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By Myles Goldman published 23 August 22
The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus is the first of its kind to hit the mainstream mechanical keyboard market and despite some blemishes, it’s an amazing value.
North-facing RGB can deter Alice fans
Flip-up feet are terrible afterthought
Most keyboards are rectangles with straight rows of keys, but there’s a growing number of options for those who want to break out of the box. . The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus is an affordable interpretation of the ever-so-popular Alice layout, which features ergonomically slanted keys, a split down the middle, and dual spacebars.. Akko is kind enough to include a spare set of ASA profile keycaps, a polycarbonate switch plate, coiled USB Type-C to Type-A cable, keycap and switch puller, spare daughterboard, spare silicone gaskets, a screwdriver, adjustable feet and Akko Crystal or Silver switches for $130.
With that out of the way, $130 is still money out of your pocket, so is this Alice interpretation worth it? Let’s take a look.
The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus is not a traditional gasket-mount 65 percent keyboard: It features the Alice layout — a unique, comfortable design that’s become an icon in the mechanical keyboard world. The Alice layout was initially brought to life by TGR Keyboards, with influence from Linworks’ EM.7. And let me tell you — getting your hands on a real TGR Alice isn’t easy; I’ve seen them resell for thousands of dollars.
The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus, on the other hand, is only $130 — and is very well-built for that price point and comes with plenty of accessories. Other keyboards I’ve reviewed at this price point are typically constructed of polycarbonate or ABS, but the Alice Plus features an acrylic build, which feels good and does an excellent job of dampening noise when you bottom out.
The Alice Plus comes with both aluminum and polycarbonate switch plates. The aluminum plate is pre-installed — which makes sense, because it’s the more common material — but because this is a gasket-mount board, I quickly installed the polycarbonate plate. The polycarbonate plate provides much more flex than does the aluminum.
Akko uses silicone socks instead of poron foam pads for gaskets. The silicone socks are a refreshing choice, and kill two birds with one stone by helping this board dance and dampen noise. The Alice also comes with three layers of foam and silicone for additional noise-dampening. These do an excellent job of eliminating spring ping, but the case still felt hollow to me.
This didn’t bother me too much, but it’s worth mentioning that the LEDs on this Alice face north. This usually doesn’t bother me, because I never experience clearance issues with Cherry Profile keycaps. However, if Akko wants to recreate one of the most coveted mechanical keyboards of all time, the LEDs should be south-facing. I didn’t have any issues when using my Cherry profile keycaps, but I know that the bottom-out sound wasn’t as desirable as it could have been.
The RGB is bold yet nicely-diffused thanks to the acrylic case. However, almost every single RGB effect looks the same. The rainbow-infused LEDs feature a looping motion across the PCB and lighting it on a per-key basis is a chore. For some reason, you cannot select all of the keys at once and set that one shade. Instead, each key has to be chosen one by one. Ugh, it’s awful. If you’re like me and don’t run RGB, then this won’t be an issue.
Akko includes two sets of double-shot ABS ASA-profile caps, which are excellent quality, especially for the price. However, I’m not a fan of sculpted keycaps– they’re always too tall and the centered legends aren’t my thing.
Akko designed the PCB to accept both screw-in stabilizers and plate-mount stabilizers so that it checks the boxes for what enthusiasts look for. The stabilizers that come with the Alice are plate-mount, and all I needed to do was dip the wires in dielectric grease to make them near perfect.
The flip-up feet on the Alice Plus are some of the most peculiar I’ve seen on a keyboard. Mainly because they’re not attached to the keyboard — they attach using double-sided tape, and there are no markings on the bottom of the case to indicate where they should be installed. Because they’re not built into the case, they also affect the way the keyboard sits once they’re installed — it definitely seems like Akko wasn’t planning on having feet for this keyboard, and threw these in as an afterthought.
Finally, the linear crystal switches are fairly light (43g) and are made of polycarbonate, except the stem, which is POM. I’ll talk about the switches more later, but I like them.
The Alice layout has always intrigued me, but I was deterred by its split design and potential learning curve. But don’t let looks fool you, because the Alice layout is actually extremely comfortable to use. I work in talent acquisition, and much of my work involves quickly sending out emails — I need to be able to type as fast and accurately as possible. I felt so confident using the Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus that I brought it into work with me, and I don’t regret it.
The two B keys are easily the most distinguishing feature of the Alice layout. Before writing this review, I didn’t actually know that the Alice layout had two B keys (and now I understand why so many keycap sets come with two of them). The Alice layout uses two B keys so users can select based on preference — the same applies to the two mini spacebars.
Gasket-mount mechanical keyboards have taken over the enthusiast market in the last year, but I’ve become a little jaded by poron foam and steel switch plates. Thankfully, the Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus uses silicone socks that wrap around the switch plate, which provide the bounciest typing experience I’ve ever had. When I reviewed the CannonKeys Bakeneko60, I was impressed by the amount of bounce that the board provided — and the ACR Pro Alice Plus makes that board feel like an over-tightened tray mount, especially with the polycarbonate plate installed.
The included Crystal switches are great — this is a budget-friendly board, but the switches don’t feel budget. While these switches are a little too light for my taste, they don’t require further lubrication, which is a huge plus. The 43g spring weight is very close to the weight of the popular Cherry MX Red switches (45g), so the Crystal switches might work for MX Red users looking for something a little smoother.
I’ve recently been getting back into arcade-style games. I tested this keyboard in Tetris Effect, and switch testing started when I hit level nine and the game became stupidly fast. I used the left and right arrow keys to move the tetrads and the left spacebar to rotate.
If I had to choose between the ACR Pro Alice Plus and the standard ANSI mechanical keyboard for gamingI’d probably still go with the latter. Don’t get me wrong; gaming on the Alice Plus is certainly possible, but the semi-ergonomic split design won’t get this onto the list of best gaming keyboards.
The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus’ software is nothing special, but it does the job when it comes to remapping keys. Akko didn’t state exactly how many profiles the Alice could hold, but I was able to create more than 10.
The layout of the Alice is pretty obscure. Many Alice users remap one of the spacebars to perform other inputs, such as layer swapping. Akko’s Cloud Software only lets you change profiles within the program, which is a bummer. Even though Akko Cloud works fine, it would be nice if the company made this keyboard compatible with QMK/VIA — which would unlock the board’s full potential and make it more competitive on the Alice market.
It’s difficult to find a high-quality Alice replica, especially as most are limited to group-buys. The Akko ACR Pro Alice Plus is not only an Alice-layout keyboard you can purchase right now, it’s a great keyboard for the price. Hardcore Alice fans might not like the north-facing RGB — while it didn’t bother me, if you’re going to recreate one of the most popular enthusiast layouts of all time, you should probably tick all of the boxes.
With that said, the Akko Alice is still a great mechanical keyboard all around, and it is easily recommendable, especially when you consider everything that’s included.
MORE: How to Pick Keycaps for Your Mechanical Keyboard
MORE: How to Build a Custom Mechanical Keyboard
Myles Goldman is a freelance writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews keyboards and cases.
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