Nuphy is a keyboard brand I’ve admired for some time, but I haven’t tried out any of its products. However, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally had the opportunity to road test the Nuphy Air96 mechanical keyboard and I am a Nuphy convert.
The Nuphy Air96 features an ANSI 96% layout with 100 keys, including a full numeric keypad and a row of function and media keys for macOS and Windows. The keyboard has as small a footprint for as full a size as possible while keeping full pitch keys for more comfortable typing.
With its ultra-slim design and hot-swappable, low-profile Gateron switches, the Nuphy Air96 is a joy to type with and is supplied with keycaps for Windows and macOS. There’s also a hardware switch for flipping between the two operating systems.
The best aspect of this sleek keyboard is the shape of its low-profile keycaps with their dished centers and rounded corners. The lower height of the keycaps puts far less strain on the wrists than a regular full-height mechanical keyboard.
The default Air96’s keycap design is called Coast and is available in Dawn or Twilight versions. The Coast Dawn keycaps on my test keyboard has a white, grey, green, red and yellow key.
Such a colorful mix might sound like the trigger for an instant migraine, but it’s a great design because the main keycaps are white and the ancillary keys are grey. The Enter key is easy-to-see red, while the space bar is a lovely saffron yellow. The Esc key and numeric keypad’s Enter key are mint green. The overall effect is super cool and would brighten up any desk. Other color schemes are available from the Nuphy website.
The Air96 keycaps are double-shot PBT and nSA, meaning the backlight LEDs can shine through. The switches beneath the keys are hot-swappable and there’s a choice of Daisy, Aloe and Wisteria Gateron switches. The travel distance of the switches is 3.2mm, which is about the longest you’ll find on any low-profile switch and not much less than a full-height mechanical keyboard.
The Daisy and Aloe Gateron switches are both linear styles but with different forces required. The Wisteria switches are tactile and offer a more clicky feel. In short, these are top-quality pre-lubed switches with plenty of return thanks to 16.5mm springs.
For those who prefer the traditional Red, Brown or Blue switches, Gateron has just upgraded its low-profile switch range to offer 3.2mm travel, which is very close to the movement you’d get from a regular height mechanical switch.
On each side of the Air96 are two RGB sidelights. The left sidelight shows the Caps Lock and connection mode, while the right sidelight bar displays the available battery level and the system mode. With the gradient light effect activated, the sidelights can illuminate the keyboard with a gentle glow, although the sidelights can be turned off.
As well as the sidelights, the Nuphy Air96 also features RGB backlight LEDs in 10 different colors, which can be changed with a few key presses. Through the Nuphy Console software, the lighting effects can be customized, although there isn’t a macOS version yet.
Turning the keyboard over reveals two sets of flip-out legs that can adjust the slope of the keyboard to offer three different typing angles of 3.5, 6.5, 8.5 degrees for the best comfort when typing for long periods. Like most modern keyboards, the Air96 provides wired and wireless connections to the host computer using Bluetooth, 2.4GHz RF or USB-C. The Air96 can connect with up to four different devices and switching between them is easy.
Finally, we come to battery life. A full charge of the Air96’s 4,000mAh battery can function for between 24 and 55 hours with all the LEDs turned on. With the lights turned off, the keyboard can operate wirelessly for up to 300 hours, which is impressive.
Verdict: The Nuphy Air96 is one of the best full-size mechanical keyboards if you want something with a small footprint and a numeric keypad. The keycaps are superb PBT quality and the backlights and sidelights add a classy finish to the product. The fact that the Nuphy Air96 can work with Windows and macOS makes it an excellent proposition for people switching between the two systems, plus the keyboard works with Android, Linux and iOS. If you want a keyboard that’s a genuine dream to type on and you need a numeric keypad, the Nuphy Air96 is hard to beat.
Pricing & Availability: The Nuphy Air96 is available now and can also be ordered with ANSI 60% and 78% layouts. The price of the Air96 is $129.95 and it’s worth every penny.
More info: nuphy.com
- Switches: Low-profile Gateron.
- Switch types: Daisy, Aloe, Wisteria.
- Layout: ANSI 96%.
- Number of keys: 100.
- Hot-swappable: Yes.
- N-Key rollover support: Yes.
- Backlight & sidelight: RGB LED.
- Backlight modes: 10.
- Sidelight modes: 4.
- Connectivity: 2.4G wireless, Bluetooth 5.0 or wired.
- Wired connection: USB-C
- Compatibility: macOS, Windows, Android, iOS.
- Slope angle: 3.5, 6.5, 8.5 degrees.
- Battery capacity: 4000mAh.
- Working time (lights on): Up to 25 – 55 hours (lab test result).
- Working time (all lights off): Up to 300 hours (lab test result).
- Frame: Aluminum.
- Bottom case: ABS.
- Keycaps: Double-shot PBT.
- Dimensions: 373.4 x 132.6 x 17.5mm.
- Weight: 663g.
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