Higround recently released its high-end Summit 65 keyboard, promising pro-grade performance in a full Aluminum shell. But, lack of software support tarnishes its brilliantly-crafted hardware.
Higround has come a long way since we initially reviewed it’s Sonic the Hedgehog collaboration keyboard. They have since released its always-in-stock Basecamp 65 boards, which have been equally excellent. Throughout every board we’ve reviewed this year, they have consistently improved upon almost every iteration.
Now, the Summit 65 retains the layout of the Basecamp boards, while also adding enthusiast-level features. Here, the company breaks new ground (no pun intended) into a radically different market of power users. So, is their eye-watering $290 asking price worth it?
- Switch type: Higround Geo (Pre-lubed, Hot-swappable)
- Keycaps: 1.5mm thick PBT Dye-Sub
- Connectivity: Wired (USB-C)
- Form factor: 65%
- Lighting: South-facing RGB, side-lit panels
- Features: CNC Aluminum case, pre-lubed Durock V2 stabilizers, Aluminum plate, silicone dampeners, weighted brass medallion
- Price: $290
- Where to buy: Higround
We received the Onyx Variant of the Higround Summit 65 keyboard, which comes adorned with a signature Higround X 100 Thieves keycaps set. Immediately after you take it out of the box, you feel the heft of the board, thanks to the weighted brass medallion at the bottom, and a high-quality aluminum case.
Hex holes are located at the bottom of the board for additional customization, and at the top, you have chamfered edges which allow for a more ergonomic experience, while also possessing a bit of a chunky bezel around the keyboard.
We can’t say that we really found any faults in its construction or finish. Though, we are not the biggest fans of the PBT Onyx keycaps. They feel great, we just don’t jive with this particular maximalist design. Luckily, you can swap them out for something else, should you want to.
At this price point, we would have wanted to see a couple of more additions, such as a rotary knob, in order to compete with ongoing design trends.
Inside the box, you get a hybrid hex-key / keycap puller, and removing just four screws allows you to get into the board.
You can carefully separate the bottom housing from the top, so we can see a little bit more about what’s going on inside. On the bottom plate, you see the weighted brass and a cable that can be detached from the PCB, with a piece of foam to allow for sound dampening.
The sandwich design of the Basecamp boards is back, with a new secret weapon. In addition to silicone dampening, you also have a gasket-mounted plate, which also aids with the acoustics of the board, thanks to the silicone dampening of each half of the Aluminum case. It’s impressive, definitely, and something that we wished to see more mainstream manufacturers adopt.
In the enthusiast scene, which is where the Summit 65 is competing, this is nothing too new. We wished that Higround added an option for plate material here, as it would be nice to have an acrylic option, too.
The PCB includes pre-lubed Durok V2 stabilizers, which are the gold standard for enthusiasts, and their screw-in design means that they can also be easily replaced. It’s delightfully easy to get into the board, to allow for further modding and customization.
We’re very impressed by the PCB, which allows for south-facing RGB, meaning that you can put on whatever keycaps you want, and their “ninja” legend on the boards still comes across nicely.
Higround’s Geo Switches
Higround developed the Geo Switches themselves, and they are the first-ever switches to be printed with a graphic on them. These relatively light linear switches felt buttery smooth whilst in use. Though, we’re beginning to think that the company might be getting a little bit samey when it comes to switch options. There are currently no alternatives for those that might want to outfit their boards with a Higround-branded tactile switch, instead. Regardless, these switches are just as good as the Titan Hearts before them and provide an excellent experience out of the box thanks to being pre-lubed.
While they might be the first switches to have a graphic print on them, it’s a purely aesthetically-driven choice. The expense spent on it is more about their own branding, rather than performance, resulting in a higher overall cost for the board.
Zero software support, for now
Higround does have software for their Basecamp series of boards and before, but it looks like there are no options similar for the Summit 65 at the time of writing. The company assures us that there will be additional software later down the line.
There is no QMK or VIA support. This is a very common feature in other enthusiast boards at this price point. It allows you to customize your layout, and also figure out programmable layers, for boards like the Summit 65.
This is an unreasonable oversight and is something that we hope Higround addresses in the future. To not come with software support in any way, either first or third-party. is simply something that we cannot overlook.
If you’re planning on dishing out almost $300 on a keyboard, the least you’d expect is to be able to control functions without having to rely on onboard hardware controls. The Summit 65 is already long sold out and is shipping to customers imminently.
When asked, Higround had no ETA on extending software support for the Summit 65 lineup.
We used the Higround Summit 65 for a full week, and throughout the duration of our testing, we have to say that we loved every moment of typing or gaming on the board. Whether we’re benchmarking in Forza Horizon 5, or typing out articles. The Higround Summit 65 managed to perform at almost every turn.
The only feature that we really missed from our daily driver Keychron Q1 was its rotary knob. There are rudimentary layer controls to access the F-row when needed, so we barely reached for another keyboard for the duration of testing.
One thing to note however is that we did find the aluminum plate to sound metallic when you bottom out the switches on certain parts of the board, this could potentially be alleviated by further modification, or by the use of a plate made from different materials.
Should you buy it?
The Summit 65 Founders Edition is a triumph in engineering and design for the masterminds at Higround. At a hardware level, the company is pulling out all of the stops to deliver an almost peerless experience. Where this falls is in its software considerations. At $290, QMK and VIA would be essential additions, and we’d also expect a way to configure RGB lighting ourselves, or at least have the software supported for the board at the time of release.
When you look at the world of enthusiast-level keyboards, the well is deep and can get incredibly expensive. The package that Higround has crafted throws users into the deep end, with impeccable performance and hardware for the cost. There are significantly cheaper boards out there that do offer better software support, but you lose out on those essential trimmings like the lubed switches, incredible stabilizers, and more.
Our only suggestion to make the hardware any better would be to add in a coiled cable, which is all the rage in the scene at the moment.
The Verdict: 4/5
The Summit 65 is not a board for everyone. It’s expensive but offers very premium materials. It comes at a premium price to match, and mostly justifies itself in that regard. But, for those looking to actually customize their boards and tinker around with them, there are cheaper kits out there that have more support, but you’ll have to source some of the premium trimmings yourself.
But, in terms of out-of-box use, it’s going to be difficult to find better. We just wish that Higround put in that extra effort on the software side to make this package whole.