Mechanical switch keyboards: Worth it?


#721

I really want a new keyboard, I was going to go with a trad squishy one (probably a Logitech K800) but these mechanical keyboards have me intrigued. Trouble is, I can’t find anywhere that will let me try one! Three countries so far (Australia, Singapore, Cyprus) and nope, hands off our keyboards! Given the differences and subjective opinions on which of these Cherry key mechanisms is most suitable, I absolutely have to try one before I buy it, especially at those prices.

The closest I got was a Razor Blackwidow, where they helpfully cut a little hole where the arrow keys sit so you can… er… press them. Well that’s great, but it doesn’t really tell me what typing would be like on them; it’s a very personal thing. Of course the shop point-blank refused to let me open the box and actually try it, so naturally no sale. These were Cherry Blue keys, btw, and while they felt pretty good I worry about the noise! My wife might be hammering on my office door at night if all she can hear in the other room is clickityclickclick. I like keys that have either short travel (I’m used to laptop keyboards) or a positive feedback, but I don’t like reverberating click noises that cause all the birds in the trees to scatter.

I’ll be in the UK next month, so perhaps those guys will let me touch their keyboards. I know, it’s a bit up front, but I have to do it!


#722

Just to let you know that the newer Razer keyboards used some sort of a hybrid switch called Kahlih - it’s Razer’s way to cut cost so I wouldn’t touch that at all. And if you MUST get one without trying MX Blue and MX Brown is the safest choice, meaning if you are worried about the sound, Brown sound like a natural choice for you. But yeah, try one. If you are ever in Malaysia, there is a store here that let people try all the keyboards on display to your heart’s content.

If you are going to UK, contact mechanicalkeyboard.co.uk. I am not sure where they are located but they sure will help you out.

Lastly, if you are truly planning to pick this up as a hobby, don’t go with the gaming company name eg Corsair or Razer. The exception is perhaps Cooler Master. Reason being part of the fun of mechanical keyboards are the ability to change to different key caps so you want a keyboard that conform to standard layout possible. Most of these gaming keyboards have macro keys and different sizes of modifiers keys (that’s CTRL, ALT, Windows key) and so they do not have any replacement.

And do think about going Ten Key-less i.e. without the number pad. They are smaller form factor and made it so much easier to use the mouse, without having to stretch your right hand.


#723

Thanks for that link. My Corsair K95 (got a year ago tomorrow) has a single burnt-out LED, under the “R” key. It’s an utterly trivial failure which arguably makes the keyboard easier to use… but it bothers me greatly.


#724

You can purchase a mechanical keyboard sampler kit, such as this one. It’s best to try out a full keyboard, of course, but this might be the next best thing.

Cooler Master makes a sampler board, too, if you can find it.

My keyboard is the Logitech G710+, which I bought on sale and really like. Cherry MX Brown with O-rings, so they’re quiet enough that others in my house won’t complain. I have yet to find a use for the macro keys on the left and wish they weren’t there, honestly.


#725

I saw this one in the store today, looked interesting if a little crowded (the layout, not the store). But do the O rings come pre-installed on the keyboard, or did you put them in yourself?

I also found a K800 trad keyboard in the same store. This could go down to the wire! Sadly I couldn’t try any of them out, but I may just have to wing it.


#726

Pre-installed.


#727

Oh, man, this keyboard feels amazing! I am not having any trouble typing on it and it sounds and feels incredible to use. Time to start that novel I’d been putting off, I suppose…

Also, SO PURDY.


#728

This is MX Red, right?
I’m not a big fan if Red and Black and glad that you like it. They feel like bicycle pump to me, he he! but I hear they made great gaming keyboard. Not so much for writing, so your novel deserves a better keyboard. Ha ha.


#729

Das Keyboard 4 Profession (cherry mx brown) refurb from woot for $120. Installed the usual wsad red o-rings. The stabilizers were a bit tricky to work with but this youtube video helped.

It’s really pretty. It feels nice too. The only thing I’m not too crazy about is the plastic ruler used as feet. It seems a bit gimmicky and is pretty slippery.

Early valentines day present to the wife. I think she likes it. OK, now I’m done. Every single computer in the house and work has a mech now:

ducky zero
ducky zero TKL
cm storm quickfire rapid-i
das keyboard 4 pro
2 X Logitech g710+ (yes, even after I returned mine the kids really liked it so I bought them back at a really good price ($80) for Christmas as part of their new pc builds)

Hmmm that’s $600+ in keyboards alone not counting o-rings, wrist pads, etc. in like 4 months.


#730

well done, ARogan. You are very much a keyboard enthusiast. 6 keyboards! That is a lot :P Are all of them Browns or you have a mixture of everything?


#731

All Browns though Blues and clears did cross my mind but I’m happy with the Browns. Mech key type monogamy!


#732

I finally broke down and purchased my first mechanical keyboard (well since they were commonplace) on Black Friday and picked up the Razer BlackWidow Chroma. I didn’t really need the colored lighting, but must admit it is pretty damn cool.

I believe I like the feel of the keys, but something just feels off while using it for sustained typing use. My hands start to ache much more than they do on my trusty Microsoft Natural 4000. I believe it is a little bit going away from the Natural layout and also that the keys seem to be closer together on the Razer and I believe that may be making my hands cramp a bit more during extended use. I don’t have a problem in the wrist so don’t believe the wrist support is the problem, although it may be adding to it a bit. I don’t have a keyboard drawer, but a large desk, so get lots of forearm support to help here. Also, playing something like Terraria is much harder than on my Microsoft keyboard and hurts a lot more.

Still, it looks so dang cool and I love the feel of the keys so I am going to try to ride it out and see if I can get used to it a bit more.


#733

The keys also travel a lot further down if depressed fully (though I think the new Razr-co-made Cherry-style keys stop a little earlier than, say, MX Browns or Blues), which could be overextending your fingers if you regularly bottom out. Just a theory, though.


#734

Picked up a Corsair K70 with Cherry Blues and really like it. First mechanical keyboard I’ve owned since the Northgate I used on my Amiga 4000 and on a PC after I sold the Amiga, back in the 90s.

Love love love the key feel. Just wish I could get one in an ergonomic layout. Still using my MS Sculpt ergo for day-to-day typing, and have the Corsair on my gaming rig.


#735

My cheapo keyboard got a stuck E key, from playing Borderlands the Pre Sequel with an ESDF layout, so I did a run to Best Buy. Where they had nothing but pricey wireless keyboards. Since I needed a keyboard immediately, I bought one - and regretted it. I’ve never had a problem with wireless mouse response, but I had significant lag, and even lock-ups with the Logitech wireless keyboard.

At first I thought maybe it was just Borderlands, but I realized I was seeing sporadic, painful delays with Chrome and Thunderbird. I decided that as long as I was going to mail-order a keyboard, I might as well get a decent one. So I’m typing on a Corsair K70 / Browns right now.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I think I reflexively type pretty hard, and that I’m applying a lot more force / extension than the keyboard really needs. I don’t really notice the tactile activation point that distinguishes Brown from Red unless I’m very, very deliberately moving one key slowly. In normal typing, I blow right by it rapidly. The keyboards very clacky when I type, but I think that’s because I’m bottoming out the keys all the time.

It’s very responsive when playing games, but I never felt my old cheapo keyboard was particularly bad that way. It’s night-and-day better than the wireless keyboard was, though.


#736

I don’t think a lot of typists routinely avoid bottoming out lighter keys like Browns and Reds without some pretty crazy muscle memory training, to be honest. I suspect that’s where a lot of the popularity of o-rings as a keyboard modification comes from (noise and travel distance reduction without months of grueling re-training!).

Since the clackiness was a part of the charm for my main home keyboard with MX Blues, I never paid it much mind, but did find that heavier keys like MX Blacks and even the part-rubber action of my cheapo Topre Realforce keyboard made for a quietier experience at work.


#737

Ergonomic?
There is one.
http://matias.ca/ergopro/pc/


#738

That looks pretty cool. Looks like they’re backordered until March, and they use silent keycaps. Ideally I’d like to get one with audible feedback. Be interesting to see if they introduce that option once they get production ramped up.


#739

There is an active discussion with Matias himself over at geekhack. He probably is able to answer your question about clicky switch. I seemed to recall that it is entirely possible to do so.
https://geekhack.org/?topic=53184.msg1554823#msg1554823

edit: no, there is no plans for clicky switch in the ErgoPro
https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=66322.msg1572784#msg1572784


#740

Hmm, a lot more choices than last time I looked for one of these… Here’s an ergonomic model with clackey keys.

https://www.trulyergonomic.com/store/truly-ergonomic-mechanical-keyboard-click-tactile-kailh-cherry-mx-compatible-blue-keyswitches-229-english

Don’t like the Ctrl key where Enter should be, but looks like it’s easy to remap that. Expensive as heck, though.