Week in Tech: All Hail The Mighty Mechanical Keyboard

The cheap way to get a taste of those Cherries

Mechanical keyboards. What, dear readers, is the schitnitz? Dare I say it, there is such a thing as the mechanical keyboard movement. Indeed, we’re now at the point where there’s significant debate within that community over various types of mechanical keyboard switches. Knowing your Cherry MX Red from your Blue and Brown absolutely matters. But what exactly is a mechanical keyboard, why is it rapidly becoming so revered by some gamers and should you pop out and pick one up? While we’re talking keyboards, are programmable keyboards with per-key full-colour RGB LED backlighting the next big thing? For answers to all these questions (at best), ride your rodents to the other side.

To begin at the beginning. It’s got springs. A mechanical keyboard, that is. And lots of them. It’s tempting to assume what we’re talking about here is traditional keyboards with tall, long-travel keys versus flatter, laptop-style keyboards with the chiclet keys. But that ain’t actually it.

Rather than being related to the look or shape of the keys, the contrast in question actually involves the switches (or absence thereof) under the keys. A proper mechanical keyboard has individual switches for each key, every one made up of multiple moving parts including a central stem, metal contacts and a spring.

The alternative is a single plastic sheet or membrane that stretches across the entire keyboard. Into this membrane, a dome for each key is moulded. Inside that dome is a contact and underneath the membrane is a single, large circuit board.

Mechanical switches plus RGB LEDs. Is this the ultimate input device?

To cut a long story short, the keys squish the domes down onto the circuit board, creating a contact that’s registered as a keystroke. Pretty simple. And very cheap to make.

The upshot of all this is several fold. For starters, a multi-part mechanical switch for every key is much more expensive than a sheet of plastic with some contacts and a circuit board. That said, mechanical boards tend to be more robust and longer lasting, helping to offset the added cost.

But the mechanical keyboard’s gaming raison d’être involves switches that offer both more precision and more tunability in terms of feel, travel and noise.

Some keys give an audible click part way through the key stroke, some are more of a clack at the end of the stroke. Broadly, the idea behind all this is a combination of precision, feedback and consistency of response that allows the skilled gamer to tune into the response of his or her keyboard and activate the trigger point of a registered keystroke more accurately.

If that’s the basics, things get more complicated when you get into the nuance of the different switches currently available for mechanical keyboards. Currently, one brand dominates the market for gaming keyboard switches and that’s Cherry and its MX range.

A Cherry MX switch, yesterday

You may have faintly heard of the likes of the Cherry MX Red, Blue, Brown et al. For some (sightly silly) insight into the engineering that goes into Cherry’s mechanical keyboard switches, check out this Linus Tech Tips video.

I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion of the various merits of each colour of Cherry keyboard switch. But the basics go like this. The Blue switch is the noisy / clicky one, the one with a tangible click mid-way through the stroke. The Red switch has a smooth, clickless stroke. The Brown is something of a halfway house.

Such is the scope for subjectivity that keyboard samplers (shown at the very top of this post), sort of mini keyboards with, typically, four different keys so you can sample the range of feel and feedback on offer, can now be bought (available in the UK for £9 and in the US for $10).

At this point, I should note in traditional BBC fashion that other keyboard switch brands are available. Whatever, there’s a whole new mechanical-keyboard modding community springing up, pun intended, with tweaks available from individual switches of various colours for swapping in and out to custom key caps including metal or transparent keys and the zany ‘running man’ escape key cap. Again, head over here for a look at what’s on offer.

An escape key. Geddit?

Price wise, there’s a lot of variance, but proper mechanical keyboards do not come cheap. Really roughly, you’re looking at £60/$75 and up.

As for me, confession time. I’m a bit of a keyboard-switch philistine. I actually prefer short-stroke chiclet style keyboards and my weapon of choice is Apple’s current full-width desktop keyboard.

I’ve been trying really hard to get my head around mechanical keyboards with a decent Corsair board. I definitely get the tactility aspect of a good quality switch. But I’m in the minority that just can’t get on with them. In games, I prefer the shorter stroke of the Apple board.

I want my keystrokes to be near instantly registered, not arrive some way through a long travel. For typing, I like the lack of wobble from the keys and the tighter spacing. My typing accuracy with a mechanical board is truly appalling.

It genuinely and tangibly takes me longer to type anything and this is fully three months into using one a few days a week on a project that’s been taking me into a proper office while my Apple keyboard remains hooked up to my main production box at home. The increased noise of many mechanical keyboards also does my head in a bit.

I’ll just grab my coat…

But, again, I’m fully aware I’m in the minority, so I put it to mechanical keyboard converts among you to make your case in the comments below. I have absolutely no doubt that, for most people, proper mechanical keyboards have something to offer.

One final word of warning – some vendors can be disingenuous at best when it comes to mechanical keyboards. A good rule of thumb is that if the switch type used is listed, you should be getting the real deal.

Now then, what about those LED-backlit RGB boards? Gimmick or gaming greatness in the making? These are, ultimately, highly visual products. So instead of reinventing the wheel on this one, I’m going to encourage you to motor through this video review of two of the most prominent new LED-backlight boards.

I’ve only taken one of these boards for a brief spin. Some of the effects are an awful lot of fun, but in the end it’s utility not visual fireworks that will make or break them. In other words, features like profiles that include game-specific mapping that highlight relevant keys.

Corsair’s Gaming K70 RGB is big on programmability

Arguably, you don’t need reminding of key mapping for your favourite titles. But at the very least, highlighting keys for new games you’re just getting to grips with sounds pretty useful to me. As ever, it probably comes down to cost.

For an extra 10 quid or bucks, it would be a no brainer. But the combination of mechanical switches and all those LED lights makes for some pricey boards. Corsair’s Gaming K70 RGB, just as a for instance, is around £140 in the UK, $170 Stateside. Ouch.

Me? I like the idea, but then I’d want it with my ghastly short-travel chiclet keys. Not likely.

143 Comments

  1. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Is there a mechanical switch with short travel? I’m getting a mechanical keyboard sooner or later, mainly because the keys require less force than the rubber domes. Minimal force and minimal travel would be ideal, I should think.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      I prefer cherry mx blues. You dont need to bottom out the keys when typing (shorter travel) and once you get used to it you type so much quicker .Also they have the most satisfying clicks. For just gaming cherry browns are probably better.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I recently bought a Cherry Brown keyboard for arcade racers, FPS and other games and it’s been a revelation. I love it.

        The price has actually gotten me to put a cloth over the keyboard when I’m not using it, because I turned over the old one when I was switching it out and I couldn’t believe the amount of schmutz that was in there. I mean… gross. Cat and dog hair, strange-looking crumbs (I don’t eat at the computer) and some stuff I don’t even like to think about where it came from.

        Now that I’ve found the wonderful, inexpensive “Tazer” mice, I’m all set. Those things are as good as the really expensive gaming mice, and they’re less than $20. I can easily switch resolutions on the fly and they’re just as sturdy as the name-brand ones. My next investment is going to be an actual Microsoft Xbox 360 wired controller, because the deadzones on the analog sticks on my Logitech F310 are just a mess. It’s almost impossible to aim an arrow in Shadow of Mordor with that thing. It was cheap and great for Batman and Splinter Cell Black List, but horrible for anything that requires aiming.

    • kyrieee says:

      The travel distance (to bottoming out) is 4mm on all the Cherry switches, but most of them actuate at 2mm meaning you don’t need to press the key all the way for it to register. The lightest switch is MX Red IIRC, because it has no tactile bump. Blues are very light too but the bump makes them higher, they also actuate slightly deeper. You could also look into Topre switches, which actuate at like 1.5mm but are quite pricey.

    • AndyTheGeeky says:

      When you say you want a keyboard with shorter travel distance, what do you mean exactly? All Cherry MX keyswitches activate at 2mm, and if you don’t want your keys to travel down to the full 4mm bottom out, you can put on rubber O-rings to shorten the distance (and quiet/soften the impact). I picked up a couple packs of 008 70A Durometer Buna-N O-Rings at $2 per 100 o-rings, and it really made a difference.

      Alternately, you could pick up a Cherry ML-based keyboard off of eBay or elsewhere. They activate at 1.5mm and have a total travel of 3mm, and are tactile switches akin to MX Browns.

      Razer’s newer Blackwidow keyboards are also supposed to have a slightly shorter distance, but it’s somewhere around 0.3mm shorter (within the normal MX tolerance) and the keyswitches are low-quality ripoffs and are not actual Cherry switches.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        There are the lesser known Black switches, very similar to the red ones but with a bit more meat, useful if your touch is a little rough or if you want some added force.

        A word of warning is that a lot of them died on me, but then again looking around it seems the problem is more or less shared by all colors, with probably the exception of the clicky ones.

        • Zafman says:

          That’s why I chose black over red. They give me more of a tactile feedback while still having a ridiculously short travel distance to register. I’m certain they activate on less than 2mm distance as I can barely see them moving, but having a stronger spring in them means I can actually feel that I pressed them at all. I’ve tried red, but it seems I’m a little bit too ham-fisted for them. I even think the activation distance of a cherry mx black switch is less than that of a chiclet switch. I love my steelseries 6gv2.

          • Chuckaluphagus says:

            I’ve got a Ducky keyboard with Cherry MX Blacks. The resistance is enough that I can feel t, but the key travel to actually activate is very minimal, and that combination works well for me. I’ve had it for a year now, and it’s turned out to be much easier on my hands and wrists (I type a few thousand words a day for work, every day) than my previous rubber dome keyboard (MS Natural 4000) ever was.

    • Malcolm says:

      The Logitech K740 Illuminated keyboard is pretty nice – mechanical switches (logitech’s own, not cherry or anything) but a nice short travel and a very thin keyboard. It lights up too which is a surprisingly pleasant gimmick.

      • iniudan says:

        K740 use the perfectstroke system, which is Logitech name for scissor switch, not mechanical. Personally I find scissor switch to be nice, mostly due to the low profile and until they break, they face lesser degradation then rubber dome, but they still break much more easily then mechanical.

    • tetracycloide says:

      Reds are what you’re looking for. The common discrption of their feel is ‘cloud of boobs.’ They have very short distance and require very little force to actuate.

  2. doswillrule says:

    Jumped in with a £200 aluminium cased backlit monstrosity and never looked back. There’s something for just about every budget now, and anything will be magnitudes better than a membrane. I’d liken it to moving from a traditional vacuum cleaner to a cyclone – it feels good and it makes your life easier. If you aren’t sure what to get, Browns are a safe bet, but I like Blues and Reds just as much.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      Yeah Browns are a safe bet, tho I prefer blue. TBH I thought everyone had moved onto mechanical k/b’s years ago.

      • Melody says:

        With that price? Yeah, I’ll do some window shopping sometimes, gush over them and dream, and then get a regular keyboard, perhaps with some media keys, for 20€.

        I’ve never actually even tried one. I read they’re good, and I wish I hadn’t, because for both my writing and my gaming needs a regular keyboard is more than fine, and to me, for my needs, it just feels like something I want because people told me I should want it. Like a lot of other things in electronics, actually.

        • wavedash says:

          You can get a decent mechanical keyboard for as little as 40€ if you shop around, not at all outrageous considering it’s a straight-up better product.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Google “Mechanical keys chatter”.

        There are two options, either i’m the only unlucky person, 3 times in a row, or a lot of people are living with the same problem in the delusion that such is the behaviour of mechanical switches.

        “God, they are SO precise that any single error of mine gets punished! I love them because they force me to be a better typer!”

        Nope, just mad registering issues. Oh, and before we all get geeky on keyboards, let’s address another important matter: the PS2 port. Unless you need mad functions or a USB hub, that’s your preferred choice, nothing beats pure hardware interrupts instead of polling.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          I didn’t know that there were modern computers with ps2 ports anymore. I haven’t had anything but usb for many years.

          The talk about durability is odd – I’d never heard about a worn-out keyboard, and have never had anything fancy.

          (But I’m not surprised about anything, including the talk about the merits of various kinds of keyboards I’d never heard about either. This column has never been aimed at regular people.)

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Well, if a membrane keyboard wears out, the most you get is harder to actuate keys with a sticky and choppy feel, something among those lines, but it’s hard to have a key really die.

            Mechanical switches on the other hand don’t suffer from this problem, but dust build up and other things might make them prone to key chattering, which is basically an incredibly evil problem that makes your keystroke register a lot of times.

            And yes, the good thing about PS2 is that it’s a direct, no-questions-asked input, you can even press your ENTIRE keyboard at once and you’ll have each single key press registered. Not that you would care, obviously, it’s just to point out how direct, to-the-metal and “simple” it is. USB on the other hand requires software polling.

            Never tried the ToPre switches but the internet wisdom suggests that they are the only real ultimate choice, and apparently they are used for critical work. Well, one thing is for sure, the price surely reflects that at least.

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            Harlander says:

            Bear in mind that n-key rollover is also facilitated by the keyboard itself. A cheap keyboard’s wiring won’t be able to produce it no matter what interface you use.

            (On a technical note, it’s not impossible to do n-key rollover on USB – keyboards supporting it are available today. The 6-key rollover limitation is for ‘boot mode’ – a legacy mode so the USB keyboard can be used in the BIOS.)

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            That’s true, and indeed i didn’t want to imply anything as the current good ones allow more than enough simultaneous key presses on USB, my intent was mostly to point out that PS2 is still a great thing and shouldn’t be written off as “old tech”, other than actually freeing up one USB port for other things, assuming your keyboard doesn’t have a HUB that is.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      If you’re going to spend that amount on a keyboard, at least get a Realforce Topre. Unless you really really like the feel and sounds of mechanical switches (which IMO is fun for 15 minutes then loses any and all appeal).

  3. mpOzelot says:

    I am a programmer and have been thinking of getting an IBM model M for a while now. The reasons behind my interest in such ancient HW are not only in the improved typing speed, but also the desire of owning a piece of computing history. That said, I have been looking at more modern alternatives recently, due to the rarity of such old keyboards, and the size, weight, and noise of it.

    More reading:
    link to clickykeyboards.com
    link to overclockers.com

    P.S.
    Notch also uses a model M apparently

    • Premium User Badge

      Saaz says:

      You should also search for “Unicomp keyboards”.

      I’m also a programmer, and have literally used nothing but Model Ms since they came out. My “work” keyboard recently started to act flaky, after 15-20 years of use, so I had to get a spare out of the closet. There was a period where you could find them in thrift stores for $1 or so, and I bought a few. I wish I had bought more.

      • Pockets says:

        I used to have one that I got for free back in the ’90s, I ended it up throwing it out thinking it was bust circa 2001 when it was actually a flaky motherboard. I still miss it :\

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      I love mine for coding (not so great for gaming). It is noisy as hell, and heavy enough to stun a burglar, but I find I make significantly fewer typos with that much physical feedback of when a key has been pressed.

      It has a sticker on it proudly proclaiming it as “Mr Clicky”. I would include a picture were we not separated by my current overseas adventuring…

    • Tiltowait says:

      I had quite a few model M keyboards. Unfortunately lost in one of my many moves. As far as typing or programing, model M is definitely the best. Action is about the same as the IBM selectric typewriter which I did many a term paper on. The buckling spring mechanism has not yet been surpassed for that real typewriter feel, which seems to influence creativity.. link to en.wikipedia.org
      As far as gaming I have not noticed any advantage, it is a matter of taste. I have gamed with both the Razer Black widow and the Logitech g19, as well as the M. My current choice is the g13 game pad and a track ball for gaming. I am also fond of the Apple wireless keyboard which I have named The Terrarium for it’s plexiglass bottom and talent for gathering detritus and proudly displaying it.

  4. namad says:

    mechanical keyboards and tupre and such really do it all, they can be made loud or quiet, soft or hard, or even soft and hard or in the case of razer’s nonsense hard and soft.

    browns are fabulous for typing because they teach it to you, automatically, for gaming though something else might be better.

  5. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    They don’t work for me, no matter how much i love them, any single one i try is inevitably going to develop chattering issues on some switches, becoming more or less unusable.

    I guess there’s no definitive answer for the ultimate in quality unless one splurges for ToPre electrostatic switches, but that means paying over 250 euro for a keyboard. Then again, anyone who tried such a thing will tell you that “It’s like typing on boobs”.

    link to elitekeyboards.com

    Either this or you go full-hipster with IBM buckling springs.

  6. onodera says:

    I have identical buckling spring (think old IBM Model M) mechanical keyboards at home and in the office, and I cannot stand anything else now. My wife and coworkers aren’t that happy with all the clicking, but I’ve stood my ground.

  7. Dozer says:

    I don’t understand backlit keys. If you type enough to want to pay £75 for a keyboard, surely you can touch-type and will never be looking at the keyboard. And surely everyone knows staring into a monitor in a darkened room is harmful?

    (Written on a Nexus 7 with the MessagEase freak weird keyboard in a darkened room with the screen pretty much resting on top of my face)

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      It’s harmful only to those who think 100% brightness ( the one monitors are shipped with ) is the right thing.

      It’s completely useless, the ideal 120 cd/m is found around 20-30 brightness on most monitor, you can up it a bit on a bright day and lower it a tad in a dark room, you’ll find that your black levels are far better aswell. That’s the only solution for almost-decent blacks until we finally get rid of the stupid LCDs with a backlight and move to OLED, but that will take a while.

      Lowering the brightness feels horrible because your eyes are adapted. Exit the room, stay out of it for like 10 minutes, come back in and the monitor will magically look good again even with low backlight!

    • darkChozo says:

      I’ve always considered keyboard backlighting to be a vanity feature. I can touch type just fine, but a fancy expensive keyboard is within my budget and it’s fun to have a keyboard that lights up as you type on it.

      Also, f.lux (or redshift on Linux) does wonders for late night computing.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I have some sort of crappy razer keyboard (well, it’s attached to my non-functional main PC, I’m on the laptop atm), and it has a blue LED backlight. The blue LED is bright enough to actually make it difficult to read the keyboard in dark conditions (the light from between the keys is much brighter than the illumination of any particular key). Thankfully I can touch-type, so it’s not much of an issue but I would definitely not recommend it.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Aye, you really need some way to control the brightness in low light for such keyboards.

        my GF gave me a Steelseries Apex for birthday, it’s all backlight BUT you can finetune the brightness, and in my case it’s stuck near the minimum settings. Doesn’t push your retina into suicidal tendencies in a dark room and it’s still rather visible in daylight, when it doesn’t matter anyway other than for aesthetic reasons.

        I think i’ll go back to zero backlight sooner or later regardless, i guess you will too!

    • Premium User Badge

      steves says:

      “I don’t understand backlit keys. If you type enough to want to pay £75 for a keyboard, surely you can touch-type and will never be looking at the keyboard”

      £75? Pah.

      If you’re truly of the hardcore keyboard master race, you’ll think nothing of dropping nearly twice that on a nice mechanical keyboard which doesn’t even have symbols on the keys, never mind fancy backlighting.

      link to daskeyboard.com

      And just look at that volume control knob too – that’s…actually useful.

      I don’t have one of these yet, just want one!

      • tumbleworld says:

        Das Keyboard is gorgeous… I’ve got a Cherry Blue, and I obtained a set of blank keys as replacements for the letter keys. My typing speed has significantly increased as a direct result. The key action is a nice plus, but not having letters to look down at as a safety net was the big difference. The first week was horrible, but since then, it’s been wonderful. I wouldn’t go back.

        As an aside, this whole page is made far more surreal when you have the XKCD-inspired s/keyboard/leopard plug-in installed.

      • Thants says:

        I didn’t know a keyboard could be pretentious, but here we are.

        • gwathdring says:

          “psycho-acoustic experience”

          Ooh, and we’ve hit the bullshit electronics jackpot!

          “gold-plated”

          • Raoul Duke says:

            Except that the actual keyboard is truly awesome to use.

      • Premium User Badge

        calcifer says:

        I have the version with inscriptions and it’s pure joy to type on that thing. It’s also one of the few mechanical keyboards with nkey rollover via USB. The volume knob and the two USB3 ports on the backside are a nice plus as well.

        • gwathdring says:

          Marketing aside, it does seem like a really fabulous keyboard.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        I have a Das mechanical keyboard – two in fact (one at work). One of the best investments I’ve made in terms of my PC, both for games and working.

        I went full on ridiculous and got the pure black one (no letters on the keys) for home. Which is great for everything except for flight sims. “Press Control-Left Alt-H to raise flaps”. Um, yes, er…

      • LionsPhil says:

        Honestly, a few colleagues at work have these, and I don’t rate them at all. The key feel is nowhere near as good as a Model M, and in fact feels quite wrong relative to how they click. I prefer my Microsoft Ergonomic 4000, which isn’t even clicky.

        If that’s what Cherry MXs feel like, I think I’ve just ruled out about 90% of the mechanical keyboards going. :/

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I don’t know how much I’d be willing to shell out for it, but when I’m playing DayZ with all of the lights off, I’ve found myself wanting something along those lines. When you play games that involve almost every button on the keyboard, home row keys and muscle memory don’t help all that much.

      • gwathdring says:

        Pretty much. When I’m typing, I can touch type very, very, very quickly. But especially while multitasking or gaming … well, stuff interferes. You get distracted for a second and literally forget where your hands are and have to glance down. Or you forget what button does what. Or, you know, since typing and playing ARMA II are different tasks, you don’t have the same muscle memory for both.

        I’d love a keyboard that I could custom-color-code for games I play frequently. :D

    • fish99 says:

      I pretty much only game in the dark (anything else just kills the atmosphere and immersion) and often wearing 3D glasses, so a backlit keyboard is an absolute must. And no I can’t touch type.

      I’m sure you sometimes switch the lights off for a good film, and you’ll notice they do the same at the cinema. It’s no different with games.

    • drakkenson says:

      Actually, not really everyone can touch type, and some of us talentless bastards do like to work in a dark room, as it allows for better concentration. Besides, it is useful even to touch typists to realign their hands occasionally, I imagine…

  8. thekelvingreen says:

    That second image immediately made me think of the mighty Spectrum. Ironic, given the rubber keys.

  9. DrollRemark says:

    I’m typing this from the mechanical keyboard I decided to get with my newly built computer (2 days in and counting!) and it’s definitely different. Don’t think I’ve had it long enough to give it a fair assessment yet (this post may well be the most I’ve used it for), but so far it seems alright, but it hasn’t enriched my life either. I also use the standard Apple keyboard at work, and found it perfectly usable.

    Bog standard 60 quid Cherry red by the way. I can’t stand gimmicky LED-spaffed computer equipment these days (I’m not 15 any more, sorry) and I’ve never really been convinced by any of the other accoutrements – if I want to bind a key to do something special, I’ll use a script for that.

    • gwathdring says:

      Go guard your lawn, grumpy-puss.

      I’m not 15 anymore either and I happen to like pretty, shiny things. Especially if the shininess has a functionality to it.

      There’s nothing juvenile about it. It’s fine if it’s not for you, but don’t disparage the people whom it is for. Brightly colored lights are pretty and enticing. There’s nothing immature about that. Christ. Not 15 anymore …

  10. gnodab says:

    I must confess I know next to nothing about proper keyboards. I bought a slim black Logitech keyboard with backlight because it looked slick and felt comfy while typing. I immediately regretted the purchase though. It has terrible ghosting problems and bugs out at 3 key presses, which makes gaming a pain (an example would be SR3 where you try to sprint holding Shift+W and try to jump with Space).
    So what I’d like to know are mechanical keyboards ghosting free? I assume this might be a pretty dumb question, but please enlighten me. What would be a good starter model that avoids ghosting, but ideally doesn’t feature one inch high keys that look like they came from the 80s?

    • pepperfez says:

      Every one I’ve seen is interference-free up to at least 6 simultaneous presses, and most allow arbitrary key presses. I’m sure there are membrane or scissor-switch boards that do the same, but I don’t know which.

    • AndyTheGeeky says:

      If you’re looking at a mechanical keyboard, you’re almost certainly going to get a keyboard with ~1 centimeter keys as that’s the standard. You might look at a Cherry ML keyboard (probably off of eBay), though I don’t know how those do with ghosting. Otherwise, if the massive size of a full-size keyboard is an issues, you can easily get a tenkeyless (numpad-less) keyboard for cheaper tan a full-size. I’ve had no trouble with the CM Storm Quickfire XT (full-size), and both the tenkeyless Quickfire Rapid and the compact Quickfire TK are only ~$75 on Amazon right now.

      • gnodab says:

        thanks for the replies. I guess I need to try and get the feel for the blocky keys back. bummer that there are so few brick stores that actually stock decent keyboards. i dont want to order a new one without trying it out first.

  11. Hypnotron says:

    This is surreal.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Unfortunately, Microsoft does not make its ergonomic keyboards with mechanical keys, so this is an option I won’t even consider.

    • wavedash says:

      If you’re looking for ergonomic keyboard layouts, just get an Ergodox.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Let’s not go crazy here, now. I still want something that fits in a rectangle, has a numeric keypad, function keys, arrows, and win/app keys.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m willing to sacrifice my body for the beauty of a square keyboard, so I don’t know from first-hand experience, but keyboard geeks I’ve followed are over the moon about the Ergodox. There’s no easy way to buy it, unfortunately, but if you can wade through the mass of group buys and imports and stuff it’s supposed to be typing perfection.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That looks like the least ergonomic damn thing possible.

        • pepperfez says:

          Right? But I guess human bodies are so jankily built we shouldn’t be surprised when things that fit them look absurd.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      You could always buy a Kinesis Advantage, which comes with Cherry MX Brown switches.

      It’s a bit more spendy than a Microsoft keyboard, but as someone who had four (four!) Microsoft Natural keyboards die on him over the course of 3 years, I feel safe saying you get what you pay for.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Kinesis Advantage looks too unconventional. Might be problematic for games and Vim. And it seems to be missing windows and application keys, as well as the numeric keypad, which I often use.

        I’ve had my Natural Ergonomic 4000 for seven years; took it apart and washed it at one point after spilling sweet tea on it — only lost the application key, which I since remapped to caps lock.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          The Kinesis Advantage is completely useless for games. Trust me on that one. Which is why I’ve got another keyboard constantly plugged in, used for gaming, as a numeric replacement and in case someone else needs to type something on my computer, because there is a serious learning curve with this.

          But it’s an awesome keyboard if you type a lot. Expensive, but worth it.

          • islisis says:

            It is far from useless, offering more quickly reachable keys than almost any other keyboard, and uses mx brown or red switches. If you are talking about fps games, mapping to sdfc or esdf is essential.

        • Pop says:

          I’ve not yet found anything more comfortable to use than Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic 4000. I’ve always thought the peripherals were the best side of the MS business.

          Any mechanical keyboard is going to have to incorporate a wrist rest similar to the NE 4000 before I touch it. Dread the day when I can no longer get my hands on one.

          That said, if someone knows where you can go to try one of these fancy keyboards I’d be up for giving it a go

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’ve always thought the peripherals were the best side of the MS business.

            Dear Microsoft,

            y u no maek Microsoft Intellimouse v3 no moar?

            Love,
            The Internets

  13. Neurotic says:

    I had no idea you could use an Apple keyboard with a PC. Is it just the magic of USB at work?

    • Jeremy Laird says:

      Just plug it in and it will work. The mapping for some minor keys will be off which is fixable with software, but I don’t bother. You soon learn what’s what.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Just don’t ever try with a Mac mouse. Not because it doesn’t work, it actually does, but because no sane person deserves the torture of using that piece of crap.

      Some keyboards are fine though, the latest especially, but i remember some of the old batches were just of incredibly poor quality. They really don’t shine when it comes to peripherals. Many mac users prefer to look elsewhere even if that means loosing all the nice style/color matching.

      • Geebs says:

        Personally I love the short throw on the Apple keyboard’s keys for typing. I don’t particularly like them for gaming, though.

        The Apple mouse is a bit of a mixed one – trying to use it for games gives me crippling wrist pains within 5 minutes. The really good feature of that mouse is the scrolling surface, which works really nicely with OS X, but loses almost all of its benefits in Windows because of the lousy gesture support.

        If anybody has found a mouse which has a similar touch surface but isn’t so painful to use, I would love to know!

        • aperson4321 says:

          Microsoft got this one:
          link to microsoft.com

          I have not tried it but I do own the very small Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse, Its a bit buggy but it works very well. The funny thing is that in Linux Ubuntu it works utterly amazingly! No bugs there ironically and even with it using bluetoothit last ages and ages. The flick scrolling is really cool for web browsing, can be a bit unpredictable at first though.

    • gmillar says:

      Apple’s just a PC with a different OS.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    If money was no object?
    Yeah, I’d get me an Art Lebedev Optimus Maximus.
    Every key is an OLED display.
    Apparently it’s not a great keyboard, but the technolust factor is sky high.

    • pepperfez says:

      I recall there being a numpad that came in under $1k.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        There was a three button device, with larger screens, but it used some horrible USB-Serial converter which had no 64 bit drivers, and had an audible whining noise.
        Shame, it looked really nice, but the execution was not there.

  15. Horg says:

    I’m still not sold on the idea of mechanical keyboards being worth the cost. Firstly, after 15 years of PC gaming, I can’t honestly say i’ve ever worn out a keyboard. Not even the cheepo free keyboard we got with our first family 486, that’s still in my collection of used parts and still works. Secondly, on the point of precision, there are a decent number of options for non mechanical keyboards that come in at a fraction of the price. Roccat make KBs with a light half press that provides just enough resistance to stop you making accidental input, and just springy enough to provide audio feedback without being irritating. The software is comparable to a mechanical board with anti ghosting, programmable presets and the Roccat ”easy shift” for dual key functionality. When I was shopping for a good KB they came in at about half the price of the entry level Logitech mechanical KBs with comparable functionality. Put simply, to justify the price of the mid range mechanical KBs, you would need to be breaking two to three non mechanical Roccat KBs within its expected lifespan.

    • crazyd says:

      I’ve never NOT broken a dome keyboard within a year or so. I’ve never had one become completely useless, but I’ve had plenty of Shifts / Space bars that intermittently fail. My Deck keyboard is built like a tank, and has lasted years of use, however. Also, I just prefer the feel. I’m certainly never going back to dome keys.

    • pepperfez says:

      Oh, mechanical is most definitely an unnecessary luxury item. But the feel of Cherry Blues…so good. I just tap keys sometimes for the feel of it.

    • aziztcf says:

      Yeah i don’t get the hype either, the IBM keyboard that came with my 486 still works just fine. Damn young whippersnappers with their new technology ;)

      • Raoul Duke says:

        From that era, that is probably a mechanical keyboard…

  16. trjp says:

    I’m a keyboard junkie – I’ve owned and used most every type (including classic IBM ‘collapsing spring’ keyboards back when they were all you could get!!)

    Most recently I used a Sidewinder X6 for 3 years – many people had issues with ‘dome tearing’ but mine never did, all that happened is that the key caps literally wore-off (several keys are completely transparent!!) but the ‘swappable’ keypad was it’s big selling point, a great idea!

    I always planned to replace it with a mechanical tenkeyless (that’s no-numpad), Cherry Brown switches and backlit as my monitor ‘washes out’ the legends on keys – so a Ducky Shine or Max Blackbird most likely.

    But then I used the thing I’m using now which cost me less than £11 and it’s – well – it’s just fine if I’m honest. It’s taken a year of abuse from me without whimpering (and that’s a LOT of abuse), the legends are still intact, the keys still work – it’s “as new” basically. It’s a Perrix Periboard 407b – see Amazon, still under £12!

    My ideal keyboard is over TEN TIMES that figure – it just doesn’t make financial sense. Yeah, lovely noise and nice action but TEN TIMES!? – nowhere near…

    p.s. then there’s the “ping” – you don’t want the “ping” and that’s always a risk with mech. keyboards…

  17. DrMcCoy says:

    Pah, Cherry keys are for filthy peasants!

    Me, I have an original IBM Model M, built on April 27, 1987 (so no stupid Windows keys either). With buckling springs!

  18. Brian Rubin says:

    All those words and no mention of the venerable IBM Model M, the finest mechanical keyboard known to humankind!!?!? Shenanigans and bullnuggets I cry, for there is no finer keyboard on this or any other planet!

  19. Synesthesia says:

    I like hammering my keys when i type, so switching to a mechanical has become extremely satisfying. My apm at dota improved quite significantly after dumping a crappy chiclet genius wireless keyboard which ghostkeyed everywhere. I like them. They are robust, heavy, and won’t break in a long time. In my experience, they are expensive, but worth it. There are some very pretty designs out there too. The majestouch ninja is quite the thing.

  20. vecordae says:

    I use a rubber-dome keyboard at work and used one at home for many, many years. About a year ago, I swapped my home keyboard out for a nice new Razer Blackwidow and found the difference to be pretty amazing. To me, rubber-dome keyboards tend to feel kind of dead and a bit squishy. My mechanical keyboard feels more lively and responsive, and I can type much more quickly on it.

    The closest thing I can compare it to is the difference between walking barefoot on a nice, hardwood floor and walking barefoot on dense foam mat.

  21. LarsBR says:

    I’m very happy with the SteelSeries 6Gv2 for gaming, though do I all my writing/programming directly on Lenovo Thinkpads. Weird like that.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Until the last few years when they finally ruined them, ThinkPads had the best damn laptop keyboards by a mile, and they outshone most desktops too.

      I typed my PhD thesis on an aging 500MHz Celeron ThinkPad, eschewing the Core 2 Quad MacBook Pro my budget had gone to, because of its superior keyboard. Yes, you read that tech gap correctly.

  22. pfooti says:

    I own a razer blackwidow that I used for about two years, give or take. It’s great. Right now, i have an ErgoDox keyboard (google it) that I built myself using parts I bought as part of a MassDrop drop. It’s kind of cool to have a keyboard I built myself. The keyboard itself is super-programmable, it will store ten layers (different keymaps) in its onboard memory, and there’s pretty easy ways to redo keymaps and stuff. Plus, it’s split-hand ergonomic. Best of all: when I’m playing a FPS or whatnot, I can just move the right-hand half off to the side and use the left half keyboard like it’s a gaming keypad or whatever. The only bummer is that it’s not actually possible to only connect one half of the keyboard, but the cables are long enough that the other half stays out of the way.

  23. thedosbox says:

    But, again, I’m fully aware I’m in the minority

    I’m with you. I much prefer scissor switch keyboards (as I believe the apple one is) and wish the old Logitech UltraX was still available. However, I did find a reasonable replacement in the form of the Gigabyte K7100: link to gigabyte.com

    The keys are low travel, low wobble and much lower noise than a mechanical (even with the O-rings hack).

    • bills6693 says:

      Another one here. I really prefer the feel of rubber dome. I actually just use the keyboard in my laptop for all my typing, even when the keyboard is at my desk, because I like the compactness of the keyboard, the short travel distance, lack of wobble, and relative quietness.

      Maybe I’m odd but I really like using a laptop keyboard because its so much smaller. I have to travel between keys a much shorter distance, it fits perfectly for me. I can type for hours on this thing happily.

      I guess maybe if I were into games requiring higher precision or APM then maybe mechanical keyboards would be better? But as it is I like my strategy, turn-based strategy etc. And I don’t play competitive multiplayer anything, just dabble in a little casual multiplayer with friends of a similar ability to me (maybe slightly better) on the odd occasion I’m doing doing singleplayer stuff. For what I do, the built-in, rubber-dome type keyboard on my laptop is ideal and I wouldn’t want to change it because I really prefer its feel and also wouldn’t want a larger keyboard, and especially because then its an extra peripheral to plug in!

    • KenTWOu says:

      +1 I don’t understand all the fuss about very expensive mechanical keyboards. I’m using two relatively cheap BTC scissor switch keyboards and they already gave me everything I want. Their buttons are low, fast, precise and quiet.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I’m always a bit uncomfortable when people say “mechanical keyboards are best”. Keyboards and mice are much more individual components than anything else in a PC.
      While we can use numbers to say that this graphics card is objectively better than another, which keyboard and mouse you prefer is entirely subjective, it depends on the size and shape of your hands, how you sit at your computer, and just plain what you like.

      Personally I’m happy with my bog standard Dell basic keyboard, it works just fine, and I can put any gameplay differences down to my lack of skill and age. although, a volume control would be quite nice…

    • pekikuubik says:

      Cherry themselves have a keyboard with scissor switches in the eVolution STREAM XT. I’ve had my eye on it for a while now, but haven’t felt the need to buy it since my UltraX is still in good condition.

    • Ryuuga says:

      Loved the Logitech Ultra X, was my fave keyboard for many years.. but damn, I sure wore out a bunch of them. Space bar especially seemed to break a lot. Then again, a new one wasn’t too pricey, so it wasn’t a huge issue. I managed to snag a couple of the last ones sold. They didn’t seem quite like the older ones, though, the keys did not travel as easily, they felt a bit heavy and wooden to use.

      These days, it’s all wireless, with the unfortunate lack of variety in full-size models. Currently, it’s the Logitech TK820, which unfortunately lacks not only numpad, but also delete, insert, pgup, pgdown, and a heap of other keys. But it’s not too bad for typing on, at least.

  24. bad guy says:

    My “Das Keyboard 4” has a ruler on the back for mesuring e-peen.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Meaningless, the ruler is always going to be too short anyway.

  25. Lord Zeon says:

    I can’t get behind mechanical keyboards. They’re effective and they can be nicely customized, but they’re simply not that much better than rubber dome keyboards. I’m sitting here typing this on a perfectly good Logitech G510 that has excellent key travel, over a dozen special keys, and whole board LED backlighting. Sure, I’ll probably buy a mechanical keyboard when this one dies, but they’re absolutely not worth going out of your way to upgrade.

  26. honuk says:

    lord help me, I have five mechanical keyboards, including a Model M and a Topre board.

  27. Premium User Badge

    NationOfThizzlam says:

    I actually prefer the higher-resistance Cherry switches. The Blacks are a stiffer version of the Reds, and used to be considered the gaming standard before people realized they wanted to type with reasonable comfort when they weren’t pounding on WASD. (For the record, I find Blacks fine to type on after about a day’s adjustment time.) Greens are awesome, and I highly recommend people try them if they haven’t already. They’re basically stiffer Blues but the keys just feel great to type on. And some specialty shops have started using Cherry MX Clears, which are like stiffer Browns and don’t have the audible clack of Blues and Greens.

    Also, Unicomp still makes customizable Model Ms with buckling springs, which are awesome.

    • pepperfez says:

      In a fit of whimsy I ordered the Ducky Shine 87, which includes all(?) eight colors of MX switch, and discovered that the comically hard dark greys are super satisfying. A keyboard full of them might be really tiring, and would certainly be very expensive and fully custom, but I imagine it would feel like a bouncy castle for your hands.

      • Premium User Badge

        NationOfThizzlam says:

        Is yours an MX Black keyboard by chance? I’ve got a Shine 104 with Blacks and I believe they use Dark Grey for the spacebar. An all Dark Grey keyboard would be the stuff of legend, though.

        • pepperfez says:

          Mine is a goofy novelty with greys on the function keys, but yeah, it’s the switch in black boards’ spacebars.

  28. Axess Denyd says:

    Chatter?

    So they haven’t figured out how to make a good buckling-spring keyboard like the Model M again? they list forever, have a decent weigh so they don’t move around and do not experience “chatter”.

    What were their switches made of, Greek fire? I’m sure we could figure out how to make them again if we really tried.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Well, they have their “german made” slogan going on, but the truth is incredibly simple: solid stuff in a mainstream product can’t be expected anymore.

      It’s still there, you “just” need to open the wallet wide enough. Actually, make it a little wider. Yeah, just a little bit… perfect! Thanks for parting with your hard earned 300 bucks, it was a pleasure!

      EDIT: Hah! Probably going to be fine with “just” 150+ bucks: link to geekhack.org

    • honuk says:

      you can buy modern day Model M’s from a company called Unicomp. They’re not clones either, they are literally the corporate descendants of IBM’s keyboard division, and they use the actual tooling machines from that era. General consensus seems to be that they aren’t quite as solid as the Model M, but they’re also a lot cheaper than a new Model M was.

      • Dinger says:

        … But still pretty darn tough. Somehow repeatedly dropping mine, I managed to lose a small chunk of plastic from the bottom-right corner, although the metal frame underneath is intact. Darn thing weighs about a kilo. They also make a “compact version” that’s basically without the two centimeters at the top of the screen.
        After four years of use, though, I need to put my keys in the washer. Chatter? People have keyboard chatter problems?
        Of course, it’s loud as hell. Another point: modern “full size” keyboards are somehow more compact.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      As mentioned you can get still get new buckling spring keyboards from Unicomp:
      link to pckeyboard.com
      They’re really nice if you need the reliability, especially if you want to carry it around, abuse it, or have a less than clean environment. They’re not too expensive either.

      On the subject of “chatter” for Cherry MX switches, it’s hardly fatal even if it gets bad as the switches are rather self contained, so you can just replace the bad switches.
      You can get cherry switches in 5-packs for $11. If you don’t know how to solder then get someone who does, but really even the soldering bit is not hard. Cherry switches are NOT chips or controllers with numerous contacts on them, they’re switches with just two contacts and it’s pretty obvious where they go.
      If you have the dexterity to build a PC you can probably replace a Cherry MX switch.

  29. fish99 says:

    Interesting this story comes up now because I’m currently considering a K70 (non RGB) with brown switches. Only thing that makes me hesitate (aside from the price) is that I’m kinda used to the low profile keys of my Razer Lycossa and the various laptops I’ve owned, and TBH full height keys don’t feel so nice to me anymore.

    I’ve looked at a ton of alternatives but it’s hard to find something with a) good backlighting b) no crappy macro keys c) dedicated media keys d) low profile keys, and e) standard layout, and that actually gets decent reviews.

    I’m currently using a Logitech G105 but I’m not a fan.

  30. Flavour Beans says:

    I do all my heavy typing on a chiclet-style keyboard like on my laptop. I don’t know why, I think I’ve just accumulated enough time with it and previous keyboards that it just feels the most natural now, and typing with full-size keys feels strange.

    As for gaming, though, I have been rocking a ZBoard Merc for at least five years now, and have yet to have a single key go funky, so I’ve never really understood the whole knock against membrane boards being short-lived.

    Besides, they don’t make any mechanical keyboards (or any other keyboard, really) with that luxurious gaming area fused to the side of it. Shooters and RPGs are so lovely on that thing; I never thought the different orientation and oversized keys would be so enjoyable, but there you go! My fingers just feel cramped trying to WASD on a standard board.

  31. Muzman says:

    In principle I wouldn’t mind something like this, but there is quite a bit to be said for the old blister keyboard. Although the world is littered with crappy ones that cost next to nothing they have made ones that are quite good, back when they were trying to woo ‘pro-sumer’ user level of people who push buttons a lot but aren’t mad touch typists and so forth.

    I think that’s where mine comes in. Not because I sought out a great one when I bought it, but just because it has been pretty darn good for a very long time. It’s a Mitsubishi Diamond Touch. Bog standard 101 layout with no “Multimedia” ergonomic bollox. It must be about 15 years old or more. I don’t think Mitsubishi’s tech arm have sold keyboards in ten years. But it’s still going fine. Perhaps more importantly it’s got a feel to it that no other blister/bubble/membrane type seems to have any more. I don’t think any but the most particular keyboard snobs would complain about it. The silicone sheet is quite firm and must be pretty decent quality. The switch membrane too. I’ve taken the whole thing apart and washed it many times (dried on the clothes line. The switching membrane is in two pieces so the contacts can be easily cleaned etc). That’s one plus over more complex mechanisms.
    If and when it eventually dies I’ll probably go up market, but for now old faithful is doing well.

  32. sidoaight says:

    Highly recommend keeping an eye on Axios Keyboard developments, or grabbing an Ergodox if you can’t wait.

    I currently have Cherry MX browns (with white PBT keycaps!) on a tenkeyless Leopold.

  33. drakkenson says:

    @ Jeremy

    “Me? I like the idea, but then I’d want it with my ghastly short-travel chiclet keys. Not likely.”

    May I suggest that you take a look at the Steelseries Apex keyboards?

    It is not mechanical, true, but it is backlit, programmable, and short stroke. Personally, I like mine very much.

  34. GrandSirThebus says:

    My main issue with keyboards is how many keys presses can be detected at the same time. I try to play M.U.G.E.N with my girlfriend and we can’t do our moves properly because the keyboard only detects 2-3 presses. Would these keyboards be able to remedy this?

    • honuk says:

      most mechanical keyboards have what’s called n-key rollover, which means you can literally hit every key on the board and they will all register. sometimes boards will default to something lower when connected with USB, but whatever limit the board hits will be higher than anything you would run into.

  35. celticdr says:

    I bought a mechanical KB (Corsair K60 or 70) with Cherry blue switches and now a regular membrane KB sucks for me now (I make so many typing mistakes on my laptop KB).

    As they say “Once you go Cherry blue, you, err… never go loo…” (I’m going to work on that saying a bit more)

  36. green frog says:

    I’m done with mechanical keyboards for now. After hearing from many different sites about the glory of mechanical keyboards, I finally caved in and bought a Corsair K70 last month. I used it for a day and was so underwhelmed that I sent it back. I even ate the return shipping cost and everything.

    Was there anything “wrong” with it? Not really. It felt okay. The materials were certainly nicer. But was it $130 worth of nicer? I felt that no, it was not, so I returned it. If money was no object I probably would have kept it, but I decided that I’d rather have that money to spend on something else.

    That’s just my experience, of course. But the moral of the story is probably to try before you buy to get a feel (literally) as to what the difference is worth to you.

    • P.Funk says:

      You could also buy a cheaper classic one no doubt available somewhere. My local freegeek hardware recovery volunteer group apparently sells IBM M series boards for $30.

  37. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I built a new computer recently and decided to go all out on peripherals and got a fancy DAS mechanical keyboard along with everything else. I consider it the biggest waste of money I’ve ever spent and I once accidentally booked plane tickets for the wrong month and ended up just buying a second pair of tickets and not using the first ones.

    I honesty prefer the Logitech k270 I use at work.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Wow, I had the exact opposite experience – I got a Das and I can never, ever go back. Absolutely craps all over every other keyboard I’ve used. Short travel laptop/Apple keyboards are particularly awful by comparison.

  38. P.Funk says:

    This article has compelled me to go digging into the vault of all my old computer tech. 2 old pearl coloured keyboards discovered. One is a rubberdome from 1991, but even so it has amazing keys and great feel for one, and the other is a Mitsumi KPQ-E99YC. Apparently its also rubberdome but a certain type called a buckling rubber sleeve. Apparently its basically the exact same as the ones that company made for old Commodores and Amigas. Its age is pretty apparent since it uses not an old PS/2 but an actual AT connector.

    Here’s a pic the same model.
    link to i745.photobucket.com

    I think I might have to get this bad boy up and running, for the lulz if anything else.

  39. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    All this talk of fancy keyboards makes me momentarily sad I missed the boat on the Optimus Maximus. Momentarily, because I quickly realise what a silly idea it is

  40. mrpier says:

    I prefer my keys flat and with minimal sound.

  41. SuicideKing says:

    I’ve a Model M keyboard that dates from 1998, when we bought our first PC. I just hate everything non-mechanical at this point. Only key that’s starting to give me trouble is the spacebar, after 16 years of pressing it.

  42. Lanfranc says:

    Ok, but we never found out what the “schitnitz” was? :(

  43. OliverM says:

    The current full-size apple keyboards are excellent. I’ve smaller hands than the average & I’m quite a light typist, so they suit me perfectly. The key action isn’t at all mushy (certainly not compared to the keyboards on cheap laptops). I’ve played with mechanical keyboards in the past and couldn’t get into them – so loud, tiring to type on, and that weird wriggle with the buckling spring… no thanks. It’s like trying to crush tiny scampering beetles with your fingertips.

  44. tremulant says:

    I have a problem with keyboards at the moment, you see, i quite like shitty old rubber dome keyboards(this tends to be the way mechanical believers categorize even the nicest of them), I currently have a Compaq which appears to be almost identical to this one and i rather like the relatively low profile keys, definite action, full size layout including full height function keys, without being bulky, and shortish travel, but, being fussy, I sometimes like to press more than two keys simultaneously, and this is where it often falls down.

    Can anyone recommend a nice dome keyboard along the lines of this one, with “gaming” workarounds for at least 4 simultaneous key presses but without the other main feature of cheap gaming features, i.e the hideous LED backlighting, the bulky and horrible built in hand rests, the silly fonts, the, reportedly, poor keypress action? I’m interested in some of the bog standard cherry models, even if they are a bit bulky, but it would be good to know if any gamers have experience of them and if they actually offer any improvement over my existing one.

  45. kajdanovitch says:

    I had a membrane keyboard,
    then I had a cherryMX brown mechanical one,
    then I had a girlfriend in the same room as the computer and I,
    then I had a keysonic flat apple style keyboard,
    then I had a basement,
    took back my mechanical keyboard but I was tired of the sound too,
    so I bought those key dampners and it made the keyboard quieter and also reduced the travel distance…

    I really recommend those lil o’rings if you are accustomed to apple flatness but are tired of there flimsiness/lack of customability.

  46. DanMan says:

    My KB is so old, it comes with a DIN plug, which I have plugged into a PS/2 converter. No complaints. Yes, it’s one with a rubber mat. You mad?

  47. Robstafarian says:

    I used IBM Model M keyboards exclusively for years, but I eventually switched to one with Cherry MX Brown switches so that I my typing would not sound like a tommy gun (one of my nicknames is “Beethoven”). Now, my keyboard is only noisy when I hit the keys much too strongly: all the time. The Cherry-based board is also much better for gaming, it must be said, most notably its N key rollover when using the included PS/2 adapter. They key spacing is a bit different to a Model M, as well; “full size” is not what it once was.

    Of course, I have a lovely Model M SpaceSaver (circa 1987) which I will sell at some point. It is noticeably heavier than any of the full size boards in my stash (the oldest of which is 1992).

  48. babymoses says:

    I think the main appeal of mechanical keyboards lies in 2 facts:
    1. An average mechanical keyboard is noticeably nicer to type on than an average rubberdome keyboard.
    2. If you want a custom keyboard, there are no options but mechanical switches. Just take a look at the TECK, Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, Tex-Keyboard, etc.

    (1) may just as well be attributed to the average rubberdome keyboard being plain garbage, since people expect keyboards to be really cheap. You cannot tell a normal person you just spent upwards of 50 Euro on computer peripherals when they use the keyboard and mouse their computer came with.

    BUT! If you’re willing to invest a bit in the quality of your main computer interface device, todays rubberdome keyboards are just as viable and still only about half the price of mechanicals. Just try the Cherry Cymotion Expert (this thing actually is a bargain at ~25 Euro, but unfortunately aesthetically unimpressive), Lenovo’s NMB supplied laptop keyboards, Apple’s chiclet keyboards or Lenovo Compact USB keyboards (not the wireless ones!). Currently I prefer the latter to all my mechanicals, and I say this as someone who has used mechanical keyboards and various switches for about 5 years, including the original KBC Poker, TECK, Kinesis Advantage and HHKB Pro 2 (although the last one is a rubberdome).

  49. Foosnark says:

    I am very happy with my Nixeus Moda keyboard — Kailh brown switches (a might-as-well-be-exact clone of Cherry MX brown), tenkeyless so it fits in my weird little space. I put two rubber o-rings on each key and it feels perfect. I picked it up for about $60 new.

    I now hate the stock Dell keyboard I have at work. It’s a mushy piece of mush.

  50. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Bah. I have a keyboard I salvaged from a computer a school was throwing out. It now has to operate through three adaptors and it used to have a service sticker on the back reading “DOA W. Germ. ’87” but every few years I give it a cycle through the ol’ dishwasher and it comes out as good as new. Yes, the keys have a pull weight of about 8lb, and when I type it makes a sound like a refrigerator being machine gunned, but it’s the only keyboard I can comfortably use. Also, my fingers are now freakishly muscular.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Fact: fingers are actually controlled by muscles in the forearms.