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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  • Concillian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have an RK-9000BR and my 'D' key is also dark and dirty or worn looking. Backspace squeaks too.

    Otherwise great, and certainly a lot better to type on than my old logitech keyboard.

    My wife doesn't like the clackyness when she's trying to sleep. Even though our computers are in another room, she hears the keys clacking.
    Reply
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    > I have an RK-9000BR and my 'D' key is also dark and dirty or worn looking.

    Retreat less.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Thanks for reviewing this, and thanks to Rosewell for giving it for review!

    I think the only membrane keyboards I've been able to stand are an older Dell multimedia one (I think it's still sold as like "business multimedia" or something). It's trying be a real keyboard, and gets out of the way...

    Most though are just awful. I've got an "HP Classic" and a Microsoft one and a Logitech one-they're all just so unpleasent to type on. I make so many more mistakes.

    I'd like a good mechanical keyboard, but probably with the quietest switches (actually using all of them would be neat)...and while I don't like gimmicks, I do like having at least volume control buttons on the keyboard.

    If this ad those, I'd probably buy one! Looks like just a nicely designed keyboard.

    And Apple? UGH. They had good keyboards in the 90s. Even a turn of the century design was fine. But now? They're putting LAPTOP KEYBOARDS on desktops...that shows how far they've fallen.
    Reply
  • esteinbr - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I've got 2 different old school mechanical keyboards.

    1) My main keyboard at home is a Gateway 2000 anykey keyboard which is programmable on the keyboard itself with out requiring any drivers or software. It's something like 15 years old and still working great.

    2) An old IBM ps/2 keyboard.
    Reply
  • Pylon757 - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    The Anykey is actually not mechanical. It's still a really well-built keyboard though. The metal plate in there is crazy thick. Reply
  • Gonemad - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I like some weigh to my keyboards, and hardware-interrupted PS/2 connection. IIRC, you can get up to 7 key-presses, when 4 or 5 would be enough for FPS gaming (the infamous Half-life jump-crouching, strafing, and running, there go 4 key-presses for you).

    You either have a stable and comfortable typing position, or not at all. If the table is wobbly, the fault should on the table, not on the keyboard. I miss those IBM keyboards.
    Reply
  • kschaffner - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have been using the Razer Black Widow for over a year now and it also is equipped with cherry mx blue switches. I've tried mx browns and blacks and the blue is my favorite. I play a broad range of games from RTS such as SC2, RPG like D3 beta (woot) and the likes of Skyrim and BF3. I don't think I could ever go back to using a regular keyboard and again and even though this review says that mx blue's are not good for gaming due to travel. the key activates at half depth of the key press and I find I don't have any issues gaming at all. Reply
  • johnsmith9875 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have always been a fan of keyswitch keyboards, having been raised on the Original IBM-PC keyboard and learned to type on those long travel mechanical typewriters.
    I finally picked up a Solidtek KB-6600 and have been typing happily ever since. It makes such a racket that my sleepy GF once got up and stormed out of the room to sleep on the couch, oh bliss.

    For those who think membrane keyboards are 'good enough', you don't know what you're missing.
    Reply
  • ripster5555 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Details on the Lasered Keys staining here:

    http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Das+S+Laser...
    Reply
  • agent2099 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I assume these mechanical keyboards would not be the ideal for if you are prone to carpal tunnel. I would think the"cheap" keyboards would be a better option, or even a virtual keyboard with zero travel Luke that one that projects a laser diagram in your tabletop . Reply

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