REVIEW - TKC Candybar 2.0

Since it was released last year I have been intrigued by the TKC Candybar - I love 40% keyboards and southpaw keyboards, so this seemed like a natural fit for me. I was not a fan of the round 1 colors, but recently picked up a round 2 in white.

Yes it is tray mount, but in underserved form factors like 40% Southpaw I think it is perfectly acceptable.

I have been using it for the last 24 hours and I think I have a good handle on it.

The Good:

  • Quality, finish, and tolerances are all extremely good
  • Substantial feel
  • Hotswap PCB
  • Next level packaging for a low-mid priced custom

The Bad:

  • Tray mount to the plate
  • Loud typing sound
  • The board is almost completely untunable (see below)

This is a great board and I love it, but it is not tunable. What do I mean by that? It is a tray mount and to get the best typing experience with tray mount you need to tweak it with case foam and/or plate foam - maybe burger mount the standoffs, etc.

You can’t really do any of that with the Candybar. The tolerances are so tight on the USB-C port (it is deeply recessed and the cut out doesn’t have a millimeter to spare) that unless the case foam came perfectly cut from the factory or if you installed O-rings, it would prevent you from plugging in the board.

Plate foam could be cut, but it is not generally available for the Candybar and plate foam with a Hotswap PCB is a shit show unless the foam is exactly the right thickness (otherwise your switches pop out).

The tray mount system is designed such that the stand-offs go through the PCB and you screw the plate directly into the standoff.

This is very convenient and much easier to screw together than normal tray mount cases. But it definitely stiffens the plate even further. Normally a carbon fiber plate, like the one included with the candy bar, would flex pretty pleasantly.

Not in the Candybar. There are at least 8 tray screws and because they mount directly to the plate it is super stiff regardless of material.

So in the end, you have almost almost no control over the sound of the board except for the stabilizers, switches, and keycaps that you choose.

Knight

For my initial build, I chose poorly.

The Candybar would probably sound fairly good with a lighter, linear switch or silent switch and PBT keycaps.

I built mine with Holy Pandas and ABS DSS Honeywell and the results are LOUD!

These shortcomings somehow do not detract from me loving the board.

I will just have to rebuild it with quieter switches and thick PBT keycaps.

Normally I am not a big hot swap fan, but I am sure glad that this one is, because I have to redo my entire build.


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Nice to see a review of this, sad to hear that my suspicions are confirmed: that the tray-mount coupled with the tight tolerances (which are otherwise great in this realm!) makes for a difficult-to-mod product with some less-than-desirable sound qualities when used with my switches of choice (not HPs, but nylon-housed unsilenced tactiles). Would be nice to see TKC explore other mounting options in the future that might lead to better mod capabilities for it, or working directly with a foam vendor to make custom foam layers for it.

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what size is that right shift? is that considered 1.25?

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Correct. Any kit that includes ISO will have a 1.25u shift.

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I think this is really a good build! Looks really clean and pleasant to the eyes.

Perhaps next time they will come up with a top mount design that allows more cushioning out!

Just an update - someone posted a sound test on Youtube and it looks like the board does sound better with an aluminum plate and quiet linears. I used a Carbon Fiber plate and Holy Pandas.

The person who posted the video also claims they managed to wedge some shelf liner inside, but I have no idea how that is possible.

dang I have been so busy the last many months my candy bar from the first run is still unopened in the box :thinking: I guess now I know how I ought to build it

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