Programming, Music, Games. Creation.

Guide to : Mechanical Keyboards for First Buyers

I’ve been expecting you. So, you’ve decided to join the keyboard master race? :3
I’d like to say, Y U JOIN SO LATE

An-a-yway, you have just made one of the best decisions in you life.

Congratulations for making a good choice, and I will help you save your time and stress. Thank me.

I said thank me not read the next line.

Douche.

Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Mechanical Keyboards
Don’t Panic
So much originality in the title.

This guide will..

  1. Introduce you to the world of mechanical keyboards
  2. Help you decide which keyboard to buy
  3. Wall of text in yo face.

~Intro~

Back in 1850… You now expect me to say that mechanical keyboards existed back then. The truth is, I don’t bloody know either.
The oldest mechanical keyboard I know is IBM’s M-series, which has a incredible self-defense function mounted.

There are various types of crazy switches, and since this being a guide for FIRST buyers, I’d like to recommend two types of switches :

Nothing much right?
Cherry MX keys have a zillon types of keys btw.

Allow me to fill you in with famous/popular Cherry MX keys and a Topre key :)

Cherry MX Blue

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

The ever famous and popular switch, representing the mechanical keys in general sometimes.
Their ‘clicky’ sound and tactile feedback made it typist’s favourite.
They are relatively heavier then other cherry switches.
Personal note : they are really fun to type XD

Cherry MX Brown

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Yes, clicky sound is not for everyone. But who does not like the epic pleasing feedback.
BOOM. There you go, Cherry MX Brown.
They are relatively quiet, but not sacrificing the tactile feedback.

Cherry MX Red

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Admit it, both keys above sounded really out of the world.
This key might bring you back to planet earth.
This is a linear switch, this means no tactile feedback but a smooth experience down.
They are VERY smooth/soft/light, requiring very little force to press.

Cherry MX Black

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

Image from DasKeyboard Blog

When red is angry, it goes black lol
This is pretty much heavier red switch :)

Note that for Cherry MX Key’s actuation point is half the full keystroke.
This means although the key can be press all the way down, you can just stop half way and the key will still input.
What does this mean for Blues and Browns? They CLICK at the actuation point!

=

Topre Keys

Topre_key_switch

These are so called, The-Best-Keys-Money-Can-Buy.
They are hybrid of rubber and mechanical keys, providing soft linear feel.
they do not ‘bottom out’ but instead, keystroke produces a small current, which leads into input.
They are VERY expensive compared to Cherry MX Keys, and they are Japanese made instead of German.

I know how you feel. How on earth will you chose from these many options. I don’t, I love options.
Feel blessed to have so many options to chose what’s THE BEST for you.

~Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Mechanical Keyboards~

Before I start the steps to help you chose, I’d like to say do not compromise any options and functions you wish to have, and do expect to spend about $100~200+.
There are literally billions of unique keyboards out there, the probability that none of them match your choice is very slim.

STEP 1 : Choosing your keyswitch

Now that you know about various types of keys, you have to make a choice. Pick your favourite colour and walah! NOT.

I’d strongly recommend getting your unhealthy body off your seat and actually visit a shop in irl to try the keys out – have a reasonable period of typing experience with all types of keys.
There must be your favourite – please don’t tell me you like all of them. Whats the point of this post then.. JUST BUY ALL GREED.

However, if your are in an unfortunate situation where you cannot access any shops or visit friend’s to try out various keys, consider buying a sampler. Samplers are, by the name, provide a small sample of each keys. WASD Keyboards and MAX Keyboards have them, go visit their site. It is about $10 to get 4types of keys and 4 O-rings. Honestly, its is pretty a waste of money and you do not get the entire ‘typing’ experience, however getting one of these can be a money saver.

STEP 2 : Extra bells and whistles you want

NOW. Here is where MOST of the money holders get stuck.
There are TONNES of different features you need to consider when you buy a mech.kb

Make a checklist of things you want in your keyboard. The following list might help you chose :)

The Body and its material

There are two main types of keyboard bodies, FULL SIZE (includes number pad) or TENKYLESS (without numberpad)

For the material, plastic and aluminium (aluminum, however you want it) are common

Ducky Year of the Snake limited edition

Image from Ducky

Logically, keyboards with solid metal bodies are stronger. However, if you do not happen to be 3 meters tall and you’re not not planning to drop your keyboard, aluminium body might not be necessary.
Just go with what looks more pleasing to you.

LED Backlight

This gives keyboards +100 sex appeal.

Image from xenosium.com

Image from xenosium.com

Not only they shine, but they have crazy lighting types(modes)!
Ducky keyboards are one of the most famous for having the most advanced light modes.

Back Plate

One of the most important parts of the keyboard, which is neglected most of the time.
Back plate refers to any hard substance that lies behind the keys, providing solid support and typing experience (especially when you tend to ‘bottom out’)

This usually makes LEDs look even brighter and attractive, as light bounces off the backplate.

Famous keyboards with backplate :

Razer Blackwidow

Image from http://www.bygpc.dk
Razer Black Widow – You can clearly see the lights being reflected from the backplates.

CM Storm Quickfire TK

Image from www.overclock.net Same applies here :)

Image from http://www.overclock.net
Same applies here :)

Steelseries 6Gv2

Image from Steelseries This keyboard has a solid metal backplate :D

Image from Steelseries
This keyboard has a solid metal backplate :D

N-Key Roll over

What key roll?

FOB

FALL OUT BOY! SAVE ROCK AND (n key)ROLL(over)!

I’m sorry. I just had to do this LOL

“X” Key roll over means you can press “X” number of keys simultaneously.
N Key roll over means you can type with your face smashing on your keyboard – every input will be valid and correct.

Why is this important? Having at least 6 Key roll over makes sure the keyboard can keep up with your speed of typing, without any ghosting issues.
Not having X key roll over can cause no input when you type quickly, some keys being disabled and other dirty things.

However, how much (or how many) key rollovers we need is debatable, depends personally.
I personally recommend at least 10-Key roll over.

Many keyboard support NKRO(Nkey roll over) in PS/2 inputs, claiming 6-Key roll over is the maximum in USB, However, I have seen enough NKRO keyboards functioning on USB to prove them wrong.

Media Keys

My name is keyboard, media detective. (I bet nobody gets this reference.) 내 이름은 코난, 탐정이죠.

Media keys are literally media keys on your keyboard, controlling Play/Pause, Volume, FF and all the things you need to listen to music.
They usually come as FN+X key format (Ex. Fn+F12 = Media Pause), however, some keyboards like Corsair K70/95 comes with dedicated media keys and a volume wheel(!!)

K70’s miracle can be viewed in the photo below, top right corner.

Image from us.hardware.info

Image from us.hardware.info

Macro Keys

Mainly for gaming and shortcuts for your professional tasks. They can be handy, but to majority, un-needy (RHYMEZ)

g710-gaming-keyboard-images

Image from Logitech. The macro keys are bordered orange.

k95_07_us_angle

Image from Corsair.
K95 has more macro keys than you will ever need.

Poll rate (1000Hz etc)

This refers to the refresh rate of your input device. In simple, how fast your device can transmit data to your computer.
Common rates are 1000Hz(1ms delay),  500Hz(2ms delay), 125Hz(8ms delay).

Most people don’t give a shit, I do, and some people do.
I feel the difference between poll rates on my keyboards and mice, and I need at least 500Hz for comfort.

Key Caps – ABS or PBT and Prints (Optional*)

In short, PBT plastic has better quality and feeling than ABS, and PBT tends to last longer (does not ‘erode’ and become shiny as easily). As you might expect, PBT = MOAR MUNIE

This is optional because you can always buy a new set of keycaps for your keyboard according to your taste.

Plus, there are TONNES of different printing methods.

STEP 3 : The ultimate step, Choosing the keyboard

FINALLY.

Google ‘mechanical keyboards’ and you will get tonnes of sites with tonnes of options.
Go through all the keyboards individually, checking the functions on your checklist.

If you are lazy, here you go –

5 Keyboards I recommend as of 2013. (very VERY SUPER DUPER subjective)
I might update the list when there are significant changes in the keyboard market.

1. Ducky Shine 3

Image from Ducky

Image from Ducky

LED (Tonnes of options)
Cherry MX Blue,Brown,Red,Black
NKRO
Full layout
Media keys (Fn+X)
The BEST (I do mean it) lighting modes.

more info http://www.duckychannel.com.tw/en/Shine_3_DK9008.html

2. Corsair K70

Image from Corsair

Image from Corsair

LED (Black body+red led / Aluminium body+blue led)
Cherry MX Red, Brown(Aluminium body only)
NKRO
Full layout
1000Hz to BIOS compatitable
Solid aluminium body acts as backplate
Media keys (dedicated) – the BEST media keys out there

more info http://www.corsair.com/en/gaming-peripherals/gaming-keyboards/vengeance-k70-fully-mechanical-gaming-keyboard-anodized-black-na-layout.html
NOTE : check their site for more options – this link is Black+Red LED in US layout.

3. Razer Blackwidow Ultimate

razer-bwu-2013

Image from Razer

LED(Green-original, Orange-Battlefield edition, Red-Origin edition available in originpc.com)
Cherry MX Blue, Brown(stealth edition)
10-Key roll over
Full layout
Solid backplate
Media Keys (Fn+X)
Macro Keys

More info http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-keyboards-keypads/razer-blackwidow-ultimate

4. Filco Majestouch Ninja

Filco Majestouch Ninja

Image from Filco

NKRO (PS/2), 6-Key roll over (USB)
Front face printing
Cherry MX Blue,Brown,Black
Full or Tenkeyless

More info http://www.diatec.co.jp/en/det.php?prod_c=772
Check Filco’s site for more options. This link is one of many.

5. DasKeyboard Model S Ultimate

Image from Das Keyboard

NKRO(PS/2), 6 Key Roll over (USB)
Cherry MX Blue, Brown
Full layout
No keycap prints (!!!)
very solid keyboard :D

More info http://shop.daskeyboard.com/collections/frontpage/products/das-keyboard-ultimate-model-s

BOUNUS : Some brands you might want to consider (alphabetical):

  • Corsair
  • DasKeyboard
  • Ducky
  • Filco
  • i-rocks
  • Logitech
  • Razer
  • Steelseries
  • Topre
  • Ttesports

You failed to find one?

Deal with it. B/ #swag

Dealwithit

time to compromise – both features and $$$. lol

OR you can visit various tech forums out there to help you out!
There are many experts in this criteria :P

This is about it.
I hope I was able to help you find your golden keyboard.
I doubt it.

Thanks for reading this wall of text.
DON’T LIE. U SKIPPED PARTS. GO READ THE PARTS YOU SKIPPED. NOW. I CRAI.

See you again :)

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