Das Keyboard Prime 13 Review: A Minimalistic Mechanical Plank

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Das Prime 13 Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: This is far from our first rodeo with Cherry MX Brown key switches, so going into this we had a pretty good idea of how the Prime 13 would perform. Cherry's a household name in the mechanical keyboard market at this point. The bigger question is, how does the Prime 13 perform when evaluating it as a whole?  To that end, Das Keyboard continues to make some of the best mechanical keyboards out there. The Prime 13 is another well constructed plank, albeit one with a sparse set of features.

Das Keyboard has been busy in 2016. Towards the beginning of the year, it introduced the X40 Pro, a mechanical keyboard for gamers under its newly formed Division Zero gaming unit. Now, several months later we have the Prime 13, the latest in what's become a long line of keyboards for geeks and discerning typists, who need or want a higher quality plank. As with past iterations, the Prime 13 delivers exactly that.

The main thing that's different about the Prime 13 compared to previous versions is the inclusion of a backlight, one that's exceptionally bright with a cleaver auto-dimming function. It's a long overdue feature and one that customers have been asking Das Keyboard to implement. Well, it's finally here.

While the Prime 13 gains a backlight, it loses dedicate media controls and the oversized volume knob found on the previous model. Those controls are now integrated into the Function keys, requiring an extra button press (Fn). But for some, the bigger trade off is the click action and audible feedback that Cherry MX Blue key switches provide. At launch, the Prime 13 only ships with Cherry MX Brown key switches, though we're told the Blues are on tap. If that's your preference, hang tight for a future iteration.

Conversely, you can seek out a competing model. The mechanical keyboard market is much more robust now than it was several years ago, and Das Keyboard is up against some worthy alternatives. In releasing a keyboard with a minimalistic theme, Das Keyboard may be limiting its audience, and the $149 price tag feels a little rich, all things considered. At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that this isn't a plank aimed at gamers—it's a high quality mechanical keyboard for typists looking for a premium product without gimmicky features or unnecessary excess. In that regard, the Prime 13 is an excellent option.
hothardware recommended

  • High quality design and construction
  • Finally, a Das Keyboard with an LED backlight!
  • Auto-dimming feature is a thoughtful inclusion
  • Long, braided cable (6.5 feet)
  • N-key rollover (NKRO) over USB
  • Just one backlight color (white)
  • No dedicated macro or media keys
  • Cherry MX Brown is the only key switch option (for now)
  • Pricey for a keyboard with a minimalist design

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