Gaming Keyboard Buyer's Guide

Ducky ‘Year Of The Dog’ RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review

Celebrate the year of the dog with a limited edition Ducky keyboard which boasts a unique design and fantastic features.

by Shaun

Gaming Keyboard Buyer's Guide

Ducky ‘Year Of The Dog’ RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review

Celebrate the year of the dog with a limited edition Ducky keyboard which boasts a unique design and fantastic features.

by Shaun

by Shaun

Ducky releases a premium board annually that celebrates the current sign of the Chinese zodiac and they never disappoint. There have been a few special edition boards over the years but last year was the ‘year of the dog’ and it certainly takes the doggy biscuit.

The year of the dog has been specially designed in collaboration with a tattoo artist named Michael Chan. The board’s theme is spruced up with a fantastic mythical dog covering the spacebar, the surrounding keys design feature a mixture of troops, lotus flowers, and ghost heads done in ukiyo-e style. Ancient mythology is the focal point and gives off the appearance of a tattoo with the font also resembling some form of calligraphy. The board packs some great features like newly designed bezel edges, Cherry MX switches, and some very exciting RGB to make this board one of the best I have used. The sad news is the keyboard is limited to 2018 total units and could be quite hard to get hold of but it is truly a keyboard for enthusiasts so let’s have a closer look as we prepare for the announcement for the 2019 edition coming soon.

Pros

  • High Quality – Extremely well-built keyboard
  • Unique design – Fantastic collaboration with Michael Chan
  • RGB – Some of the most vibrant RGB available
  • Limited edition – One for the enthusiasts

Cons

  • Price – Some will consider this a bit extravagant for a board

ducky keyboards

Keyboard Size & Weight 

  • Weight: 1440g
  • Size: 100%
  • Length: 45.8cm – 18 inches
  • Width: 13.4cm – 5.2 inches
  • Height: 3.8cm – 1.5 inches

Keyboard Tech

  • Switches: Cherry MX RGB/ Blue
  • OS Support: Windows 7,8,10
  • Media keys: Yes (not dedicated)
  • RGB: Yes
  • Passthrough: No
  • Connection: Wired(detachable)
  • Cable length: 1.8 m
  • Cable: Non-braided

What’s in the box

There are a few things to admire from Ducky and the level of quality they provide, one of which is the packaging. Pretty much all keyboards from Ducky feature some very attractive packaging and the year of the dog is no different. The box on this product does seem to be a bit more classical in its design and features a large Chinese etching of the dog itself on the front. The packaging is as expected for a limited edition, the keyboard is encased in polyester foam and then wrapped in a sleeve to prevent scratches.

Inside we get:

  • Year Of The Dog RGB Mechanical Keyboard
  • Detachable USB-C cable
  • Mechanical switch keyring
  • Keycap puller
  • Leaflet about the design artist
  • User manual

Keyboard Design

The first thing that strikes you as you remove the board from the box is its weight, The board weighs 1440 grams putting this keyboard in between the Zowie Celeritas II and ROG Flare. The board’s weight comes from the visually pleasing zinc alloy plate which encases the keys and really adds a premium feel to the overall design. The top plate is a blue colour matching the tattoo design of the keys and overall colour scheme for the product.

The size is nothing out of the ordinary with a length of 45.8cm the YOTD (Year Of The Dog) board from Ducky is full sized one with the keypad located on the right. It is one of the longer boards we have had the pleasure of testing here at Gaming Verdict but not by much. It’s a lot narrower than the likes of the Zowie Celeritas II as it has less of a border surrounding the keys and has quite a common depth of 3.8 cm.

Keycaps

The keycaps on the YOTD feel durable and of a higher quality to the touch and this is because they are PBT caps that have been dyed. The process of dye-sublimation prolongs the life of the keycaps which is what you will be wanting if you part a few hundred dollars! The main bulk of the design on this keyboard has been done on the keycaps as they feature unique font and some fantastic tattoo like sketches which I will go into a little later.

Switches

The board we have here features the Cherry MX Blue switches with RGB. These are awesome switches to type on with a really satisfying clicky clack. Blue switches aren’t my normal choice for gaming keyboards but the more I get to grips with blue the more I enjoy the tactile feel and sound. The RGB produced from these was extremely vibrant and I’m not sure if this is because of the white background and keys but it really popped. Accidentally pressing the wrong key and typos seem to happen less with this board and it is easily the nicest I’ve used for gaming but especially for typing as everything feels precise and speedy.

The board is available with 6 different Cherry MX RGB switches catering for all preferences.

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Silent Red
  • Speed

For more information on switches or to see which is right for you visit our switch guide.

Design, Shape & Texture, Case/Internals

The design on this board is truly unique and it’s themed around the year of the dog (surprising I know). The design is thanks to a highly skilled Chinese tattoo artist called Michael Chan, Michael and Ducky combined to bring us a visually stunning keyboard. The board looks covered in tattoos almost like a sleeve and this brilliant design represents some ancient oriental mythology. The keycaps are designed in a ukiyo-e style, which is an old Japanese art form and shows off the mythology theme with lotus flowers, ghost heads and a brilliant looking dog on the spacebar.

The board is a limited edition, in fact, only 2018 pieces were made and it will become a collector’s item for the keyboard enthusiasts. There is a lovely metal engraving on the back with a serial number to legitimise it as a collector’s item should you need to prove it. Ducky says they have brought life and emotion to what is normally a ‘soulless product’ and they have done this with the help of Micheal Chan and his 23 years of experience in the tattoo game.

The keycaps are encased in a zinc alloy metal plate which not only looks fantastic with the new bezel design but it also weighs the board down making it feel premium and stops it moving. The keys are backlit with RGB and have a white background to really illuminate underneath the keys which don’t allow light to shine through due to them being dyed. The rest of the board is high-quality plastic and features a stylish Ducky logo to the back and a small subtle one on the spacebar. With this board, you are going to have to have to know your keys off by heart as most of the function/windows keys feature a tattoo like an image dyed onto the front.

Inside the board features a dual layer PCB which gives the board signal stability and can make it more durable compared to most boards that use a single layer. The extra layer also eliminates any extra flex you would notice as its stiffer but you wouldn’t notice that with the Ducky Year Of The Dog thanks to its sturdy stature.

On the underside to the board, it is mostly plastic with the engraved middle authenticating the product. There are some seriously good feet with this board as there are 4 rubber feet for grip and 2 fold out stands that basically give you 3 different angles to choose from. there is a bit of a hump to the bottom of the board giving you that 3rd option instead of a traditionally flat keyboard.

The cable featured is non-braided but feels quite chunky. The cable is 1.8 metres long and most importantly it is detachable which is great for anyone who wishes to take the keyboard to a tournament or friends house.

Keyboard Features

As I mentioned this keyboard features some of the most vibrant RGB I have ever seen and the reason for this is the fact Ducky have implemented a bigger and brighter LED(3528 SMD) which enhances the performance of the RGB. The RGB looks even better thanks to the matte white caps and white background as the colours just seem so vivid! The lighting doesn’t penetrate the keycaps due to the process of dye-sublimation being used to print the legend rather than laser etching it onto the cap. The board can be used without software and it comes with several different lighting options that you can control via the Fn key +f10 if you wish. The board does have some powerful lighting though and to really take advantage of this the software should be downloaded and then you can really dive into some customisation.

Macros can be created using the board only as the software just supports lighting changes and the board features plenty of preprogrammed commands with the Fn key so you can easily open an application or perform a command from the get-go. There are some other cool little features like the number pad can be used as a temporary mouse if you even got desperate again by using the Fn key.

The Blue switch version in the office was a dream to type on as it gave the perfect amount of feedback and noise without being deafening and the switches performed in-game to despite me being used to linear Red switches. This board could easily be a fantastic day to day keyboard because it’s so comfy to use whilst also being an extremely durable bit of kit.

Keyboard Testing

  • Sound Test – test the noise when typing

Keyboard Comparison

  • Compare the keyboard to similar competitors or to its own brands previous model

Keyboard Software

Ducky does have some software to go with this board and a few others like the shine 7 and it allows you to customise the RGB further than you can with the onboard memory. In the software, you will be greeted with some lovely design as always from Ducky but more importantly a list of effects, how fast they cycle, directional options, and ability to light up individual keys all set to completely different colours! It’s worth noting the colours appeared more vibrant once I installed this software and updated the firmware but I can’t be 100% sure.

Our Verdict

Would I recommend this keyboard? 100% yes every time. Its design speaks for its self and it is truly a unique bit of equipment with only a few thousand made total! The keycap design is fantastic and it has a colour scheme to match with some premium materials coming together to produce a quality all round beast (dog). It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore keyboard enthusiast or just a casual gamer this board caters for all and brings some of the best features you can get from a keyboard and wraps it in beauty. The quality of Ducky keyboards is unmatched from your standard peripheral companies and if you don’t have around $200/£200 for this special edition then don’t worry Ducky have a selection of premium boards. With the Ducky One 2 and Shine 7 you can get a TKL or full-sized keyboard which are priced closer to Corsairs and Asus top of the line boards. Sure a volume scroll bar can come in handy but style like the Year of the Dog and other Ducky boards doesn’t come around too often!

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