Which mechanical keyboard should i buy?

Re: Logitech G400s.

On sale now for $48 at Amazon.

Is it a fairly large mouse?

Well, I definitely wouldn't call it a small one; it's bigger than, say, the Intellimouse Explorer was. But it's not gigantic.

Presuming the G400s is the same as the regular G400: I have medium hands, and use a fingertip grip. It's very comfortable on the whole, although the thumb buttons are hard for me to hit that way, so I hardly ever use them. If you hold mice the same way, it looks like it would comfortably support gigantic hands. With palm grip, it would probably be too small if you have really big hands. But they would have to be pretty huge.

What mouse do you recommend for a palm grip? Your take on the G400s seems vacillatory.

Miashara wrote:

What mouse do you recommend for a palm grip? Your take on the G400s seems vacillatory.

A lot of palm grip people like the Logitech G500 better than the 400, and a lot of them also like the Razer Deathadder, both of which you might have good lucking finding and being able to fiddle with in most Best Buy stores to see which you like. Not sure what prices on them will be though. They won't be as cheap as any of the optical mice, and IMO laser sensors are inferior.

But Best Buy usually does have at least a few gaming mice and usually have one of most of them out as display models. Might be worth stopping by.

The 400s and 500s are different than the regular ones. The "s" models have numerous buttons, weighting system and are laser not optical. I looked at both yesterday after the initial recommendation. I am going to look at the steel series mice. Fortunately, I am not in a hurry so I can keep looking.

Miashara wrote:

What mouse do you recommend for a palm grip? Your take on the G400s seems vacillatory.

Well, from what fishdude is saying, the 400s may not be the same as the 400 at all.

But, that said, the regular 400 is fine for a palm grip if you have normal-ish hands. If you've got real paws on you, it might be on the small side.

For fingertip grip, it would be comfortable up to really giant hand sizes. My fingers go about halfway up the buttons.

fishdude wrote:

The 400s and 500s are different than the regular ones. The "s" models have numerous buttons, weighting system and are laser not optical. I looked at both yesterday after the initial recommendation. I am going to look at the steel series mice. Fortunately, I am not in a hurry so I can keep looking.

This isn't really correct.

The G400S is still an optical sensor and still doesn't have the weight system, according to the Logitech website. The G500 was always a laser sensor so that's not a change for the S model. There's also no extra buttons compared to the regular G400 or 500 based on the pictures I'm looking at. The G500 has also always had the weight system. The G400 didn't, but neither does the G400S according to anything I'm reading right now.

The 400 and 400s both only have forward/back buttons on the side, the two dpi switching buttons that you don't ever have to use and can functionally just disable, and the profile switching button which IIRC is also something you can change the function of or disable.

I'm not defending the 400S really, it's still overpriced, but it's not some drastic change from the G400 or even the now ancient MX518. All three are essentially identical other than sensor updates.

The same goes for the 500 and 500S. Almost identical. A new coat of paint and an updated sensor. No other changes. The two extra buttons up top next to the left mouse button are just the dpi switch buttons, that again can be made to do nothing in the mouse software. The big button beneath the scroll wheel isn't actually even a button, it changes the scroll wheel from clicks to free spinning, letting you scroll super quickly in Windows. It has no other purpose.

fishdude wrote:

The 400s and 500s are different than the regular ones. The "s" models have numerous buttons, weighting system and are laser not optical. I looked at both yesterday after the initial recommendation. I am going to look at the steel series mice. Fortunately, I am not in a hurry so I can keep looking.

G500 most definitely has a weighting system, and is most definitely laser, not optical. Like Thin_J said, the 's' models are just an update of the older mice.

fishdude wrote:

I have been following this thread and another over on QT3. I bought a SteelSeries 6Gv2 with red switches. I like it, but it is taking abit of getting used to the miniscules amount of force required for a key press. I keep finding myself waiting for skills to reset on D3 because I pressed a key and did not even realize it.

I think if I did it again, i would look at Black or even Clear. I will likely get used to it, but it feels awkward for now.

Now to look for a new mouse. My Logitech M705 is showing its age and I think I want to get away from wireless again.

I just bought one of these as well. I love the action and keystroke movement. The only con is they moved the \ key from between the enter and the Backspace to the end of the z row, pushing in the R shift. That's throwing my typing all to hell.

Otherwise I'm going to BestBuy this weekend and will try all of their mice. It will be like gamer Cindarella, fitting computer peripherals to my delicate paws.

Miashara wrote:

The only con is they moved the key from between the enter and the Backspace to the end of the z row, pushing in the R shift. That's throwing my typing all to hell.

Yeah Steelseries keyboards are pretty much all ISO layout. Don't know why they continue to stick with that layout even for boards they release in the US where ANSI is the standard and what the vast majority are accustomed to.

I had not noticed the move of the \ key. I doubt I would have noticed here at the house for quite some time. Work is another story. Our current 3d modelling software has me using it often for a shortcut as well as typing out a file path.

I will likely hit BB tomorrow as well. There is one conveniently near my favorite grocery store. Good luck in your search.

Any thoughts on the new mechanical switches that Razer has developed and manufactured for their latest refresh of their Blackwidow keyboard line?

TL;DR same as the cherry MX blues and browns except that the actuation reset point is about half the distance.

Falchion wrote:

Any thoughts on the new mechanical switches that Razer has developed and manufactured for their latest refresh of their Blackwidow keyboard line?

TL;DR same as the cherry MX blues and browns except that the actuation reset point is about half the distance.

Their "new mechanical switches" are rebranded Kailh switches. They're cheap chinese knockoffs of Cherry MX switches that Razer is sticking their name on. Most scummy thing I've seen Razer do in a while, as those switches have a horrible reputation for awful QC and reliability.

Thin_J wrote:
Falchion wrote:

Any thoughts on the new mechanical switches that Razer has developed and manufactured for their latest refresh of their Blackwidow keyboard line?

TL;DR same as the cherry MX blues and browns except that the actuation reset point is about half the distance.

Their "new mechanical switches" are rebranded Kailh switches. They're cheap chinese knockoffs of Cherry MX switches that Razer is sticking their name on. Most scummy thing I've seen Razer do in a while, as those switches have a horrible reputation for awful QC and reliability.

Thanks for the info Thin_J. Got any review links I can hit up for deeper info? I do agree, that is an extremely scummy thing to do.

EDIT: I just have to add that I wish I had more options available but Razer is huge on this side of the planet that I'm on and sad to say I haven't liked the keyboards from CM or Corsair that I've tried. I haven't had issues with Razer QC in the 6 years I've been using their stuff but I know that's quite an odd case. However I can't just spring for a Flico or Code mechanical keyboard because the shipping costs are just unfeasible.

I think Ducky is local to you, isn't it? They're supposed to make quite good keyboards.

edit: Sorry, Taiwan, not Singapore. But they're in your part of the world.

Malor wrote:

I think Ducky is local to you, isn't it? They're supposed to make quite good keyboards.

edit: Sorry, Taiwan, not Singapore. But they're in your part of the world.

Nice! Thanks Malor! Will admit to never hearing about them before. And yes there is a local distributor at the PC Mall here.
Will make a point to check them out soon. That being said, I'm still on my Razer BlackWidow Stealth 2012...out of warranty for a year but still going strong...

I've read through the whole thread and am a similar boat. As I've noted in the mouse thread, I'm looking for a decent mouse. I have the Steelseries Sensei and Rival, the Microsoft 5000, the Logitech g400s, and CM Storm Spawn in my Amazon cart waiting for me to choose. I'm actually thinking the Spawn is a nice combination of buttons, sensor, and shape. It's the leading contender at the moment. I'm going to try what I can before buying, though.

I've also wanted a mechanical keyboard for some time. I recall typing on an IBM keyboard on a 286 in 1996. I've adjusted to laptops and cheap pack-in keyboards but it's high time I get something better. Anyone used or have the CODE keyboard? Looks interesting, but may be outclassed by what's already been discussed.

I have gathered I want brown switches, and prefer a tenkey numpad. The Logitech 710+ looks nice, maybe a bit overpowered, but also is more than I was hoping to spend. This, alas, is likely consistent across all the mechanical boards. I think I could bite ~$90, but $150 is a bit high. I looked/am looking at some of the Ducky boards which are still above $90 but have some room below $150.

My primary question is: how well are the various optional keysets supported in Linux? For instance, the Ducky DK2108 looks to fit the bill pretty well and has some volume keys on the top right. They might be handy but I spend as much time in Linux as Windows. I'm sure the answer varies between distributions, e.g., Ubuntu probably bundles everything necessary but Slackware might require installing stuff.

muraii wrote:

I've also wanted a mechanical keyboard for some time. I recall typing on an IBM keyboard on a 286 in 1996. I've adjusted to laptops and cheap pack-in keyboards but it's high time I get something better. Anyone used or have the CODE keyboard? Looks interesting, but may be outclassed by what's already been discussed.

I just got a CODE Green and I'm pretty happy with it. Only comes in Green and Clear, though.

I looked at the Code before I got my SteelSeries. I likely would have bought one with clear switches if they had been available when i was looking. I do love my red switch Steelie though.

Found it. Steelseries makes some great options.

What are the keyboard brands worth sticking to, or staying away from?

I may have spent another few hours (re)searching keyboards. I come across one of four states, eventually:

1. A board with MX browns and 101+ key layout is priced affordably for my budget but is out of stock.
2. A board with MX browns but which is tenkeyless is in stock at a variety of prices.
3. A board with MX browns and 101+ key layout is priced beyond my budget and is in stock.
4. A board with some other switch is available affordably and in several configurations.

It's obvious that the brown switch is the crowd-pleaser, likely for the same reasons I want it: I can use it at home or in the relatively close open-shared-desk setup at work with minimal cowerk disturbance. I am branching out to reds and blacks because they maintain the quietness but would require some more adjustment, I think, as they lack the bump.

I have hit on one possible contender, but I'm not familiar with the quality of the company's peripheral products. Cooler Master makes the Storm QuickFire XT with Cherry MX brown switches. Functionally it seems on-par with the Ducky Zero DK2108 which feels like a good value, sight unseen. The Storm is in stock whereas the Ducky is not. They are priced similarly.

Does Cooler Master make decent stuff, like a $95 keyboard? On the same line, there are a variety of other brands with which I'm unfamiliar, like Nopoo, and others which seem to be bargain-bin-bound, like Adesso and Rosewill. I think I could work with the CM Storm QF XT and both Amazon and Newegg reviews consistently skew positive.

Also, at least as I type this, via Amazon the MX red version is $89.99 with an additional $20 off in rebate, making it a $69.99 keyboard. Hard to pass up if it's worth trying an MX red board from CM.

This is a bit tangential, but I just got reminded that Unicomp still sells buckling-spring keyboards based on the IBM Model M but with USB, starting at just $79.

I have no idea what it'd be like to play modern games on one of those (I think my gaming experience with a Model M was limited to BBS door games), but typing on buckling-spring keys sounds like you mean business.

Yeah, tboon mentioned this in IRC yesterday. I looked and would love it, but my workmates likely would not love it exactly. Might still consider for at home.

The only problem with those is that they only do two-key rollover, aka 2KRO... meaning that if you press three keys at once, they're not all guaranteed to work. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't.... it uses a grid of address lines, and the grid is set up so that there's only a hard guarantee of a unique, correct read with two keys. I believe, however, that control/alt/shift don't count against the total.

For typing, they are really excellent, but for gaming, not so much.

Normal USB can do, at most, 6KRO, which is typically enough. PS/2 can do unlimited keys (aka NKRO.) And many modern keyboards are now showing up to the computer as multiple separate keyboards, and keystrokes are sent down whichever device has an event slot free. These typically have 10KRO or more; I think the Corsair boards are 20KRO, which is getting into silly territory.

Macs do not, apparently, like these multi-device keyboards very much.

I am curious, what would you all consider as the minimum key rollover you'd want for a gaming keyboard. I can't really envision times where I would need more than 5 or 6 KRO when gaming. What are use cases where you would actually need more than that?

Well, USB's 6KRO is fine for me; it's hard to imagine ever needing to hit more than that. I don't think I'd want any less in a gaming keyboard, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one with more.

Not sure if anyone cares for an update on my attempts to find a mechanical keyboard which also has a split ergonomic design and does not cost the earth. My ideal would be the Microsoft Natural but with mechanical switches...

Here is what I've discovered;

Maltron (http://www.maltron.com/) and Kinesis (http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/) both have mechanically switched ergonomic keyboards; they are not split in the way I was looking for and will run you about $300-$600. Which with import and duties and whatnot these translate to an almost 1:1 sterling conversion if you buy them in sterling in the UK. A bit rich for me and neither really produce a layout I like/want.

Going back to the 90's it seems like a surprisingly large number of companies produced the kind of keyboard I want; here's what I've managed to find out (pictures in links where possible)

  • IBM M15 & Cherry MX5000
    These are firm favourites of hardware collectors and keyboard nerds. They never come up for sale and when they do they are stupidly expensive. One Cherry MX5000 sold for $9000 on ebay
  • The Omnikey Evolution
    These can be found with and without a central touchpad. There's a guy who sells refurbished ones for about $300 at http://www.northgate-keyboard-repair... These use white ALPS switches
  • Chicony KB-7000 & Chicony KB-7001
    Almost impossible to find the Chicony branded models but a number of "manufacturers" sold these by just rebranding them, they can be found with all sorts of names and model numbers but the PC Reveal KB-7061 seems to be most common. These use white ALPS switches
  • The Datadesk smartboard
    This company appears to still exist. They stopped making the Smartboard some time in the last couple of years and I couldn't find a place to buy one. Their website promises that the Smartboard II is coming but I couldn't find anything about that at all, although I believe that announcement was in 2010.
  • The PerfecTouch 101 Ergo 2000
    I read about this keyboard.I didn't really manage to find out much more about it

All of these turned out to be crazy rare and from what I gathered they tend to go for between $60 to $500 when they turn up on ebay.

I did find one split keyboard that is in actually production in Japan; the microTron or uTron (http://www.personal-media.co.jp/reta...). Retail cost appears to be somewhere between $500 and $700 depending on exchange rate and import duties.

During all this looking I had uncovered this open hardward project; Ergodox (http://ergodox.org/) the idea is that you 3D print the case, buy the Cherry switches of your choice and the electronics and DIY it. Seemed neat but beyond my capabilities so I ignored it. During my searching I did uncover that the guys who designed it have set up a group buy thing for the parts at MassDrop (no, I hadn't heard of it either). Turns out if they get a large enough order you can get all the parts for about $200, which with the current dollar-sterling exchange rate seemed pretty good. So I added my name to the current group buy. With any luck in 8 week's time I'll get the kit and I can learn to solder... I'll post some build photos if people are interested

fishdude wrote:

I looked at the Code before I got my SteelSeries. I likely would have bought one with clear switches if they had been available when i was looking. I do love my red switch Steelie though.

Do you find the MX reds are good for typing? I'm anxious to pull the trigger and as mentioned above I think browns are out for me. I'm considering black and red and that deal above makes me think a red-switch board is worth a shot.

I'm concerned it'll feel like the keys just kinda fall if their own accord.

Malor wrote:

Well, USB's 6KRO is fine for me; it's hard to imagine ever needing to hit more than that. I don't think I'd want any less in a gaming keyboard, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one with more.

Only exception: playing oldschool local multiplayer with multiple people to a keyboard. Though I think at that point most people would pick up more controllers.

Only exception: playing oldschool local multiplayer with multiple people to a keyboard. Though I think at that point most people would pick up more controllers.

You know, I actually thought of that, and then realized: you can plug in multiple keyboards, and you can get cheapies for ten or fifteen bucks.

I'm concerned it'll feel like the keys just kinda fall if their own accord.

Well, reds are the lightest-throw of the common Cherry switches, at 45 grams actuation force. Blacks are at 60. Current buckling-spring keyboards are 65, and those are famously good for typing.

I suspect you'll find reds to be pretty comfortable, but if you don't want to risk it, blacks will certainly be good.