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Windows 7: Mechanical Keyboards - Are you a convert?

View Poll Results: Do you use a mechanical Keyboard?
I have several and will never go back to rubber domes 5 27.78%
I've only got one but I love it 1 5.56%
Never heard of them, but I am interested 3 16.67%
Heard of them, but can't jutify the cost 2 11.11%
Don't care. A keyboard is 'just a keyboard' to me. 7 38.89%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

17 May 2012   #11
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I used to always use PS2 ports when mobos had them because I didn't see the point in wasting a USB port on a keyboard and mouse. Nowadays, you don't often get PS2 ports, and I don't go out of my way to find a mobo with them.

Without a doubt though, I prefer and only use wired keyboards and mice. To me, wireless just seems silly. My cords never get tangled enough to justify changing batteries.
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17 May 2012   #12
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

I'm a 2 finger, look at keyboard while I type Guy A good keyboard would likely be wasted on my. I never took to touch typing. As I've mentioned before, took typing in High School. It was me and 30 girls in a class. Needless to say, I was distracted, and concentrated on the touch method with them

A Guy
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18 May 2012   #13
smarteyeball

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
The stumbling block for me is the entry fee. I'm not likely to spend 100 plus dollars on speculation and I have no way of sampling one to see if I would be amazed.

Assuming I had the inclination, where do I go to sample a mechanical keyboard?

And if I did that, how do I choose between this mechanical and that mechanical? I'm guessing no "store" is going to carry a dozen brands I can test.
That is a very valid question and is also the most common one asked.

"Why spend X amount dollars when a $5 yum cha does the same job?"


It's completely understandable that not everybody is willing/or can justify the cost of dropping X amount of dollars on something they 'may or may not' like. Just as valid is remaining 'blissfully ignorant'. There's nothing wrong with that either.


However after a vast amount of anecdotal reading (plus personal experience) - I've found the ratio of disappointment is roughly around one in twenty for a variety of similar reasons.


Depending on your location - some stores do stock mech boards and you can get a hands on feel for them. Although admittedly they are few and far between, especially stores that carry a wide variety of brands.

However if you do have a store that stocks a few, the main thing to check is the difference in feel between switch types. Whilst there is a different 'feel' across varying brands even with the same switch type - the difference is not huge and can give you a pretty informed decision regardless.




Quote:
Can't imagine relying on reviews for something so personal and hard to describe.
For the most part I am the same - I'd much prefer to test something first before taking the plunge.

However in the case of mech keyboard reviews and lots of research I took the plunge, sight unseen. (Admittedly fuelled by one KRO fail too many).


The switch recommend for the majority of 'first timers' is the Cherry MX Brown. It's tactile (clicky) and much quieter than the MX Blue which is another tactile switch.

The cherry MX Brown switch is a good 'all rounder'. Great to type on and great for games. In the absence of being able 'test for ones self' - the MX Brown is typically the best recommendation.




*Personal Experience*

My first board was a Ducky 9008B/G2 with MX browns. I was hooked instantly on mech boards. Suddenly I could strafe/crouch move left/right/back forwards etc without any keypresses failing to register. Previously every rubber domed board I had a certain keypress combo that caused me grief in games. Typing was suddenly more 'enjoyable' too.

Keen to try another board, I gave the Ducky to my Father to replace his $5 Logitech. He noticed and appreciated the difference instantly.

My next board was Leopold 500CR with MX Reds.

The cherry MX Red and Black switches are linear (most like a rubber dome). Red switches are very light switches which require very little actuation (the amount of pressure to register a keystroke). I gave this to my sister and bro-in-law. They love it.

My next board was a Ducky Shine (backlit) with MX Blacks. Black switches are very heavy and require a fair amount of force to actuate. (I personally prefer Blacks to Reds). It's one of the best quality backlight keyboards atm.

I was then lucky enough to get a heavily discounted Topre Realforce. For typing, these are like the rolls Royce of keyboards. This is my favourite for typing.

And my latest acquisition is a Filco Majestouch Ninja TKL (Ten key less/no numpad) with MX Browns with custom yellow PBT keycaps.

(I'm generous to my family hence the reason i didn't sell my 'least favourite' boards - but they retain a good resale value.

*

Basically, I bought all these keyboards site unseen and was not disappointed with a single one. Obviously not everyone is going to buy more than one - trying/collecting is just a hobby for me.

And clearly not everyone needs a mechanical keyboard.

However if someone was planning on spending $150 for a 'gaming' keyboard, like a Logitech for example, then there are other much better, more robust and basically superior keyboards available.

And if gaming isn't your thing, but you do spend a lot of time typing - the 'premium' price in mine, and many others, opinion is well worth it.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Trucidation View Post
Very informative link, smarteyeball, thanks!

Would love to try out a different keyboard build someday. Article notes that PS/2 is superior; but they've pretty much phased them out from motherboards nowadays haven't they? I thought USB was supposed to be "better" and not only because you can use the connector for other devices.
You're welcome mate

The main advantage of PS/2 over USB is that PS/2 is unlimited in the number of simultaneous kepresses you can register. There is also no 'polling rate'. (time to register keypress. USB though, has a virtually imperceptible 'lag'.

Mice for example generally have a 125hz poll rate. Gaming mice typically have a choice between 125mhz, 500mhz or 1000hz. )

USB is limited to 6 NKRO. However 6 is more than adequate to the average user/gamer. 2KRO is quite limited.

There are quite a few new/current motherboards which still have a PS/2 port. Commonly they only have one)
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.

18 May 2012   #14
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by smarteyeball View Post
Depending on your location - some stores do stock mech boards and you can get a hands on feel for them. Although admittedly they are few and far between, especially stores that carry a wide variety of brands.

The switch recommend for the majority of 'first timers' is the Cherry MX Brown. It's tactile (clicky) and much quieter than the MX Blue which is another tactile switch.

The cherry MX Brown switch is a good 'all rounder'. Great to type on and great for games. In the absence of being able 'test for ones self' - the MX Brown is typically the best recommendation.


I was then lucky enough to get a heavily discounted Topre Realforce. For typing, these are like the rolls Royce of keyboards. This is my favourite for typing.
Smarteyeball or anyone:

A few questions on the above points:

Can you name a single store where a USA resident might have a fighting chance of sampling at least one mechanical keyboard? Fry's may (?) carry them, but I wonder if you can actually use one there?

Perhaps someone like Amazon would have a "no questions asked" return policy on a sight unseen purchase?

I don't game and am a decent touch typist. Would you recommend a Topre Realforce over a board with Cherry MX Brown switches?

How did you happen to get in on that "heavily discounted" deal?

Would I likely be able to tell the difference between 2 mechanical keyboards that had identical switches?

Why not just go with the cheapest one with the desired switch, at least on the first plunge?


Lastly re durability/longevity: how long do these things last compared to a high quality standard keyboard?

I am curious and don't rule them out, if I can get return privileges.
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18 May 2012   #15
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I think people probably put way too much concern and effort into finding the "right" mechanical keyboard. However, i understand the reasoning since these are often $80+.

Personally, I don't think many people who have only used a "soft-dome, membrane" keyboard would be disappointed with any of the mechanical keyboards with true mechanical keyswitches. Whether you get cherry brown, blue, black, red, etc. The only way you know for sure would be to get experience with all of them to know for sure exactly which you liked best. But like anything else, if you take the plunge and get say, cherry brown's, and never try the others, you wouldn't actually know if one was 2% better for you. In any case, it should be an improvement without question over what you currently have.


With respect to durability, these things are built like tanks and the mechanical keyswitches themselves are meant to outlast the stardard soft membrane keyboards without question. A membrane keyboard will usually last 1-10 million keystrokes...while a mechanical keyboard will last 20-50 million keystrokes.
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18 May 2012   #16
smarteyeball

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post

A few questions on the above points:

Can you name a single store where a USA resident might have a fighting chance of sampling at least one mechanical keyboard? Fry's may (?) carry them, but I wonder if you can actually use one there?
Being outside the US, I'm afraid I can't help you there



Quote:
I don't game and am a decent touch typist. Would you recommend a Topre Realforce over a board with Cherry MX Brown switches?

How did you happen to get in on that "heavily discounted" deal?
Yes I would highly recommend a Topre for a touch/decent touch typist. The only major downside is that they are not a cheap keyboard.

The reason I got mine heavily discounted was that my favourite online store slashed the prices in an effort to move stock. Due to the high price of the board, they simply weren't selling. So they had a sale for a week and I jumped at the chance.

Mine is a 'variable weighted' Realforce which means certain keys require differing levels of actuation. Variable vs uniform (all keys are the same actuation strength) are more suited for pure typing.

If a Topre is too much of a cost to take a gamble, I would suggest a board with Cherry MX Blues. Out of all the Cherry switches, Blues are the most suited to to typing.



Quote:
Would I likely be able to tell the difference between 2 mechanical keyboards that had identical switches?
yes. But only if you have tried several brands.

For example, my Ducky w/MX Browns feels a little different to my Filco with MX Browns. But part of that is because my Ducky has ABS keycaps and my Filco has PBT keycaps. (ABS/PBT refer to the plastic polymer that the keycap is made from. PBT are more 'robust' and take longer to 'shine' than ABS caps.

('Shine' is the term used for keycaps when they start to rub off after extended usage)



Quote:
Why not just go with the cheapest one with the desired switch, at least on the first plunge?
Seems like a good idea. Although if too cheap a brand, you may get the wrong impression of mechanical keyboards. (Just been looking at some of the 'cheap' boards on amazon - and quite frankly I wouldn't touch them)


Quote:
Lastly re durability/longevity: how long do these things last compared to a high quality standard keyboard?
Off the top of my head, cherry switches are rated for around 50 million keystrokes. I think rubber domes are rated for about 10 million keystrokes..

Part of the durability is that over time, rubber dome keyboards can become 'mushy' (takes more force to register a keystroke, the key takes longer to return to it's original position etc. They also have a higher chance off the rubber dome membrane slipping of the PCB which can result in some keys not responding consistently to keypresesses etc )

Cherry switches will still have the same feel regardless of how many times they've been pressed. ie No mushiness and no chance of 'dud' keys.

Basically they should feel the same as new even after several years worth of use.

Filco, Ducky, Leopold, DAS, Rosewill are some reputable/quality brands. (I haven't personally tried rosewell though, but apparently they are similar to Filco in terms of quality)


However I would avoid the Razer Black Widow/Ultimate. Crap long term quality. Others like the Steelseries, Coolermaster, Corsair, Thermaltake haven't been in the game long enough to cement a reputation. As mentioned above, there are some other brands I've never heard of and don't think the quality is there.

Some examples of typing only toe dippers:

(Blue)
Amazon.com: Das Keyboard Model S Professional Mechanical Keyboard: Computers & Accessories

(Brown)
Amazon.com: Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent Mechanical Keyboard: Computers & Accessories

(Brown)
Amazon.com: White Filco Ninja Majestouch-2, NKR, Tactile Action, USA Keyboard FKBN104M/EFW2: Computers & Accessories

(Blue)
Newegg.com - Rosewill Mechanical Keyboard RK-9000 with Cherry MX Blue Switch
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18 May 2012   #17
Barman58

Windows 10 Pro x64 x2 Windows 10 Enterprise x64, Ubuntu
 
 

As I learned to type on a Sinclair ZX 80 find that even the el-cheapest are an improvement

I currently have a wired keyboard & mouse that came with an acer system for when I sit at my desk, plus a Microsoft wireless set for when I work from the sofa.

I always used to specify Cherry keyboards for heavy use, but for myself, a two finger typist and non gamer, I don't feel the need

Please ignore any typos, I'm on a touch screen phone
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18 May 2012   #18
linnemeyerhere

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ultimate 64
 
 

Likewise I've moved to low semi flush keyboards with a great improvement in accuracy and speed. It's still the rubber button style but the fact that it's quiet for me is the hands down winner. I find the clicking of keys annoying as it just reminds me how I should have paid more attention as I took typing in high school because the instructor was hot and she gave passing grades all the guys.
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18 May 2012   #19
Anak

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit Ver 6.1.7600 Build 7601 - SP1
 
 

Found these for the USA Big Box Stores, Fry's is the only one I'm familiar with out West:

Fry's Electronics |

mechanical keyboard - BestBuy

Cherry (J79545) G81-8000 POS Keyboard | Staples®

"mechanical keyboard" - Walmart.com
Razer BlackWidow Gaming Keyboard

DSI USB left Handed Keyboard Cherry Mechanical switch Black by Ergoguys by Office Depot

I'd call first to make sure they have them before I'd start running back n' forth.
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18 May 2012   #20
pparks1

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by linnemeyerhere View Post
Likewise I've moved to low semi flush keyboards with a great improvement in accuracy and speed. It's still the rubber button style but the fact that it's quiet for me is the hands down winner. I find the clicking of keys annoying as it just reminds me how I should have paid more attention as I took typing in high school because the instructor was hot and she gave passing grades all the guys.
Didn't you say you are using the Logitech illuminated keyboards? These are scissor keyswitch keyboards...not exactly rubber button style.
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