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Verdict

If you’re looking to game with the best and poke at things in your spare time, the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 is a dream. It’s for the tinkerers who can’t settle, but at the same price as one of Corsair’s best it’s not the go-to for gamers.

Pros

  • Cherry MX2A switches are wonderful
  • Very bright RGB lighting
  • Heavily customisable

Cons

  • Outpriced in the gaming sector
  • Lack of software limits appeal

Introduction

Unless you’re already well-versed in keyboard switch technology, the immediate benefits of the Cherry XTRFY K5V2’s new MX2A switches won’t be immediately obvious. Chances are you’re just here for a tiny keyboard straight from the designers of the switches most other mechanical boards still use today.

This wired, 65% clacker is dubbed as ultra-customisable, hot-swappable, pre-lubed and sound-dampened. With vibrant RGB lighting to boot, there isn’t much this keyboard can’t do – unless you’re looking for a wireless board to quickly switch between devices on your desk or stuff into your travel bag. There’s a lot to love.

Design

  • A tiny keyboard with a modest frame
  • Powerful RGB lighting
  • Left-side USB-C port

As a 65% clacker, the Cherry K5V2 RBG Compact keyboard is almost as small as they come. There’s a slim home row on the right-hand side with developer-specific commands capped off with a magnetic logo you’ll certainly use as a fidget toy, but other than that it’s very compact.

The Cherry XTRFY K5V2 sitting on a table.

Though entirely customisable through hot-swappable switches, there isn’t much you can do to personalise the deck at the point of purchase. It’s an all-black design with Red Cherry MX2A switches – and a very sturdy one due to its metal backplate.

What you need to do is enter the manufacturer’s keyboard builder page. There, you’re able to switch to a transparent deck that accentuates the RGB lighting, quieter Reds, linear Silvers, or tactile Clear switches, select your frame colour, or even remove it altogether.

These little tweaks make the price very flexible, but if the standard black board with Red MX2A switches isn’t for you and you’re not sure about DIYing it down the line, there’s your option.

The back of the Cherry XTRFY K5V2.

In the box you’ll find two replacement switches, which can go a long way in encouraging the customisation efforts at the forefront of this board’s design, a 2m USB-C/A cable for hooking it up to your machines, a keycap puller, a manual and the keyboard itself.

It’s all neatly packaged in a simple cardboard box, with most of the accessories being housed in easily reused materials.

Performance

  • Rapid response rate
  • Smooth and stable linear switches
  • Very compact for more mouse movement

While I don’t have the equipment to test Cherry’s super-scan technology, which it claims boosts its response times to around 1ms, I can say that it feels very fast and fluid in use. At 841g with the default configuration, it isn’t likely to shift around the desk as you breeze through work, either.

The Cherry MX2A switches, which are not backed by the optical tech you’ll find on the hyper-responsive Roccat Vulcan II Mini Air, are wonderfully smooth in motion. The pre-lubed stabilisers work a treat there. Underneath the whole thing is a layer of sound-dampening foam, too, which I loved on the similarly pro-level Keychron Q1 Max.

A complete shot of a Cherry XTRFY K5V2 workstation.

Paired together, you get a reliably quiet and smooth operation that retains a solid degree of feedback with each stroke. You won’t risk waking anyone in the adjacent room, but you’ll still get to enjoy each satisfying actuation no matter how slow you manage to go.

There’s the familiar feeling of friction at these slower speeds – almost a light scratching as the keys depress – so make of that as you will. I find it to be a good indication of intent when you’re trying to stay silent. You won’t notice it at all as you pick up speed.

There’s a little more friction with the larger keys; space, return, backspace, etc. You’ll notice the light scratching more with these keys, but it’s nothing that feels detrimental to the whole experience. If anything, it creates a need to be a little more forceful with the important strokes. Again, it’s beneficial so long as you get past the feeling.

Key wobble is also kept to a minimum here. The stabilisers do a good job. They’re not entirely rigid, but the light amount of wobble allowed through could be viewed as a gateway to touch-typing.

A close shot of the keys on the Cherry XTRFY K5V2.

Software and lighting

  • Bright, even lighting that’s boosted in USB3 mode
  • No software support
  • Everything is configured on-device

Rather than hide individual LEDs beneath each switch, the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 uses lighting strips. These are bright and vibrant and have no trouble shining balanced illumination through the legend of the default ABS keycaps.

Once your machine picks up the board’s connection, the smooth lighting kicks right in, sending a wave of colour down each row as you rattle off your strokes.

Tweaks are all made on-device with the board’s dizzying number of key modifiers (all labelled, thankfully), and you can even use them to toggle between USB 2 and USB 3 mode, with the latter boosting its RGB flair further with higher power draw. Though it’s neat to have on-board options to tweak RGB lighting, the lack of software for this part of the set-up process feels disappointing.

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Should you buy it?

You should buy if you want a tiny, quiet, and fast keyboard you can trust and tweak for a long time to come

Smooth operation and reliable actuation make the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 a board that’s well worth checking out. The usual 100 million keystrokes claim feels more genuine coming from the company behind the switches.

You should not buy if you’re a device hopper or frequent traveler

Though tiny enough to take along for the ride, the lack of wireless capabilities make the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 hard to recommend in place of many competing brands that can offer more versatile boards at cheaper prices.

Final Thoughts

There’s very little not to like with the Cherry XTRFY K5V2. It works right out the box. It’s customisation potential is near-limitless, and it feels wonderful to work on. It can take some time to get used to the various key modifiers mapped to the few buttons it retains as a 65% board, but it’s far better than the alternative of none.

If you take the time to tinker with it both before and after buying, there’s little reason to think you won’t be happy with it. But at the same price as the more versatile and visually appealing Corsair K65 Plus Wireless, it’s tough to recommend to the masses. The smaller and cheaper Corsair K65 Pro Mini is another good option if wireless isn’t necessary.

Small keyboards are in abundance these days but the joyous complexity of the Cherry – as well as the confidence and quality that resonates from the brand behind the famous switches that put mechanical boards on the map – is hard to ignore in this solid effort. Just maybe check out the best mechanical keyboards to see how others have been using Cherry’s technology first.

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How we test

We use every keyboard we test for at least a week. During that time, we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through its paces across games and typical PC use.

We also check each keyboard’s software to see how easy it is to customise and set up.

Used over the course of a week across work and play on multiple devices and used to write this review.

Tested and compared against various other keyboards in and around its price range and feature bracket

FAQs

Is the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 hot-swappable?

Yes, you can remove the keycaps and switches to replace with your own. You can even swap out the frame, stabilizers, and other aspects.

Is the Cherry XTRFY K5V2 wireless?

No, it’s a wired keyboard only. Using USB 3 increases the power to the RGB lighting, but USB 2 is compatible for core use.

Full specs

UK RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Ports
Connectivity
Switch Type
Number of Macro Keys
Cable Length

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