Akko 3098 – Budget 1800 Hotswap

Intro

I’m always on the lookout for a good budget board and found one that I really like – the Akko 3098 in Black and Pink. I couldn’t find a review of the board anywhere so I thought I’d make a post and share some info on it.

I came across this board when searching for something to take to work and it checked almost all of the boxes for me.

  • High profile
  • Hotswap
  • Has a numpad
  • Fits in my laptop bag
  • Removable USB-C

There are a few downsides.

  • Hotswap is 3 pin
  • No QMK or VIA support

A white backlight option also would’ve been nice. These aren’t deal-breakers for me personally though so I decided to give it a shot.

Details

Model: Akko 3098 Black and Pink
Type: Gateron Hotswap
Switches: Akko CS Ocean Blue
Price: I paid $89.99 (total including shipping)
Weight: 2lb 5.7oz (1070g)

Unboxing

The board comes with the typical accessories you’d expect with a prebuilt.

It also has some extra keycaps.

Initial Thoughts

When I first pulled the board out I thought it looked great. It feels really sturdy and has some weight to it. Comparing it side by side to a couple other prebuilts I have laying around, the Akko feels much more substantial.

The keycaps look and feel really nice as well. They’re doubleshot PBT and I guess trying to be a clone of GMK Olivia. The profile is different though, something called ASA. I hadn’t heard of it before this board, but it feels really nice to type on.

The Switches

The switches I chose are the CS Ocean Blue, which is a 55g tactile that seems on paper to be Akko’s version of a brown. But this switch feels much more tactile to me and I’m surprised how much I like it.

Disclaimer

I like browns. I’m really not picky about switches, so take my opinion here with a grain of salt.

With that out of the way, this is definitely my new favorite budget switch. I’m seeing between $10 and $14 for 45 switches right now, which is crazy cheap for how good it feels to type on.

Comparing the stem, it’s actually a bit longer than normal. The legs also have kind of a weird inward curve effect to them.

(Left to right: Cherry Clear, Gateron Brown, CS Ocean Blue, Glorious Panda, Boba U4T)

The Stabilizers

The stabilizers are a cool pink color and in my opinion there’s no need to replace them. They’re plate mount and fit really tight - not even the slightest wobble. They also came factory lubed… exactly how you’d expect from a factory. I think there was more lube on the outside and all over the board than in the stabilizers.

Disassembly and Mods

Taking the board apart was a little annoying. First you have to remove the top, which is secured with some plastic clips. This part is necessary as it hides the plate screws.

I had this little plastic scraper that came with some goo gone I bought a while back and it turned out to be just the right tool for the job. I just gently slid it under the rim and ran it around the edge and the plastic clips came right off. I didn’t even break any… this time…

It’s bottom mount, so from there it’s just a matter of taking out the screws and the plate PCB assembly comes right out. There’s a small cable on the back connecting the PCB to a tiny little daughter board or some kind of adapter.

Next there’s some little feet that hold the PCB and plate together. It looks like they also ground the PCB via the plate as well. There were four I believe and they just needed to be gently bent out of the way.

There’s some foam between the plate and PCB that I wanted to get at here. I couldn’t easily remove the space bar stabilizer because the foam got it the way, so I just cut a thin strip off there to make room (the picture is before I did this).

Next up, I decided to try something new. I saw that the NK 65 Entry Edition comes with a silicone dampening pad and thought to myself - I have a silicone mat laying around, why not fill the extra space in this case with it? So I did. I don’t know if it did much, but I don’t think it hurt anything either.

Then I cleaned up the stabilizers, clipped, and re-lubed with some G-Lube and dielectric grease.

For the switches - they felt ok stock but were bone dry and definitely needed a little lube. I lubed the switches with the same G-Lube from the stabs (because my brush was already covered in it). I do a really thin layer - more like I’m trying to brush lube off the switches honestly. They felt pretty smooth stock anyway and didn’t need much.

The springs were as expected when dry, a little pingy and a touch crunchy. I decided to try bag lubing (in my case, jar lubing) the springs instead of taking the time to brush lube. I personally didn’t like the results. It only kind of worked and was pretty inconsistent. But hey, at least now I know I don’t prefer it.

So that was basically it! Pretty straight forward mods overall. This is one reason I really like hotswap in prebuilts - it gives me the chance to take them apart and tune them a bit.

Conclusion

Overall I like the board a lot. For my needs there’s a ton of bang for the buck here - good keycaps, surprisingly nice switches, a good layout that fits in my bag, hotswap, USB-C, and just feels high quality. If you’re like me and looking for a budget 1800 hotswap to experiment with, I definitely recommend it.

There’s also a 75% version (model is 3084) coming out soon if that layout is more your style.

Sounds Tests

This is my first attempt at doing some sound tests and I don’t have the fanciest mic, but here’s a quick before and after comparison.

16 Likes

@keebwizard thanks so much for this. i’ve been looking at the Lakers version of this board (the bright yellow) because i want a yellow board for some strange reason. where did you buy yours and how long did shipping take to your location?

i’m also debating between this and the kprepublic bm980rgb. would be curious if you have a leopold fc980m to make the comparisons to, as i’m wondering if the case for the akko 3098 **might work with leopold internals (hypothesis: no).

Great stuff! It sounds pretty nice!

I had no idea this existed - I bought 2 of the bm980 and really like them. From what I can see it’s the same basic construction though the AKKO probably won’t have QMK/VIA which is a shame, however I’ve found that I’ve not needed to remap any keys because of the layout having most of the keys present. (I’m used to mainly 60%s, so remapping is important to me). I might give one of the AKKOs for the case colour.

EDIT: Also, obviously, you get no switches or keycaps with the bm980. And the keycaps especially look pretty nice on the AKKO keyboards.

2 Likes

Thanks for the excellent writeup and pictures! Given your experience with other tactiles, how do you feel about the Akko Ocean Blue switches?

I picked mine up from Epomaker. Ordered 5/20, arrived in the midwest 6/4. They had a faster shipping option too.

Unfortunately I don’t have the fc980m. I’ve always thought about getting it but for some reason never pulled the trigger.

I might pick up that kprepublic bm980rgb at some point though. I didn’t know it existed and it looks like it has a couple improvements over the akko.

1 Like

Yeah 5 pin hotswap and VIA support look like definite advantages for the bm980. But yeah I’m not sure how much I would remap on a basically full board. Definitely looks cool though and a good price - I’ll probably pick one up at some point to compare!

Akko also sells the keycaps separately.

https://www.amazon.com/EPOMAKER-Profile-Double-Shot-Mechanical-Keyboard/dp/B091F3JXXW

3 Likes

I really like the akko ocean blue switches. Comparing them side by side with some cherry browns, the akkos have a much more noticeable tactile event. It starts right at the top and it makes the switch feel just a little heavier. Stock they were a lot less scratchy too.

The longer stem also changes the bottom out sound to something thakier and in the direction of a panda. But the stem goes all the way in flush instead of sticking up a bit, so I would expect there’d still be some keycap interference with some sets and north facing switches.

They’re definitely not in the very tactile category and have less of a bump than the ergo clears, bobas, or pandas I have on hand. Overall, I would say they’re a much improved brown - a little more tactile, still medium weight and not fatiguing over long typing sessions, less scratchy, and they sound better to me.

2 Likes

Yeah, I’d definitely give the bm98 a go. I mean - at this price you can’t go wrong really and it’s my first time with this layout and I really love it.

I’ve just checked on Ali - the switches and the keycaps and sold separately like you say and the complete board is not that much more so it makes real sense to buy the whole thing. I’m hoping they do other colours soon.

3 Likes

Akko is one of those companies I have such mixed feelings on.

On the one hand, they do stuff like shamelessly copy community designer keysets and not honor agreements with other companies they collab with.

On the other hand, they make some of the most solid budget-to-mid-range prebuilt offerings on the market. For lack of better words, their keebs feel “complete” out of the box - the only thing they might need is minor tuning depending on the switches, but they’re satisfyingly good as-is.

No squeaks or creaks come from the case (hi, Ducky), no glaring corner-cuts (no offense, Skyloong), no garbage caps that immediately beg for replacement (hello, ocean of Amazon keebs), and no unfortunate manufacturing flaws that derp an otherwise solid product (oh hey, sup, Durgod).

I’ve helped a lot of people I know find the right keyboard for them. In only two cases did the keyboard fit with and totally satisfy the person straight out of the box - and yep, both were Akkos.

My sister has a full-size pink one with the cherry-blossom themed caps and loves it. The only mod is a squishy cat-paw cap on one of the nav keys.

A social worker friend of mine went for their wireless 65% - she loves it, too. The colorway is ripped from GMK Muted, but the caps themselves are good quality dye-sub PBT. Not like the iffy, warped, inconsistent junky caps you can get for $15 - consistent, solid, satisfying caps that don’t need replacing.

The boards themselves are most comparable to Ducky’s in my eyes (and there might be some degree of copying going on, who knows) - but side-by-side I’d pick the Akko pretty much every time, even if I like Ducky as a company a lot more. Akko’s cases are more solid, and IMO less “over-designed” at this point - just simple shapes that feel well-made.

I’d like to see some of their ostensibly more scrupulous competition take some cues from them when it comes to priorities and design choices - right now, they’re still the brand I recommend to those who just want to buy a nice keyboard and be done with it (and whose budget excludes things like Topre).

5 Likes

took pictures of the leopold fc980m internals:

Imgur

i don’t think the Leopold and Akko can be swapped into each other.

1 Like

Great job with the write-up! It is nice to see the Gateron Hotswap sockets in the wild. Considering them using on a future project. After using them are there any issues that you foresee with them vs Kailh sockets?

Awesome - thanks for reviewing this board. I wish I knew about it 2 months ago!

2 Likes

There’s another board that might be worth checking out: Flesports FL980

  • 1800 layout with 5-pin hotswap
  • Choice of Kailh Box White, Box Brown, Box Red
  • Doubleshot PBT cherry profile keycaps

3 Likes

The gateron sockets seem good to me. I’m pretty careful when I swap switches, but I didn’t notice any loose sockets at any point after multiple swaps. The connection seems good too - no key chatter or issues even on switches with thinner pins.

Thanks for taking apart and analysing the Ocean Blue switches.

They definitely deserve the attention, since they are intermediate tactiles and are so inexpensive.

I tried some based on other people’s recommendations, but they just weren’t for me.

I feel as though they are at least as tactile as an Ergo Clear, probably moreso, maybe like a BOX Brown or HAKO Violet or more.

They weren’t quite as easy to glide along with as Browns or light Ergo Clears. I think spring weight may have something to do with it. To me, they felt like ‘lesser Pandas,’ given the top-mounted bump and long pole.

The long-pole also annoys me, since I’d like the option of switches without a loud bottom-out noise.

I took some apart and was kind of able to get them to function in Boba housings. Since Halo stems work so well, I thought why not Ocean Blue? But they got stuck in the tight-tops a lot, so I had to use a relatively-high spring weight, like 65 G, to make them work. So the Ocean Blue Bobas were kind of a non-starter for me, but maybe someone else will be able to get them to work well.

The leftover housings are also sadly not the best housing for OUTEMU Silent Sky stems, as they seem to be scratchier or more frictiony than other housings like Halo. More shuffling noise with these.

So I never went forward with the Ocean Blue. It’s too bad, as I bet these people could make a good Ergo Clear if they wanted to.

I wonder if the long-pole tactiles associated with the DSS Carpinteria GB are recoloured Ocean Blue:

[then again, that would only make sense if Ocean Blue were KTT Matcha]

1 Like