AKKO is known for producing high-quality budget-oriented mechanical keyboards, and their new ACR series of keyboards are no exception. Recently, three different AKKO keyboards of varying layouts were released to the public. A 65%, 75%, and even an Alice/Arisu-layout keyboard became available to the market. From these options, the keyboard with an ergonomic Arisu layout stood out the most. This is the first budget Arisu-style keyboard to enter the world of mechanical keyboards.
Coming in at a price of $129.99, is the AKKO ACR Pro Alice Plus worth it? Let’s find out.
In the Box
Make sure to clear your desk, since this keyboard comes with a lot of accessories. In terms of the packaging itself, the box has a vibrant sunset-like theme. It’s always nice to see companies put more effort into their packaging, it makes the unboxing experience more enjoyable.
Here’s what can be found in the box:
- Keyboard (AKKO ACR Pro Alice Plus): It’s no surprise the keyboard itself is included in the box.
- Polycarbonate Plate: A polycarbonate plate is included alongside the aluminum one. It can provide a deeper sound signature and offer a slightly softer typing experience.
- User Manual: A keyboard isn’t complete without a user manual. The included instruction manual matches the theme of the box. Inside you’ll find information on the hotkeys for Windows/Mac, system commands, backlight settings, and key/lighting effects customization.
- Spare Daughterboard: An extra daughterboard is also included in the box. In case the daughterboard inside the keyboard gets damaged, you will always have a spare.
- Rubber Coiled Cable: A rubber coiled cable is included with the keyboard as well. It has a USB-C- to USB-A connection. The cable is made from rubber and looks pretty sleek. Though a braided cable would have been ideal.
- Adhesive Adjustable Feet: A pair of adjustable feet are included if you want to increase the angle of your keyboard. Although the feet are completely optional, it would’ve been nice to see the keyboard have an angle without the use of feet.
- Keycaps: This keyboard comes with the full 195-key set of AKKO’s doubleshot PBT keycaps. The set retails for $39.99 which brings considerably more value to the purchase.
- Keycap Puller: A lavender keycap puller with stainless steel wires is included with the keyboard. The keycap puller is very sturdy. No complaints here.
- Switch Puller: A matching lavender switch puller is included as well. It’s a higher quality metal one that is easier to use.
- Allen Key: An Allen key is included which can be used to unfasten the screws located on the back of the keyboard. This allows the case to come apart so you can modify the keyboard.
- Extra Silicone Gaskets: A couple of extra silicone gaskets are included too. They are identical to the ones inside the keyboard.
That’s a lot of items in one package. However, I’m glad AKKO went all out with this keyboard. The amount of accessories they include, especially for the price, is fantastic.
The ACR Pro Alice Plus’s case is composed of two pieces of CNC’d acrylic. The CNC variant of acrylic is much sturdier than cheaper stacked acrylic. It also looks considerably better. The CNC acrylic case diffuses the RGB lighting very well. One of my gripes is that the case bezels are a bit thicker than I would like. Though considering the size of the silicone gaskets, I don’t think this design choice could be avoided. Without attachment of adjustable feet, the keyboard has no angle. This is very uncomfortable during extended periods of typing. The adhesive feet have multiple adjustment angles which is a nice addition. Ideally, I would have rather seen a built-in 6-degree angle without the use of feet. Looking to the top-right side of the keyboard, you can find a recessed USB-C port.
AKKO currently doesn’t offer any other case options and I doubt they well. Although the build could certainly use an angled aluminum case, the CNC acrylic case isn’t a dealbreaker. If an aluminum case is a necessity, you should consider buying a Keychron Q8.
Depending on which colorway you chose for your keyboard, you’ll receive a full set of keycaps that matches the acrylic case.
AKKO provides a full set of doubleshot PBT keycaps with every keyboard from their ACR series. Interestingly enough, these keycaps are AKKO’s own ASA profile. You can think of ASA profile as a combination between SA profile and OEM profile keycaps. The deep sound signature unique to SA profile keycaps is also present with AKKO’s ASA profile. The lettering is also large and placed in the center of each keycap. Personally, I still prefer Cherry profile keycaps over the ASA profile ones that come with the keyboard. Cherry keycaps feel more comfortable while typing. However, keep in mind that the set of keycaps AKKO includes are sold for $39.99 separately.
If you plan to change keycaps on this keyboard, make sure to buy a set with dynamic kitting (extra spacebars of different sizes, etc).
When it comes to the AKKO ACR series of keyboards, you only get one switch option. That option is AKKO CS Crystals.
As for my honest thoughts on these switches, they’re decent. The AKKO CS Crystals are a linear switch made from transparent polycarbonate. The stem, top housing, and bottom housing are all clear. This allows almost all RGB lighting the shine through. They have an 18mm extension spring with a 43gf classic actuation force. CS Crystals feature a long pole stem meaning the switches are much louder and poppier. The sound is similar to Durock POM switches, only with more “clack”. Also, CS Crystals are a 3-pin switch.
Like the switches and keycaps, the stabilizers are AKKO’s very own. They are plate mounted and have bright pink housings and white stems. The stabilizers come pre-lubed from the factory. However, there is one aspect of the stabilizers that stands out. Inside of the stems, they appear to be “pre-holee modded”. If you’re not familiar with the holee mod, it involves placing a band-aid inside the stabilizer stem to dampen most movement of the wire. This results in a much smoother keypress with no tick and/or rattle. The AKKO stabilizers have a rubber material within the stem, utilizing the same concept.
As a result, the stabilizers are relatively smooth and show no signs of tick and/or rattle. However, they are mildly mushy. This is a huge caveat to take into account if you aren’t planning on swapping stabilizers. Thankfully, screw-in stabilizers are supported as well so you can swap in your favorite stabs.
Contrary to the name of the ACR Pro “Alice” Plus, the keyboard isn’t a “true” Alice layout. In reality, the keyboard has an “Arisu” layout. This means the keyboard consists of what you would find in an Alice layout keyboard but with added arrow and function keys. The Arisu layout tends to be more popular with new “ergonomic” keyboards. While the keyboard is quite large, I feel the extra size is worth the additional features.
The ACR Pro Alice Plus features a new take on a classic mounting style. The keyboard utilizes the community favorite, gasket mount design. Most gasket-mounted keyboards will use poron strips as the gasket material. However, the ACR Pro Alice Plus makes use of slip-on silicone gaskets. This allows the keyboard to have much more bounce due to the nature of the silicone material. Also, the keyboard sounds higher-pitched as a result of the silicone gaskets. If you dislike the differences silicone gaskets bring, they can be swapped out for the more traditional poron ones.
Features of the AKKO ACR Pro Alice Plus
In terms of features, the ACR Pro Alice plus has a lot of them. First of all, this keyboard has blue TTC hot-swap sockets. Unfortunately, they are north-facing. For those unfamiliar, the placement of north-facing sockets cause Cherry profile keycaps to rub or strike each other. However, using switches with a long pole stem or even avoiding Cherry profile keycaps won’t cause any interferences. The keyboard has support for screw-in/plate mount stabilizers. There are extra LEDs around the entire PCB for maximum lighting capability. A daughterboard is also present on the ACR Pro Alice Plus. This means more flex and a sturdier build. My favorite feature about the keyboard is the amount of foam AKKO includes. PCB foam, poron plate foam, and even a PCB sheet are all included to improve the sound. This allows complete freedom in choosing the ideal sound configuration for your keyboard.
Plates are a key factor in the sound signature and typing feel of a keyboard. Fortunately, the ACR Pro Alice Plus includes two different plate options to swap between. In stock form, the pre-assembled keyboard has an aluminum plate. Though the plate is somewhat stiff, the gasket-mounted design still allows flex. The sound signature of the aluminum plate delivers is higher-pitched, yet still very nice. As for the other plate option, AKKO supplies an additional polycarbonate plate in the box. The polycarbonate plate has a deeper sound signature and is noticeably more “flexy” while typing.
At the time of writing this (8/15/2022), the ACR Pro Alice Plus doesn’t have a ton of competition. However, I expect similar Arisu layout keyboards to be released in the upcoming months.
Currently, there is only one similar keyboard comparable to the ACR Pro Alice Plus. The FancyAlice66 is very similar to the ACR Pro Alice plus. It’s made from acrylic (stacked not CNC) and has an almost identical Arisu layout. A right B key isn’t present on the keyboard though it is not necessary. The most noticeable difference is the keyboard does not include switches or keycaps. This can be seen as a positive since it gives the buyer freedom over what items they want. The stacked acrylic feet are included with the FancyAlice66 are miles better than the ones on the ACR Pro Alice Plus. Finally, the keyboard is priced at around $81.99. If you like what you’ve heard, the FancyAlice66 is definitely a keyboard worth checking out.
The ACR Pro Alice Plus is not compatible with VIA or QMK. Unfortunately, you will have to use AKKO’s own software. While the software isn’t the best, it gets the job done. I hope to see VIA/QMK compatibility with AKKO keyboards in the future.
Overall, the ACR Pro Alice plus is a phenomenal keyboard, especially at its price point. This impressive keyboard comes packed with features that you’ll love. It feels and sounds like a premium enthusiast-grade mechanical keyboard.
With all the possible customizability options, almost anyone can integrate this keyboard into their setup. If you’re thinking about purchasing an Arisu-style keyboard, this is the one for you.