Vortex Poker 3: time for an update

The Vortex Poker 3 has built up quite the reputation for itself as a very good enthusiast’s first “real” keyboard. It’s easy to see why. Basically every single component of this keyboard is a little teaser to all the things that the hobby has to offer. Though opinion has shifted over a little bit with the introduction of cheaper keyboards like the Anne Pro, I think the Poker 3 still has its place.

Like its predecessors, the Poker 3 sports a low profile design. The four corners are rounded, and the edges making up the angled platform are beveled. The rear bezel is about twice as thick as as the side bezels. Though this isn’t really a part of the case that’s seen during normal use, I think it looks kind of weird.

Based on the design of the Vortex Poker 3 LE, which also has an extra thick rear bezel, I think this is supposed to be a style element, but I don’t think it really works here. The back doesn’t have much going on. Just some rubber feet, as well as a metal sticker with Vortex’s signature “enjoy your feeling” Overall, I don’t really like this case design. I’d really like to see a Poker in the style of a Race 3 or the Vibe. I think that their design language really hits the nail on the head when it comes to low profile cases. I think this angled design is pretty overdone at this point by all the other Cheap Chinese manufacturers, so it’ll be nice to see them do something different.

Regardless of what comes in the future, the Poker 3 has an understated design, which must be a welcome sight for those wanting to escape gaudy gaming keyboards. Another point of appeal for the Poker 3 is its excellent build quality. The previously mentioned case is actually painted aluminum, which is pretty rare even today in retail boards, let alone when these were really popular.

Though I’ve mentioned before that weight isn’t the sole indicator of quality, at 760 grams, it sure feels like it in this keyboard. Metal cases are also known to improve the sound of a keyboard, which is also a plus. Another plus is with the keycaps.

They surely aren’t perfect by any means. The legends are sort of needlessly blocky, and are laser infilled, which not only lack durability, but you can also feel it against your skin. However, all of that is forgiven by the material and thickness.

These are 1.5mm thick PBT OEM profile keycaps, which helps in improving both feel and sound. Speaking of feel and sound, one of the biggest sins in keyboards that completely ruin its feel and sound are the stabilizers. Most people who are just typing on a gaming keyboard won’t notice it, but once you’ve typed on good stabs, bad stabs just drives you crazy.

And this is an example of a keyboard that’ll help you realize that. While these aren’t genuine stabilizers or anything, they’re really finely tuned, and have no rattle in the 2u keys, and very little in the spacebar. Any rattle that might exist are easily remedied by some lube, but the fact that it’s this good out of the factory is great.

The Poker 3 just has a lot of really good things going for it, and all of these come together to make one of those rare retail boards that are actually pretty good right out of the box. This particular Poker has Cherry MX Blues, and is completely stock. The final thing that made the Poker 3 great is programmability.

When you have something like a fullsize or a TKL, you aren’t really going to be looking to put your arrow keys on a layer, since you already have them. When you’re on something like a 40%, you’re really going to want to have programmability since you’re probably already having trouble just getting into the form factor. But the 60% layout is in that middle ground where it may be easy enough to get used to whatever layers the keyboard comes out of the factory. Just look at the HHKB: its stock layout is completely usable. But Vortex, in addition to marking their layer preset on the front face of the keycaps, implemented slighted limited programmability. It’s a little bit more complicated than doing it through software, but onboard programming really makes the board feel like your own.

I won’t go into how you might program, but I’ll link the manual in the description. I think discovering the keys you use often, and remapping them to places that make more sense for you is really a special experience that mirrors customizability in all sorts of dimensions in the community. So the Poker is really sort of a trailblazer in the community. Its huge success ended up establishing the pcb holes as a defacto standard, and it surely has a place in a lot of people’s hearts as their gateway drug into the world of mechanical keyboards. The Poker 3 in particular is a little bit aged, and the design looks a little boring and old in the face of newer ones, but as a package, it’s really a positive experience that I can recommend.

I’m excited to see what the next version of the Poker will look like. I’ve had a positive experience from every Vortex/iKBC keyboard I’ve tried, and I’m sure I’ll be pleased with their next. Thank you for watching, and if you liked the video, like it, and subscribe for more keyboard stuff. I know everyone and their dogs has done a review on this, but what’s a keyboard channel without a video on the legendary Pok3r?

will look like. I’ve had a positive experience from every Vortex/iKBC keyboard I’ve tried, and I’m sure I’ll be pleased with their next. Thank you for watching, and if you liked the video, like it, and subscribe for more keyboard stuff. I know everyone and their dogs has done a review on this, but what’s a keyboard channel without a video on the legendary Pok3r?