I have been using the Black Havit HV-KB389L (it also comes in white) for about a week now. I’ve had many keyboards with prices ranging from $30 to $200. A good keyboard suitable for both gaming and typing typically came at a premium price, its switches are usually membrane or dome switches and occasionally scissor switches. In the last couple of years mechanical keyboard have really gained momentum for their consistency, reliability and long life.
They are usually the most expensive type, especially if you want them lit. The Havit is one of the few affordable keyboards to feature real mechanical keys and also have some interesting illumination options in the sub $100 range.
I normally avoid less well known brands. I guess it’s easy to get drawn to mainstream heavily marketed brands. But having tested some less well-known brands, I learned that they can compete very well. I haven’t tried Havits computer peripherals but am familiar with their Bluetooth and audio cables which impressed with the overall quality. So, when the opportunity to review this keyboard arose I jumped at the chance.
Like their other products, this keyboard came in recyclable, frustration-free packaging. Plus the packaging (a matt black box with a printed sleeve over the top) was simple and attractive. Another nice touch is that Havit always thank their customers with a message printed somewhere. Inside the box, the keyboard is wrapped in a foam bag suspended at each end with foam. Along with the keyboard there is a short manual and a keycap removal tool. (This is useful for cleaning under the key caps or if you want to replace keys with a wide variety of custom caps available online.)
The keyboard has a regular layout with 104 keys. It’s a fairly compact design with an integrated wrist rest at the front which extends forwards about 2 inches. The design doesn’t try to show off with strange styling queues that look dated within months. The top tapers in a little with nice rounded corners. The wrist rest is raised about ¼ inch near the first row of keys to make them seem slightly lower profile. The rear of the keyboard slopes backwards slightly to balance nicely with the wrist rest. The surfaces are lightly textured with two strips of gloss piano black running in parallel along the keys one strip on each side.
Keys that have special functions when combined with the Fn (function) key have satin silver symbols on them. Silver is also used on the top right of the keyboard where there is an eagle insignia with the words MAGIC EAGLE Havit Game Series printed next to it. The font used on the keys is a little small and some of the characters are a little odd. For example, D and O and a few others have a slightly sci-fi cutout that makes it slightly harder to read. It’s probably something that would concern a touch typist though.
There is a single USB cable with a ferrite core at the plug end. There is also routing under the keyboard so the cable can exit the back from the left, middle or right side. It’s a little thing but it can make a difference if you have other peripherals around your desk.
Underneath, you have fairly large textured rubber pads and fold-down legs at the back. They raise the back of the keyboard about ½ inch for a steeper angle. Unlike other keyboards I have tried, the legs have rubber feet so there is still good traction on your desk.
For a keyboard that doesn’t have any extra software, utilities or custom drivers it is impressive. It has most of the functionality I have seen on high priced keyboards costing 3 to 4 times as much. You can set three custom key maps where you can set a color for each key individually. So if you have a favorite game or app and want to color code certain keys such as W, A, S, D to make it easier to play the game, you can.
As well as the typical brightness and animation speed, you have a plethora of interesting lighting modes. There’s a kind of heatmap where individual keys light up brightly and then fade as you let go. The faster you type the more keys are lit. You have impact falloffs where lights go out around a key impact and revert to full brightness or where they light up on press and then fade out. There are so many various settings, it can get confusing. But it does look quite cool.
Expensive keyboards come with software to set these things visually. But then you have the problem of the software running in the background, using your computer’s resources, and slowing it down. Setting them the Havit takes some experimentation but the lighting is pretty comprehensive.
The Light Strip
Another rare lighting effect I have only seen on the expensive Apex series by Steelseries is an illuminated band around the edge of the whole keyboard. The Havit has it too. You can change the edge lighting much like the keys. It looks really cool as an accent light in the room and can even help you see in low light conditions that so many gamers like to play in.
I really like this keyboard. I don’t go overboard with the lighting effects but it does do the things that I miss from my old Steel Series keyboard. I have had a couple of other keyboards with dome and membrane switches and a hybrid keyboard that was mechanical with dome underneath. It’s been decades since I had a fully mechanical one. The brown switches on this keyboard are only slightly louder than the hybrids I used previously. It’s the action of the keys that I like best about this keyboard. They are smooth and very consistent across the board, don’t require too much pressure, and register the press about half way whereas lower quality dome and membrane require a harder press till the key bottoms out.
If you suffer from any carpel tunnel problems, this keyboard really helps relieve the strain plus you can type much faster if you don’t have to press the keys all the way down. I quickly adapted and grew to like that.
As you can probably tell, I really like this keyboard. I overlooked mechanical keyboards despite their growing popularity because of the expense especially after the last illuminated one had the paint wear off making the characters illegible after only a few months. This Havit is a bargain for anyone that isn’t a brand snob and only cares about good quality and features that work.
If I were going to improve this keyboard in any way, I’d like to see a function Lock key. It’s not that common so I wasn’t surprised there wasn’t one. To use the multimedia keys on this keyboard you have to hold down the Fn key for the multimedia functions on F1 – F9 to work. I listen to a lot of music. A function Lock key allows you to permanently toggle between either function keys or multimedia. I use the multimedia keys a lot more than the Fn keys.
Otherwise, I really can’t fault the keyboard, especially in this price range.
An excellent mechanical keyboard with lots of lighting options. I no longer miss my SteelSeries.
Product Name: HAVIT HV-KB389L (Black)
Product Description: HAVIT HV-KB389L RGB Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
This is a dependable keyboard that, on the surface, looks fairly conventional till you turn it on and start using it. The mechanical keys are very nice and noticeably reduce strain on the wrist if you have carpel tunnel problems like me. The lighting features are comprehensive if a little fiddly to work out. It doesn’t use software to adjust the various modes and the manual is a little skimpy on detail. On the other hand, this keyboard demands fewer resources compared to the utilities that have to run constantly in the background with a software solution. I really like being able to map separate colors to individual keys. My favorite game is Elite Dangerous, a space sim which uses the whole keyboard. With this keyboard I can color code portions of the keyboard I need to use for easy reference in the dark and also match the look and feel of the cockpit in game.
So a really nice and reasonably priced keyboard that is a joy to use, especially if you do a lot of typing. I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: I received this keyboard in exchange for an honest and fair review.