest in range

Mentioned at the top of this review, I’m no longer a full size keyboard fan. I think the trade off for more desk space is worth the inconvenience of having to use Fn key combinations for things like the arrow keys. It’s been over 2 years since I’ve had a full sized keyboard on my desk but now, with the James Donkey 619, my work space is feeling cramped and cluttered.

That’s not the fault of the James Donkey 619 especially considering it comes in two sizes, full size and tenkeyless – TKL (missing the numpad). It’s a behemoth that’s built like a tank. The aluminium alloy is cold to the touch and the ABS plastic feet have a slick aesthetic to them. There’s slats all over giving the 619 an aerodynamic look. The underside is plastic and hides the two prop-up feet and rubber pads.

Underneath or underside of James Donkey 619

Underneath you can see the movement preventing pads and fold out feet

A black and yellow colour scheme engulfs the 619 from the feet through to the shine through LEDs. I say it’s more of an orange but all in all it mixes well. There is a white variant that also stands out and is quite appealing but is only available on the full size variant. Whether or not you enjoy the look of the 619 is up to your personal preference but it’s hard to say this is a dull keyboard.

 Get the James Donkey 619 TKL in black 

Strong gamer look

But, does a keyboard really need this bright yellow look? Personally I say no. While I am a gamer, I don’t really subscribe to the gamer aesthetic and the James Donkey 619 embodies this appeal wholeheartedly. I do think the colour scheme works but the 619 isn’t appealing to me.

What I do like about the aesthetics of this keyboard is the slightly subdued font and that James Donkey logo. It’s fun and has character. And, it’s apparent that these two concepts were the main considerations when it came to the creation of this keyboard.

 Get the James Donkey 619 Full Size in Black or White 

James Donkey 619 promo shot

What to do with a fun keyboard?

Fun keyboards should be used for fun things and so once connected to my PC, via the detachable braided cable, I fired up a typing test. 82 words per minute. Accurate enough for me, as I switched from Cherry profiling on my Pok3r to OEM profiling on the James Donkey 619.

Keycap profiling is the height and contoured shape unique to each profile. Credit to u/jacobolus

Well, with that out of the way it was time to see how the 619 fairs in a few rounds of competitive Overwatch. Equipped with NKRO and anti-ghosting technology, the 619 is capable of fast pace gaming with lots of simultaneous key presses without dropping keystrokes.

I play between SR 3000 – 3500 and I didn’t have any performance issues using the 619. LED lighting can be adjusted to what type of game you play. So, depending on your choice of game you can toggle which keys illuminate to suit your needs. There’s 5 gaming and 8 additional lighting modes to choose from. The brightness is enough to identify which key you’re after in the dark and on the brightest setting won’t blind you either.

Those of you who like to customise your key placement can do so with the James Donkey software. There’s no installation equipment in the box so I’ve linked the software here (just click the driver image).

James Donkey 619 Software

From backlighting to key progamming, the 619 software offers a reasonable selection of customisation

While a bit flashy with unnecessary noises, the software can control the lighting, create short cuts, program the alpha and numerical keys, and set macros.

In focus side of James Donkey 619 with yellow feet

Like the yellow feet, the James Donkey logo is fun and catches the eye

James Donkey isn’t just physically strong

I prefer Gateron switches over Cherry MX as they’re cheaper and feel smoother. They do wobble slightly more than Cherry MX switches but in daily use you won’t notice it.

Gateron’s switch colours follow that of Cherry MX switches, there’s blue (loud and clicky), brown (bump, no click), and red (no bump, no click, quietest option). Which colour of switch is best is entirely up to your preference. Generally brown is a good starter switch if you’re not willing to get a switch tester.

Get the James Donkey 619 TKL in black 

James Donkey’s keys sit above the plate and aren’t housed in a shell. This is called a floating key design and gives the illusion of the keys floating above the keyboard.

Speaking of the keycaps. I prefer PBT keycaps as they don’t shine over time and have a nicer texture to them but they are expensive. PBT texture feels nicer on my fingers and help prevent slipping. Unfortunately the 619’s keycaps are ABS, however, they also feature a similar texture to PBT keys. This is a nice inclusion.

Light is also able to shine through the keycaps thanks to the double-shot manufacturing process. Also expensive, double-shot keycaps are made with two plastics. One used for the outer casing and the other used for the alphas or lettering. This process means the lettering won’t wear off over time and the plastic will wear uniformly. Secondary functions are printed on however.

 Get the James Donkey 619 Full Size in Black or White 

Numpad of James Donkey 619

Not without its faults

While good value for money, there are certain aspects of build quality that is a little lacking. At a glance the font of the keycaps may look alright but look closer and you’ll see they aren’t as well refined as they should be. Looking at the navigation cluster I can see uneven lines and letters that are larger than others, for example the “Home” key. The font isn’t too gamer-y but nearly the rest of the keyboard is.

Shot of imperfections of keycaps on James Donkey 619

Note the S in “Ins”, the K in “Scrlk, and the M in “Home”

Another aspect of the James Donkey 619’s construction is the under-shell and feet. These are both made of ABS plastic, with the feet being bright yellow and the under-shell black. This plastic shell feels cheap while tapping on it helps to solidify this notion. I’d prefer if the underside was also metal but it’s a trade off needed to keep the price low.

Picking up the James Donkey 619 by the sides and attempting to flex will yield zero results. Put the 619 down on the table and press in the middle and the keyboard bows a little. This flex isn’t noticeable when typing but only when excess pressure is applied at the centre. This won’t damage the 619 and is only a fault if you’re actively looking for one.

I’ve seen reports of people having problems waking Windows with the 619. I didn’t encounter any of these issues with the 619, however, there is a solution should you encounter this problem – a firmware update. It can be installed through the James Donkey software. Launch the software and follow the prompts to choose either the 108 (full size) or 87 (TKL) model you own.

Here’s a link to the software again.

James Donkey 619 with lighting on in blue and green light

Unbeatable value

The Price of the James Donkey 619 is low. It’s low because it comes with features and inclusions that keyboards higher in price don’t even offer. Sure, there’s something to be said about pedigree and build quality but sometimes price speaks louder.

At the time of writing this the James Donkey 619 is on sale for under $60 USD which is a bargain. I did a dummy order for 110 switches, the closest I can get to 104, and the price was $46.25.

This means that at $60 it’s a hard price to beat. I’m so impressed with the value of this keyboard that it’s my pick for best full size mechanical keyboard for under $100. Beating out several contenders at nearly double its price.

 Get the James Donkey 619 TKL in black 

 Get the James Donkey 619 Full Size in Black or White 


James Donkey logo on James Donkey 619

Should you get the James Donkey 619?

If you are put off by the James Donkey 619‘s loud appearance then there are solutions. The side feet can be removed by a hex key to reduce the bright yellow colouring. This will of course remove the ability to prop-up and will also lower the keyboard. Otherwise the 619 may not appeal to you.

Equally if you’re looking for RGB then this isn’t what you’re after. The orange (advertised as yellow) backlight works fine and it’s possible to enjoy the preset lighting modes.

But, if you’re looking to do some gaming then you should get the James Donkey 619. I’ve found the 619 to be reliable and capable in fast paced gaming environments. The NKRO functioned as intended and zero keystrokes were dropped. This keyboard won’t let you down during tense gaming moments.

Even if you’re just looking for a great keyboard for typing consider the 619. I’ve typed over 8,000 words on it and I’ve enjoyed every keystroke. If there’s one thing to be said, I have moved back to blue switches but I did appreciate brown switches. It’s solid, sturdy, cheap, and feature packed. It does things keyboards nearly double the price don’t do and it’s hard to fault.

For the price this is a great keyboard. I find it hard to suggest something better if you don’t really care about the look of the keyboard and mainly care about the functionality.

James Donkey 619 in purple light

Not appealing to you?

Here’s my cheap compact keyboard guide

And this is my cheap TKL keyboard guide

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Last update on 2018-07-22 at 20:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3 Responses to " James Donkey 619 Review "

  1. […] If you’d like to know more, have a look at my review of the James Donkey 619 here […]

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