Das Keyboard Prime 13 is the latest mechanical keyboard from Das. It features the same high quality we’ve expected, alongside a few new changes.
When you’ve got a reputation for being the owner of one of the best mechanical keyboard options for typists, writers and those with long office hours, it’s hard to introduce a new keyboard that surprises anybody in the know.
Das released their new Keyboard Prime 13 recently and whilst there isn’t anything about it that has me excited, it’s still a perfect, refreshed option that’ll really give a wow-factor to anybody that hasn’t experienced a Das keyboard before.
Let’s take a look at what’s changed, what’s the same and how it compares to the competition.
Das Keyboard Prime 13 Overview
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 is Das’ latest flagship keyboard offering – it comes with their famous durable keyboard design, mechanical Cherry MX keys for fast, precise typing, media controls embedded into some of the keys and a new aluminum finish and LED back-lighting.
Mechanical Keys and Typing
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 comes with Cherry MX switches out of the box, but these can be swapped out if you prefer a slightly different flavor for your personal mechanical typing experience.
A mechanical keyboard is exactly that at the end of the day, so typing feels as responsive as you’d hope to expect from anything of it’s caliber and price range.
One thing I do like about the Das Keyboard Prime 13, which certainly adds onto the typing experience for me at least, is that the keycaps are squared off and feel slightly larger than some other mechanical keyboards I’ve seen before.
A new feature which has been introduced to the Prime 13 is LED lighting.
The lighting can be seen underneath the keys and on the keycap inscriptions as well. This makes typing in the dark a lot easier.
For those that may have come from the blank slate Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate in the past or can memorize the layout of a keyboard with their eyes closed, you’ll likely not benefit from the LED lighting.
Still though, the addition of the LED lighting does add a small touch to it’s appearance, but it doesn’t cross the kind of boundaries some over-the-top gaming keyboards do.
Your Das Keyboard will likely get some attention, but it’s still smart enough, and quiet enough, to be a good replacement for your office keyboard at work.
What About Gaming?
With any full size keyboard like this, you’re going to need a lot of desk space for the Das Keyboard Prime 13. If you’re on a smaller desk like me, playing any kind of game that needs a lot of space for mouse movement just isn’t going to be possible.
If you do have the desk space, though, the Das Keyboard Prime 13 does work as a great gaming option.
The mechanical keys work as quickly as any other and the LED lighting can help you to quickly pinpoint the locations of any keys you may not be so familiar with.
N-key rollover, or NKRO will ensure your keys are accurately represented in-game. One thing the Das is limited on is additional keys for assigning your own custom keybinds.
Overall Size and Design
The first thing that is noticeable about the Das Keyboard Prime 13 is that it shares a very similar design to all other Das’ keyboards.
The simple blocky, rectangular shape with a little extra tab for the Das logo on the top right side is something we’ve seen in all of Das’ recent full size keyboards.
There’s no nonsense here, Das has focused on creating a no-frills design that gets it’s job done and does it well. Despite the very simple build, there is something about the extra blocky, sturdy feel to the Das Keyboard Prime 13 that sets it apart from your typical office-style keyboards.
It may look blocky, but the Das Keyboard Prime 13 isn’t that much larger than a traditional non-mechanical office keyboard. For example, the popular Logitech K120 office keyboard weighs just half a pound and sits at 0.9 inches thick, 17.7 inches long and 6.8 inches wide.
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 on the other hand has a thickness of 1.2 inches, a length of 18 inches and a width of 6.8 inches. It is a slight bit larger but it’s not that apparent when you have both keyboards side by side.
The weight, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. The Das Keyboard Prime 13 weighs 2.9 pounds, almost three times heavier than your typical office keyboard.
There are a few good reasons for this weight increase – firstly, the hardware needed for mechanical keys takes up a large amount of space in itself. Secondly, the Das Keyboard Prime 13 has one of the most durable builds I’ve ever seen.
The chassis of the Prime 13 is built entirely out of aluminum, and not any cheap aluminum either.
The keyboard feels like it could take a couple of punches, quite literally, before any signs of wear and tear would start to show.
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 is in fact heavier than the aluminum build Corsair K70 mechanical keyboard, which not only has a full size set of Cherry MX keys, just like the Das Prime 13, but it has it’s own armrest, which certainly adds onto the weight of the product.
The Corsair K70 weighs 2.65 pounds, which shows that even the sturdiest keyboards can’t quite compare to the tank that is the Das Prime 13.
Media Controls & USB Ports
One thing I personally loved about the Das 4 lineup, both for it’s appearance and it’s overall functionality, was the inclusion of a dedicated set of media controls. The Das 4 Ultimate and 4 Professional had standalone music playback controls and a tactile volume dial with a satisfyingly tactile click.
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 has these included features, but they’re not included on standalone buttons.
This time, the media controls are found on the F keys, from F1 to F11.
All of the media controls can be seen clearly on the sides of each F key, but they can only be used whilst holding down the function key which can be seen on the right side of the keyboard, taking the place of the usual secondary Windows key.
This is the usual tactic keyboard manufacturers go for to provide further functionality and media playback without bumping up the manufacturing costs.
Personally, I’d love to see the standalone buttons and volume dial make a return, but I understand that this isn’t a feature that everybody would love, and the Das Professional 4 keyboards are still widely available as an alternative. It’s clear that the Das Prime 13 is a simple branching out of their previous lineup, as opposed to a new re-imagining.
Another thing to mention are the included USB ports on the Das Keyboard Prime 13. Unfortunately, I feel like Das has made a step back here. On both the Das 4 Ultimate and Das 4 Professional, 2 USB 3.0 ports are available on the back of the keyboard.
With the Das Keyboard Prime 13, only one single USB port is available, and it isn’t even 3.0! If you’re still not disgruntled by this, the Das Keyboard Prime 13 needs to take up 2 USB ports on your PC if you’d like to make use of the extra USB port on the keyboard.
Seeing as I’m on a bit of a rant, I’ll continue by saying that they’ve removed the bad-ass ruler from the Das 4 and replaced it with two boring old keyboard stands.
For more clarification here; the keyboard stand on the Das 4 full size keyboard doubled up as a ruler.
It’s not exactly a feature anybody is looking for in a keyboard but it was a big part of Das’ message of being a bad-ass, and in the Prime 13 it has been removed.
Price and Rating – 4/5
The Das Keyboard Prime 13 costs $149, so it’s priced similarly to all of the other current Das full sized keyboards.
I feel like despite the name, the Prime 13 isn’t Das’ prime product. It’s missing a few interesting features and the LED lighting was perhaps just an afterthought.
Instead, the Prime 13 ends up becoming another option in the overall lineup of Das full size mechanical keyboards. This particular item may appeal more for those who’d like more of a minimal experience, or those who do not like the physical media controls that are found on Das’ other products.
The Das Prime 13 is designed to be simple and it has a focus on providing a smooth-working platform to type quickly, and almost nothing else. It does that well, and it’s a great, durable product, just like everything else from Das.
Don’t mistake it for the big daddy of all Das keyboards – instead, think of it like a new brother to the family.
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