Keyboards, it can be a black hole in terms of a hobby, if you know what I mean. But let’s face it, with a lot of people working at home, having a keyboard that feels good to type and game on has never been more important. To some brands, it’s a chance to raise the bar and just go “crazy.”
That’s what the Mountain Everest Max is – A modular keyboard that can be fitted with a bunch of accessories to provide more functions and features. Need some quick numeric input? connect the numpad. Oh, and did I mention that you can put this on either side? Not only that. The numpad also gives you four dedicated buttons that you can use to launch apps, perform your macros, and a lot more, all with an icon of your choice.
Prefer media keys with a dial that you can use to immediately adjust brightness, volume, monitor system performance, or just show a picture of your crush so you can keep yourself inspired all the time? connect the media dock with display dial.
Flexibility and portability are probably two of the main selling points of this keyboard. The question is, does it deliver? let’s try to find out.
What’s in the Box?
For its price, you would expect to get something special for packaging, and boy, did they not disappoint. This keyboard comes in a striking looking box, complete with a drawer for the accessories, which are also in separate boxes. In that regard, it’s a nice initiative, as you can reuse this box as to store other items.
Thanks to its modularity, the Everest Max can be used in TKL or Full-Sized layouts. That means you can store away the bits that you don’t need. Additionally, you can just reconnect the parts as needed. Need a mini deck that you can use to quickly launch apps? connect the numpad. Need dedicated media controls? connect the display dial. Need things to be as simple as they can be? disconnect everything and use the Everest Max as a raw TKL keyboard.
There are a total of five USB-C ports on this keyboard. Most are for connecting the various accessories. It offers the flexibility of placing the media dock and display dial, or the Number Pad on either the left or the right. The elevation can be adjusted using magnetic risers that come with the box. You get six, but you can also purchase more from the mountain website.
Speaking of which, the number pad also includes four programmable buttons at the top, which you can use to quickly launch apps, perform macros, or even perform functions specific to an app like DaVinci Resolve or Photoshop. It’s probably asking a bit too much, but I think it would be nice if the the programmable keys were a section that you can also connect to the top of the keyboard, so you can do away with the Number Pad but still have quick access to your apps.
The number pad’s connector can be slid to either the left or the right, or be retracted in the center to make it easy to store in a bag for travel. Being able to detach the accessories means you can put them in separate compartments in your bag, allowing you to travel with the entire package easily without having the hassle of trying to fit in a full-sized keyboard.
Media Dock and Display Dial
Moving on to the media dock and display dial, this also includes indicators for Num Lock, Caps, Lock, etc. The dial is made of glossy plastic, and unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as well made as the rest of the keyboard.
The 240x204px TFT IPS display isn’t the sharpest or the most beautiful looking, but for a screen this small, it does the job well. The dial itself and the buttons are also more than responsive enough. So what exactly is it for? you can do a lot of things with it – adjust volume, check your CPU/GPU/HDD/Network usage, and more.
The plate that covers the PCB is made of Aluminum, and feels sturdy. Even with hard key presses, it doesn’t feel like it wobbles or sinks. The RGB lighting is visible through the ABS keycaps, which look beautiful in the dark. If these are the same types that I got from the Keychron K8, they’re probably bound to get shiny after prolonged use. Then again, maybe Mountain thinks that you’ll replace them anyway.
Speaking of which, the review unit we received was equipped with Cherry MX Brown switches, though you’ll have the option to choose from MX Red, MX Blue, and MX Silent. Not satisfied? you can easily hot-swap the switches to your preferred ones. They even included a keycap and switch remover in the box. Everest Max also uses Cherry Plate Mounted Stabilizers.
You would expect that since this keyboard uses Cherry MX Switches by default, the profile would be Cherry MX as well, but it’s not. In fact, it looks like a unique profile with the first two top rows on equal height, the third and fourth rows on a downward curve, elevating again for the fifth row, and then slighting going down on the last.
The experience will vary depending on various components – the switch or keycap you’re using. The MX Brown switches for example are classified as Tactile, which means you get a hefty bump per keypress but no clicking noise as compared to say, the Blue switches.
The actuation point is somewhere in the middle (2mm to be specific), so your inputs are recognized almost instantly even before the full travel distance is reached.
For tasks that require a lot of typing, such as well, mine, making this review, this is something I personally prefer. They don’t require a lot of force to press, and the mid-point actuation allows for faster input, adding to a smoother flow to typing.
For gaming, well, they are as responsive, but I do understand that not everyone will appreciate the no-noise characteristic. If your presses are heavy, you’ll probably have to adjust your timings.
Here’s a sound test using the MX Brown Switches.
Mountain has developed their own in-house software for the Everest Max, Base Camp, and it offers a lot of features for you to play with.
You can create multiple profiles to apply multiple settings such as macros and key assignments easily without having to re-set them again one by one.
Speaking of which, all keys in the Everest Max are programmable, which means you can use say keys that you normally don’t use a lot to quickly launch apps, perform actions quickly via macros, and much more.
One feature that really got me sold on this app is how you can personalize the RGB lighting. Apart from a number of preset modes, you can assign each key a different color, which means you can have half the keyboard in one color, and the rest in another, you can have three, four, five, the possibilities are endless.
This is also where you can assign the functions for the customizable buttons above the number pad. You’ll only need to find the exe file for each app you want to assign, and the software will automatically fetch the corresponding icon, or you can also choose each icon manually.
Lastly, you can adjust settings like enabling/disabling the Windows key, Alt+Tab, or even Alt+F4 and Shift+Tab. It will also tell you if there’s a firmware update for the keyboard.
If you’re into Razer’s ecosystem, this supports Chroma RGB Lighting.
The Mountain Everest Max is an excellent package for a pre-made mechanical keyboard. It offers flexibility, good build quality, a great typing and gaming experience, and software that’s well thought-out. On the flip side, the default keycaps could be better, and the build quality of the dial is underwhelming.
I guess the big question is, is the Mountain Everest Max worth its price? at PhP15,850, it’s not exactly cheap. However, if your use case can take advantage of its modularity, the excellent build quality, the well thought out and premium design, software that’s well-made, all the features that it offers, and you’re not willing to invest in building your own from scratch, it’s worth it.
Otherwise, you can just get a cheaper pre-built and customize it, build one from scratch, or you can just get the Everest Core, which is just the TKL keyboard minus the accessories for half the price, and purchase the rest later.