NuPhy Review: Are Mechanical Keyboards Worth it for Writers?

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In this NuPhy keyboard review, I’ll break down the typing experience from a writer’s point of view and help you decide if it’s worth the investment.

Writers are always looking to gain an edge. Actually, that’s not true. If I were basing what it’s like being a writer solely on my experience alone, it would be a lot of not writing and avoiding my desk at all costs. I’m not looking for an edge. All I want is to make the writing experience less daunting. That’s why I’ve invested a lot into my writing setup to make the experience, well, enjoyable.

This enjoyable experience wouldn’t be possible without the most important tool in my writing arsenal: my NuPhy Halo 65 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard.

NuPhy mechanical keyboard
Author’s NuPhy mechanical keyboard

As a longtime Mac user, I was accustomed to the low-profile, all-white keyboards that felt like you were tapping your fingers on the table. I didn’t hate the feeling, but writing with an Apple keyboard wasn’t something I found enticing. 

Then I saw a TikTok by Baron Ryan. It wasn’t anything special. Honestly, I can’t remember what it was about, but in this TikTok, he was sitting at his desk and typing on what I thought was the coolest-looking keyboard ever. It looked old-school yet modern enough for today’s standards.

I did some internet sleuthing to find out exactly what keyboard Baron was using (aka, I scrolled through the comments and found my answer). It was a NuPhy Halo65, a compact size keyboard about 65% the size of a full-size keyboard. I then spent the next week researching, contemplating, and enlightening myself, trying to decide if it was worth purchasing.

And by worth it, I mean will this writing gadget help me become a more efficient and effective writer? Or, at the very least, will it get my butt into my chair and words on the screen?

So here I am. A few months into my experience, I am ready to give my final verdict on this keyboard and whether or not it is worth purchasing. I’m also here to save you some time because the rabbit hole of keys, switches, and PBT keycaps is a deep one. 

Let’s get started.

What Exactly is a NuPhy Keyboard?

NuPhy is the maker of a wide range of high-quality mechanical keyboards. At this point, you might be wondering: Aren’t all keyboards mechanical? 

Yes, technically speaking, all keyboards are a mechanism and thus mechanical in nature. However, in the world of computer-speak, there is a huge difference between mechanical and non-mechanical keyboards.

A mechanical keyboard uses individual mechanical switches that provide the typist with various forms of tactical and audible feedback, typing speed, and comfort.

A non-mechanical keyboard uses a rubber or silicone dome membrane under the keys to register keypresses, giving the typist a less-responsive, mushier feel.

Mechanical keyboards are more durable and can be easily customized with hot-swappable switches to meet the typist’s unique needs. They also offer many writing advantages, such as: 

  • Consistency – every keypress feels the same across the keyboard
  • Reduced fatigue – mechanical keys require less pressure to register a keystroke, making them more comfortable for extended use
  • Speed – tactile and audible feedback leads to faster typing time
  • Accuracy – the tactile response of a mechanical keyboard gives the typist an awareness that their keypress has been registered

Now that I have you up to speed on what exactly is a mechanical keyboard, let’s look at the specifics.

My Honest NuPhy Keyboard Review

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a convert to mechanical keyboards, specifically ones built by NuPhy. However, for the sake of fairness, I’ve compiled my honest review here to help you make an informed decision. 

Also, I was not paid to write this review. Nor did I receive my keyboard for free from NuPhy. I spent my own money to conduct my own analysis.

What’s in the box?

I spent a good ten minutes digging through my office closet trying to find the NuPhy box (because I am a millennial, and we don’t throw away boxes). But then it dawned on me that I recently bought a new house and must have thrown the box away during the move. 

Never fear, dear reader. The internet is here to help. Below is what’s included in the NuPhy Halo65 version. There are some variations for the other keyboards offered by NuPhy.

  • 1 x halo65 wireless mechanical keyboard
  • 1 x USB-C to USB-A cable (1.5 m)
  • 1 x 2.4g receiver
  • 1 x keycap/switch puller
  • 17 x extra keycaps
  • 7 x extra switches
  • 1 x quick guide/poster
  • 1 x stickers

I also added the optional wrist rest to my order. 

Setting Up NuPhy: Step-by-Step Guide

Setting up your NuPhy keyboard is relatively easy. All of the user manuals can be found here on NuPhy’s site.

After taking the contents out of the box, turn on your keyboard with the sliding switch located on the side behind the Esc key. You can choose between a wireless or wired option. I recommend the wired version to start. Plug in the cable included in the box to your keyboard and computer.

Next, designate whether your operating system is Windows or Macintosh with the following keypress combinations:

  • Windows mode: Fn + X + S
  • Macintosh mode: Fn + X + A

If you do want to pair your keyboard over Bluetooth to your computer, switch the sliding switch to wireless mode and unplug the cable. Then, long press FN for 3 seconds until the indicator light blinks blue. Then you can press the following keypress combinations depending on your Bluetooth setup:

  • FN + Q for Bluetooth 1
  • FN + W for Bluetooth 2
  • FN + E for Bluetooth 3
  • FN + R for 2.4 GHz 

At this point, you’re all set. If you’d like to customize the RGB lighting halo effects, refer to the quick start guide for the keypress combinations. I did find this part a bit challenging. I eventually figured it out after a lot of key mashing.

If you choose wireless, the battery life can sustain 192 hours of continuous use. 

Common Problems (and Solutions) During Installation

The biggest issue during installation, and one that I experience from time to time, is pairing my Halo65 to my computer via Bluetooth. For some reason, my keyboard pairs easily with my iPad when I feel like being mobile. However, with my Mac, I had trouble pairing it and thus now rely on the wired version (which I really don’t mind).

To fix Bluetooth issues, NuPhy recommends the following:

  1. Check your history of connected devices to see if your keyboard is in it.
  2. Refer to the quick guide shipped with the keyboard and follow the relevant steps if it is not in the history.
  3. Remove your keyboard from the list if it has been added before.
  4. After (3)., turn the Bluetooth connection on your computer/keyboard off then back on, broadcast the device info from your keyboard, and complete the rest of the pairing process on your computer.

NuPhy Hardware Specs

I won’t pretend to be one of those dudes who drones on about specs. If you’re into that, there are plenty of other NuPhy reviews that dive deeper. However, being that this review is tailored to writers, it’s possible some writers might want to know what’s under the hood. Here’s what I’ve managed to dig up.

General:
switch type: night breeze/rose glacier/bbk/bbr/g-pro 2.0
layout: ANSI 65%
number of keys: 67 keys
hot-swappable support: yes
n-key rollover support: yes
backlight & sidelight: RGB-led
backlight modes: 10
sidelight modes: 4
halolight modes: 4
mode: 2.4G wireless, Bluetooth 5.0 or wired
connection type: USB type-c
compatible system: macos/windows/android/ios
angle: 5.5º/ 8.5º/ 11º
operating environment: -10 to 50℃
power and battery
battery capacity: 4000mAh
working time (all lights on): 10.5~24 hours (lab test result)
working time (all lights off): up to 320 hours (lab test result)
Materials:
frame: aluminum
bottom case: abs
keycap: double-shot pbt
Dimensions:
12.5 inch x 4.5 inch x 1.48 inch
318.1 mm x 114.4 mm x 37.5 mm
weight
2.20 pound
1000 grams

Design and Features

NuPhy keyboards are built using the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) style layout instead of an ISO layout (which isn’t as common). 

The NuPhy Halo series employs an inner and outer illuminated ring with 17 different default light effects, 65 RGB LEDs, and 16M RGB colors. I thought this feature would be a bit distracting, but it does make the keyboard feel less boring and is a nice touch.

But of course, we can’t go anywhere without first talking about what makes a mechanical keyboard a mechanical keyboard: switches. Switches are not unique to NuPhy. NuPhy keyboards are preassembled, kind of like ordering a meal kit from your favorite delivery service. You are more than welcome to build your own setup. But again, I’m writing this with writers in mind, and I have a hunch that’s not your thing.

Switches come in all sorts of varieties. Like a lot of varieties. You might have already heard about common ones like brown switches or red-switches. They vary in pressure needed to record a keystroke (tactile response) and the clicky sound they make when you type (audible response). NuPhy has already sorted through the many, many switches available and gives you a few options to choose from. I’ve included links to videos that demonstrate the different sounds each switch makes. (I personally use Baby Raccoon, which, if you are wondering, does not sound anything like a baby raccoon.)

If you listen to any of the sound tests, you’ll notice that the space bar has a softer sound than the rest of the keys. That’s because it’s a GhostBar. GhostBar is the “world’s first noise suppression space keycap,” according to NuPhy. It uses a silicone sound absorber, polycarbonate connector, and PBT stabilizer noise reduction chambers. Don’t ask me what any of that means. It’s very sciency and very cool.

What I Like About NuPhy Keyboards

A few years back, I thought buying a Macbook would help me write more. Surprise, it didn’t. I couldn’t quite my finger on it (figuratively and literally speaking). 

What I didn’t realize at the time but now know is I don’t like typing on “modern” keyboards. From an ergonomic standpoint (and I have an industrial engineering degree), they aren’t comfortable to write with for extended periods of time. The keys are too close together, they sometimes get stuck, and my wrists hurt from rubbing up against the edge of the keyboard or laptop.

NuPhy mechanical keyboards handle all these problems, especially when you include the wrist rest with your order. Instead, the physical writing process isn’t tedious but rather enjoyable. In cooking, there is a fifth flavor called umami, which is translated as “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese. Basically, umami describes the savoriness of the dish. The tactile and audible responses of NuPhy keyboards add umami to the act of writing.

What I Would Change

The only issue I experienced was actually just getting my keyboard. It took over 2 weeks for my keyboard to arrive. Granted, NuPhy ships their products out of China and I’m on the east coast of the U.S. So, maybe I could have opted for the express instead of the standard shipping (they did warn in the checkout process that the standard shipping takes a while, but I thought everyone just says that). Even still, according to their shipping policy, express shipping still takes 5-14 days.

As for the keyboard itself, I haven’t found anything I’d change. But if I do, mechanical keyboards are completely customizable. So, if I ever want to change things up, I can! Like I did with my arrow keys. Originally, they matched the same reddish color of the Enter key. I wanted them to stand out, so I swapped them with the green-blue spare keys that came with the keyboard.

But wait, there’s more. I don’t necessarily have an issue with this but some online reviews have pointed out that the wired connection uses a USB-C to USB-A cable instead of the dual USB-C cable so many products are adopting. Again, not a problem for me since my Mac has plenty of USB-A ports but I wanted to point it out.

How Much Does a NuPhy Keyboard Cost?

Alas, here we are. Now that I’ve enlightened you about the world of key switches, you’re probably wondering how much these dang things cost. Now, I’m basing my review on my experience with the NuPhy Halo65. However, there are a few other variations in the Halo series that I’ll break down below. NuPhy also offers an Air series of low-profile keyboards with low-profile switches (aka less chunky). I’ve included these in the price comparison below. 

How Much Does a NuPhy Keyboard Cost? Price Breakdown Between Keyboards

NuPhy Halo Series
NameSynopsisPriceLearn More
Halo65Compact (ANSI 65%), perfect for writers who just need essentials$119.95Learn more about the Halo65
Halo75Like the Halo65 but with an additional row for function keys $129.95Learn more about the Halo75
Halo96Includes an additional keypad (ANSI 96%)$139.95Learn more about the Halo96
NuPhy Air Series
NameSynopsisPriceLearn More
Air60Ultra slim, perfect for iPad or Macbook users$99.95Learn more about the Air60
Air75Like the Air65 but with an additional Function row$119.95Learn more about the Air75
Air96Includes an additional keypad (ANSI 96%)$129.95Learn more about the Air96

Comparison: NuPhy vs. Competitors

For fairness’s sake, there are other well-established brands out there that make mechanical keyboards. I have not personally tested any of these so I will share some that I found online, along with their price and a brief opinion of my own.

  • Logitech MX Mechanical – This keyboard gives off millennial grey vibes. It looks boring, and at $169 doesn’t seem worth it.
  • Corsair K70 PRO MINI – This one has a very close resemblance to NuPhy, however, it is geared toward gamers and has faster keystroke processing. It’s also $180.
  • Ducky One 3 Mini – Another close comparison to NuPhy. Ducky is also a well-trusted brand. This one starts at $119 and goes up depending on your customizations.
  • Filco Majestouch – A no-frills mechanical keyboard by a trusted brand. However, the spacebar is a bit small for my liking. Costs $170 but saw it was on sale for $140.

Can I return my NuPhy keyboard?

Yes, NuPhy’s return policy allows for up to 30 days after your purchase (I’m assuming this means after receipt of your purchase but that isn’t clear on the return policy). Email service@nuphy.com to request your refund and how to return your keyboard. Just make sure it’s in the same condition as how you received it.

What are people saying about NuPhy?

No need to take my word for it. Reviews across the internet for the NuPhy Halo65 are overwhelmingly positive. At the time of writing, the NuPhy Halo65 sports a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Google reviews with 355 submissions. 

NuPhy reviews

Here’s what people are saying:

“The basis of my strong review is the fantastic tactile experience I’ve had. This brings me back to my days when I was typing over 140 words per minute. I also am filled with the urge to story-tell, and writing has become enjoyable again. I feel like I’m going to need to buy one for work.”

—Kelvin E.

“I am in love with this keyboard! I love the look, feel, and sound while typing! This keyboard has honestly made me do more writing because I just enjoy typing on it so much.”

—Marshall B.

“I got the Night Breeze switches and they are amazing, the sound made is so nice and the feel of clicking the switches are great as well. It makes me feel like typing all the time!”

—Christian G.

Conclusion: Is NuPhy Worth It?

Before watching Baron Ryan’s TikTok some 6 months ago, I thought I was forever confined to flat, boring, uninspiring keyboards (sorry, Tim Cook, if you’re reading this). As fate would have it (or the Algorithm is just more omniscient than we realize), I found the NuPhy Halo65 mechanical keyboard.

Since then, I’ve been more inspired, productive, and efficient with my writing. I cannot stress enough how addicting the feel of a mechanical keyboard Is. I am a very tactile person (hugs are my love language), so the feel of my fingers registering a keystroke with the pleasant clicky sound that follows is akin to holding my children for the first time, if not better.

So yes, if you are a serious writer, any NuPhy keyboard will be worth the modest investment. It’s a writer gadget you absolutely should have in your arsenal.