Mechanical Keyboard Guide

Dan_D

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I've been using my Das Keyboard Professional for just under a day and I have to say, I like it. It feels much better to me than the Deck Ice Legend's Cherry MX Black switches do. I also appreciate the keyboard's smaller foot print which frees up already non-existent desk space for me. So far this is the best keyboard I've used since the IBM Model M I used to have way back in the day. I've never used any of Filco's offerings so I can't speak to their quality or compare the Das Keyboard to them. The main reason I went with Das Keyboard is because they had one at Microcenter and I was able to test it out before I bought it. I don't think anyone stocks Filco's keyboards locally to allow me to do the same.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy so far.
 

drgnfang

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Well I dropped in my order for the Filco white 87 key. It'll be replacing my ABS M1 (which isn't a bad board, just getting tired of the 'pinging'). I went with the Cherry Blue switches (same as the Das, yes?)
 

Metaluna

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I don't think anyone needs to be concerned about the quality of Filco boards. They are at least as good as the Das (or better, if the consensus over at geekhack.org is any indication). I have a both a Das Pro and a Filco full-size NKRO board with brown switches, and the quality is excellent. I can't compare the feel directly since they have different switches (blue vs brown), but I find I prefer the shape and feel of the keycaps, and the overall look and finish of the Filco. The Das is very good too, I just found the blue switches to be kind of irritating after a while.

My most recent acquisition is an 87-key Topre, which is kind of the best of both worlds (quieter than brown switches, yet also more tactile, without the annoying snap-clunk of the blue switches on every keystroke).
 

Dan_D

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I don't know if the Filco could be any better than the Das Keyboard honestly. The quality of it is outstanding. Now there are things about the Filco's design I certainly like better. The top of the keyboard housing isn't glossy. That's a plus in my book. The USB hub isn't necessary either. The shape of the Das Keyboard is a bit unusual, but it has a very small foot print. In contrast the Filco is rather "normal" in regard to its shape and it seems to have an even smaller foot print than Das Keyboard. I don't think you could go wrong with either, with pros and cons for each one.
 

Vittra

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http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:6300

Nice comparison of Das vs Filco (albeit slightly dated, as there are in fact full length filcos with MX Blue now).

They really are quite similiar, with some slight preferential differences. Bottom line is both are built like tanks - they're made to last. I'm tempted to get my hands on a MX Blue board now... and so it starts?!
 

Dan_D

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Also the newer Das Keyboards are different. They have new firmware and the old function (FN) key is gone. It was replaced by the standard Windows key.
 

Dan_D

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Interesting. I didn't know that. However I did know that the amount of companies producing mechanical keyboards was extremely small.
 

Lateralus

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Thanks for your input guys, I threw myself in the deep-end and just ordered a full-size Filco with the brown switches + wrist rest.
Will report back with my findings come next week!
Congrats! I've fallen in love with my Filco that I picked up recently from the forums. At first I was sort of disappointed in the feel of the Browns after using the Blues for so long, but I have learned to feel their subtle tactile bump and they are MUCH quieter. The Blues are still a pleasure to type on, so I won't be getting rid of my Das Keyboard Ultimate any time soon, but I'm really happy with the Filco as my current daily driver. The Browns are great for gaming and typing IMO.

Here's my current setup:


I picked up the keyboard, keyboard cover, WASD cluster, and leather palm rest for $100! Everything was absolutely like new (the seller didn't like the noise level of a mechanical board). At first I tried to get him to part out just the keyboard, but I'm glad he stayed firm...the palm rest is very high quality and the cover is a very nice touch (and does a great job of stopping dust before it can land on/in the keyboard).
 

Lateralus

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ideviouz said:
Man that's a nice deal you got!
Yeah, I was hesitant at first since I only paid $70 for my Das Keyboard Ultimate but after I thought about it, getting just the keyboard for $100 wouldn't have been bad considering how few of them come up for sale...everything else was just gravy. :)

I've been using my Das Keyboard Professional for just under a day and I have to say, I like it. It feels much better to me than the Deck Ice Legend's Cherry MX Black switches do. I also appreciate the keyboard's smaller foot print which frees up already non-existent desk space for me. So far this is the best keyboard I've used since the IBM Model M I used to have way back in the day. I've never used any of Filco's offerings so I can't speak to their quality or compare the Das Keyboard to them. The main reason I went with Das Keyboard is because they had one at Microcenter and I was able to test it out before I bought it. I don't think anyone stocks Filco's keyboards locally to allow me to do the same.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy so far.
Wow, that surprising as I know you thought very highly of your Deck. But I also know you love Cherry Blues, and the Das Keyboard does feel great to type on.

The Filcos as Das Keyboard are very close in terms of quality (not surprising if they are indeed made by the same OEM). Metaluna and Vittra are correct; both have extremely solid build quality. I do like how the Filco doesn't have a glossy bezel, but the Das Keyboard does give you a nice little microfiber cloth to keep the prints to a minimum.

I'm really happy with both boards and would buy/recommend either one if I had to do it over. If I buy another mechanical board, it'll most likely be a Topre Realforce. It's hard to justify the price but most people who own one seem to be absolutely smitten with them.
 

Dan_D

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Yeah, I was hesitant at first since I only paid $70 for my Das Keyboard Ultimate but after I thought about it, getting just the keyboard for $100 wouldn't have been bad considering how few of them come up for sale...everything else was just gravy. :)
Nice. :)

Wow, that surprising as I know you thought very highly of your Deck. But I also know you love Cherry Blues, and the Das Keyboard does feel great to type on.
Yeah I love the Cherry Blue MX switches above all else. I really like the Deck keyboards but I didn't want to wait for them to come out with a keyboard that uses them. They have the Cherry MX Clear based units, but frankly I don't care for those switches. As I said I've had keyboards with that type of switch (I don't know if they were browns, clears, or ALPS switches) and I don't like the bump nearly as much as the click of the Cherry MX Blues or IBM buckling spring switches. If I can't have blues I'd rather have the Cherry MX Blacks. While they don't have the satisfying clicks to them I think that they feel the best next to the MX Blues. I tend to push the keys all the way down anyway, which is why I guess I prefer that over the feel of the Cherry MX Clear/Browns. The bump does nothing for me. The click on the other hand is very satisfying to me.

The Filcos as Das Keyboard are very close in terms of quality (not surprising if they are indeed made by the same OEM). Metaluna and Vittra are correct; both have extremely solid build quality. I do like how the Filco doesn't have a glossy bezel, but the Das Keyboard does give you a nice little microfiber cloth to keep the prints to a minimum.
I actually prefer the matte finish of the Filco unit too. Though otherwise I prefer the LED ligth configuration and shape of the Das Keyboard. It is more interesting to me. In any case I'd take either of them and I'm sure I'd be equally satisfied with my choice.

I'm really happy with both boards and would buy/recommend either one if I had to do it over. If I buy another mechanical board, it'll most likely be a Topre Realforce. It's hard to justify the price but most people who own one seem to be absolutely smitten with them.
When I read about the Topre Realforce key switches they didn't sound appealing to me. So I have little interest in them. For me its Das Keyboard Professional or the Filco with the Cherry MX Blues in them. Nothing else will do for me anymore. A third string choice if I must make one would be the Deck Keyboard with the Cherry MX Black switches. I think that my preference for the Cherry MX Blue or Black switches comes from the fact that my first two keyboards were IBM keyboards with switches that felt nearly identical to them. I had an old IBM 84 key keyboard that was on my second machine and of course the IBM Model M on my main gaming machine. To me that's how keyboards are supposed to feel. I used another keyboard later on from "NMB" that used switches that are much like the Cherry MX Blacks, but not quite as crisp. They also had one that feels very much like a keyboard that uses the Cherry MX Browns and while that was OK, I just never did like that "bump" in the key press. So I always went back to my NMB non-tactile keyboard as my 84 key IBM board was lost in a move at some point while my Model M was broken years earlier. I only stopped using my NMB keyboard because it was beige and it looked weird sitting on my Jerker with my black and silver computer hardware. So I went through G15's, IBM active response, etc. and never liked any of them all that much. They are great for membrane type keyboards but I was always left wanting more. Fortunately companies are now producing more and more mechanical keyboards it seems. So now I've got some viable choices.
 
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Lateralus

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Dan_D said:
I tend to push the keys all the way down anyway, which is why I guess I prefer that over the feel of the Cherry MX Clear/Browns. The bump does nothing for me. The click on the other hand is very satisfying to me.
I find myself not bottoming out the keys anymore with mechanical boards, which seems to have improved my typing speed (but there is a learning curve to doing so if you're used to bottoming them out like I was on membrane/rubber dome keyboards). I agree that the click of the Blues is very satisfying! Some have described the sound of the Blues as "scissory" so sometimes when I'm typing on Blues I picture myself as Edward Scissorhands with bits and pieces of hedges flying everywhere. Well, not really, but if you're a fan of the movie it's probably the closest you'll ever get to being Johnny Depp. :p

A third string choice if I must make one would be the Deck or Das Keyboard with the Cherry MX Black switches.
Which Das comes with Black switches? I think that the new "Silent" version comes with Browns, right? I didn't know they made any with Blacks! :eek:
 

sayu

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If I buy another mechanical board, it'll most likely be a Topre Realforce. It's hard to justify the price but most people who own one seem to be absolutely smitten with them.
Realforce boards (like all boards) are not for everyone, but I absolutely love them. I love them so much, I own 3 Topre boards. It really is something you need to use for a week to fully appreciate the no frills functionality of Topre boards (they lack all the novelty of mechanical boards). After buying my 3rd Topre, I have never felt the need to buy another keyboard (at that point I had tried so many, I built a keyboard cabinet that holds 13 boards. Its not big enough.)
 

Dan_D

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I find myself not bottoming out the keys anymore with mechanical boards, which seems to have improved my typing speed (but there is a learning curve to doing so if you're used to bottoming them out like I was on membrane/rubber dome keyboards). I agree that the click of the Blues is very satisfying! Some have described the sound of the Blues as "scissory" so sometimes when I'm typing on Blues I picture myself as Edward Scissorhands with bits and pieces of hedges flying everywhere. Well, not really, but if you're a fan of the movie it's probably the closest you'll ever get to being Johnny Depp. :p



Which Das comes with Black switches? I think that the new "Silent" version comes with Browns, right? I didn't know they made any with Blacks! :eek:
They don't. Sorry. I got the Das Keyboard with Cherry MX Browns confused with the Cherry MX Black switches.
 

Solstice

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Courier just arrived earlier than anticipated. I'm now writing this on my new Filco, there's no going back... typing on this thing feels like coming home.
Just one of those products that I don't even need to try to like, it endears itself to me instantly. These things are so worth the price premium, just wow is all I can say.
 

Dan_D

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That's how I feel about any good mechanical keyboard vs. membrane keyboards. I can't stand the latter.
 

Lateralus

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Courier just arrived earlier than anticipated. I'm now writing this on my new Filco, there's no going back... typing on this thing feels like coming home.
Just one of those products that I don't even need to try to like, it endears itself to me instantly. These things are so worth the price premium, just wow is all I can say.
Awesome! :cool:
 

Furious Salesman

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This thread convinced me to get a Filco with cherry blue switches. I liked my logitech Illuminated keyboard, but some keys just don't work as well as they used to. I'll see what mechanical keyboards are all about.
 

Dan_D

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This thread convinced me to get a Filco with cherry blue switches. I liked my logitech Illuminated keyboard, but some keys just don't work as well as they used to. I'll see what mechanical keyboards are all about.
You'll never go back. I haven't tried a Filco yet but Das Keyboard and the Deck keyboards kick ass. Given the great things I've heard about the Filcos I'd say the same probably is true of them as well. So I doubt you'll be disappointed.
 

SmokeRngs

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I just wish I could get a keyboard with mechanical keys but in a form factor just like the MS Natural keyboards. I love the layout of those keyboards for the most part and basically require it if I'm going to be using a keyboard more than 15 minutes or so. However, I absolutely hate keyboards without mechanical keys.

I switch back and forth between the MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and my IBM Model M. I love the Model M but using it for much more than about 15 minutes causes a shitload of pain in my hands because of how I have to hold my arms and wrists when using it. :(

 

Dan_D

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I tried one of those MS Natural keyboards back when they first came out. I couldn't stand it. It wasn't just the membrane based keys either, but the shape of the damn thing.
 

sayu

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I just wish I could get a keyboard with mechanical keys but in a form factor just like the MS Natural keyboards. I love the layout of those keyboards for the most part and basically require it if I'm going to be using a keyboard more than 15 minutes or so. However, I absolutely hate keyboards without mechanical keys.

I switch back and forth between the MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and my IBM Model M. I love the Model M but using it for much more than about 15 minutes causes a shitload of pain in my hands because of how I have to hold my arms and wrists when using it. :(
Northgate Evolution? Cherry MX5000? Model M15? Mechanical ergo boards do exist.
 

kencheeto

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I have such a boner for the HHKB Pro 2, but I'm having trouble justifying selling my Filco 87 tactile click..

Ugh!
 

Metaluna

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Realforce boards (like all boards) are not for everyone, but I absolutely love them. I love them so much, I own 3 Topre boards. It really is something you need to use for a week to fully appreciate the no frills functionality of Topre boards (they lack all the novelty of mechanical boards). After buying my 3rd Topre, I have never felt the need to buy another keyboard (at that point I had tried so many, I built a keyboard cabinet that holds 13 boards. Its not big enough.)
The Topre is worth the price just to get the Engrish product description on the back of the box. (Good feeling of oneness with cup rubber FTW!) The fact that you also get an awesome keyboard along with it is just a bonus :).

I have a Realforce, a Filco brown, 3 Unicomp SpaceSavers, a genuine Model M, a Das, and a Dell AT101W. The Realforce and Filco are my current favorites, leaning slightly towards the Realforce.
 

SmokeRngs

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I tried one of those MS Natural keyboards back when they first came out. I couldn't stand it. It wasn't just the membrane based keys either, but the shape of the damn thing.
It's actually the shape that I need out of it. Since it keeps my hands from needing to be pushed so close together when typing, it's a hell of a lot more comfortable for me. I never even thought anything of the keyboards until a friend of mine got two of them and gave me one. I had a little trouble with it at first but after a couple of days I was hooked. It has been since that time that I've found my hands end up in a lot of pain if I don't use one.

Northgate Evolution? Cherry MX5000? Model M15? Mechanical ergo boards do exist.
I've looked at them before and the key placement isn't exactly what I'm looking for. The M15 is the closest but it's still off from what I prefer. I can settle for something other than "the perfect keyboard" but I'm not going to compromise without a damn good reason. As it is, I'm holding out hope I will eventually find something which fits my needs closely. It wouldn't be much of a problem except money for me is practically non-existent so I can't buy something I may not care for and there is no chance of me being able to try out any of these keyboards locally.
 

drgnfang

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Got my Filco White Tenkey-less in yesterday. Been loving it. The sound quality is much better than the ABS M1 (haven't decided yet if it is actually quieter, or if it matters). The only issue so far with the lack of key printing is some of my longer/more complex passwords. I've actually had to pull out the on-screen keyboard a couple of times. Hopefully that will go away with time.
 

kharan5876

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I was a little skeptical about how much of a difference it made but curious. I've always wanted a keyboard with blank keys so I went and ordered the Flico Otaku with Chery MX browns. Already I can tell the difference over the standard mushy keys and it's not some stupid placebo effect to justify the cost of the keyboard. It's a much more enjoyable experience. I wish there was a little keypad somewhere with each of the different types of mechanical keys so you could try each one.

Now im curious what the blue switches feel like. I've got my media center box for gaming that could use this brown one and my desktop for typing and work which could use a blue one... Is this how the money trap starts? :)
 

sayu

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I was a little skeptical about how much of a difference it made but curious. I've always wanted a keyboard with blank keys so I went and ordered the Flico Otaku with Chery MX browns. Already I can tell the difference over the standard mushy keys and it's not some stupid placebo effect to justify the cost of the keyboard. It's a much more enjoyable experience. I wish there was a little keypad somewhere with each of the different types of mechanical keys so you could try each one.
IIRC Digikey sells Cherry MX switches for about $1-2 each. You could just order one of each switch to get a rough idea of what they're like.
 

Yoy0YO

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Hi all, I've been looking at the Happy Hacking Keyboards for a while now and I've been wondering,
What is the difference between the Lite2 and Pro2 versions?
Are the key switches different in any way or is the premium for Pro2 for bragging's sake?

thanks for your help
 

duhokay

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The lite uses a membrane rubber cap and the pro uses a topre cone spring. I found a pro lying around for $20 in basically new condition. It has been the best purchase I have made, after using it I would definitely spend the money for one. There were 5 others I missed out on for the same price, the pro2 has usb and that is about it.
 

luie

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HHKB pro for $20?!
Congrats on the awesome deal.
Where did you get it?
 

duhokay

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Thanks, I knew immediately what it was but not the going rates. It was from a small liquidation. It really is a beautiful piece, do miss the tenkey, may have to grab a realforce at some point. All in all though it probably will not save me any money because I know I will not be able to go back to anything else.
 

Furious Salesman

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I received my Filco keyboard with the Cherry blue switches, and it is fantastic for typing, and almost as good for gaming. I'm definitely hooked. I feel like I need to try out all the different types of mechanical keyboards. I'm a little curious about Topre keyboards. I think I am going to go broke very quickly.
 

duhokay

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It is nice though that these purchases are few and far between yet used the most. Lots of bang for your buck.
 

antok86

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anyone know where i can get a good wrist pad for my filco tenkeyless..since the one on elitekeyboards is kinda pricey
 

Lateralus

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anyone know where i can get a good wrist pad for my filco tenkeyless..since the one on elitekeyboards is kinda pricey
I bought a cloth one filled with ergo beads from Staples. It doesn't look as nice as the Filco rest, but it is more comfortable and (as a bonus) a lot cheaper. My Filco wrist rest is just sitting in its box...I want to use it but the one w/beads is a lot more comfy for my wrists.

I couldn't find the product on the Staples website, but it is this. Like in the picture, I have the ones for mouse and keyboard...beats a hard desk surface for sure!
 

Metaluna

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I received my Filco keyboard with the Cherry blue switches, and it is fantastic for typing, and almost as good for gaming. I'm definitely hooked. I feel like I need to try out all the different types of mechanical keyboards. I'm a little curious about Topre keyboards. I think I am going to go broke very quickly.
The Topres are insidious. When you first get one, it's like "This feels pretty nice, but is it *really* that much better than a membrane keyboard, or am I just trying to convince myself that I didn't just waste nearly three hundred bucks?"

Then you start using it, and after a while nothing else feels right anymore, including Cherrys, buckling springs, etc. They are pretty awesome. I just wish they made one in black without the nearly invisible key printing.
 
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