2023 – Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition Review
By alone, the Ducky One 2 Mini propelled 60% mechanical keyboards into the mainstream. The ultra-compact form factor was almost solely used by keyboard enthusiasts before it made its way onto the workstations of prominent streamers and eSports athletes. With game-grade technology and features, big companies like Razer, Corsair, and Steelseries have all introduced their own takes on the layout in recent years, taking at least one slot from our list of the best gaming keyboards.
Ducky advanced and unveiled the One 3 Mini last year. The Mini introduced a number of enhancements colloquially known as QUACK Mechanics. In order to deliver the finest typing experience yet, it featured a fresh focus on sound and feel, assuring doubleshot keycaps and sound-dampening materials in the case. It was successful in outdoing itself and produced a fantastic line of gaming keyboards that is still available today.
The new Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition incorporates all of the advancements made to the One 3 Mini and encases them in a transparent shell with frosted accents, translucent switches, and translucent keycaps that light up from the side. The most flashy product Ducky has ever introduced, it’s more of a makeover than an innovation. The One 3 Mini Aura Edition is the way to go if you can’t live without vivid RGB and a keyboard that will become the most eye-catching item on your desk. The original One 3 Mini was a pretty decent keyboard.
Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition Specs
Design of the Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition
Small is correct: the One 3 Mini Aura’s Edition has a very small form factor that appears to be quite small on a desk. Without dipping into the area of specialized keyboards like the ErgoDox or Planck EZ, its 60% form factor is about as streamlined as keyboards go. It omits all but the most essential keys, including the function row, number pad, arrows, and navigation buttons, as well as media keys. What’s left is a keyboard with all of your standard numbers, letters, and punctuation but takes up the barest amount of space.
But that doesn’t imply you stop having that capability. Every missing button—aside from the number pad—can be accessed by holding down the Fn button while pressing a key sequence. As I’ll discuss at the end of this section, the Ducky One 3 Mini actually manages to offer more capability than even full-size keyboards.
Before we go there, it’s important to consider how Ducky’s latest release has changed the game. This updated model has a new case and keycap design that highlights the RGB backlighting, which is unbelievably brilliant. The frosted plastic case, which comes in white or black, illuminates under the keys largely with the per-key lighting.
Since the keycaps are likewise frosted, the full side of the key illuminates rather than just the legends. Interestingly, the tops are totally opaque. The doubleshotting of keycaps is one of the fundamental principles underlying the One 3’s QUACK mechanics. Each button in that second shot is made of white plastic, giving it the appearance of an ice cube.
It looks decent without backlighting, but the keyboard really comes to life once the RGB Lights start to flash. One of the brightest keyboards I’ve ever seen, and there are many that follow a similar design, this is truly one of the brightest. If RGB isn’t your thing, it’s godawful, but if you’re thinking about buying this keyboard, it’s safe to assume you’re leaning toward the bright backlighting.
You can see into the keyboard’s internal structure thanks to the transparent casing. Between the plate and PCB is a layer of bright yellow silicone that dampens keystrokes, and the bottom of the casing has an additional layer of white foam. It also verifies that there are no down firing LEDs on the bottom of the Board, which is a missed chance to use RGB exclusively and distribute lighting evenly across the enclosure.
The keyboard doesn’t have any additional ports, however the bottom does show a row of DIP switches that can be used to alter some of the keyboard’s functionality. Each of the four switches can be flipped to alter a fundamental operation. By turning on the first switch, you can, for instance, activate a function row toggle that will lock your numbers to work as the F1–F12 on a native basis. The second checkbox enables N-Key rollover, and the final modification switches the right Windows key between Windows and Menu functionality.
To assist you in locating a comfortable typing posture, the keyboard also comes with a pair of two-stage tilt feet. I didn’t need to utilize my palm rest, which has become a mainstay in my evaluations, because the shorter feet could be turned up.
Any keyboard’s keycaps are crucial, but the Aura Edition’s are much more crucial. They are constructed of polycarbonate plastic and are thicker than typical pudding keycaps, making them more comfortable to type on. Its numerous secondary functions are easily identifiable because to its top and side legends.
The top legends are difficult to read since they are white on white, whereas the side legends are a bright green color. White spurs along the side of the keycaps, where the two layers are glued together, can also be seen thanks to the translucent plastic. Whilst it doesn’t precisely look horrible, the presence of lines around the keycap edges is odd. If you’re not a touch typist, reading the top legends when the backlighting is on becomes nearly difficult.
The keyboard is equipped with a variety of Cherry MX, Kailh, or Gateron switches underneath the keycaps. Kailh Jellyfish switches, a thin linear switch that is pre-lubricated from the factory, were used in our sample. Perhaps most crucially, it makes use of a top housing that is entirely transparent to let the RGB shine through the keycaps and into the case. You won’t have to solder if you desire to try new switches in the future because the switches are also hot swappable.
Anybody attempting the layout for the first time will have a steep learning curve, similar to any keyboard with a 60 percent key layout. Many days into my testing cycle, I still found myself frequently checking the side legends to be sure I was hitting the appropriate button. The One 3 Mini’s enhanced programmability aids with this, but anyone intending to switch from a full-size or tenkeyless keyboard to it should prepare to spend many days memorizing the layout’s key combinations.
In light of this, the Ducky One 3 Mini actually has no practical shortcomings. This keyboard has all the features of a typical tenkeyless keyboard, plus less often used buttons like Pause and Scroll Lock. For arrows, navigational buttons, and editing buttons, there are supplementary keys. There are numerous media buttons for volume adjustment and playback. Even without an actual mouse available, you can still control your pointer thanks to Ducky’s built-in mouse controls.
There are still other possibilities. The keyboard has extensive macro and illumination programming capabilities, and all of these settings may be saved across five profiles. The lack of software, which would have sped up portions of the programming process, is one of the features that many customers appreciate about Ducky’s Mini line-up.
In light of this, let’s examine the programming options it provides in more detail.
The Ducky One 3 Mini’s sophisticated, software-free programmability was one of its best features. It’s hardly hyperbole to say that it has some of the most extensive onboard programming of any keyboard now on the market. That begins with the sophisticated lighting controls.
The Aura Edition is like most mechanical keyboards in that it has a number of built-in lighting presets. You can switch between ten settings, including the typical rainbow wave, breathing, and reactive typing modes, by using the Fn key. Also, there are options to make effects brighter, which is also very usual.
The One 3 Mini quickly distinguishes itself, though, by allowing users to alter the preset colors using a built-in RGB color mixer. Z, X, and C light up Red, Green, and Blue when the lighting key combination is pressed, and you can tap any of them to select your preferred hue. If you’d rather to pick and choose, you can tap the Spacebar, which will cause the entire keyboard to light up in a variety of colors from which you can choose the one you like most.
Additionally, things don’t end there. Selectable color is one thing, but the Ducky One 3 Mini is one of the few mechanical keyboards that let you create your own static lighting configuration without using any software. You can tap the keys you want lighted and adjust their color with another key combination.
All of this is really cool and demonstrates that such functions may be provided without the need for program installation. Even though I appreciate it a lot, I really wish there was a software alternative to help the process go more quickly. There are other oddities, such as the absence of a straightforward brightness setting (you have to adjust the levels in the palette). The most extravagant preset, the rainbow, is absolutely unadjustable, which is perplexing.
Keymaps and macros are two more fantastic programming tricks. On-the-fly macro recording is supported on the keyboard. You enter Macro Recording mode by pressing a key combination, select the key you want to map, and then submit your text string. A second rapid press stops recording. The placement of keys are switched using the same process.
The One 3 Mini Aura Edition ups the ante by enabling auxiliary functions to be remapped. The majority of keyboards “lock” these keys when no software is present. Using the same steps as when remapping keys, you hit the secondary command’s key combination instead of the letter you want to alter. This implies that you can entirely alter each layer’s default layout before saving it to one of the keyboard’s six profiles.
This also holds true for the function button, which by design is inconveniently positioned at the bottom right. You can rearrange your modifier keys, including the Fn button, using another key combination. I quickly managed to move it to the left side of the keyboard, which is considerably more practical for reaching the countless commands below your right hand.
The One 3 Mini’s programmability is unmatched among pre-built keyboards, but just like understanding the form factor, you’ll need to overcome a substantial learning curve to really grasp it. As effective as it is, carrying out all of these remaps isn’t simple, so I always had the user handbook nearby. There are many things you can accomplish, but each one requires a different set of skills, which costs time that a software option could spare.
The Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition keyboard offers the best typing experience of any Ducky keyboard I’ve tested so far. In comparison to the One 2 Mini from the previous generation, the One 3 Mini’s QUACK mechanics (dampening pad, doubleshot keycaps, and pre-lubricated stabilizers) and additional switch settings make typing feel smoother, softer, and sound better.
My sample was provided with linear, lightweight Kailh BOX Jellyfish switches, which have an actuation force of only 50 grams. They are pre-lubricated with a thin layer of oil, ensuring continuous keystroke glide without any scratchiness or spring ping. The lighter weight makes them simple to bottom out, which amplifies the doubleshot keycaps’ higher-pitched sound.
There is a steep learning curve if you’ve never used one, and using such a little keyboard isn’t for everyone. The arrangement places everything on a secondary layer aside from the primary keyset. You don’t lose functionality—in fact, you gain features—but you’ll have to spend some time learning where each auxiliary function is located.
The One 3 Mini Aura Edition was simpler to use than other 60% keyboards, but I had to modify it to get there. Holding the Fn button allows you to use other features like Home and End. This button, like those on the majority of little keyboards, is located in the bottom right corner, exactly where those keys are supposed to go. It results in some awkward finger gymnastics, so I normally reach for a keyboard that is 65 percent larger or larger.
This was fixed by the One 3 Mini Aura’s Key Switch feature, which most other keyboards don’t have without additional software. I was able to remap the Fn key’s location. I was able to relocate the Fn key to the left side of the keyboard, taking the place of Caps Lock, which made it much simpler to access those extra features and arrows. The largest pain point (figuratively speaking) is gone, but there is still a learning curve in recalling all of their placements.
Once you get going, typing is a pleasant experience. Bottom outs are isolated and have a uniform sound across the board thanks to the silicone pads that are placed beneath the keys and behind the PCB. It is not rigid nor does it use a gasket mount to provide a flexible or bouncy typing experience. Because of their mild texture and well-known Cherry profile, the keycaps provide a pleasant feel.
In addition to being small, the keys’ spacing, contouring, and arrangement are also fairly conventional. On MonkeyType, I was able to type 108 words per minute on average, which is about typical for me. After such auxiliary features and key combinations are taken into account, I believe this would be a little bit less for writing activities in the actual world.
I wouldn’t choose this keyboard for productivity even though Ducky did a superb job of restoring all of the missing keys as secondary purposes (as well as some extras). As you become more used with the layout, downtime increases, but needing to hold Fn while navigating and editing makes typing and data entry less effective. A larger form factor is still preferable for students and typists even if you don’t perform these tasks frequently.
Similar to the white version, touch typists are really the only ones who should use it. It’s challenging to read the white legends against the white background. This is only strengthened when the vibrant RGB backlighting is on. It is strange that the keyboard lacks lighted legends to address this issue given how much of an RGB showcase it is.
Even though the Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition isn’t a gaming keyboard, the Mini lineup from the firm has long been a favorite among gamers. Its compact design and on-board programming make it a viable option for gamers who require additional mouse space but are unable to use software (such as during a tournament).
In first-person shooter games, the 60% form factor appears positively tiny when compared to a full-size keyboard or even a TKL. A tried-and-true method to increase accuracy is to lower your sensitivity, and the absence of a number pad or even a navigation and cluster offers you more space to move your mouse. Even though I’ve never been particularly adept at this style of play, just being able to keep my hands closer together makes for more comfortable play for longer periods of time.
The built-in macro recording is also excellent. Although it’s not as user-friendly as software recording—the first few times I tried it, I had to have the instructions open on my phone—once you know the procedure, you can record in-game macros in less than 30 seconds. Without having to Alt+Tab into another window, you can set a macro in the pre-game lobby if you know you’ll be using a skill rotation frequently in the upcoming match.
Also, you can remap keys and design unique key layouts for specific games using this functionality. You may create custom layouts for various games and applications because the keyboard supports five profiles (six if you count the base layer, which cannot be modified). To put it mildly, the extent of on-board programmability is astounding, but I wish there was a software option to expedite the procedure. It’s not a great deal to remap one or two keys in this method, but if you’re making an entire layout of unique keymaps, it will take some time.
The responsiveness is excellent. A thousand times per second are scanned for key presses using the keyboard’s 1,000 Hz polling rate. The One 3 Mini felt just as snappy when I returned to Battlefield 2042 despite the fact that many gaming keyboards are starting to tout about 2,000 Hz, 4,000 Hz, or even 8,000 Hz polling rates. It also lacked nothing in the feel and bounceback of its switches.
A better version of an excellent keyboard, the Ducky One 3 Mini Aura Edition glows. Outside of its frosted casing and keycaps, there aren’t many new features, but it’s still a decent option for gamers and typists who value desk space above dedicated keys.
Yet not everyone will like its 60 percent form factor. The Ducky One 3 SF(opens in new tab) is a good substitute if you’re in need of dedicated arrow keys and navigation buttons and costs only $20 more. The Steelseries Apex Pro Mini offers all that and more, including high-speed wireless, if you’re looking for something less ostentatious but even more configurable with strong software. However, you’ll have to pay for it.
The Aura Edition is unquestionably worthwhile to take into consideration if you can deal with its compact design and can’t live without RGB. Since years, Ducky has been producing top-notch keyboards and is an expert in its field. This most recent version is no exception; it’s just considerably more ostentatious.