Custom PC

Ducky One 3 SF Mechanical Keyboard Review

By Edward Chester. Posted

Ducky has been making great quality mechanical keyboards for years, and the One 3 is the company’s latest main keyboard line-up, coming in all manner of sizes, layouts, colours and hot-swappable switch options. The variant on test is the SF (65 per cent layout), which drops the entire top row of Esc and F keys, the numpad area and most of the Home/End cluster of keys.

However, unlike 60 per cent keyboards, it retains dedicated cursor keys and a small cluster of Del, PgUp and PgDn keys, putting that crucial handful of keys at your disposal. The One 3 is also available in 60 per cent, tenkeyless (TKL) and full-sized variants.

The SF format offers a useful compromise between super-compact 60 per cent layouts and larger formats. The addition of cursor keys and a dedicated Del key are very useful for everyday needs, although we would have preferred Home and End keys over the PgUp and PgDn keys. The sheer number of secondary functions can be a bit confusing though – you’ll need to download the manual to get the most from this keyboard.

A matching yellow USB Type-C cable comes with the keyboard, with the socket on the far-left rear of the unit

If our sample’s subtle shade of yellow isn’t to your liking, there are umpteen other colour options as well, including black, white, translucent black and several multi-colour options. Along with the standard keycaps, each keyboard also includes several replacement keys. For instance, the black and white versions come with a replacement spacebar with a tiger pattern on it and a purple Enter key.

As well as a full set of yellow keys, our review model includes Enter, cursor, Esc and shift keys that are white with red legends. A keycap puller and key switch puller are also included, along with a matching yellow USB Type-C cable (with the socket on the far-left rear of the unit).

We found the white legends on this yellow model difficult to see in dull lighting conditions, as they’re not translucent to allow the backlighting through the letters. The white and black versions with their translucent legends are preferable in this respect. Another small gripe is that the white plate, which sits under the keycaps and holds the keyswitches, has a hole between the G and H keys, which mars the clean look.

The white legends on the yellow model are difficult to see in dull lighting conditions, as they’re not translucent

Otherwise, the build quality can’t be faulted. This keyboard is weighty and rock solid and the extra layer of padding below the PCB helps to deaden rattles – you can hear the signature clatter of your chosen mechanical key switches but without the amplifying effect of the chassis.

The doubleshot PBT keycaps also feel great, with a rough texture that really grips your fingertips, and the texture and legends won’t wear away as quickly as ABS plastic and printed legends either. Meanwhile, sturdy, two-level flip-down rear feet keep the keyboard in place, and there’s a four-toggle DIP switch on the underside. These four switches enable or disable the Windows key, switch between N-key rollover and 6-key rollover, switch between a Ducky vendor ID and a user-defined vendor ID, and switch the right Windows key to a menu key.

Sturdy, two-level flip-down rear feet keep the keyboard in place, and there’s a four-toggle DIP switch on the underside

This particular yellow SF version of the One 3 has niche appeal thanks to its compact size, bright colour and non-translucent key legends. However, as a representative of the quality of the One 3 range, it’s rather more impressive. It’s a stylish, well-built keyboard that’s quiet and available in all manner of configurations.

From £120 (inc VAT)

A stylish and well-built keyboard, but this yellow colour isn’t our first choice.

Design 18/20 | Features 16/20 | Performance 26/30 | Value 22/30 | Overall 82%

Form from function
+Great overall build quality
+Comparatively quiet
+Hot-swappable switches
+Wide range of sizes and colours

Form over function
-Yellow colour option lacks key backlighting
-No Home or End keys
-Not cheap

Dimensions (mm) 335 x 110 x 40 (W x D x H)

Weight 627g with cable
Format 65 per cent – 68 keys
Connections USB Type-C socket with 2m cable
Switch type Hot-swappable Cherry MX
Switch life 100 million key presses
Backlighting Per-key RGB
Polling rate 1000Hz
Keyboard rollover N-key
Extras Doubleshot PBT keycaps, hot-swappable switches, keycap and key switch removal tools, replacement keycaps