Drop CTRL review: An aging classic falling behind

Drop CTRL review: An aging classic falling behind

The Drop CTRL: A Keyboard Worth its Weight in Gold

Introduction

Remember when Massdrop revolutionized the custom keyboard game with its Drop CTRL back in 2018? Ah, the good old days. But now, in the fast-paced world of gaming peripherals, everyone and their grandma wants a piece of the hot-swappable pie. With Asus and Corsair crashing the party, it’s time to see if the Drop CTRL can still hold its own in 2023. Prepare yourselves, folks, because this keyboard comes with a hefty price tag of $225 / £225 MSRP. Let’s dive in and find out if it’s worth the hype.


Aesthetics to Drool Over

Let’s start with the looks, shall we? The Drop CTRL is one good-looking keyboard, my friends. I went for the Space Gray variant, and let me tell you, it exudes a subtle yet powerful aura. But wait, what’s that? Oh, it’s just a strip of RGB LEDs running around the perimeter. Sure, it may not be as bright and flashy as some other keyboards out there, but boy does it elevate the overall vibe. It’s like finding a Zen garden in the middle of a rave.

Keyboard

Underneath that sleek exterior, you’ll find a set of durable PBT doubleshot keycaps. They might not have the same textured grip as some others, but let me assure you, they won’t be slipping away from your nimble fingers anytime soon. The Drop CTRL is no lightweight either. It’s a chunky beast, weighing in at 963g with a thick baseplate that offers a satisfying typing experience. With rubber feet and magnetic elevation options, this keyboard will stay put no matter how intense your gaming sessions get.

Keyboard

Features that Will Make You Swoon

Now, let’s talk features. The Drop CTRL’s claim to fame is its hot-swappable PCB. Back in the day, swapping switches was a labor of love, involving soldering tools and endless patience. But fear not, because the CTRL has got your back! Well, sort of. It only supports three-pin switches, unlike the majority of hot-swappable keyboards on the market today. But hey, most switches out there are three-pin, so it’s not a dealbreaker.

Keyboard

Speaking of switches, the CTRL comes with a solid range of options. You can choose from linear Kaihua Speed Silvers, tactile Box Whites or Halo Clears, or clicky Halo Trues or Cherry MX Browns/Blues. There’s something for everyone, whether you prefer a smooth and silent typing experience or a satisfying clickety-clack. And let’s not forget the RGB lights that wrap around these switches. While you can’t customize them yourself, the preset patterns are a feast for the eyes.

Keyboard

Performance that Hits the Sweet Spot

When it comes to typing, the Drop CTRL delivers a solid experience. The responses are snappy, the landing is soft, and there’s no annoying reverb to ruin your vibes. Sure, there might be a little rattle around the larger keys, but overall, this keyboard is a pleasure to type on. Although I must admit, the Kaihua Speed Silvers in my unit felt a tad heavier than expected, resulting in some fatigue during long typing sessions. But fear not, my friends, for the beauty of a hot-swappable keyboard lies in its versatility. Throw in some lighter Gateron Blues, and you’ll be typing away with lightning speed.

Keyboard

Now, as much as I love the Drop CTRL, gaming is not its strong suit. With higher latencies and no programming support, competitive gamers might be left craving more. But fear not, my casual gaming pals, for this keyboard will still get you through your virtual adventures without breaking a sweat. You won’t be winning any esports tournaments, but hey, sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.


To Buy or Not to Buy?

Here’s the million-dollar question: should you buy the Drop CTRL in 2023? Well, my friends, it’s a tough call. While this keyboard oozes elegance and offers a satisfying typing experience, it falls short in terms of features compared to its competitors. The Asus ROG Azoth, for example, packs a punch with an OLED display, gasket mount desGameTopic, software support, and even a wireless connection, all within a similar price range. If you’re willing to shell out $225 / £225, the Azoth is the way to go.

Keyboard

But hold on, my bargain hunters! Fear not, for you may find the Drop CTRL at a discounted price of around $139 in the US. At that price point, it’s more comparable to the Mountain Everest 60. The Everest 60 sacrifices a few extra keys, but it offers a more enjoyable typing experience and grippier keycaps right out of the box. While it’s still not ideal for competitive gaming, the Base Camp software gives you more macro and RGB customization options.

So, my dear readers, the choice is yours. If you’re looking for a reliable and aesthetically pleasing keyboard that won’t break the bank, the Drop CTRL might just be your golden ticket. Just remember to keep an eye out for those sweet discounts!


How We Tested the Drop CTRL

To give you the most accurate and comprehensive review, I spent four weeks with the Drop CTRL. I used it for all my daily work and gaming, typing away for about 8 hours a day and diving into games like High on Life, Cities Skylines, Doom Eternal, and CS:GO. I even performed a full switch swap because, well, why not? Rest assured, this review is the result of some serious keyboard bonding.

Oh, and if you’re on the hunt for other gaming peripherals, we’ve got you covered! Check out our roundups of the best wireless gaming keyboards and the best budget-friendly membrane keyboards. And don’t forget to level up your gaming setup with the best gaming mouse models out there.

Now go forth and conquer, my fellow gamers! May your keyboard be swift and your victories be sweet.