The GMMK—short for “Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard,” because the Glorious PC Gaming Race manufacturer has heard of subtlety and doesn’t want anything to do with it—tries to make modular keyboards accessible. It’s relatively inexpensive, comes with a bunch of accessories, has a solid build, and best of all, it’s a flexible platform for expanding your collection of mechanical keyboard gear.
“Modular” means you can use it with any switches that match the Cherry MX standard. If you’re not planning on swapping out keycaps and switches, there are better keyboards out there at this price, both for standard typing and gaming. But if you’re on a budget and you want a keyboard you can tinker with, without needing the tools or experience to build your own, the GMMK is an ideal way to do it.
The GMMK comes in a full size with a number pad, a tiny 60% version, and a tenkeyless (TKL) version that’s probably the most popular. Glorious sent us the last one to review, which is appreciated as TKL is the format I use on my own desktop. It costs $110 no matter what size you choose (which is easy but seems a little stingy), but you can pick up just the frame for $60 if you want to bring your own switches and keycaps.
Opening the box, the GMMK doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. It’s a standard layout with backlighting (you can tell from the doubleshot keycaps), it has a nice detachable braided cable (shame it’s MicroUSB), and the top of the case is a surprisingly high-class aluminum plate surrounded by black plastic. Underneath are rubber feet, with fold-out plastic to raise the surface a few degrees.
Inside the package is a switch puller for swapping out the switches (ours came with Gateron Browns), a keycap puller hiding in a dedicated clip underneath the keyboard itself, some spare rubber feet if the originals should wear out, a “Glorious” spare Windows keycap and a standard Escape keycap if you don’t like that red “Ascend,” a 90-degree bracket adapter for the cable. And that’s before you get to the extras, like a sticker for your PC case or the most condescending promo pamphlet I’ve ever seen.
Seriously, this branding is insufferable. And I say that as someone who’s reviewed more Razer products, with their vellum “welcome to the cult” inserts, than I can remember! But there’s no accounting for taste, so I won’t even try. At least, with the right combination of keycaps, you never have to actually display the branding on your desk.
Using the Board
Plugging the keyboard in and using the preinstalled Gateron Brown switches and default keycaps, I found the GMMK to be entirely serviceable. It’s a keyboard, it does what keyboards do. I’d have liked to have seen USB-C or PBT plastic for the keycaps, but at this price they’re not inexcusable in their absence. And given that you’re supposed to swap stuff out on this board, I can see why they’d go for cheaper ABS plastic instead.
Those who love their keyboards to light up will find plenty of options on the GMMK. Function keys allow you to switch between six different patterns and select either full RGB lighting or individual colors. You can even change whether the patterns flow to the left or right.
If you want even more, it’s available in the Windows software. (Not available on any other platform—kind of a bummer.) There are a dozen more animation patterns, including one called “Kamehameha,” and the option to put specific colors on individual keys. There’s no custom animation programming or integration with individual games or smart-home services, but frankly, I wasn’t expecting that at this price.
Beyond that, the software can rebind specific keys, program macro combinations, and save up to three profiles. Once the settings are applied, they stick in the keyboard’s local memory, so you can uninstall the programming tool or move to another machine without losing your settings. It’s a nice addition that’s not always a given.
But if you’re reading this, you’re probably most interested in the keyboard’s modular functionality. I’m happy to report that it works. You can swap in any mechanical keyboard switch that’s compatible with the Cherry MX standard.
Almost any, actually—you’ll have to snip the pegs off of PCB-mount switches, and you want ones with transparent housing if you plan to use the RGB lighting. But that’s a universal component of mechanical designs, which we’ve seen before on the Massdrop ALT and the Redragon K530. But the GMMK is much cheaper than the former, and the action for inserting and removing switches is much more reliable than the latter.
I tried the Gateron Brown and Gateron Red switches sent to me ($35 for 120 of them—not bad!), plus a bunch of random ones I had sitting around. Cherry MX, Kailh BOX, cheap little TTC switches, pink-stemmed Zealios knockoffs from this one little Chinese supplier (which needed those PCB mounts clipped off!), they all worked just fine. That’s more than I could say for Redragon.
So it works, and it lets you use (almost) any MX-compatible switch. Between that and a standard ANSI key layout (ISO is available, too), it’s a great cheap platform for trying out a bunch of different switches and keycaps. If you want to try out a bunch of different switches before choosing, Glorious sells its own switch tester, and there are plenty of options on Amazon, too.
A Great Middle Ground
I find the branding of the GMMK really annoying and distasteful, even though I’m a fan of the guy who invented it—it seems to have entirely missed the point. The software is a little on the basic side, and I wish it used USB-C instead of MicroUSB.
But those two sentences are really the only bad things I can say about it. The keyboard is flexible, high-quality, and hits all of the notes that it’s trying to. As an introduction to the mechanical keyboard space, it’s a great middle ground between the cheaper and less-functional options and the much more expensive premium boards meant for enthusiasts. If the software isn’t amazing, then at least you don’t have to use it once you’ve set it up.
In short, it’s a pretty good option in this very specific niche, packed with plenty of extras in the box. The GMMK is nicely situated between the choices that are so expensive that they’re out of reach, and the ones that are so cheap that they’re unreliable. And even that awful branding is mostly invisible if you want it to be.
It’s a great place to start if you want to try out as many different switches as possible, while still having a keyboard that works in almost every situation.
Here’s What We Like
- Solid build
- Easy to change up
- Standard layout
- Available in three sizes
And What We Don't
- MicroUSB cable
- No lighting API
- Off-putting branding