Monokei Standard Review: This Mechanical Keyboard Lives Up to Its Name
The Standard is a great introduction to the world of mechanical keyboards with just about everything you could want and the option to customize later, too.
Updated Oct. 30, 2023 4:00 a.m. PT
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Joshua GoldmanManaging Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
ExpertiseLaptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and dronesCredentials
More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
It's hard not to like the Monokei Standard. With seemingly neverending mechanical keyboard options for enthusiasts and gamers, the Standard lives up to its promise of being "the keyboard for all of us." From its size to its keycaps and switch options, it's a delightful way to dip your toes (fingers?) into the deep ocean of customizable mechanical keyboards. And the Standard is a relatively affordable way to do it too.
There are a few things some might miss. The Standard has no backlighting, for instance. But everything else is fairly minor by comparison. This is another way of saying Monokei got a whole lot right with this keyboard. So, if the lack of a backlight doesn't put you off, you'll be rewarded with a fantastic typing experience right out of the box.
The Standard is available in four color options -- white, dark blue, light pink and lilac -- and priced at $139, AU$222 or £117. Monokei also collaborated on two designs of the Standard based on the manga/anime Jujutsu Kaisen. They're the same as the regular Standard but are in two additional colors, orange (pictured above) and green, and have unique keycaps with Hiragama sublegends. They're also a little more expensive at $168 and are currently available in the US only.
The keyboard is a tenkeyless size, or TKL, which means there's no numpad, but the function key row and directional keys remain. It's an excellent size that gives you more room on your desk and is more travel-friendly. The outer case is injection-molded ABS plastic, but it has a soft, almost rubberized feel to it. The inner case is also plastic and the keyboard plate is polycarbonate. At roughly 2 pounds (940 grams), the Standard stays in place on your desk but isn't so heavy that you can't travel with it from home to the office or anywhere else.
In the middle of the back of the keyboard is a single USB-C port. The keyboard can be used wired (a white USB-C-to-USB-C cable is included) or wirelessly via Bluetooth. There is no 2.4GHz wireless, so if you need low or no latency for gaming, you'll need the cable. The Bluetooth can be connected to up to four devices, and the keyboard supports MacOS, Windows, iOS and Android. Switching between MacOS and Windows key layouts is just a hotkey away.
On the bottom of the keyboard is an extremely small power switch. Battery life is excellent. Monokei says it'll last for up to 30 days using it 7 to 8 hours a day and I have no trouble believing that. I used it daily for well over a month and never needed to charge it. It will go to sleep, though, so if you like to sit down and immediately start typing, you'll want to be wired. Otherwise, it takes about a second to wake up and connect with Bluetooth.
There are no adjustable kickstands on the Standard to change your typing angle (although there are slim rubber pads to keep it in place). The keyboard has a 5-degree typing angle, which is comfortable, but if you prefer flat, you'll have to look elsewhere. The front edge might be too high for some to type without at least a slim wrist rest. I never used one, but I also don't keep my palms on my desk while typing, just when resting.
Monokei used doubleshot PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps. PBT resists shine and is more durable than ABS plastic, and the double-shot process keeps the legends from wearing off. It generally feels nicer than ABS, too, and Monokei even adds a bit of texture to the top of the keycaps. There are some extra accent keys in the box (I swapped out the lilac ESC and Return caps for the included blush pink ones) as well as Windows and MacOS keycaps.
There is a keycap puller included to make swapping out caps easier. And if you want to go a step further, the key switches can be easily removed with the included switch puller. The keyboard does come with one full set of Cherry MX switches, and you get a choice of Reds, Browns or Silent Reds.
Brown switches have a good weight and tactile feel for typing. But if you're considering the Standard for gaming, you'll probably want the Reds. And if you need to be quieter while working or gaming, get the Silent Reds. (You can hear how they all sound on the Standard's product page.) There are countless switch types out there, though (and keycaps, too, for that matter), and the Standard's design makes it easy to change up the look and feel.
One thing that can't be customized is the key assignments. There's no software for remapping the keys or creating macros. The function keys are hotkeys, however, for controlling volume, media playback and screen brightness. There's also a screenshot key to the right of the F12 key. And again, the keys are not backlit.
As for the typing experience, it's great without having to do anything additional to the keyboard. The polycarbonate plate doesn't have too much flex and isn't too soft, and the gasket mount gives it a cushioned feel without being mushy. The keys have a low clacky sound that's pleasing. it might be a little loud if you have coworkers who don't appreciate the sound of a mechanical keyboard. The Cherry switches are a touch scratchy and, if you're typing in dead silence, you might hear some ping, but overall, there's little here not to like.
That goes for the keyboard on the whole. The Monokei Standard is an ideal starter wireless mechanical keyboard that looks, feels and sounds great, especially for its price. And if you want to change up the look, feel and sound, you can easily do that too. It's an excellent choice for entering into the world of customizable mechanical keyboards. It's also a nice option for anyone looking for an eye-catching keyboard that's light enough to travel or commute.