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The Whirlwind FX Atom is a 60% keyboard with some funky RGB shenanigans up its sleeve that reminds you what a sheer joy these tiny keyboards can be. Currently, at just $59, this is one of the cheapest 60% boards out there and you might be suspicious of its overall quality. Rest easy folks, aside from a few niggles here and there, it’s a pretty good gaming keyboard for the price.

For the uninitiated, a 60% keyboard is a keyboard without the number pad, arrow keys, home keys, and function row. What this means is that you’ll need to access all those functions with some combination of the Fn key. For the Atom, the arrow keys are secondary to the IJKL keys while the function keys live with the number keys. If you’re in the market for a bigger keyboard, then our guide to the best gaming keyboards has you covered.

Whilrwind FX Atom specs

Switch: Gateron Brown
Keycaps: ABS double-shot
Lighting: Yes
Extra Ports: None
Connection Type:  USB Type-C
Cable: 1.8 m (6 ft)  cable
Price: $59.99

The Atom is built on a plastic chassis with a nice textured finish. The board is sturdy yet light and doesn’t feel cheap, though I feel more confident with my HyperX Alloy Origins Core 60 thanks to its heavy and solid aircraft-grade metal chassis. The design is pretty minimal with a detachable USB Type-C braided cable that supports the 3,000Hz polling rate. There are two feet for height adjustment on the base although one of them mine was frustratingly wobbly. 

The keycaps are double-shot ABS with a matte finish which is great for grip. They are also swappable and a keycap puller is included in the box. The keycaps themselves are noticeably wobbly, more so than many other mechanical keyboards I’ve used so far. This gave me an odd feeling of uncertainty while typing, kinda like walking on flotsam. 

It’s unclear whether the caps just need better stabilizers or Whirlwind FX needs better quality control. Thankfully, the Gateron Brown Switches made up for that unpleasantness as they are a personal favorite of mine. They are delicious for a lot of typing yet still fast enough for twitch gaming. I like the slightly heavier actuation force of the Browns because it reduces accidental key triggers. They are also pleasantly quiet which is great for shared workspaces. 

(Image credit: Future)

I do have a few issues with some of the design choices on the Atoms keys though. First is the rather unique font design used for the key legend. At first, I thought it was just a badly printed @ symbol key where something got in the way and the symbol wasn’t properly finished. But as I looked around, I noted a similar strikethrough pattern on several other keys. It doesn’t look great and if you are OCD about details, it will constantly trigger you. 

Another thing is the caps lock key doesn’t have any kind of indicator to let you know it’s active—it remains the same color as the rest of the board lighting which is confusing. Similarly, unlike other small boards, pressing the Fn key doesn’t isolate the function keys and blackout the rest—something that helps ease navigation. 

The Atom’s RGB lighting is great in large part thanks to the board’s white base plate that helps accentuate the lighting glow. The Atom uses Whirlwind FX’s proprietary SignalRGB software to control RGB lighting but also any other RGB peripherals you might have connected in your setup. We’ve seen something similar with the Razer Chroma ecosystem but SignalRGB isn’t restricted to a single brand of products. 

(Image credit: Future)

I tested this in my setup that included a HyperX Quadcast S microphone, Roccat Kone Air mouse, an Asus Zephyrus S17 laptop, and the Asus ROG Swift PG35V monitor. The software did a good job recognizing the RGB Quadcast and mouse but not surprisingly, didn’t recognize the laptop or monitor. Still, the other three pieces managed to sync. 

Additionally, the software has a ton of game integrations that will automatically control the lighting of the Atom and connected peripherals. It supports big names like CoD: Warzone, Valorant, Destiny 2, and plenty more to transform your setup into an interactive disco. You’ll need to pay the Pro subscription of $2.99 a month to access these but unless you have a load of mismatched peripherals that you absolutely want to sync up, the free version is more than enough.

Now while the software worked well enough, I did encounter one weird bug which made the lighting effects fail to scale properly on the smaller keyboard as they appeared in the SignalRGB software. It was clearly designed for full-size keyboards and doesn’t scale down for the smaller 60% form factor with parts of the light show missing. It’s nothing a software update can’t fix though.

(Image credit: Future)

That said, the Whirlwind FX Atom is a lovely little keyboard. The build quality could be better but considering its $59 price, it’s hard to fault. It’s got great Gateron switches, excellent portability, and good performance make this one an easy recommendation for you tiny keyboard lovers on a budget.

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