DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review

If you want customization, look no further than the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard, where you can swap the decorative top plate to give it a new look.

Published
Updated
Manufacturer: DROP (MDX-37361-2)
6 minutes & 48 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 93%
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The Bottom Line

The DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard offers next-level customization, including swapping out the magnetic top case to give it a new look. Thankfully, the default out-of-the-box experience is excellent thanks to the robust build quality and brilliant type-feel.

Pros

  • + Customizable top plate, switches, keycaps, and more
  • + Excellent type-feel thanks to Gateron switches
  • + Built to last and great for gaming and productivity
  • + On-board controls and app customization

Cons

  • - It becomes pricey when you add all of the optional accessories
  • - No height adjustment
  • - A welcome additional F13 key but no programmable dial

Should you buy it?

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Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up

For those of us into mechanical keyboards, performance and aesthetics are what we look at: how it feels to type with, the sound the switches and keys make when pressed, and the responsiveness you witness on-screen when playing a competitive game or typing up a lengthy email. Customization, secondary functionality, portability, versatility, and so much more. A lot more goes into a modern mechanical keyboard than the type of switch and the materials used to create the swappable keycaps.

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 4

Although it falls under the Corsair banner, DROP is still doing its thing in the keyboard space - bringing together style and general performance in new and exciting ways, as seen with the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard reviewed here. The DROP CSTM80 is all about customization, from adding weight to the base to swapping out the keycaps to the switches and the switch plate. This extends to control over firmware and on-board customization - detailed and commendable. The good news is that the out-of-the-box typing feel is impressive, thanks to the overall construction and tactile Gateron Brown switches (you can also choose a linear Yellow style).

The prominent feature of the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard, at least the showiest, is that the faceplate is removable. So, what ships as a black and minimal keyboard with front-facing keycap lettering that you can't even see when looking straight down at the keyboard - becomes drastically different thanks to the various colorful DROP CSTM80 Decorative Case add-ons. We received a few with our review sample, changing the CSTM80 from a black-colored keyboard to a vibrant retro orange color or a stylish brushed metal keyboard in seconds.

Specifications & Close Up

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 12
  • Product Name: DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard
  • Product Type: Wired Mechanical QMK/VIA Keyboard
  • Size (Full/TKL): 80%
  • Switch: Gateron Brown Pro 3.0 Switches (Tactile)
  • Actuation Point/Force: 2.0±0.6mm / Total travel: 4.0mm / 55gf
  • Interface: Wired USB (USB-C to A)
  • Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
  • Compatibility: macOS/Windows
  • Lighting: RGB-LED
  • Dimensions: 37.4 x 14.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Weight: 1261 grams (keyboard)
  • What's in the Box: DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard, USB-A to USB-C cable, Switch puller, Keycap puller, Mac keys
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Kosta's Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR X670E HERO
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition
  • Display: MSI MAG 321UPX QD-OLED 4K 240 Hz
  • Cooler: ASUS ROG RYUO III 360 ARGB
  • RAM: 64GB (4x16GB) Corsair DOMINATOR TITANIUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 6000MT/s
  • SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
  • Power Supply: ASUS TUF Gaming 1000W Gold
  • Case: Corsair 5000D AIRFLOW Tempered Glass Mid-Tower ATX PC Case
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Buy at Amazon

DROP + The Lord of The Rings Dwarvish TKL Mechanical Keyboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$314.98$149.00-
Buy at Newegg
$358.99$358.99-
* Prices last scanned on 6/14/2024 at 11:10 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Design & Software

Design

DROP's decorative top case for the CST80, which ships with the keyboard, is made from polycarbonate and feels exceptionally sturdy when locked in place. If you didn't know it was removable, you probably wouldn't even try, but with the keyboard weighing around 1261 grams with the default decorative top case, removal is easy, as most of the weight sits on the underside of the keyboard. For this review, we were given a Skiidata Orange polycarbonate Decorative Case ($25 USD) and a premium Aluminum Decorative Case ($59 USD) to play around with - and in both cases, the difference (when paired with the proper RGB lighting) was immediate and like looking at a brand-new keyboard.

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 7

But the Decorative Cases are optional, with the default DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard sporting an all-black minimal look bolstered by the front-facing shine-through keycap labels. With RGB lighting disabled, you can't tell what key is which, taking the concept of a minimal keyboard to a new level. The 88 TKL design is familiar, with ample space for the arrow and system keys. DROP even includes a new F13 Function key that can be programmed for whatever functionality you want in an additional key.

With the tactile (clicky-sounding) Gateron Brown switches, you've got an excellent and responsive type feel that is great for writing. Multiple layers of foam, gasket-mounted plates, ABS keycaps, hot-swappable switch sockets, and per-key RGB lighting back this up.

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 9

The modding potential here is impressive; with a range of accessories, different switches, keycaps, and Decorative Cases, you can transform the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard into something brand-new. For those wanting to assemble a custom DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard, you can purchase a special Barebones Mechanical Keyboard kit that doesn't include a decorative top case, keycaps, stabilizers, or switches.

Software

Like other DROP keyboards, the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard is designed to function on a PC or Mac without the need to install software, update firmware, or otherwise open an app for customization. Intuitive onboard controls via the FN key offer control over RGB lighting profiles and settings, switching between NKRO and 6KRO modes (which limits the number of keys registered at any given time to size), Windows and Mac, and detailed media controls. It doesn't take long to get used to the on-board controls; however, additional configuration is available with the Drop Keyboard Configurator app.

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 16

The DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard is QMK, VIA, and Vial compatible, so it's pretty flexible for those who want an open-source keyboard. The Drop Keyboard Configurator app presents the CSTM80 and other compatible keyboards as a series of Layers you can configure. Layer 1 is straightforward; it represents the primary function of each key as found in operating systems like Windows 11 and most keyboards on the market. Layer 2 covers the FN key options as predefined by DROP.

DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard Review 17

Making changes is easy; select the key you want to add or change the secondary functionality of, and this opens up a handy categorized drop-down menu on the left side of the screen for you to select an action from. You do need to flash the firmware before you can customize the keyboard in this way, and it's a little quirky how it needs to reload every time you change to and from the app window. Plus, there's no easy way to set up or save different profiles, so making changes can be daunting.

Gaming Performance and Productivity

Gaming Performance

The tactile Gateron Brown Pro 3.0 Switches in our DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard sample are best described as "smooth" with only a minor bump you won't find in a more linear switch. They're great for gaming, though the total travel distance is longer than what you'd find on a fast switch created primarily for competitive shooters. However, if you play a range of games - for this review, we tested the keyboard with Diablo 4, Horizon Forbidden West, DOOM Eternal, and V Rising (with the new 1.0 update) - they feel great.

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They can be noisy if you're a heavy typer, but that's the case with most tactile switches. Still, with several layers of foam and other dampening measures in the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard, there's no rattle or discernable movement when typing. It's a weighty little unit, and the snappiness of the keys (including the spacebar) is brilliant for delivering tactile feedback when gaming. Although minimal and aesthetically different from most gaming keyboards, the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard is more than up to the task.

Productivity

With Gateron Brown Pro 3.0 Switches, the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard is an excellent productivity keyboard, albeit one that does lose out on nice-to-have features and abilities that come with a full-sized keyboard. As someone who loves dedicated media controls and a volume dial on a mechanical keyboard, going back to secondary functions for changing volume settings did feel like a small step back. The additional F13 key and the ability to customize all the secondary functions add a practical layer to the keyboard's modding capabilities.

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The real star is the overall construction, the gasket mounts, the foam, and the switch plates, paired with the excellent switches and brilliant type feel of the DROP CSTM80. Tactile switches are notably louder than linear switches, but without any rattle, the sound here is a nice, crisp, or sharp sound that is pure mechanical keyboard bliss. It is worthy of an ASMR for those semi-obsessed with great-sounding switches.

Keyboard Click Sound Level

To test a keyboard's overall sound level, we use the Ozito Digital Sound Level Meter, capturing the sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" multiple times and recording the maximum dB level. This indicates how "loud" the switches used are for everyday usage. The following chart showcases where the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard sits.

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Final Thoughts

It is rare to be able to change the entire look of a keyboard, especially when each variation has the same premium feel and excellent typing experience. The DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard is one of the most moddable and customizable keyboards, with the all-back and minimal default look acting like a blank canvas for future customization. As a company that creates bespoke and often visually striking keyboards, it's safe to say that the overall typing experience with the DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard dwarfs that of the company's custom Lord of the Rings keyboards we've gone hands-on with in the past. With Gateron switched and all manner of premium bits and pieces, this could be the best DROP, well, drop to date.

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Adding a Decorative Case to the mix does add to the overall cost, as do other accessories like a premium coiled cable (which is what DROP uses in all their marketing shots), but adding a hot-swappable top case to a mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches is a brilliant touch. If the style and minimal look grab you, you should probably grab the new DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard and make it your daily driver.

Performance

93%

Quality

96%

Features

91%

Value

90%

Overall

93%

The Bottom Line

The DROP CSTM80 Mechanical Keyboard offers next-level customization, including swapping out the magnetic top case to give it a new look. Thankfully, the default out-of-the-box experience is excellent thanks to the robust build quality and brilliant type-feel.

TweakTown award
93%

DROP + The Lord of The Rings Dwarvish TKL Mechanical Keyboard

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$314.98$149.00-
Buy at Newegg
$358.99$358.99-
* Prices last scanned on 6/14/2024 at 11:10 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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