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Ducky Keyboards: A buyer’s guide


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Ducky keyboards have garnered a reputation for a broad range of boards, an unyielding reputation for quality, and popularity among the gaming community. We’ve had a few Ducky keyboards roll throw the offices here at WePC and we’ve been consistently impressed by the unique designs and variance in terms of key switch type and layout.

Starting in 1998, the Taiwanese keyboard had origins as a humble distributor of gaming peripherals. It has experienced huge growth in the years since, generating a rapport within the gaming community for reliability and limited edition colorways, often inspired by the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Ducky diversified in 2015, with the debut of their first-ever mouse, the Ducky Secret. Despite some subsequent mouse releases, Ducky remains a household name specifically when it comes to the best gaming keyboards and it seems that this considerable prestige will only continue to grow.

You might have realized at this point that we are just a little bit obsessed with Ducky keyboards, so read on for a bit about their boards and what makes them so special.

Ducky Chinese Zodiac editions

Ducky’s most infamous keyboards are the extremely limited, meticulously designed, and much sought-after Zodiac editions. They team up with painters, tattoo artists, even metal workers to create unique editions of their most popular keyboards. Unsurprisingly, they always sell out rapidly and can catch an impressively high price in the collectors market. We’ve seen prices up to $800 for these legendary boards. We extensively cover the limited editions every year so keep a weather eye on the horizon for WePC news stories, grabbing the next edition is a worthwhile investment.

keys

They’ve been releasing the limited Zodiac editions since 2009, and each edition has been limited to a number of units mirroring the year in question. In recent years, they’ve taken to getting some very special collaborators together to ensure each edition is as much a unique piece of keyboard history as the last.

2009 Year of the Ox Edition

ducky year of the ox

The year of the Ox Edition Kept the thematic design pretty minimal, with a standard qwerty ANSI layout, with the Mandarin equivalent of each letter on the corresponding key, it also features the Symbol for the year of the Ox to the left of the arrow keys. The most striking aspect of the Year of the Ox board is the vivid scarlet baseplate that peeks out around the keycaps.

2010 Year of the Tiger Edition

ducky year of the tiger

2010 saw the next Zodiac edition from Ducky, the design remained very similar to the Ox edition, but was enhanced with the addition of sky blue accent caps on the WASD. Additionally, the legends on the keycaps were greyed out, resulting in a stealthy, minimalist appearance that we really enjoyed. However, it must be said that some were dissapointed by the only marginal changes from the previous year’s entry.

2011 Year of the Rabbit Edition

ducky year of the rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit saw an inverse color scheme to previous years with the board turning an almost dental white. Like the previous year, the legends were almost identically color-matched, making for a blizzard-esque white out.

2012 Year of the Dragon Edition

ducky year of the dragon

The year of the Dragon marked Ducky’s first departure from the Full-size layout, opting intead for a TKL. Additionally, the F, G, H, J keys where replaced in order to spell out ‘2012’ Other than that the board had a fairly uninspired overal design.

2013 Year of the Snake Edition

ducky year of the snake

Returning to full-size, the year of the snake also became knwon for it’s two-tone contrasting color-scheme of black and silver. Additionally, it features a space bar complete with snake decal, making for a striking and agressive design.

2014 Year of the Horse Edition

ducky year of the horse

The Year of the Horse marked the smallest limited edition yet, Featureing a bezel-normous frame, side-mounted mini USB, and a minimal design. Only the large frame and small horse image on the space bar dellineated this board from any other 60% Ducky keyboard.

2015 Year of the Goat Edition

ducky year of the goat

The year of the Goat returned back to white for the first time since the year of the rabbit. Given the year, it’s unsuprising that this board was the first of the Zodiac line to feature full-RGB illumination, making it by far to most recognisable up to this point.

2016 year of the Monkey Edition

ducky year of the monkey 1

This year’s board returned to full-size once again, this time with a vivd orange outline and some agressive splashes of symbology around the arrow keys. It continued the theme of featuring the animal in question on the spacebar, this time with a diving monkey design.

2017 Year of the Rooster Edition

ducky year of the rooster

With an identical layout to the Monkey board, this year’s entry etained the same functionality. However, Ducky opted for a dual-color scheme for the bezel, copper and black. A bright red decorative plate can be found above the numbpad, providing an additional flair to this design.

2018 Year of the Dog Edition

ducky year of the dog

This year’s offering was by far the most artistic board yet. The board was designed in collaboration with Michael Chain, a 20+ year veteran of tattoo design. This is reflected in the board with striking shading and linework incorporated all over. Additionally, the english language legends are inscribed with a medival gothic font, making for a very unique looking board overall. We had to get our hands on this one here at WePC, for a more detailed look, our full Ducky ‘Year Of The Dog’ RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review is worth a read.

2019 year of the Pig Edition

ducky year of the rat

Ducky billed this board as having an ‘indigenous theme’. we find it very reminiscent of My Chemical Romance, however. With a 65% form factor and input from legendary metal worker, Kulele Ruladen. This board also ilncuded a small cast metal plate that clips snuggly near the arrow cluster, making it a very special board overall.

2020 Year of the Rat Edition

year of the rat

2020 saw the most out-there design yet. With input from famed Taiwanese Graffiti artist Bounce, he brought an all-together more cartoonish look, with a greeen and grey overall color scheme. When asked about his unique aesthethic, he said “although my thoughts change with the environment and my fictional characters keep evolving, my original passion for graffiti has not changed at all. In the future, I won’t place any limits on myself and will try out different styles and media.”

Unfortunately for you, dear reader all of the above are available only from colectors second hand, as they sell out ferociously quick. We reccomend signing up over at the Ducky website to be kept in the loop for next year’s board.

Ducky One2

Duckys most popular keyboard is the One2, a board of many variants and significant renown. The One2 lineup covers all the major layouts, sizes, and is available with your choice of Cherry MX switches. We are particularly keen on the recently released One2 Mini Blackout. Featuring a sleek all-black frame and some impressively viv RGB lighting.

The One2 mini was actually responsible for kicking off the 60% craze. In the years since, the 60% form factor has become one of the most popular sizes for it’s efficiency and aestethic appeal. The One2 Mini is also priced more accessbily than the One2 Mecha, so its a great option if you don’t want to break the bank.

Ducky Shine

The Ducky Shine lineup forms the flagship series from ducky, with the most impressive lighting to date, It’s also the most cusomtizable due to the full-size layout and and standard key size. The Shine 6 even includes a deatchable mouse bungee and sdie-mounted RGB lighting, There’s even a christmas themed one with a white, red, and green color scheme for those of you who want your setup to look as garish as possible.

Ducky x Varmilo Miya Pro Sakura

Ducky are known to collaborate with other peripheral companines from time to time and one of the most successful to date has been their board designed with Varmilo. With a distinctly japanese vibe and a gorgeous cherry blossom space bar, this is by far our favorite of the bunch so we had to get our hands on one. Read our full Ducky Varmilo Miya Pro Sakura Keyboard Review for more info.

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Ducky One 2 Mini RGB

Switches

Cherry/Kailh/Gateron

Ducky keyboards: Final word

In our experience, Ducky keyboards are deserving of their praise, and despite the difficulty involved in aquiring one, its definately worth keeping an eye out, especially for those oh so valuable Zodiac boards

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