Mechanical Keyboard Guide

Discussion in 'Mice and Keyboards' started by WorldExclusive, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

    Messages:
    52,563
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    I just don't get it. The Topre switches don't sound appealing at all. I can't see how anyone would prefer them over the Cherry MX switches. To be fair, I've never tried them, but I don't see it happening any time soon. Too much money for something that still has rubber in the switches. They are supposed to be the best of both worlds, but the thing is, there isn't anything good about membrane keyboards outside of cost. Which is out the window anyway with the Topre.
     
  2. Metaluna

    Metaluna Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Don't get too hung up on the underlying technology. It's all about the feel. Most mechanical switches are somewhat artificial in the sense that the feel of the switch is designed in. It's not necessarily an intrinsic part of the contact mechanism. The Cherry switches just have a plastic tab that holds two springy contacts apart. As you push down, the tab slides along one of the springs (as seen here). By changing the profile of the tab you change the feel of the switch from clicky (blue) to slightly tactile (brown) to linear (black). If you didn't know these were really reliable switches, you'd think it looked somewhat cheap. Same for Topres and buckling spring switches. The reason the Topre switches are expensive is that they're hard to mass produce, I believe (plus the usual currency exchange and low-volume distribution issues). The domes and springs are very carefully engineered to have a satisfying tactile feel. Not at all like a membrane board, though it will seem that way at first blush, which is why these boards can be a tough sell, IMHO.
     
  3. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

    Messages:
    52,563
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Well short of the local Microcenter stocking one, I'll probably never try one. The cost is simply too much for me to gamble on.
     
  4. TGA

    TGA Gawd

    Messages:
    836
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2004
    Dan I think a lot of it depends on how your desk is setup and how you sit. I use a lazy-boy as my computer chair and place the keyboard on my lap. With the keyboard on my lap and so close to my body my elbows go out and my hands turn in and line right up with the natural keyboard layout. I have been using Microsoft natural keyboards for almost as long as they have been on the market. I remember the first one cost me over $100 but it was also the best built. These days I go through one every 4 to 6 months. I would pay a $100 premium to get a mechanical keyboard like this. And by that I mean $100 over what you guys pay for your quality flat mechanical keyboards.

    Or maybe I just like punishment since I also use a thumb based track ball. Though this again has mre to do with my setup then anything since I place it on my lap or the arm of the chair. My Microsoft died the other month and to replace it would cost over $100 and the replacement would be used. The last time I could find a new one it was almost $300. Again I would pay $100 premium to get a trackball like that but with modern optics. Been thinking about trying to put an optical mouse in the housing but even so the ball just isn’t smooth like it was. The replacement Logitech sucks in comparison.
     
  5. WorldExclusive

    WorldExclusive [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,782
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  6. Furious Salesman

    Furious Salesman Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    200
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2007

    I bought a Topre Realforce 103UB for work, and I am using my Filco Cherry Blue at home. I have to say that after a short time, the Topre keys are better than Cherry based keyboards. Topre is more than just a membrane keyboard, The membrane/spring combo takes things to the next level. I wish it wasn't a $100 over a Filco

    Also, I thought that the membrane part of normal keyboards were not the issue, only the contact mechanism they use wore out too quickly.

    Ps. What is up with black lettering on a black keyboard on Topre Realforce keyboards???
     
  7. Lateralus

    Lateralus More [H]uman than Human

    Messages:
    12,562
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    Nice find!! Great price for anyone curious about mechanical boards but hesitant about the price. This is a good way to get your feet wet without paying $100+ for a Filco, Deck, or Das Keyboard. Beware, they are addictive. I don't think the switches in this one are as good as the higher-end boards but come on, it's less than the price of some rubber membrane boards...
     
  8. Metaluna

    Metaluna Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    393
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    I think the problems with membrane boards range from poor reliability to mushy and/or inconsistent tactile response that gets worse as the board wears. Also IIRC, on a membrane board the keystroke doesn't register until the key bottoms out, and then is slower to return to the up position, leading to slower typing (which only gets worse with age as some keys become sticky, others become stiffer, etc.)

    All the mechanical type switches, including the Topres, register the keystroke before the key bottoms out, and are carefully designed to give a tactile response precisely at this point. That allows the user, with enough practice, to start to let up on the key before it bottoms out entirely, which is supposed to make for a faster an overall more pleasant experience.

    As for the black on black lettering, I think that's an otaku (i.e. "enthusiast", "nerd") thing. A lot of the high end keyboards, like the HHKB and some Filcos and Topres, have completely blank keys. The idea is that it forces you to learn to touch type which is supposed to make you faster and more accurate in the long run. I'm not completely sold on it, but I'm getting better. It does look really cool though.
     
  9. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

    Messages:
    52,563
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Well said. Of course the other benefit to the mechanical keyboards is the feel of them. The membrane keyboards can't even come close.
     
  10. sayu

    sayu Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    435
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Nitpick: Topre boards do not have a membrane. Rubber domes != membranes. In a membrane board, the membrane is the sheet of contacts under the rubber domes.
     
  11. duhokay

    duhokay Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    After using these Topre boards the price seems to become less of an issue. I do not want to use anything else.
     
  12. 43st

    43st Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    201
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Thanks WorldExclusive for the heads up.. mine arrived today, oddly enough in a newegg box?!?

    Anyway.. I gave it a try and this is totally not for me. The keys were hard and loud, and the key spacing seemed very narrow to me (big hands). Totally worth trying one out though, and my wife will probably want it for it's retro feel.
     
  13. WorldExclusive

    WorldExclusive [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,782
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    ChiefValue = Newegg Sister site. If it doesn't have free shipping and a promo code on Newegg, it will on ChiefValue.
    If the price drops on Newegg, it will also on ChiefValue.

    The M1 is loud, I agree. So now you know how a lower quality mechanical board feels, it's a good test to see if you want to move forward with this type of KB.
    You can see why we spend $100+ on higher quality boards. The M1 is a good board to know the difference between dome and mechanical KBs.
     
  14. Gmok Bonecrusha

    Gmok Bonecrusha [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,070
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Took a chance, and the plunge, snagged the Deck Legend Ice tactile a couple days back.

    http://www.deckkeyboards.com/product_info.php?products_id=96

    OMG I love this board! It just feels sooo good typing and playing games. Takes some getting used to...the keys are too high, for lack of a better term. Coming off the Razer Lycosa a couple years, you really need to adjust. After playing some BFBC2 a few hours, my hand positioning was a tad off, especially on the function keys, but you do get used to it.
    The boards backlights are nice and bright. The construction is extremely well made. (Thing weighs a ton. You could kill someone with this thing.) Day 2 in...ONLY thing I wish they had done, is make the Caps lock,Num-lock,Scroll lock confirmation lights blue instead of red.
     
  15. Michaelius

    Michaelius [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,693
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2003
  16. sayu

    sayu Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    435
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
  17. Spare-Flair

    Spare-Flair [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,482
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
  18. WorldExclusive

    WorldExclusive [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,782
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    Great Choice. I had one before and it's the best board I've used for gaming. Looking for one second hand but no one wants to part with theirs. I'll buy one directly form them if I can find a used one.
     
  19. 43st

    43st Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    201
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    After thinking about the M1 for an evening I think the biggest turn off was the stroke length required per key. It highlighted my tendency to roll my fingers from the WASD home position to other keys when gaming.

    Do low height mechanical switches exist? Or is this one of the typical adjustments needed when going from scissor type switches to mechanical switches?
     
  20. Blazestorm

    Blazestorm [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    6,927
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2007
    I don't think low-height keys exist for mechanical... but I could be wrong.

    I keep switching between a G110 and my mechanical boards but always seem to go back to this just because of the extra media keys and G macro keys that I do use...

    If some company made a nice mechanical keyboard with macro keys + the media keys I'd probably spend a couple hundred on it D=
     
  21. sayu

    sayu Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    435
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Cherry ML switches are low-profile mechanical switches. Topre also makes low-profile switches, but those boards can only be found in Japanese layouts.
     
  22. Jshay

    Jshay Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    484
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2010
    I got my Filco Majestouch about a week ago and so far I am definitely in love with these. I went to Fry's and played around on the dome boards they had and it felt way more repetitive than typing on my Browns.
     
  23. WorldExclusive

    WorldExclusive [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,782
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
  24. Spare-Flair

    Spare-Flair [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,482
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
  25. Lateralus

    Lateralus More [H]uman than Human

    Messages:
    12,562
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2004
    YES!! I did the impossible and managed to pick up a used Filco Realforce 103UB in great condition, so I don't have to pay $230 to try the elusive Topre switches after all. I cannot wait to get it. Hopefully my cravings will be satisfied, although I'm still curious about those darn Cherry Blacks...
     
  26. Kenworth

    Kenworth 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,143
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    I would say for $20 just to get a "meh" mechanical keyboard is still a pretty small barrier to entry if you are having reservations going the mechanical route. If you don't like it, $20 isn't too much to swallow.
     
  27. Spare-Flair

    Spare-Flair [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,482
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    Unfortunately, it's $80 for me as I am in Canada and that's what Newegg wants for it.
     
  28. Nightrainsrt4

    Nightrainsrt4 Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    435
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    I didn't go through the entire thread to see if one was listed but is there any 87-key or less board with mechanical switches that is black on black (black writing on black keyboard, or even no writing at all) that isn't too expensive?

    I really don't even need the Insert, Home, arrows etc (just the basic characters, Function keys . . . ). I just don't want a funky layout where keys are mixed about to make it smaller.

    The Filco tenkeyless looks like it might be an option, but I wish it was a bit smaller. The Deck 82 looks like I could get used to the few keys that are moved around, but really don't care for a backlight.

    Right now I am using an IBM KB-8923, so not mechanical, but a HUGE improvement over the Saitek Eclipse II I was using. Just looking for something better and smaller.
     
  29. Spare-Flair

    Spare-Flair [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,482
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2003
    I'm going to go dig up my keyboard from my old 386 and see if it's mechanical. Maybe I can do an old AT keyboard connector to PS2 dongle
     
  30. Dual

    Dual Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    258
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2005
    I use an Xkeys Desktop keypad with 20 macro keys which can be programed to be media keys and just about anything else. I like programming these much more than I did the Logitech keyboard. Uses Cherry swithches too.

    Also they have a programable foot switch (2 pedals) that I use as shift and control keys.
     
  31. WorldExclusive

    WorldExclusive [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    10,782
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    I'm keeping my eye on the upcoming SteelSeries 6Gv2, a more affordable version of the 7G model. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. I will wait for BUY.com to carry it, they tend to have lower prices on new released keyboards and mice. The 6Gv2 will most likely have Cherry Black switches for a MSRP of $99.

    http://www.steelseries.com/us/products/keyboards/6gv2/information
    http://www.amazon.com/SteelSeries-64225-Steelseries-Gaming-Keyboard/dp/B0038X3ZVM

    Differences between the 7G and 6Gv2 models:

    The SteelSeries 6Gv2 is modeled after the award winning SteelSeries 7G keyboard. It is a lower priced mechanical keyboard compared to the 7G, but still offers the “anti-ghosting" features that defines the G series. The SteelSeries 6Gv2 features both PS/2 and gold-plated USB connectors as well as 18K gold-plated mechanical switches. The new keyboard will incorporate SteelSeries' Media Controls allowing quick access to volume, mute and other audio controls.

    The 6Gv2 is for gamers who want a quality keyboard like the 7G, but can do without some of the more advanced features such as the audio ports for headphone-in and microphone-out, the two USB ports, and removable plastic handrest.
     
  32. Michaelius

    Michaelius [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    4,693
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2003
    If only they made tenkeyless version for 80/90 ;)
     
  33. Christobevii3

    Christobevii3 Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    290
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    I've been using a deck 82 key for the last 2 years and it is the best goddamn keyboard I've ever owned. Im so sick of my membrane keyboard at work that i ordered one of the abs ones so I can give a comparison here soon.
     
  34. Davidion

    Davidion Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    I should be receiving my ABS tomorrow, will immediately test for clickityclackityness. I'm not loving some reviews that repeat this keyboard doesn't have those qualities; I would be rather miffed if that's the case.
     
  35. soulesschild

    soulesschild [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    6,338
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Finally a mech keyboard that has the audio controls.
     
  36. Kett

    Kett Gawd

    Messages:
    540
    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    While it would be a shame to buy a backlit keyboard and not use the backlight, I thought I should point out that on DecK keyboards you can turn the backlight off (Or turn it up and down) by holding that Fn key to the right of the spacebar and then 0-7. 0 = Off, 7 = Highest.

    If thats all that's keeping you from buying it, that's an easy fix. :)
     
  37. Blazestorm

    Blazestorm [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    6,927
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2007
    It's just a function key... the newer DAS have this option too...

    I prefer dedicated keys like on the G110 which is what I'm using right now.

    If I could get this layout with mechanical keys I'd be all over it... but most mechanical keyboards are the standard boring layout.
     
  38. Davidion

    Davidion Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Just got my ABS. I'm not able to use it until I get home, but the keys feel pretty good and the clack is ear-warming. You can tell there's something 'not right' with the switches compared with the old school model Ms, as there's a sharpness that's lacking from the sound.

    I imagine that proper cherry switches would feel and sound a lot better, but for $20 it is what it is.
     
  39. Fantasysage

    Fantasysage Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    305
    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2010
    I agree with you 100% pretty much. However, for 20 bones this is one hell of a deal. Replaced my ooooooold dell quietkey.
     
  40. draksia

    draksia [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,905
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2000


    Mine arrives tomorrow should be nice.