Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard review: A strong budget option with a few minor issues

Plugable isn't a brand you'd usually associate with mechanical keyboards or even gaming peripherals, but the company is testing the waters with the release of the Performance Mechanical Keyboard. This new keyboard is budget-friendly and that is obvious when you unbox the thing, but it houses some killer switches and gets most of the basics right.

What you'll love about Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

This is Plugable's first mechanical keyboard, and the company is going up against already established vendors with some incredible keyboards out there for PC gamers. The mechanical keyboard market is competitive, and Plugable's initial launch will likely fall a little short of the competition.

A budget mechanical keyboard that gets most things right.

Where Plugable got it right is the switches. The company opted for Outemu red switches, which are rated for 50 million actuations. These switches are great for both gaming and productivity. Unlike louder blue switches, this keyboard produces very little in terms of audible or tactile feedback. Depending on your personal preference, this may be an advantage or drawback.

As well as getting the most important part of any keyboard right, you're also not going to find this unit moving around your desk. It's plastic, but the construction is solid and sturdy and there's only a little flex. Overall, for the price, it's a sound keyboard, albeit with a rather bland plastic-looking design.

Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

More and more gaming peripherals pack colorful RGB lighting effects, but not everyone is a fan of such features. The white-only LEDs are a welcome change to the light shows one usually finds in other keyboards. There are even various shortcuts to alter the brightness.

What you'll dislike about Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

No keyboard is perfect, and Plugable's first mechanical offering has some flaws that could be improved in the next version. The USB cable used to hook the keyboard up to your PC isn't detachable, nor is it braided. They make full use of the LED backlighting, but the secondary functions are painted onto the keycaps.

For a gaming keyboard, there really should be companion software or at least internal storage to save profiles. Even some similarly priced keyboards are beginning to offer such additional extras. This is something Plugable will likely work into future models, but such features aren't present here.

These improvements may lead to a slight price increase, but I'd be more than willing to lose a few more pennies for them. That said, should you be hunting down an affordable keyboard to replace a membrane or older mechanical peripheral, this is a great option at the low end.

Should you buy a Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard?

Plugable Performance Mechanical Keyboard

This mechanical keyboard is a great option for gamers on tight budgets. There are a few minor drawbacks that prevent it from being a killer keyboard that can take down the competition, but Plugable will likely address these concerns with future models.

If you only have around $70 to spend on a keyboard but need something with fancy red switches and a mechanical feel without all the benefits that come with individual actuation points per key, this Plugable typing solution is a sound choice.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.