Ducky One 2 SF Review
Over the past few years the people at Ducky have really been making a name for themselves. Various professional gamers and streamers have a Ducky board on their desk these days, and as a consequence of that the brand has been getting more and more exposure in the mainstream scene. Ducky have long been known in the enthusiast circles for making excellent mechanical keyboards (check out our One 2 Mini review here) so whenever they release a new product the expectations are, to say the least, pretty darn high.
Our reviewer had the opportunity to spend some time with their newest product, the One 2 SF, to see if it's worth your while. Read on to find out!
"If you asked me to submit specs for a custom built keyboard this One 2 SF would come awfully close, so my expectations for this one are high."Our product reviewer
Ducky One 2 SF - First Impressions
When you first open the box of the One 2 SF (SF stands for Sixty-Five, but more on that later) you immediately notice how compact it is. The bezels on this keyboard are super thin on all sides, and there's (almost) no unused space on the actual top of the board; nearly every available inch is covered in keys. This gives the keyboard a very sleek look, and if you replace the pink enter keycap with a regular black keycap (that comes included, by the way) the board can easily be used in an office setting without turning any heads.
Speaking of turning heads: I know that there's a little 'packaging' section in this review but since this is about first impressions I felt like I had to mention the sheer amount of extras that you get with this keyboard. Inside the box you'll find the detachable USB-C cable and the usual documentation, but it doesn't end there. You get a Ducky-branded keycap puller, the regular black enter keycap that I mentioned before, a special Year of the Pig spacebar, and then six additional keycaps to allow you to customize your board a bit. I know this doesn't do anything for performance and I also know that this won't be for everyone, but I love it when brands include a lot of extras with their products, and it's cool that you get all these extras to give your board a bit more flair if you're into that kind of thing.
The housing of the One 2 SF is made entirely out of plastic, but it all honestly feels pretty sturdy. I couldn't get it to flex by applying (a reasonable amount of) pressure to either side so as far as that's concerned there's no need to worry.
The board and keycaps have a matte finish on them which is great for people who don't like fingerprints on their keyboards, and the caps themselves look and feel great. The font is neutral and clearly legible, though I do have to say that some of the symbols on the number row don't allow the backlight to come through equally everywhere. That's a bit of a nitpick, obviously, but I thought I'd mention it.
The RGB backlighting looks great (in part thanks to the white backplate) but it isn't the absolute brightest on the market or anything. That said: I can't imagine that any RGB fanatics will be disappointed here; it all looks good and especially the wave modes can be mesmerizing at times.
As mentioned the Ducky One 2 SF comes with a vast amount of extras, and that's much appreciated. I always love it when keyboard manufacturers include a keycap puller with their keyboards (since every keyboard will need to be cleaned after a while) but Ducky went the extra mile here by including a whole stack of extra keycaps.
In the box you're also getting a plastic cover for the keyboard. Most people will probably throw that away instantly or leave it in the box, but as someone who absolutely hates getting dust or hairs in their keyboard I always welcome these plastic covers so that I can pop them on whenever I'm going to be away from my PC for a day or more.
The box itself also looks pretty nice: it lacks any crazy marketing babble (it just lists the dimensions, weight, and switches) and on the back you'll find a rather amusing warning label that tells you not to pour liquids or beverages into the keyboard. The more you know.
Size & Dimensions
Features and build
As I said earlier the SF in the name stands for 'Sixty-Five' and that refers to the size of the keyboard. This is a new size that's somewhere in between a TKL and 60% board; this SF has four arrow keys, along with a delete, page up, and page down key.
As far as I'm concerned this is the perfect keyboard size. I personally don't need a numpad or a row of function keys on my keyboards and since I play my games at a very low sensitivity I like my planks to be as compact as possible, but I do use the arrow keys for productivity. If you're like me and you miss the arrow keys when using a 60% board but you find a regular TKL to have a bit too many keys you don't use anyway then this will be a godsent gift.
I do feel like they could've added an extra button just above the right arrow key, though. As it stands there's a bit of blank space there, and while it doesn't bother me personally I know that there will be people who will find this a bit annoying. I'm merely talking about aesthetics here, but still. I will say that I like the slight gap between the Del, PgUp, and PgDn key; some people will also find this bothersome, but when I'm typing/working I sometimes sort of 'orient myself' by the gap on the right of the enter key to find it blindly, and if these keys had been right next to it that wouldn't have been possible. These things are all personal, I realize that, but for the sake of being complete I felt like mentioning it.
On the bottom of the One 2 SF you've got two pairs of adjustment feet so that you can angle the board in three different ways, and you'll also find four DIP switches which can be used to toggle Windows lock, switch from NKRO to 6KRO, and so on. There's also full macro support but you do have to do it all on the board itself since there's no software available yet.
Representatives of Ducky have told me that they're working hard on software for these kinds of things so expect that to come in the future, but for now you'll have to make do with keyboard shortcuts and the manual. This is fine for smaller operations (such as changing the RGB lighting) but if you want to do some more advanced things there'll be a bit of a learning curve involved if you don't have a lot of experience on this front.
The detachable USB-C cable completes the compact and portable vibe of this keyboard. A detachable cable is close to a 'must' on smaller form factor keyboards (definitely if they're designed to be compact 'performance boards') if you're asking me, and while the included rubber cable isn't the highest quality I've ever seen I don't really care about the quality of a keyboard cable too much, and it's decently bendy and flexible so I don't have any worries about durability. Still, a more premium looking and feeling cable would have completed it here since right now the cable falls is a few tiers below most other aspects of this product.
Performance and every day use
Note: the board that I've been testing has Cherry MX Brown switches, but this board is also available with Black, Blue, Silver, Red, or Silent Red switches.
If you use this keyboard with the regular black keycaps then there aren't a lot of extra features or 'bling bling' elements to be found so it'll have to shine on other fronts, and that it does. The gaming (and typing, naturally) experience is absolutely sublime. I personally rarely encounter keyboards that are straight up bad to type and game on, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any differences in quality, even between boards that use the same switches.
The One 2 SF is definitely way up there when it comes to typing quality. It's perhaps the best keyboard I've ever used on this front, and while I will freely admit that I'm not a hardcore keyboard aficionado (and as such I'm not as sensitive to the feeling of switches and so on as some other people out there) I can say that I have experience with a large range of mechanical keyboards, so make of that what you will.
To be completely fair this unit does have Cherry MX Browns in it and those are still my favorite switches all things considered so that will probably also have an effect on how much I like the One 2 SF, but aside from that it's also just really nicely done. There's little to no wobble on the keys and the Cherry style stabilizers feel and sound great straight out of the box. There's a (rudimentary) sound clip to the right in case you want to judge the sound for yourself.
Obviously this is a gaming website and I haven't yet talked about the gaming performance, but as you can imagine it's absolutely great. Whether you're hopping around dropping aces in CS:GO or casually exploring the oceans of Assassin's Creed Odyssey; the One 2 SF has your back. I never had any registering issues at all, and with the full N-Key Rollover that this keyboard offers I don't imagine that this will change.
What can be a bit of a hindrance (depending on how familiar you are with keyboards) is the fact that the extra functions of the keys are printed on the front side of the keycaps as opposed to on the top. That makes for a much cleaner look, but it can make it difficult to find the extra functions if you're gaming in the dark and you want to quickly press your highlight record button or whatever. It's a minor gripe and it's a problem that you get used to after a while, but if you're someone who's constantly using macros and the likes it's something to note.
Personally I'd rather have the switches sit directly atop the backplate though. Here the plate is recessed in the housing and that makes it harder to keep the thing free of dust, hair, and other things that don't belong in a keyboard. This is obviously something personal and a design choice like any other, so I'm fully aware that this is nano level nitpicking.
Conclusion & Recommendation
For me this is the gaming keyboard of the year so far. It's a compact and portable keyboard with an absolutely fantastic gaming and typing experience, and it's easy to tell how Ducky really cares about their products. From all the physical extras that are included to fun (and useless, admittedly) additions such as the ability to play Minesweeper on the board with the RGB lights; it's obvious that these people love mechanical keyboards. Everything about it just feels like quality, and whereas this obviously isn't the dream keyboard for people who like to have a whole bunch of extra knobs and buttons it does deliver a premium typing and gaming experience, and that is what matters most if you ask me.
It's not faultless: the cable could feel a bit more premium, and perhaps a metal housing or top plate could also lift the overall feeling of the board as a top shelf product. Some people will find themselves annoyed by the empty space above the arrow keys which breaks with the 'the entire keyboard is made out of keys' aesthetic but those really are minor points of improvement. This is objectively a great keyboard, both for gaming and productivity, and I think that this 65% size is an absolutely perfect compromise between 60% and TKL.
For me personally this comes close to being my dream keyboard, both for gaming and productivity, so I'll be happy to let it stay on my desk even after I've completed my review on it. Other keyboards will have to be coming in hot to permanently replace this one.
I'd also say that customization software can improve the user experience of this product, but Ducky said they are working on that, so I will update this review accordingly.