The Whirlwind FX ATOM : Greatness In A Small Package
Whirlwind FX once again proves that they know how to make some damn good keyboards with the ATOM. The ease of use, the compact form factor, solid construction, and integration with the Vortex engine for the lighting make it an impressive piece of tech, and one you should check out if you find yourself working away from your main machine.
Back in July, I took a look at Whirlwind FX’s Element mechanical keyboard. I was impressed with the screen-imitation lighting features that it offered and its overall solid build quality. It has been my main keyboard ever since. Recently, Whirlwind FX was gracious enough to send me the Element’s new little brother, the ATOM mechanical keyboard to check out. Somehow, I’ve come away even more impressed.
The ATOM is classified as a “60% keyboard” meaning that it forgoes the number pad and arrow keys. However, the rest of the keys are the same size as those found on a normal-sized board. This new keyboard once again utilizes the Vortex engine program to power its color-changing feature that works to duplicate the action happening on your monitor with lights on the keyboard. It’s still as responsive and fun as it is on the Element, even though there are fewer keys, meaning there are fewer lights available to take advantage of.
The smaller footprint of the ATOM, coming in at 11.3 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick when you include the keys, makes it just a tad bit larger than a switch, meaning it is a perfect portable keyboard option to take with you when away from your main machine. It easily will fit into a backpack or carry on, letting you take it with you to the coffee shop, library, or wherever your work finds you. Connecting it is as simple as plugging it in with a USB Type-C cable, with the ATOM coming bundled with a very nice 6ft-long braided cable. I was particularly impressed with how solid the ATOM’s build quality is. It has a really nice weight to it, and with the grippers on the bottom, there’s little chance of it slipping around the surface of a desk or table.
My main gripe with the Element keyboard was that the keys just didn’t have that satisfying clicky goodness that mechanical keyboards are known for. This time I chose to go with Whirlwind’s “Blue Clicky” option for the switches and boy-oh-boy do these keys have that satisfying “click”. Each press sounds and feels good, and it makes me wish that the Element had the “Blue Clicky” switches.
The ATOM has a retail price of $129.99 that matches the larger Element V2’s price tag which is a bit odd. As nice as the ATOM is, unless you work more on the road or in very limited space, I would be hard-pressed to choose it over the full Element keyboard.
In future revisions of the ATOM I would love to see a price drop, but more than that I would love to see this get a wireless version. If somehow Whirlwind FX could get their Vortex engine to work over a small USB wireless dongle while keeping the high production quality that the current ATOM has, it would be a home run. Hell, with the wireless option the similar price point to the Element would be more justified.
Whirlwind FX once again proves that they know how to make some damn good keyboards with the ATOM. The ease of use, the compact form factor, solid construction, and integration with the Vortex engine for the lighting make it an impressive piece of tech. With a slight adjustment of the price, the smaller ATOM could be a knockout. Currently though, if you are looking for a cool new mechanical keyboard and have a bit more room, the Element V2 may be the better option.