Introducing Rosewill's RK-9000 Mechanical Keyboard

As enthusiasts and professionals we spend a lot of time checking out what's under the hood of the computers and devices we use, but thankfully more and more we're paying attention to how we actually interact with hardware, what the user experience is like. User experience has been a major selling point of Apple's products, but there's one place where even Apple has been a bit neglectful: the keyboard. On notebooks your options are limited, but on the desktop you have access to mechanical keyboards. Today we'll take a quick look at Rosewill's RK-9000 mechanical keyboard and see if it's worth the price premium.

Before we get started with breaking down the RK-9000, a brief explanation of what we mean by "mechanical keyboard." There are several different types of switches used in modern keyboards, but the most common is the "membrane" switch. At its most basic, there's a "bubble" under each key, and when you press down the bubble makes contact with a circuit board beneath and registers the keypress. The attraction to this design is simple enough: it's cheap and easy to make. The problem is that as far as tactile response goes, it sucks out loud.

Enter mechanical switches. If you're old enough to remember what keyboards were like in the eighties and prior, you'll remember big, heavy keyboards with loud springs and plenty of feedback. Obviously it's a hell of a lot more expensive to equip a bunch of keys with springs, and that's why mechanical keyboards remain a bit of a niche product. That's a shame, too.

Rosewill offers four different mechanical keyboards, each based on the four different types of Cherry MX mechanical switches available. The Cherry MX Blue is the clickiest, the loudest, and the most tactile of the four; we have Corsair's Vengeance keyboards with the Cherry MX Red switches due in house soon, and we'll be able to compare and contrast then.

Aesthetically, the RK-9000 series isn't much to look at and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking they at least appear cheap. These look like generic black keyboards; no shortcut keys, not even so much as a fancy design. Black keys, black frame, but man is the RK-9000 heavy. With a $99 price tag it's hard not to fault anyone for taking one look at the keyboard and thinking, "Seriously?" Even the package is pretty bare; the keyboard itself has a mini-USB port in the back, and the keyboard comes with two cables, one mini-USB-to-PS2, and one mini-USB-to-USB. That's it.

Of course, once you've actually typed on the RK-9000, your impression will change in a hurry. 

The Rosewill RK-9000 in Action
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  • DanNeely - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    Does your Choc Pro use a custom USB driver? I thought the 6 key roll over limit was from that. Reply
  • Aluvus - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I find it genuinely bizarre that you would describe the appearance as "generic" without noting the bright red backplate...that is quite visible in the adjacent picture. It's a pretty distinctive feature (and FWIW, I think looks pretty good in person). Reply
  • Belard - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    While this keyboard *IS* about 15 years old, its not Mechanical... it does have a plastic piece that pushes down on a thick rubber membrane to the sensor. I paid $20 for it back in 1997, made by LiteON (but sold under other labels as well).

    This keyboard is SO old, I have to use an AT>PS/2 adaptor > extension cable to use it (otherwise its 4" of heavy connectors hanging off the back).

    And back then, they didn't use the CHEAP paint or stick-on decals they use today! Look at your keys, notice the outline? Yep, they stuck the letters on your keyboard. Even a $100 Logitech keyboard has stickers?! So my letters look pretty much the same as 10+ years ago.

    I do like the feel of Mechanicals, but not the noise... but the feel of this keyboard is what I like. It has a FAT enter key, a big Backspace button and they tucked the \ key under the Enter key. Which is more useful. We don't need a big shift key on the right side.

    When this keyboard dies... I am screwed. NOBODY makes a keyboard like this... A few that are kind of close are black, which makes it hard to read in the dark.... so I'll most likely have to go with a $100 illuminated keyboard... with the think enter key and tiny backspace key.

    Keytronic also makes mechanical keyboards... but the quality is not the same from 10+ years ago. I also keep an old DELL mechanical as backup... noisy, ugh. But does feel good.
    Reply
  • Pylon757 - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    It's not stickers, though it looks like it. They printed it and give it a hard plastic coating (which looks like a sticker)

    Keytronic does not make mechanicals, but their rubber domes are really nice quality.
    Reply
  • Lugaidster - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I both type a lot and game a lot (various game types). And while I would love to have a mechanical keyboard for typing, they are neither available in my visual layout (I still haven't found one and I've looked) nor are confortable for playing games like SC2 (however, I would love to be proven wrong). That being said, if I ever buy me a workstation, I'd love to have one of these http://matias.ca/tactilepro3/index.php, they are both beautiful and functional, and are sold with different switches. Dustin should review one of these, and the ones sold to gamers like the Corsair and the tT meka g1.

    Cheers,
    Lugaid
    Reply
  • don_k - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    Certainly niche, yes. You're wrong about gaming though, professional Starcraft players typically use mechanical keyboards, at least a large percentage do. Google 'starcraft filco'.

    Pick one with cherry mx black switches if you want to game a lot, those type of switches are best for repeated key presses.

    For people curious about mechanical keyboards I'd recommend either the Matias tactile pro for Mac users or a Filco mechanical.
    Reply
  • Earballs - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I won't buy a KB these days unless it's ergonomic (not the "wave" shape). Us wonky board people get he shaft! Reply
  • GullLars - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    So would this be good for programming then?
    I have a logitech G15 i use for gaming, so if there's no compatibility issue with having both plugged in and just swapping them on the desk when starting (or stopping) gaming, i'd consider buying this. Price is not an issue as long as it's not several hundred $.
    Reply
  • AssBall - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    When my wife's office upgraded their systems 9 years ago, I told her to snag me a few of their USB WYSE keyboards. I am still using the one and I am very hard on it. I have 2 more for backup when I finally break this one. Reply
  • Athlex - Friday, February 03, 2012 - link

    I use a Cherry "RS 6000" (quite similar in name to the RK-9000) which just has cheapo silicone dome switches and is showing almost identical keycap wear to this Rosewill. I wonder if this may be a rebadged Cherry keyboard with better switches... Reply

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