I had my eye on Mountain and their crowdfunding campaign for their Everest keyboard for quite some time. If you aren’t in the know – Mountain promised to deliver a modular, highly customizable keyboard with loads of unique features but also everything you usually expect from a high-end gaming keyboard. Have they succeeded? Let’s get into the details.
Mountain Everest Max is available for purchase over on Mountain’s website.
First up, I’d be remiss not to mention the packaging and the unboxing experience of Everest Max. This immediately makes it clear that you are dealing with a premium piece of hardware and Mountain really went all out on the presentation and attention to details. You have the keyboard itself on the top and underneath you have all the extension modules and other equipment individually packaged in their own beautiful little boxes. There’s the numerical keypad module, the media control module, Type-C cables, and connectors along with a little customize box containing all the different switch testers, switch puller, and magnetic feet for the keyboard.
The base for the additional modules takes the form of a compact TKL keyboard. Seeing as Mountain allows you to buy it without the modules, it’s important to note that even without them, this is one great keyboard. First up, it’s exceptionally well built, featuring two pieces of aluminum on the top and high-quality plastic on the bottom. This makes it incredibly sturdy but also a bit heavier than what you might be used to from other keyboards with this form factor.
Second, there are some details that make Everest stand out even more. At first glance, it’s fairly minimal, but get closer and you’ll find that the aluminum plate has a nice dual texture design. The top and the edges feature a brushed aluminum texture, while under the keys you have this sort of milled texture we rarely see used in keyboard plate design.
The slight downside to all the texturing is that the dust and other particles are a bit more difficult to clean and are more visible – especially on the black model. The bottom of the keyboard features five rubber feet for stability as well as multiple channels for cable routing. The top two channels are designed for the fairly thick power cable and the others can be used for other cabled peripherals in order to keep your desk neat and tidy.
In-between the aluminum plates, there’s the all-important RGB LED strip going all the way around the keyboard. While I absolutely love its inclusion, it’s sandwiched just a bit too deep so it’s not very visible unless you’re looking at the keyboard from a distance or at an angle. Despite this, the strip elevates the overall visual package and is actually divided into a whopping 32 individually customizable zones so you can create a really unique light show.
Our review unit came with silent cherry red switches but they are easily removable and replaced by any switch of your choosing. The keycaps are probably the weakest part of the package as they are made from ABS plastic that will get oily and shiny after prolonged usage. The font of choice is fairly minimal with the RGB being just about right in terms of brightness. As far as typing and gaming go, the Everest comes with pre-lubed cherry stabilizers that reduce the noise and rattle to a minimum, making the entire experience very enjoyable both in terms of how the keyboard performs, feels, and sounds.
MODULES AND FEATURES
The Everest Max is really jam-packed with features and functionalities both big and small and even before getting into the modules. The keyboard ships with a magnetic wrist rest that simply snaps to the bottom without the need to raise or angle the keyboard. It’s not the most padded wrist rest but it is soft to the touch and features a smooth, very comfortable texture. It’s nicely angled, stable and its bottom even extends the cable routing channels of the keyboard so there’s no disadvantage in snapping it on there if that’s your preference.
Next, the Everest Max doesn’t have your traditional height adjusting feet and instead uses a set of unique magnetic riser feet. They are inserted into the rubberized slot and are simply stacked on top of each other until you find that that optimal angle for both the keyboard and the Numpad. The magnets here are exceptionally strong so you don’t have to worry about the risers crumbling or your keyboard moving an inch once they are put in place.
Lastly, in terms of smaller features, the Everest Max has an easily accessible USB 3.2 passthrough port on the back which you can use for a wide array of other peripherals, USB dongles, or anything else you can think of.
The Everest keyboard probably has the largest amount of USB-C ports than any other keyboard. Except for the central one that’s used to power the thing, others are made to connect the additional modules, the first one being the Numpad. In terms of the design, the Numpad is completely in line with the base keyboard, but it has some unique features.
On the bottom, you’ll find the USB-C connection mechanism that can be adjusted to connect the module to either the right or the left side of the keyboard. This is an amazing addition both for left-handed people and for those who want to save some space in the mouse area. The connection between the Numpad and the keyboard is boosted by a magnet and is usually rock-solid so you can slide the keyboard around without worrying about them disconnecting.
With that said, the connection isn’t as strong to be able to handle raising the keyboard up into the air, so it’s advised to disconnect the Numpad before making any big moves. Alternatively, you can use the USB extension cable to connect the Numpad to the keyboard which gives you some flexibility in its positioning and makes it look more like some sort of macro pad rather than an actual Numpad
Speaking of macros, the numpad features 4 TFT buttons that are also small screens similar to what you can find on something like an Elgato Stream Deck. You can customize these to do whatever you want, ranging from opening certain programs, running system commands, macros and more. What’s great is that you can apply any image to each of the four screens to either represent their function or something totally unrelated that just looks good to you. The colors do get washed out a bit when the screens are viewed at an angle, but despite that, the images are fairly vibrant, highly visible, and overall a great addition to the Numpad.
THE MEDIA DOCK
The media dock module is hugely robust in terms of features, but it’s the weakest one in terms of build quality. The entire thing is made from plastic and feels somewhat fragile in comparison to the tanky build of the rest of the keyboard. There’s a slight rattle sound to the dial and the USB-C connector is entirely exposed without some sort of mechanism to retract it like with the Numpad. With that said, it more than makes up for it with the sheer number of features.
You can connect it to either side and the positioning is easy to discern without looking at the back of the keyboard. It’s here that you can find indicator lights for your caps, num, and scroll lock as well as the physical media key buttons. The right-most button is used in combination with the rotating dial around a small screen to select one of the numerous additional functionalities of the module.
You can use it to display the time and date, engage a timer or a stopwatch, select different profiles, change the RGB lighting and brightness, adjust the volume, and even monitor PC info like CPU or GPU usage. What’s here is definitely very useful and the module has immense potential to become even more so if Mountain decides to add stuff like notifications, third-party app integration, and more.
Although the keyboard is perfectly usable without it, many of the aforementioned customizations of Everest Max are done through Mountain’s Base Camp software. Base Camp is straight to the point and easy to use, but it does lag a bit behind the competition in terms of features. However, it’s also fairly robust given that this is Mountains first keyboard and and I’m sure it will only get better with future updates.
The software is split into different tabs with the lighting one allowing you to customize the RGB on both the keys and the strip. You can either select from a few preset effects or use the custom mode and individually change the color of each key and zone in the RGB strip. The custom mode does leave a lot to be desired since it only features static colors and doesn’t allow you to apply any effects to either keys or strip zones.
I also noticed this curious, white and blue “Yeti” RGB preset that can exclusively be applied only through the media dock and isn’t visible or customizable inside the Base Camp. I mention this only because it’s one of the best looking presets on the keyboard, showcasing how great it would be if the custom mode was more feature-rich in order to allow us to move away from the somewhat tired RGB waves or similar stock effects.
The key binding tab is rather self-explanatory and allows you to customize the function of each key. Essentially, any key can turned into a macro to run certain programs, control the media, and more. The display dial tab allows you to customize the color of the media dock menus, the screensaver image and can also be used to remove certain menus that you might find unnecessary. Of course you have some general settings, the ever-present option to create macro-key combinations, and the ability to create, name, and export different profiles.
A MODULAR FUTURE
While we’ve seen somewhat similar keyboards in the past, I can safely say that none have implemented modularity with such high quality and attention to detail like Everest Max. Of course, something like that doesn’t come cheap, and while there’s no going around the fact that the Everest Max costs 250 EUR, the value you get is immense. If you want, you can always reduce that amount by ignoring the modules and going for the Everest base TKL or even the Everest Barebone if you have a set of your own prefered switches and keycaps. Even in its base form, it’s really a keyboard that has it all and the modules only expand that in a really meaningful way, easily making it one the best keyboards I used to date.