Home Mechanical Keyboards Epomaker Shadow-X Review: Assessing The Highs And Lows Of This Mechanical Keyboard

Epomaker Shadow-X Review: Assessing The Highs And Lows Of This Mechanical Keyboard

by Stuart Charles Black
Epomaker Shadow-X Review

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Big thank you to April at Epomaker for sending the Shadow-X to review!

Full disclosure: This is a paid review but I made it clear to them that I do not guarantee positive reviews or recommendations – I make in-depth, honest evaluations based on my impressions and the ultimate value that the product may or may not provide. 

Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…

Last time we discussed the Epomaker RT100 which was an incredibly cool retro mechanical keyboard with loads of neat features.

But how does the Epomaker Shadow-X match up? Is it better or worse? What kind of features does it have? Does it stand in the RT100’s “shadow?”

“Is this your homework, Larry?”

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. xD

Let’s dig in and find out though (not the homework, the keyboard lol).

Epomaker Shadow-X

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Epomaker! 

In The Box

Epomaker Shadow-X

User Manual

Replacement Keys & 3 Switches

Keycap Puller

Specifications

  • Model: Epomaker Shadow-X
  • Keys Amount: 70
  • Structure: Gasket-like mount
  • Stabilizer Type: Plate-mounted
  • PCB Type: 3/5-pin Hotswap PCB
  • Battery Capacity: 3000mAh
  • Connectivity: Type-C Wired, 2.4 & Bluetooth Wireless
  • Anti-Ghost Key: NKRO in all modes
  • Polling Rate: 1000hz in Type-C Wired & 2.4G modes
  • Compatibility: Windows/MAC
  • Dimension: 370.4*129.8*47.8mm
  • Weight: Around 0.8kg

Build & Aesthetic

The Shadow-X is a 70% Hot Swappable RGB 2.4Ghz/Bluetooth 5.0/Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with an LCD screen.

It’s a bit smaller in stature than the RT100, and I think that’s a detriment to be quite honest.

While I like the compact nature of it, I don’t feel as though it needs to be this small.

I say that because I simply feel cramped when typing, but it could be because I have enormous, freakishly weird-looking hands.

It’s like my hands want more space to stretch out and this keyboard simply doesn’t afford me that opportunity.

Dainty chicks with tiny hands need apply here.

That said, it’s a rather understatedly beautiful-looking keyboard; so props for that, Epomaker.

The brushed aluminum frame looks and feels great to the touch, and it also isn’t going to collect fingerprints which is a huge plus.

The keys, while not having quite the same “clack” as the RT100, still feel pretty great to press and they’re super responsive which is always important. 

LCD Screen Display Menu

One really neat feature of the Shadow-X that I wish they would include with the RT100 is the LCD screen as it’s super convenient when you’re cycling through all of the color modes. 

Speaking of, let’s take a look:

To initiate the Display, hit FN + Menu + Enter.

Now you can cycle through the different modes by hitting FN + Menu + Right or Left Arrow.

The modes include Speed, Color, Brightness, and State.

Once you’re at the mode you want to edit, press FN + Menu + Enter to cycle through the options for that specific mode.

Color

Now again press FN + Menu + Right or Left Arrows to cycle through the colors:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Cyan
  • Blue
  • Purple
  • White
  • Colorful

That may seem confusing but it’s super simple when you’re doing it.

To go back to the menu, hit FN + Menu + Enter.

Speed & Brightness

With both, you have the option of 1-4 (with 1 being the slowest).

By far the coolest thing about the RT100 was the different color modes you could choose from.

What I would have liked to see was the actual names for those modes (as I was genuinely curious George), and fortunately for us, the Shadow-X does just that.

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

Epomaker Shadow-X ReviewHere we have a plethora to choose from:

  1. Wave
  2. Ripple (This one only initiates when you type)
  3. Starry
  4. Emerge In Endlessly
  5. Shadowing (Each key you press lights up and then slowly fades)
  6. Converge
  7. Sine Wave
  8. Caispring Surging
  9. Light through the Snownontrace (? I honestly have no clue what this word is lol)
  10. Flowers Blooming
  11. Laser (as soon as you hit a key the colors jet outwards)
  12. Peak Turn
  13. Inclined Rain
  14. Raindrop
  15. Meteor
  16. Breath (Each color pulsates and then fades into a new color)
  17. Neon (Colors subtly change)

I believe one of the defining features of Epomaker keyboards is the sheer amount of options they give you.

It just feels like a lot of time and thought went into making this the most entertaining.. thing, it could possibly be.

Heck, let’s just call a spade a spade.

This is a LIGHT SHOW, and it’s awesome.

Aside from that, let’s get into the basic functions.

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

Windows Shortcuts

  • FN + 1 = Screen Brightness (-)
  • FN + 2 = Screen Brightness (+)
  • FN + 3 = Task
  • FN + 4 = Switch Open Windows
  • FN + 5 = Mail
  • FN + 6 + Browser
  • FN + 7 = Previous Track
  • FN + 8 = Play/Pause
  • FN + 9 = Next Track
  • FN + 0 = Mute
  • FN + -_ = Volume (-)
  • FN + =+ = Volume (+)
  • FN + ESC = `
  • FN + WIN = Lock/Unlock Win Key
  • FN + INS = PrtSc

Mac Os Shortcuts

  • FN + 1 = Screen Brightness (-)
  • FN + 2 = Screen Brightness (+)
  • FN + 3 = Task
  • FN + 4 = Search
  • FN + 5 = Unspecified
  • FN + 6 = Unspecified
  • FN + 7 = Previous Track
  • FN + 8 = Play/Pause
  • FN + 9 = Next Track
  • FN + 0 = Mute
  • FN + -_ = Volume (-)
  • FN + =+ = Volume (+)
  • FN + ESC = `
  • FN + SHIFT + ESC + = ~

Bluetooth & Function Key Combinations

  • FN + ESC (hold 3s) to reset the keyboard.
  • FN + Z/X/C to Toggle Layer 1/2/3
  • FN + PGDN = Toggle Screen Display
  • FN + L_CNTRL = Toggle the Num Row and F Row
  • FN + MENU + ENTER = Enter Display Menu (Discussed earlier)
  • FN + MENU + Right/Left Arrows = Choose among the Display Menus (Discussed earlier)
  • FN + DEL = Turn On/Off Backlights

Bluetooth

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

Like the RT100, the Shadow-X can be used with your phone via Bluetooth.

To use the BT function, you’ll need to first adjust the knob on the upper right. This is one of the features I’m not completely sold on.

Why?

Well, it’s a bit confusing to use as it has no indicators whatsoever anywhere on it. This is a huge hassle and a complete oversight.

For instance, the manual says “Toggle the knob to Bluetooth mode (2, 3, 4 o’clock direction), and then:

Hold FN+Q/W/E for 3-5 seconds until the indicator flashes fast in red/green/blue, the keyboard is ready to pair.”

Cool, but there’s no indication of where you even are on a clock.

That said, I’ll make it simple for you. First, turn it all the way to the left. The unit is now in USB-C mode (make sure your cable is plugged in).

Now turn it once to the right. This is Wireless 2.4GHZ mode. Just make sure the dongle it comes with is plugged into your PC/Laptop.

Now turn once more to the right.

This is your first Bluetooth mode (Red). 2 additional turns are also Bluetooth (Green and Blue).

The final turn all the way to the right is also USB-C wired mode. It goes without saying, but make sure the cable is plugged in lol.

As far as Bluetooth, to pair, first open your phone and go to Bluetooth Settings.

Now hit FN + Q (Long Press). 2 additional devices can be paired by using FN + Q (Green) and FN + W (Blue).

You’ll notice the Shadow-X Appears. Press it to Pair.

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

To exit, hit FN + R which connects back to your PC/2.4G Device.

The Bottom Line

A better solution would have been to label everything and then have a white line on the chassis itself to indicate where you are.

The manual’s instructions are also kind of meh, but I found the link on their website which goes through all of the things I just had to figure out on my own. 

WHY would they not either A) INCLUDE this information in the manual, or B) Provide a LINK somewhere in the manual that comes with the unit?

Super frustrating.

In addition, they didn’t even bother to mention that there is driver software for the unit’s Display (Date, Time, etc.) Go here to download it. No link in the manual either.

I’m fully aware that there’s a language barrier between the Chinese and Americans, so this has a lot to do with it.

I’ve demoed countless products from China and while they generally get a bad rep from regular folks, I’ve never had any issues with their durability or longevity.

In fact, I think China makes fantastic products with regard to audio and the like.

That said, there are issues with typos, grammatical mistakes, and general problems with the way they convey information, and the Shadow-X is no different.

So I would definitely like to see them improve in this regard.

Adjusting The Display Settings

Head on over to the page I just linked above and download the software.

As with the RT100, you must be in wired mode for the GIF/Image feature to work.

Now we’ll navigate to the Screen Tab inside the driver software. 

Towards the bottom, you’ll see the “Select Picture” button. Click it and find an image you want from your PC.

If the image is a GIF, it will upload frame by frame.

I chose the ever-nostalgic gif of Mario running; which, if you’re familiar with this blog, is the gif I sign off with for every article. Head to the bottom to see it!

Isn’t he precious?

In any event, once the frames are added, you’ll click on the first one and then press “Upload Animation” on the right-hand side.

For images, use Upload Picture.

Now we have a really neat gif of Mario running, but this time he’s actually sprinting which I found hilarious.

I will show you the differences between the RT100’s display vs. Shadow-X now:

YouTube video player
 

YouTube video player
 

The other difference you’ll notice is that the GIF takes up the entire screen on the Shadow-X.

On the RT100, you could still see the date and time. I kind of prefer the RT100’s configuration, but your mileage may vary.

To cycle through the GIF, Date/Time, and Epomaker’s Logo, press FN + PGDN.

Adjusting The Date And Time

Stay on the screen tab and hit “Synchronize Time on Screen”.

Now you should see the current date and time. My only gripe here is it’s in military time.

This time around, the Shadow-X doesn’t offer the weather, but that might be a good thing as it was a bit buggy with the RT100.

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

Replacing Keycaps and Switches

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

If you aren’t familiar, the Shadow-X employs what is known as Hot-Swappable Keys.

Basically, this enables you to easily replace or exchange the individual key switches without having to desolder or disassemble the keyboard.

Traditional mechanical keyboards require soldering to attach the key switches to the keyboard’s circuit board, making it difficult to replace switches or customize the keyboard’s typing experience.

Hot-swappable keyboards, on the other hand, feature sockets or connectors for each key switch, making it possible to swap out switches with minimal effort.

The included tool is great for removing the caps, and they’ve included 8 replacement Yellow Keys to add a bit of visual flair.

And no I’m not talkin’ about Ric, but I kind of am.

The original keys are grey/black; you can swap them out as desired.

I went ahead and installed the included Yellow Keys and enjoyed the look of them.

Epomaker Shadow-X ReviewEpomaker Shadow-X Review

Epomaker Shadow-X ReviewFrom here you can replace the switches (pictured above), but I don’t need to do it at this juncture. Your mileage will vary.

For a full guide on how to replace them, click here.

Before we give a final verdict, let’s go over some things I liked and disliked about the Shadow-X.

What I Liked:

Display Screen

This is by far the most useful feature in my eyes. I love being able to see exactly which mode I’m in, and the RT100, as good as it is, doesn’t afford me that opportunity.

Build and Aesthetic

The Shadow-X, like the RT100, is built wonderfully and the color scheme is nice. I love how they included some replacement keycaps and switches as well.

Tactile Feel

While not having quite the same clack as the RT100, the keys are super responsive and the unit feels great to type on.

What Can Be Improved

User Manual

By far the biggest annoyance to me was how vague the manual was. They need to make a printed version of the one they have online.

In addition, please provide a link to the software and MENTION it. Your customers aren’t mind readers.

Some of the instructions are also worded awkwardly and I chose to figure it out on my own while making it easy to understand for my readers.

Function Knob

This to me was a complete oversight and should be fixed immediately. It’s literally a big grey knob with no indicators whatsoever anywhere.

Even a simple white line showing where you are would be good.

Size

This isn’t a huge dealbreaker, but the size of the keyboard will simply be a bit too small for those with big hands.

I understand that this is supposed to be compact (70%) so just be aware of what you’re getting into.

Final Verdict & Closing Thoughts

Epomaker Shadow-X Review

I think the Shadow-X is a pretty decent entry into the lineup, and I really love the Display Screen.

That said, I think overall, the RT100 is the clear winner for me due to the nostalgia factor, the old-school numeric keypad, and the multi-function knob.

If Epomaker could add a way for the RT100’s Smart Screen to display the color modes, that would be awesome.

At any rate, the RT100 is just easier to use, and to me, a bit more intuitive and engaging.

That said, if you have tiny hands and enjoy the color scheme more, the Shadow-X may be the preferred option. It’s also about $35 cheaper, but I think that extra money is well spent on the RT100.

Interested?

Learn More:

 

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you enjoyed this Epomaker Shadow-X Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please leave a comment below or contact me! I would be happy to help in any way…

Do you believe the RT100 is a better value? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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