The AOC AGON AGK700 can easily hold its own against the best keyboards out there
- Manufacturer: AOC
- Model: AGK700 Gaming Keyboard
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Supplied by: AOC
AOC AGON AGK700 Review
Here at Total Gaming Addicts, we are huge fans of AOC’s range of monitors; from their affordable yet highly competitive lower-mid range displays, right up to their class-leading AGON range. Naturally, when we found out they were branching out into the peripherals market, we had to see whether they could recreate that monitor magic.
The AGON AGK700 is AOC’s flagship keyboard, with a price tag that reflects that. Although this keyboard has yet to fully hit the market, we know the expected price is likely to be around £179, which is definitely at the premium end of the scale and puts it up against some stiff competition. So, with this in mind, the AGK700 is going to need to be a bit special to justify this cost and meet our lofty expectations.
AGK700 – Big Red Button
The first thing you will likely notice about the AGK700 is the large panic-button-esque volume dial sat centrally at the top of the keyboard. It’s likely going to be a divisive addition; I quite like it, as it gives the AGK700 a distinctive look, but it is very, very big. Perhaps AOC can dial it back a bit (bad pun intended) for future revisions.
In practical terms, the volume wheel is very useful. I much prefer a volume wheel or scroll bar as opposed to pairs of buttons, and the central location makes it easily accessible for both left and right-handed users. The dial can be depressed, but pushing it in doesn’t actually do anything and it cannot be assigned a function within the AOC G-Tools app. I think AOC really missed a trick here; At the very least, it should act as a mute switch, but there is a separate mute button in the top right corner instead.
Big Red Button aside, the AGK700 follows a pretty standard layout. It’s relatively compact for a full-sized keyboard, and even with the addition of a bank of quick-action/macro buttons, it doesn’t increase the profile too much.
Flanking the volume dial are six buttons – from left to right;
- Home Key – quick launches your default web browser
- WASD switch – swaps the WASD and arrow keys
- Music icon – launches Groove music
- Sun icon – switches the RGB on and off
- Keycap icon – cycles through the RGB presets
- F button – disables Win key
Of these shortcuts, the browser quick-launch is very useful, as are the RGB controls, especially if you use your keyboard with a console or can’t use the AOC G-Tools app for any reason. I don’t use Groove music, though, and couldn’t find a way to assign this to launch a different music player, which rendered that key useless.
The Win key disabling and WASD switch shortcuts are more useful, but you are far better served by combining these functions, along with disabling Alt+Tab and/or Alt+F4, into a separate game profile. You can store five profiles, each with its own per-key RGB customisations and Macros, switchable with the M button alongside Esc.
All the RGB
Within AOC G-Tools, you can fully customise the appearance and various modes for the RGB lighting. Creating a custom profile is straightforward; although the software is a little basic, it’s very easy to understand. If you also have other AOC peripherals or monitors with RGB, you can sync all of your devices’ lighting together within G-Tools.
You get the usual complement of flashing, reactive and pulsating effects – the only thing I would have liked to see added is the option to use a custom range of colours to cycle through, instead of either a single static colour or full rainbow.
For my personal taste, the per-key RGB lighting is far less distracting, and it is very easy to set. It lacks any bulk key assignment like some other customisation software, so you’ll have to assign each key individually, but it’s a quick process and unless you constantly change your profiles it’s a non-issue. Unfortunately, the G-buttons, quick-access and mute buttons cannot be reassigned, so you’re stuck with red.
Peak brightness is a little low, but AOC has done a great job at minimising distracting light bleed around the sides of the keys. Light passes cleanly through the keycaps, highlighting the font well.
Back to the ’90s
On the subject of the font, I’m not sold on the one AOC has chosen for their keyboards. The lettering is very angular, and the spacing is tight, giving the font a retro sci-fi vibe, which is fine, but it has been created in bold, which significantly affects the at-a-glance key recognition. Granted, for many users, you will already know which key is which, but I would have liked to see a greater focus on clarity.
A quick note: The keyboard we were sent has an American layout, but AOC will be sending out the correct regional variants, so you won’t have to adapt to a new layout if you are in Europe or other geographical locations.
Having come from using Logitech’s Roamer-G switches, the linear Cherry MX Red switches on the AGK700 have been like a breath of fresh air. The Cherry MX Red have a nice and light actuation force of just 45g, with an actuation point that is 2mm into the 4mm total travel. This makes them very responsive, and due to their linear nature, it makes them very suitable for rapid keystrokes. They are far quieter than clicky switches as a result, but if you prefer a little more force and a more audible and tactile keypress confirmation, the AGK700 also comes with Cherry MX Blue switches if you prefer.
There is a slightly different sound to the larger keys, like the enter, spacebar and shift keys, as the stabilisers create a slight ‘kerchunk’ sound when pressed. It’s not an unpleasant sound, though, and it’s not much louder than the regular keypresses, though the space bar does have a slight echoey reverb when it springs back up.
The keycaps themselves feel very nice under your fingertips. They have a pronounced curve that nestles your fingers, and although they are smooth, they have a subtly grippy texture to them. AOC has included a keycap puller, too, with some replacement WASD keys in the box. These are dark red in colour, and they really stand out in comparison to the regular keys. As I use my keyboard for productivity just as much (if not more) than gaming, I prefer the regular keys, but I do appreciate their inclusion for those who want them.
In terms of gaming, it’s hard to fault the AGK700. The MX Red switches are ideal for fast-paced games, and the AGK700 features full N-key rollover and anti-ghosting so that every keypress is accurately registered. The only real negative is that the G-keys at the left side should be larger and more prominent; they are considerably lower than the rest of the keys and can be tricky to hit in the heat of the moment.
AGON AGK700 – Built to last
The AOC AGON AGK700 is an impressively durable feeling piece of kit. Weighing in at around 1.6Kg, it’s a hefty keyboard. It’s completely resistant to any flex and the keyboard tray itself doesn’t budge, even during over-enthusiastic gaming. Everything is held in place by a series of wide rubber feet that managed to hold the keyboard firmly in place on both my smooth desk surface and a large and slippery mouse mat.
In terms of design, there’s a lot to like about the AGON AGK700. I love the brushed metal effect on the tray, as it is highly resistant to fingerprint smudges as well as looking pretty tasteful. Big Red Button aside, it’s a restrained but appealing design. There’s a raised metallic AOC logo in the upper corner and an RGB AGON logo on the leading edge, too. The AGON logo does get covered over, though, if you use the detachable wrist rest.
The wrist rest is magnetically attachable, so it stays firmly in place when needed, but can be removed in a second. The leather coating feels exceptionally comfortable, however, the padding inside feels like that cheap crispy crinkly foam. You likely won’t notice unless you’re deliberately prodding at it, and it springs back well and provides excellent support, so I’ll put my misgivings aside.
As an additional feature, the AGK700 has a USB passthrough, with an extra USB-A port on the rear of the keyboard. For this to work, however, you will need to plug both USBs from the keyboard into your PC; this isn’t a single shared input. It’s ideal for connecting a mouse or headset, but it doesn’t pass through the full power of the host port, making it unsuitable for charging your devices.
The 1.8m USB cable is a thick braided number, and although it isn’t removable, it is securely attached to the keyboard. I like the red on black contrasting colourway AOC has added to the braid, as it’s much nicer than a basic black cable. This cable terminates in a pair of USB-A connectors. One is for the keyboard itself, whilst the other is for the USB passthrough. Curiously there is no indication as to which is which, so if you’re not intending on using the passthrough you’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting the right one. You’ll know if you have, though, as the RGB will burst into life.
AOC’s first attempt at a flagship keyboard is a very good one. The build quality is outstanding, the gaming and typing performance is excellent, and I love the styling (even the chunky dial). Aside from a couple of minor niggles, it’s a superb keyboard. I hope they revise the font on future iterations as it can be a little unclear, I would have preferred a single-port passthrough option, and the quick-action keys should be assignable (Groove music… Bleurgh), but overall I love what AOC has done.
Performance-wise, the AOC AGON AGK700 gaming keyboard can easily hold its own against the best keyboards out there. Whether you should choose this keyboard against others in the ultra-competitive high-end market should be determined by the aesthetics and compatibility with your other peripherals and monitors. Considering the quality of the AOC products we’ve tested so far, it’s a choice we’d be happy to make.