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The Cherry K5V2 has made me a 65% keyboard convert

Modern mechanical keyboards are the tech geek equivalent of hot rods; they’re infinitely customisable, as long as you’ve got the funds. I’ve largely avoided getting my hands dirty up to now, sticking with tenkeyless ‘boards for almost as long as I’ve been bashing out tech news – but Cherry’s new enthusiast-friendly K5V2 has convinced me 65% is the way to go.

As the name suggests, this is a second-gen version of the K5 keyboard. The most significant upgrade is a swap to Cherry’s new MX2A mechanical switches, which are smoother to press and aren’t as wobbly as the original MX switches. We’re not talking huge differences to finger feel or typing precision, but I can’t fault it for responsiveness.

The K5V2 has all the goodies you’d expect from a premium mechanical keyboard, including hot-swappable switches (which are pre-lubricated for even slicker movement), PCB-mounted stabilisers for extra key rigidity, and double-layered sound absorbing foam to keep unwanted extra clattering to a minimum. Cherry also puts a lengthy 2m braided USB cable in the box as standard. It’s detachable, too; I’m already thinking about upgrading to a coiled cable in contrasting colours.

Customisation is king here, with a choice of base plates, frames, key caps, cables and matching wrist rests available through the firm’s XTRFY website – plus the option to build the ‘board yourself and save a few pennies. Which is handy, as all those extras can send the price skywards rather quickly.

That Cherry also includes a few spare switches and a switch puller in the box makes it all the more tempting to try out different kinds later down the line, without having to swap out the entire keyboard.

Cherry revealed the K5V2 at 2023’s Gamescom show, but keyboards have only started shipping to pre-order customers today. I’ve had the black version on my desk for a few weeks, which looks like a stealth bomber when switched off; once powered up it goes into full-on rainbow sparkle mode with per-key RGB illumination. There’s also a white edition with a translucent base that diffuses the LEDs, turning your entire desk into a light show.

The metal base plate is wonderfully firm, with zero flex or desk movement thanks to the secure rubber feet on the underside. A magnetic logo plate next to the arrow keys is a nice touch; with zero branding anywhere else, you can easily remove it if you prefer a stealthy look. A wireless version would be the icing on the cake, but there doesn’t seem to be one on the horizon just yet.

There’s no software to install, with Fn key combinations handling just about every function you could want. It’s a little overwhelming at first, and next to impossible if you swap out the stock keycaps for ones without labels telling you which key does what. The per-key RGB effects are minutely customisable too, as long as you’ve got the patience. It’ll even shine brighter if you hook the keyboard up to a USB3 port.

The Cherry K5V2 is available to customise through the Cherry Xtrfy website, where prices start at £119 (black version) or £128 (white version). Prefer to keep things simple? It’s also available as-is via Amazon.

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