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Mode Loop TKL Review

my thoughts

keyboard by: Mode Designs
Photos taken in House by alex

Intro

The Loop is not a rehash or an upgrade to its previous TKL, the Eighty. It’s a wholly reimagined (from a build perspective) TKL. In fact, the only part used from the Eighty is the PCB. Did it really make sense for Mode to completely start over? Let’s take a look.

Disclaimer: Mode is a sponsor of my channel but has no say and gives no direction to how my live streams go. The thoughts below are my own, and Mode did not influence this review.

Also there are a few affiliate links on this page, they give me a small kick back when you use them which helps fund reviews like these! 
 

Corner shot of the Mode Loop TKL // Fuji X-HS2

The Board

As I alluded to, nearly everything about this board is new. The Loop has five pieces: top and bottom frames, weight, and top and mid accents. The weights come in different materials, affecting the board’s overall weight and sound signature. The newer updated lattice blocks also act as a small force break mod. These are much thicker blocks, so the compression over time is less likely to happen here.

Side note about the lattice system. I use my Envoy frequently, and others have noted that compression of the lattice blocks over time. I have looked into this as well and noticed this. Mode’s fix is thicker lattice blocks, which should hold up to the stress of typing longer. To be clear, I haven’t had any issues with the lattice compression on my Envoy, but others report it stiffens the typing experience.

The PVD coating on the top-end model was superb, and the optional finishes look great, too. I love how the mid-accent piece looks, and I adore boards with this feature not just because it makes the seam look nice (which it most definitely does) but because it’s another way to customize the board to make it your own. The four feet have a press-in design. Again, I love this.

Speaking of the feet, they are ribbed. While I like the look and design (press-in feet are excellent), dust was building up quickly (after just a few days, see below shots for examples on the black unit).  Since they pop right out and press back in easily they are easy to clean, but who wants to clean the feet of a keyboard?. Speaking of dust, I worry about the top accent piece. While it’s another great way to customize the board (and a fun nod to the Sonnet’s accent piece), the Loop’s top accent is recessed. I worry about dust collecting there.

Here’s where I am right now. Mode makes two of what I consider to be the most visually appealing boards: Tempo and Sonnet. These boards have clean lines and curves where it matters. The Loop’s rounded look feels a bit out of place. Add in the dust-collecting areas, and it doesn’t quite work for me. I hope Mode returns to a more ‘simple but elegant’ design.

 

Mode Loop TKL // Fuji X-HS2

Press fit feet of the Loop

The Side Profile of the Loop TKL

Penrose (left) vs Cassette (right) // Fuji X-HS2

Building, Typing, and Sound

The Loop comes with all the tools needed, so the build is easy, and I expect you’ll find it stress-free. Mainly because (and I hope others follow this lead) there are no adhesives anywhere on this board. Shaky handers rejoice! No adhesives mean not only that you do not have to worry about less-than-straight feet but also that you don’t have to worry about adhesives wearing out as you try different Loop setups.

Just as with the Tempo and Envoy, the lattice block mounts can also be left off on certain parts of the keyboard, so change the feel to suit your tastes. The lattice blocks also friction fit into the board and, as I mentioned earlier, act as a force break mod.

Mode went away from the 1-piece design screw-down areas like the Envoy and Tempo had, as this removes the inconsistent sound signature some users were experiencing. I’m glad about this. The Loop may be a pass if you’re looking for a board with soft typing, like the Envoy and Tempo. I found the Loop to be more in line with the feeling of a top mount which means it’s a bit stiffer feeling.

My favorite version of the Loop so far? The all-aluminum version.

The Penrose model is the cheaper all-aluminum version and is my favourite sound-wise so far. It feels airy compared to the Cassette version which is more bassy and solid sounding due to its denser and heavier weight. This is not as bright sounding as the Tempo and Envoy, I would personally put this right in the middle, leaning towards being brighter. I know there were tons of folks who didn’t like the bright sounding nature of the previous boards with lattice blocks, so this should appeal to them.

Inside the Loop

Lattice Block Installed

Loop vs Tempo vs Envoy Lattice Blocks

Let's Talk About Pricing

As I write this, the Loop is only an in-stock purchase. Mode says it will do a production run with a proper configurator, but that’s not yet available. So you are left with Mode’s configurations.

The board starts at $359 for the “Pensrose” aluminum version and goes up to $599 for the “Cassette” version. This price may be difficult for some interested in this board, thanks to all the fancy materials. 

I asked Mode about this, and here’s what Xris from Mode had to say:

  1. I can confirm there will be a production run with the classic Mode configurator with more cost-friendly (aluminum) options available! There will still be some premium options like brass/copper. However, the brass black mirror PVD ring will not be returning and is exclusive to the Cassette Loop.
  2. The Cassette Loop is the most premium model due mainly to the brass black mirror PVD ring component. The production run will maintain brass black mirror PVD weight and accent as an option, but the ring will be aluminum black mirror PVD instead.
  3. The overall cost of this first edition run is higher in large part due to the low quantity (300 units), and it was air shipped versus sea shipped, higher quantity and sea shipping will help lower costs/price in the production run.

Bottom Line

My verdict: The Loop is a solid board at $359. It’s a premium keyboard that checks many of my boxes and that price makes sense for what you get! However, it becomes tough to recommend the $600 version as it’s mainly a visual upgrade with some more premium materials. Now, if that’s your thing, go for it! But because the increased price only makes a visible difference and not so much an audible one, I find it hard to be impressed. I want Mode to make this board available with their usual configurator, and I am hopeful about that based on what Xris said above.

Cassette Variant of the Loop TKL