The New Poker II Review
By: Henz Llarves | Date Posted: May 25, 2022
I remember my first Poker II, I hated it. It wasn’t because of the Poker II, it was due to the fact that I wanted to try out a switch I hadn’t tested before. The coveted “cloud of boobs” switch. The linear Cherry MX red switch.
The Poker II was actually amazing and I fell in love with its compact, 60%, form factor. It was just unfortunate that my compatibility with Cherry red switches made it a bad experience for me.
Times have changed and now I have a couple of Pokers sitting on my desk, ready to type on them.
|Cherry MX switches
|Compact 60% form factor
|No backlight option
|Having to use fn combination may not work for all
|Laser-etched PBT keycaps
|Side printed secondaries
|QWERTY, Dvorak, Colmak, & Workman pre-programmed
|3 programmable layers
|6 DIP switches
|2 detachable right-angle USB Type-C cables
|6 colorful modifiers
|Mac and Linux compatible
|Standard bottom row
Included in the box are a keycap puller, RGB modifiers, and 2 right-angle USB-C cables.
New Poker II vs the Poker II
You may be wondering, what’s new about the New Poker II vs the Poker II?
The New Poker II has all the makings of the iconic Poker II like; Cherry MX switches, PBT keycaps, detachable cable, programming layers, DIP switches, and a plastic case.
Cherry MX switches are as good as I expected but I do still prefer Gateron switches. Typing on them, I can feel their motion is smoother than Cherry MX.
Underneath the keyboard is a USB Type-C port and slots to seat the cable and cable channeling. Cable channeling allows the cable to feed directly out the back or to either side of the keyboard.
With the USB-C port underneath, not on the back, current aftermarket 60% of cases are no longer available for swapping. This may prove to be a problem for those of you wanting a swap case, however, in time I suspect this will change.
Then there are the other improvements like six DIP switches, up from four. And two more programmable layers for a total of three.
Those of you who don’t use the conventional QWERTY layout can rejoice. The New Poker II has you covered with an additional 2 DIP switches. No longer will you have to program layers to cater to your preferred keyboard layout. Enabling a DIP switch combination gives access to Dvorak, Colemak, Workman, and QWERTY.
Macro programming has also been improved. Doubling the number of keystrokes available not only aids gamers or programmers but also paves the way for shortcuts to launch applications. If you want to run an application simply program a macro press the windows key, type the application name, and hit enter.
What I like about the New Poker II
Great build quality and a strong set of features are synonymous with the New Poker II. There are plenty of additions to the previous Poker II that I really like.
Textured PBT keycaps are what I prefer over the Pok3r’s ABS keycaps. They feel great to type on and sound even better. Laser-etching is used for the legends which are also printed on the side. Add to that the tidy, non-gamer-looking font and the New Poker II is a good-looking keyboard.
Comparing the thickness to other keycaps the New Poker II’s caps are thinner than aftermarket caps. The profile (contoured shape) used for the keycaps is OEM. OEM keycaps sit higher than my preferred Cherry-profiled keycaps, so it took a little adjusting but wasn’t a problem.
While the New Poker II‘s stock PBT is thinner than the rest but I wouldn’t consider it thin.
As USB-C gains traction, the need for more USB-C cables grows. Personally, I’m a fan as most of my devices are now switching to USB-C, so the more cables the better. The inclusion of 2 right-angle USB-C cables is great news for me. It should be known that although these cables do connect and charge my other devices, they’re lacking the specific chip that enables fast charging.
Note: The cable can go out the back or out either side
I think cable channeling should feature on every keyboard. Sometimes devices have their cables fed out in inconvenient ways but cable channeling allows for the cable to exit out the most convenient spot for you! It’s a small bonus that takes steps to make cable management a thing of the past.
Is the New Poker II better than the Pok3r?
iKBC New Poker II (top) and heavily modified Vortex Pok3r (bottom)
Here’s a look at the features of both keyboards:
|New Poker II
|Backlit options available
|Double-shot ABS keycaps
|6 DIP switches
|4 DIP switches
iKBC’s New Poker II is cheaper than the Pok3r and has a few more updated features. Extra DIP switches offering greater key customization, 28 keystroke macro capability, USB-C connection, and cable channeling are all features of the New Poker II.
The Pok3r is also missing the keycap puller, RGB modifiers, and PBT keycaps with laser-etched legends.
Features of the Pok3r include the option for backlighting and even RGB models. The keycaps may not be PBT but they are double-shot ABS. This means the wear on the keycaps will be uniform as opposed to the legends rubbing off over time. Non-backlit Pok3r models come with similar PBT keycaps to the New Poker II
However, the real difference is the inclusion of the aluminium case whereas the New Poker II’s case is plastic. Aluminium cases are expensive and heavy. They feel better than plastic and have a sense of rigid stability about them. They also add to the cost of the keyboard by a significant amount.
With the aluminium case comes the floating keycap design. This comes down to personal preference. I prefer a floating key design as I have a few artisans that come off easily and allow me to fidget.
This doesn’t mean that the New Poker II is lacking in quality, in fact, besides the case, it’s superior in offerings to the Pok3r. There are newer and improved features and the build quality is still exceptional. The weight behind the New Poker II is comparable although a bit lighter than the Pok3r. Price-wise, there’s also quite a gap between the two keyboards.
Pok3r vs New Poker II summary
For $20 USD more you get a floating keycap design and an aluminium case. Increase that amount to $30 and you get RGB LEDs.
The trade-off is that you lose portability, USB-C connection cable channeling, colorful modifiers, keycap puller, pre-programmed keyboard layouts, and better keycaps.
With all the makings of the previous Poker II and the more recent Pok3r, the New Poker II is a great all-around keyboard. I’ve had the New Poker II for a week and I’ve used it for both work and gaming. I’ve typed roughly seven thousand words on it, I’ve swapped out the keycaps, and even taken it to meet-ups.
This is a keyboard that will fit in at an office but also won’t fail you when it’s time to make those clutch gaming plays. It won’t help you in the dark unless you have a soldering iron and a willingness to solder in some LEDs, however.
For those of you considering a 60% keyboard, this would be the one to go for. When compared to the Pok3r you get quite a lot more features and accessories. It is missing out on the nice aluminium case but you do get more portability from a lighter keyboard albeit a sturdy well built keyboard. And, that’s also if you can justify the price difference for the Pok3r.
Looking for a replacement keyboard or looking to get your first mechanical keyboard? The New Poker II won’t let you down. It’s a great first mechanical keyboard with a strong set of features at an affordable price. And, it’s an excellent 60% keyboard that’s quite a bit cheaper than its competitors.
Would I swap the New Poker II for my Pok3r?
I have seriously considered it. If I didn’t have RGB LEDs then it would be a very real possibility. However, over time I’ve come to appreciate my Pok3r more than the New Poker II. The aluminium case is a significant enough improvement that I’m really happy to keep it as my daily driver.