The pre-order for the Ducky One 3 mechanical keyboard started in November 2021, just in time for the unveiling. After that, it took quite a while until the keyboard was available in stores at all. Now, about one and a half years later, we can put our hands on the keyboard ourselves and are left with an extremely positive impression. We’ll clarify why in our Ducky One 3 review.
|Key switch type||Cherry MX Silent Red|
|Switch types||Cherry MX Red / Blue / Brown / Clear / Silent (Red) / Speed Silver|
|Switch interchangeable||yes (Hot Swap)|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||450 mm x 40 mm x 140 mm|
|Cable connection||USB Type-C|
|Rollover technology||N-Key Rollover|
|Key Caps||PBT Double-Shot|
|Operating Modes||Typing; Gaming|
|Features||Replaceable keycaps; quiet dampening; keycaps and tools included|
|Price||€ 209.90 *|
Ducky One 3 review: scope of delivery, design and workmanship
- Lush scope of delivery with additional tools and keycaps
- High-quality, fabric-covered cable
With a price of around 200 euros, the Ducky One 3 is truly no bargain. On the other hand, the keyboard is thus within the range of what other manufacturers also call for high-quality mechanical keyboards.
It is already clear when unpacking the keyboard that the Taiwanese manufacturer has not skimped on accessories. In addition to the full-size keyboard itself – in our case in the color variant “Black/White”, but also available in many other eye-catching designs on request – you will find a whole lot of accessories in the scope of delivery, which already indicates the keyboard’s feature set.
In addition to a 1.8 meter long, fabric-covered USB-A to USB-C cable, which is necessary for operation, Ducky includes a keycap puller (the tool for removing the keycaps), a switch puller (for removing the mechanical switches), a set of additional keycaps (In the color purple and black), as well as the obligatory manual and two stickers.
Those who didn’t know before will now notice: both the keycaps and the mechanical switches of the keyboard can be replaced. Thus, the Ducky One 3 consistently goes the way towards custom keyboards and offers an excellent basis, as we will see in a moment.
Design and workmanship convince (almost) all along the line
- Comparatively heavy; sturdily built
- Simple or eye-catching design depending on the model
- High-quality double-shot PBT keycaps
Our test model of the Ducky One 3 comes in a full-size layout and brings it to dimensions of 450 mm x 40 mm x 140 mm (width x height x depth), as well as a hefty weight of around 1.125 kilograms. Alternatively, the keyboard is also available as a TKL version or as a very compact “mini”, which additionally does without arrow and F keys.
The keyboard’s design is based on a black surface and white underside, while the trapezoidal sides, which become flatter towards the bottom, are set off in glossy silver. The space bar, which is adorned with a tiger next to the manufacturer’s logo, is particularly striking in our test model.
The Ducky One 3 is made of plastic and aluminum, so it looks correspondingly robust and high-quality. We also like the fact that the anodized surface repels fingerprints very well and thus doesn’t look worn out quickly.
The manufacturer’s logo and inscription can be found on the right edge of the back. It gets more interesting on the underside. Here, the USB-C cable is placed in a central indentation, from which the cable can either be routed straight or to one of the two sides.
Four rubberized strips also ensure that the keyboard does not slip on smooth surfaces. In addition, there are two feet that allow the One 3 to be placed in three different angles (completely flat, medium-high and high) – depending on which option you prefer.
The built-in keycaps are also more than convincing. Ducky uses high-quality PBT keycaps, which are manufactured according to the double-shot method and thus should not wear out even after long use.
In addition, the keycaps have a pleasantly grippy feel, which actually makes replacing them unnecessary, although it is of course possible. The only point of criticism regarding the workmanship is the not quite clean lettering of the keys, which is especially noticeable with longer texts like the “press”, “enter” or “pause” keys – here the customizable RGB lighting doesn’t shine through the lettering equally well everywhere.
RGB lighting and settings
- Customizable RGB lighting
- Button illumination not fully successful
- No software to adjust
Of course, the Ducky One 3 has backlit buttons. However, setting as well as switching between the various effects is done using an FN key combination, just like programming macros and more, for example.
Apart from the already mentioned, somewhat unclean illumination, there is nothing to complain about in terms of RGB lighting. You can choose from several effects, and the WASD or arrow keys can also be illuminated.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer does without any accompanying software. Just how saving macros works is not even described in the manual.“For details, take a look at the online manual,” you can read there – and it can be found somewhat hidden on the manufacturer’s website.
Due to the lack of software, the Ducky One 3 is only conditionally suitable for those who like to assign keys individually or expect extensive macro and remapping functionalities. These are better off with, for example, a Corsair K70 RGB Pro Mini (our review) or SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL (our review) along with powerful accompanying software. However, the Ducky One 3 is superior to them in terms of typing feel.
Practical and writing test: What’s behind the Quack Mechanics?
- First-class writing feel
- Interchangeable switches for customized feel
- Precise and fast release
The typing feel of a mechanical keyboard is of course essentially related to the installed switches. Here, the Ducky One 3 in the test is extremely varied, because on the one hand, you already have the choice between different switches from the manufacturer Cherry MX before the purchase.
In addition to the linear red and Silent Red (our test model) switches, you also have the tactile brown, clicky blue, MX Clear and MX Speed Silver to choose from. What’s also nice is that the keyboard’s switches are hot-swappable and can be easily replaced with the included switch puller.
So you can change not only the keycaps, but the whole switches and combine them freely if you want. White caps and brown switches here, colorful caps and blue switches there – or whatever. There aren’t more options in the field of mechanical keyboards, which puts the One 3 in an excellent position. The replacement is also very easy with the two included tools.
As for our test model with Cherry MX Silent Red switches, it scores with an excellent typing feel. The travel is 3.7 mm, which is a bit shorter than the normal red switches, and the signal point is also a bit lower, which makes the switches an exciting option, especially for gaming.
In any case, I find the typing feel very pleasant, and that’s despite the fact that I’m usually not a fan of linear switches and mostly prefer the brown tactile switches that are actually installed in all my keyboards.
Quack Mechanics – Just a marketing stunt?
- First-rate damping
- (Comparatively) quiet and pleasant typing noise
Ducky prominently advertises the One 3 as having “Quack Mechanics,” which are meant to make the keyboard additionally unique. Ducky takes into account four key aspects that are crucial for the typing feel and are summarized under this sonorous name: the keycaps, the case, the sound and the stabilizers.
We have already dealt with the former in the form of the PBT keycaps. More interesting are the case, sound and stabilizers. In fact, the mechanical keyboard is one of the quietest I’ve ever used.
This is made possible by an ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA for short) insulation under the PCB, thanks to which the keyboard turns out significantly quieter than most other mechanical keyboards. Only the space bar is a bit louder, but even here you are well below the trigger noise of most common gaming keyboards.
I find the typing noise to be extremely pleasant, but this is often a point of contention for mechanical keyboards anyway. Here is a comparison of the Ducky One 3, Keychron K8 and Mountain Everest in the typing test:
Ducky One 3:
Ducky One 3 review: conclusion
The Ducky One 3 really wowed me in the test. It brings with it pretty much everything you would expect from a high-quality mechanical keyboard. Despite the high proportion of plastic, it has a very high-quality finish. A simple or eye-catching design, depending on the model variant. Extremely high-quality PBT keycaps and the possibility to freely exchange switches and keycaps.
On the other hand, it is a pity that Ducky does without an accompanying software, which unnecessarily complicates the configuration and saving of macros in particular. However, the One 3 shows its strengths in terms of typing noise and typing feel. Whether this is due to the Quack mechanics remains to be seen.
There are only a few keyboards that emit such a satisfying and pleasant typing noise and score with a convincing haptics and a very pleasant travel. Here, the Ducky One 3 definitely positions itself at the upper end of mechanical keyboards, which, in combination with the extensive accessories and versatile customization options, absolutely justifies the called price.