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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  • rrohbeck - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    And the Unicomps are $70-ish. So why spend $20 more than the original? Reply
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Because buckling spring keyboards aren't the same as Cherry keyboards?

    It's not like keyboards Cherry MX switches are designed to be Model M clones and they just couldn't figure out how to make them similar... they're different products with different markets.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    "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."

    shouldn't this be "...it sucks silently"?
    Reply
  • cyberguyz - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    In essence the same thing as this Rosewill keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches (quieter than the blues). I love it to bits and will NEVER go back to a cheap-ass membrane/bubble keyboard.

    I only wish I could get one of the mechanical kbds on my office desktops.
    Reply
  • Ninhalem - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I understand reviewing something like this, but when I think of mechanical keyboards, I don't think of Rosewill. I think of IBM and Das Keyboard. Can you get a review of the Das keyboard going since they're already on the third or fourth iteration. Plus they go a step further and completely erase all lettering on their keyboards, making it the ultimate typing experience. Reply
  • Iketh - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I agree. I can't stand the Rosewill brand, and after I got to the part with the letters rubbing off after a couple months, my disdain only solidified. Reply
  • Aluvus - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    The RK-9000 series are widely believed to be rebadged Filcos. Filco is/was an extremely respected mechanical keyboard brand. Reply
  • justaviking - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    First the funny part.

    Page 2 = "I've found I make far fewer typos"
    Page 3 = "noticing your typing iif you're in a cubicle" (double "i" on "if")

    You pretty much set yourself up for that one, LOL.

    But seriously, I always appreciate the blend of analytics, facts, conjecture, education, and opinion in AnanTech articles. This was another great article.

    I enjoyed your comments about a good keyboard reminding you of the good old days. I know my wife still misses the feel and sound of the old IBM Selectric typewriters. Now THAT has positive feedback on your keystrokes!
    Reply
  • justaviking - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Many of us wish we had an "Edit" button for our posts.

    I meant to type "AnandTech" (with a "d" in it). I guess I'm not perfect either. At least I can blame the missed character on my cheap keyboard. ;)
    Reply
  • sstteevveenn - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Skitt's Law in action. :) Reply

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