Prebuilt mechanical keyboards usually neglect Linux help. Customers often report success in getting a mechanical keyboard’s fundamental capabilities to work, however many of those peripherals do not accommodate software program for controlling superior options, like macros, with Linux. Since final 12 months, System76’s Launch keyboard has been attempting to deal with that downside. However quantity crunchers will likely be rather more within the new Launch Heavy.
Launched this week, the Launch Heavy is a numpad-equipped model of the 84-key Launch. As detailed in our System76 Launch review, the keyboard is likely one of the most customizable Linux-focused mechanical keyboards one can discover. Nonetheless, an absent numpad made the Launch a direct ‘no’ for a lot of. Now, the newly launched Launch Heavy is addressing many, however not all, of its smaller counterpart’s shortcomings.
As you may see, the Launch Heavy’s 105 keys aren’t a conventional structure. System76 had its approach with the keys to the left of the numpad, eliminating some utterly. However in comparison with the Launch, the Launch Heavy provides keys above the numpad for media management. Sadly, there are nonetheless no buttons for controlling the amount out of the field.
System76 was gracious sufficient to replace the mechanical switches supplied with its keyboards since we reviewed the Launch in March. Along with the supremely stiff clicky Kailh Field Jades and tactile Field Royals (every require 75 grams of power to actuate), you will get the Launch Heavy and the remainder of the lineup with quieter, tactile Kailh Field Silent Browns (50 g) or lighter, linear Silent Pinks (35 g).
You do not have to stay with any of these, although, for the reason that keyboard’s switches are simply detachable sans soldering iron. However for $300, you may in all probability need to begin off with switches you are completely satisfied to make use of instantly.
Oh, did we overlook to say the Launch Heavy’s worth? It is solely $14 greater than the smaller Launch however nonetheless a large ask for a keyboard. Many will choose one of many best wireless mechanical keyboards, one thing with quantity keys, or constructing their very own mechanical keyboard for that worth vary as an alternative.
Nonetheless, the Launch Heavy (2.8 lbs, to be precise) has some standout options for these keen to spend the cash.
System76’s Launch mechanical keyboards, which additionally embrace the 70-key Launch Lite, characterize among the few mechanical keyboards that declare Linux help (they work with Home windows and macOS, too). The seller pushes its Pop!_OS Linux distribution by having the Launch Heavy help keyboard shortcuts inside it, resembling organizing tiled home windows and not using a mouse or opening apps.
The Launch collection can also be an admirably tinker-friendly one, from its open supply, QMK-based software program for programming its keys and open supply chassis and PCB to the hot-swappable switches, which embrace two for the cut up spacebar. Maybe the collection’ handiest function is the hub on the highest of the keyboard’s edge with 4 more and more omitted USB-A ports.
Whereas the Launch Heavy’s worth continues to be overwhelming, there’s sufficient right here for it to be a novel consideration for quantity crunchers, particularly Linux customers, looking for a customizable mechanical keyboard.