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Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review

Das Keyboard's PRIME 13 mechanical keyboard has its mind set on impressing typists and manages to do quite an impressive job of it.

@chad_sebring
Published Wed, Sep 7 2016 8:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: Das Keyboard

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com
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Every once in a while, there comes a keyboard which is not entirely designed for gamers. As many typists out there will tell you, the market is filled with mechanical keyboard options which may feel ideal for writing endless pages of text or code, but most of them are packed with features that are not always needed. If someone tends always to be posting on social media or forums, whether a programmer or anyone who types a lot for work, usually those same options are either styled completely wrong for the environment or want you to pay a lot for things you may never use. While gaming is still possible with just about any keyboard out there, that is not the intention of this design in the slightest.

Das Keyboard has sent us only a couple of keyboards in the past, but we are impressed none the less. The Model S we saw as well as the 4 Professional can both be seen in this latest design, and with the advent of Division Zero, Das Keyboard now produces product lines for both sides of the fence. What we found in both designs was a professional feel, sleek aesthetics, and a solid and reliable construction across both samples. None of this is lost on our latest sample to hit the desk and is even said to be designed with these models in mind. Das Keyboard also says that they have kept their eyes and ears open to what the customers have been requesting of them, and have incorporated some of them into this design.

Das Keyboard delivered the PRIME 13 mechanical keyboard for our opinion on it. Notice nowhere in there is the word "gaming" or "RGB LED", or any of the bloat that comes associated with that segment of products. The PRIME 13 is a straightforward mechanical keyboard, without software, which is great for those of you who spend hours a day typing. There are still some features included with this design, but nothing over the top to distract you from the simple elegance that is the PRIME 13. It seems they have indeed listened to the suggestions, as we do believe this is the first of its kind to leave the labs at Das Keyboard.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In the chart are some of the specifications and features. We know it has an ABS plastic lower frame to support the PCB and black painted steel plate, while this time we are offered an anodized, matte black finish to the 2mm thick aluminum top plate. This keyboard is 457.2mm from left to right, it is 171.45mm from front to back on the right side, and stands only 22.25mm tall, out of the box. On the PCB are 104 Cherry MX Brown switches, in the standard US layout. The keycaps on each switch are laser etched, molded in white and painted before doing so, and allows for the LED backlighting to show through in white.

Features are not near what the gaming product will offer, but the PRIME 13 still packs quite a punch. There is a USB 2.0 pass-through port on the keyboard, and connection to the PC is made through a braided cable which terminates with two USB 2.0 connections, and it is two meters in length. There is also some dual functionality across the top of the keyboard, offering multimedia support, and a hibernate key to put the PC to sleep. There is full NKRO support, anti-ghosting, and a rapid polling rate, making this product ideal for even the fastest of typists. All of that along with the fact of no driver suite sets the bar to the workhorse status of such a device.

Since we are writing this review to coordinate with the release of the PRIME 13, we could not locate this product listed anywhere currently. As for now, it will only be available at daskeyboard.com, and we are told the MSRP is set at $149. Since we have yet to be disappointed in a Das Keyboard product, we feel that the craftsmanship, overall feel, and simplistic yet sleek and elegant designs do tend to cost a premium. If our past is any guide to what we are about to see, the pricing may seem lofty with such a limited feature set.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com

With a shiny logo to the left of the rest of the flat black box, we are shown quite a bit on the front. At the top right side, we see mentions of the LED backlighting, as well as the Cherry MX Brown switches. The bulk of the panel displays the company's name, the PRIME 13 moniker of the keyboard, and that this is a high-performance mechanical keyboard built with a US layout.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 03 | TweakTown.com

Both long sides of the box are identical, and both will display the Das Keyboard name and logo to the left. Following that up, we find the PRIME 13 naming and again that this is a high-performance mechanical keyboard.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 04 | TweakTown.com

The same information is found on this smaller end of the box. Just more of the gray text offering the company and products name.

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The other smaller end of the box is just black, aside from this white section to the right. In this area, Das Keyboard delivers the DKP13 model number, shows the layout with the US after it, as well of the mention to the Brown switches used. This is also where the serial number is presented for easy access to it for reference.

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The back panel lists a group of features off to the left side, and also presents four of them via icons in the middle. Below this, you will find the system requirements, warranty, and contents for this product, while the bottom repeats the key features in many languages.

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Upon opening the box, we find the PRIME 13 wrapped in plastic to protect the finishes. Cardboard surrounds the keyboard and centers it to ensure there is no major damage during transport. The cable is bundled in the back, under the flaps, and there is also a bit of paperwork under the keyboard to locate.

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This single page insert is what you will find for literature's sake. Installation could not be easier, just plug and play. There is also mention of NKRO support, enabled via the Function key and F12. If you need support, there is an address provided, and you can also win free goodies, following the instructions at the bottom.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard

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On the left edge of the PRIME 13, we can see that the lower sections are slightly smaller than the thick aluminum top panel. The lower section is also inset on the edge and allows the PRIME 13 to be easily grabbed and moved. As in most instances, most of the keycaps at this point are leaning away from your hands.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 10 | TweakTown.com

The minimalistic design delivers a matte top plate, surrounding all of the standard keys. The font used is bold and easy to read, and in this instance, are backlit. We do see some secondary functionality along the top with more than just multimedia support.

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The Escape key offers double duty delivering a way to put the PC into hibernation. The F1 is also used to dim the LED backlighting in six stages including off. F is then used to allow you to go back up in LED intensity.

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F5 and the Function keys will allow you to skip back one track. The F6 is for play/pause functionality, and the F7 is used to move forward a track.

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The last of the multimedia keys are found here. F9 is used to mute all sounds, F10 is to lower the volume, and F11 raises it.

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At the right end of the PRIME 13, we see the top edge is raised, which is a Das Keyboard specialty. There are all of the command keys, arrows, and an all-inclusive number pad. The number pad also can be used for movement, catering to the left-hand users out there.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 15 | TweakTown.com

The right edge of the keyboard is nearly identical to what we saw on the left, just that this time we have extended the feet. This increases the angle of attack and puts all but the first row of keys angled toward the user.

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From the right side, we creep around to the back edge, and we find this USB pass-through port, to make connectivity of other accessories easier. This is USB 2.0 but is plenty for data transfer or mouse functionality.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 17 | TweakTown.com

The two-meter cable sent on the PRIME 13 is thick, and is also covered with cloth braid from end to end. Near the gold plated connections, there is a plastic splitter to separate the leads, one of which is for keyboard functionality, while the other is used solely for the pass-through port.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 18 | TweakTown.com

Under the PRIME 13, we find two thin rubber strips for feet along the front edge. The back is supported in the raised sections of plastic, but the flip out feet. The sticker in the middle offers the company and product name, and also provides the serial number.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 19 | TweakTown.com

The flip out feet lock solidly into position, ready for use, and are not easily collapsed. The ends of the feet contain the tip made of rubber. So not only will they grip well when collapsed, but as they are extended, the rubber is still exposed to grip- the desktop.

Inside the PRIME 13

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Removing some of the keycaps, we find the PRIME 13 is backed with Cherry MX Brown switches. They use standard studs on them for easy replacement of the keycaps, and we also see the torsion bars are built in below the top plate and are not exposed.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 21 | TweakTown.com

The keycaps are molded in white plastic first. Once they are cleaned up, they are then coated with black paint, and their function is laser etched in the top. This way, the LEDs under each cap can shine brightly through them.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Removing eleven screws from the bottom of the keyboard will allow the PRIME 13 to come apart. Inside of the aluminum top panel, we find dense foam used to support it near the arrow keys and around the Lock LED lights. The lower section is flat with only a single ridge to support the PCB, along with a few studs here and there to help with that as well.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 23 | TweakTown.com

The PCB color of choice is green in this keyboard. Looking closely shows us clean solder joints on all of the switches, and no remains left behind from the flux.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 24 | TweakTown.com

Sadly, they have painted this Holtek IC with white paint. Due to the limited features and lack of full on gaming support, we cannot imagine this is more than a 16-bit MCU controlling the PRIME 13.

Das Keyboard PRIME 13 Mechanical Keyboard Review 25 | TweakTown.com

Once reassembled, and powered on, we find the PRIME 13 aglow with white LEDs. They can be turned off, as well as the option to illuminate them in five intensities. We also clicked on the Number lock, the Caps lock, as well as the Scroll Lock; we see that those LEDs are white as well.

Gaming and General Impressions

DOOM

While the PRIME 13 is not oriented towards games in general, this does not mean that we would not game on it. With DOOM running, we did not miss any extra buttons, and all movements are recorded, and functionally everything is sound for gaming.

The Cherry Brown MX switches, like Reds, are soft and better oriented for gaming in the first place, making this sleek looking keyboard just as capable as those with "Gaming" in their name, as far as all of the basics are concerned. We do not tend to use Macros in such a game, so we did not miss the fact of the lack of software, or Macro support.

Overwatch

As we tend to find, if we like the movement and feel of a keyboard with DOOM, we find is also works well for Overwatch. While this is a game where we tend to appreciate key remapping, there is not that option with the PRIME 13 either. Movements were on point, and the key presses felt sufficient for this game.

Even when in the heat of the battle, the NKRO support works, as well as full anti-ghosting, so that each and every press is recorded as it is actuated. We are unsure of the polling rate, but we never ran into an issue where a key was not recognized when pressed, no matter how many we were attempting to press at once.

Windows and Productivity

This portion of the testing is where the PRIME 13 excels. The keyboard is built for speed, and we felt our typing had sped up as well, all within the first day. With the standard US layout over 104 keys, everything is right where it should be, and we found it to be pleasant when in use. Writing a few reviews on this keyboard is where we get a real feel for keyboards, and at no point did we find the PRIME 13 lacking in any way shape or form for this.

While typically we do not tend to put our PC into hibernation, it does not take long to find good reasons for such a feature, specifically if you don't want others to see what you are doing. Adjustable LED intensity is a nice feature, as those who need to look at the keyboard to type, may not prefer the brightest setting. All of the dual functionality keys work as intended, and for simplicity, we always like it when software does not have to be involved.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we see that history does tend to repeat itself, and everything we loved about Das Keyboard products rings true in this latest design. The PRIME 13 has been a pleasure to use, it is near silent if used with soft hands, but can tend to "clack" as the keys return to the resting position, as speed and pressure increases. The 104 key layout feels normal and does not take much time to get used to at all.

We found ourselves nearly immediately cruising right along with typing up reviews as if it were an old friend we had not seen in a while. The look of the PRIME 13 is fantastic, and we like the matte finish this time around. While we do tend to use the multimedia keys quite a bit, and found these to be sufficient. We like being able to adjust the backlighting, and that alone is something we do not normally see from Das Keyboard. The customers asked for it, and the PRIME 13 glows with white LEDs across the entire keyboard, even for the Lock indicator LEDs.

While not intended for gaming, it can and will get you by in most instances. The lack of software makes the PRIME 13 great to take around from place to place, allowing those where the "feel" of the keyboard is most important, you will never have to compromise, as this keyboard can go right along with you. The use of Cherry MX Brown switches is made to save the ears of those who can type like the wind, but are also a prized option for a lot of gaming keyboards. There are some limitations to this product, but as we say, we gamed on it without issue, and as long as your needs do not exceed the feature set, you two could enjoy company from the PRIME 13.

The one thing that is hard to portray in words is the feel of a Das Keyboard. There are no vibrations felt through the keys, the steel plate is solid as a rock, and the frame either dresses it up or encloses the innards, everything is purpose built with the PRIME 13. On the inside, the same level of detail is taken on the build process, and in every aspect, much attention to detail has been paid. You may very well be able to find something similar, with less cost involved, but it likely won't deliver the level of detail of this design, or the professional-grade feel associated with a Das Keyboard product.

The PRIME 13 may not be for everyone, but those of you who spend hours a day at the helm, typing away on a keyboard all day, you already know this is right up your alley. To us, it may be low on gamer oriented options, but some of us miss basic designs. We fully appreciate what you are getting for the price with designs such as what is found in this Das Keyboard PRIME 13 mechanical keyboard.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

TweakTown award
Performance97%
Quality including Design and Build99%
General Features85%
Bundle and Packaging95%
Value for Money92%
Overall94%

The Bottom Line: The PRIME 13 is built for the typist and is a stellar performer. The elegance, the feel, the solid construction, and of course the backlighting delivers all you need to get through hours of work at the keyboard.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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