When it comes to keyboard manufacturers, many have likely not heard the name Hexgears, yet they’ve been quietly striving to deliver quality parts for a more convenient price for some time now. The company has partnered with Kailh to offer its BOX switches in its lineup of unique keyboards, and Hexgears’ Nova keyboard is a semi-affordable all-metal mechanical tenkeyless keyboard (See it at Amazon).
Hexagears Nova Gaming Keyboard – Design and Features
The first (and most obvious) thing you’ll notice about the Nova is that it’s tiny. Thanks to it being a tenkeyless keyboard – meaning it has no number pad – the Nova is very compact, though Hexgears does offer a model called the Supernova for those who can’t live without a number pad. Still, even without the pad, the Nova has a premium feel thanks to a chassis that is comprised entirely of metal.
Its design means that it’s shockingly heavy, with a good amount of heft. Though it hampers its portability somewhat, it does guarantee that the Nova will stay wherever you put it, and that it’l likely last over the long haul. On top of that, you’ll be able to put the Nova through its paces in chaotic gaming situations, and not have to worry about the keyboard sliding around as you frantically mash the keys.
Despite the Nova being a small keyboard, it doesn’t much feel like one. The keys are spaced out evenly enough that covering ground on felt natural, and because of its smooth edges, it’s pretty comfortable to rest your hands on for long periods of time. Equipped with dynamic RGB lighting and per-key backlighting modes, the Nova lets you cycle through whatever color scheme your heart desires. The fact that it includes both RGB lighting and per-key customization is a feature not often found on a sub-$100 keyboard. The Nova also sports an LED light strip around the entire rim of the keyboard, giving the device a nice glow to surround the keys themselves.
The Nova comes with a variety of switch options, but the version that I got for testing featured Box Brown switches, which are more tactile and less “clicky.” While the switches still make some noise, the Box Brown switches also give it a much more tactile feel, with presses of the keys having some more resistance to them than a more linear switch. Hexgears also offers versions of the Nova with Box White (more clicky) and Hako Clear (stiffer than Box Brown) switches.
When it comes to software and customization options, the Nova – much like other Hexgears products, apparently – is lacking in the functionality department. While you’re free to customize the Nova’s lighting, doing so will take you quite some time. Unlike other companies that offer tons in the way of software to customize your device, Hexgears puts all of that straight onto the hardware.
Unlike other keyboards, changing settings on the Nova involves you pressing key combinations to trigger various functions. For example, if you want to change the colors of certain keys, you’ll need to input a key combination, select the key, and begin cycling through the various colors until you find one you like. This might not sound that bad, but if you’re someone who likes to customize an entire keyboard to your liking, you’ll be spending a lot of time doing it.
Macros are also supported on the Nova, but are similarly limited. Only the Y, U, I, O, and P keys are supported for macro assignment, so if you’re someone who needs a ton of macros, you should look elsewhere. Changing macros also involves pressing key combinations to do so, which is a hassle.
Hexagears Nova Gaming Keyboard – Gaming
Overall I found the Nova to be really responsive and incredibly good for gaming throughout my time with it. Not only did the keys feel snappy and responsive when pressed, but they provided great feedback and never felt too stiff when gaming. Unfortunately, the lack of macros did come into play, as it was tough to make major adjustments in titles like Fortnite and Apex Legend thanks to how limited the options were.
Despite the lack of customization, however, the Nova still held up very well. Thanks to the rounded curve of the keyboard, I never felt like comfort was an issue, and I was able to stay on computer for longer periods of time than I thought I would be. Likewise, thanks to the size of the Nova, I never had any issues finding the keys or stretching too far out to reach one, and at times it felt even better to play with thanks to how easy it was to access different keys when I needed to.
Being able to switch to a different weapon in Apex Legends or quickly toggling an ability in Overwatch was always easy, and the waifish Nova didn’t hinder me at all. There aren’t any dedicated media controls or macro options available, but for someone like myself who doesn’t need much of either, it was a smooth experience for good old fashioned gaming. If you’re someone who relies heavily on macros and loves media controls, you should look elsewhere.
The Hexagears Nova Gaming Keyboard has a retail price of $89.99 and is usually the same price online.