Space82% Blade Runner Review

keyboard by: Graystudio
Photos taken in House by alex

Space82% Blade Runner

Alright, let’s dive into Graystudio’s latest custom keyboard: the Space82% Blade Runner. This board caught me by surprise—I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued by an F-row-less layout? It falls into the FRL-1800 category, and let me tell you, it’s pretty. With its sleek design, a splash of accent RGB, and a unique gasket system, this is Graystudio at their most exciting. And as per the title, I don’t think this has anything to do with Blade Runner, sorry to let down those interested! But let’s dive deeper into this board.

Disclaimer: Graystudio sent me this to review and is letting me keep the review unit, but this does not impact this written review nor did they get to review this article before I posted it.

A view of the accent and side LED of the Space82%.

The Board in All Its Glory

Picture this: an FRL-1800 board with futuristic vibes with some tasteful LED. It’s definitely a unique style but they’ve dialed it down just enough to keep things sleek and stylish. Plus, it comes in nine different colors—talk about options! And can we take a moment to appreciate what’s in the box? Tons of foams, all the tools you need for assembly, and even spare parts. Perfect for first-time builders itching to dive into the world of custom keyboards.

Let’s Talk The Way It Looks

Aesthetically speaking, this board is a looker. It’s not your typical aluminum block—it’s got some serious style. However, this stylized choice is more prominent on the bottom of the keyboard, and I think it’s well executed. Now, some folks might say it’s too simple compared to other GrayStudio releases, but I disagree. Sometimes less is more, and this board strikes the perfect balance.

Now, let’s talk RGB and LEDs. This board’s got lights in a lot of places—the bottom, the side, the top, and the back. The bottom accent is cool, even if you’ll never really see it. But those top and back LEDs? Nicely diffused and adding just the right amount of pizzazz. Personally, I think it’s awesome when keyboards have LED lights along the back side. However, my major issue lies with how the side LEDs were implemented. As of writing this article, you are forced to use a light blocker/diffuser that creates circular patterns instead of a diffused bar. I believe this implementation doesn’t work too well here, and I would have preferred a plain diffused area to let the light shine more unimpeded. But hey, it’s a minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things.

Alright, let’s talk about ergonomics. This board’s got a front height of 19.5mm, which falls just shy of my comfort zone. For those wanting some context on why I think this matters, here’s the rundown: the taller the board, the more you have to cock your wrist, leading to more fatigue. You then drop your wrists, causing discomfort as you angle your hands awkwardly.

Internals and Build Process

Let’s first touch base on the internals here. It uses these neat ‘arched gaskets’ that allow the board to essentially “float” while resting on them. I’ve never seen gaskets like this before and was skeptical if they would feel good. Spoiler alert—they felt great.

Another point to note is the PCB. This part is a bit of a letdown for me personally. There are no options; it’s a 1.2mm hotswap-only PCB with a fixed layout. However, there are no flex cuts. While I can appreciate hotswap units and 1.2mm thickness, I would have preferred a solder version with more options. More and more brands and designers have been offering more options to cater to people’s varying tastes and preferences for PCBs, and I would love to see GrayStudio explore that in the future. To be very clear, this is very preference based, but options to choose from are never a bad thing for consumers.

Now, despite my previous critique, the PCB in its current state still sounded and felt good. I paired it with some HMX Emo switches during my test config and ended up really liking it. The foam isn’t completely necessary but adds a fun way to modify your sound profile.

The installation of the PCB and gaskets was… odd. It wasn’t particularly difficult but definitely a bit puzzling. The trick seems to be to place the ‘arch gaskets’ down in the case first, lay down the PCB assembly, and then slot in the gaskets to the plate one by one. It was a bit of an “aha” moment for me, and then rebuilding it was straightforward. The other odd part was the diffusers for the side LEDs. They were a bit tricky to place in, and I had to really close the case with some finesse to get them to stay.

The board is also a hidden screw design, which is a love or hate aspect for some. In these types of boards the screws are typically hidden under the keycaps and for the people who love to tinker, it can get tedious having to remove keycaps every time. It’s a trade off for a screw less design, but the funny thing about that is they have faux screws on the bottom for aesthetics.

Overall, the build wasn’t hard to assemble but was more of an easy puzzle to solve, which may add to the experience for some. I think Graystudio should have made the ‘arch gaskets’ able to lock into the plate so they could be installed there and then laid into the case. This could have avoided the gaskets being knocked out of the way or any fumbling around laying the PCB onto them. The best way to sum up the build experience is finicky.

I think what I want from Graystudio is more options present with the board in the form PCBs and layout choices. 

Small note I am editing in here: I did get confirmation that there will a solder PCB available after the GB is done as a separate purchase.

Bottom LED.

Internals of the Space82%

Close up of the accent of the SixtyFive.

But How Does It Sound?

Despite the 1.2mm PCB, it sounds pretty darn good! Bright and metallic with a hint of resonance around the modifiers. Throw in some foam, and you’ve got yourself a fuller, slightly foamy sound profile. If you’re into bright keyboards, this one’s right up your alley.

Bottom Line and Other Thoughts?

Now, let’s talk about price of the Blade Runner. At $359.99 USD plus $45 USD for shipping, it’s definitely an investment. But considering the rarity of this layout, the price makes sense. Some folks might be put off by the lack of a full 0 on the numpad, but hey, you can’t have it all. Maybe that makes or breaks this for you.

Now, about those options I mentioned earlier. Technically, you can choose your plate! Personally, I’d go with aluminum or PC. FR4 plates are just okay in Graystudio boards, and they don’t really add anything special to the sound. But hey, to each their own.

Some comparable products are the Neson 810E, which you’d have to wait for extras, or the KBDFans TET [affiliate code], which comes in at a $20 premium. However, you can get it now vs waiting 3 – 4 months for the group buy of the Space82%.

So, who’s this board for? Well, if you’re into that trendy, futuristic aesthetic and you value a solid typing experience, this could be the one for you. There’s a lot to consider before pulling the trigger, but after spending some quality time with it, I can safely say I’m one happy camper.