Thermaltake Meka and Cherry MX Black Switches in Practice

While the aggressively loud and wonderfully clicky Cherry MX Blue switches in Rosewill's RK-9000 leave a lasting and indelible impression as being ideal for any serious typing (and not sensitive enough for gaming), the difference between the Cherry MX Red switches in the Corsair Vengeance keyboards and the Cherry MX Black switches in Thermaltake's Meka keyboards is at least initially a little more difficult to articulate. I had to take the Pepsi Challenge to really tell, but the Black switches definitely feel a bit softer than the Reds. In many ways they feel like the next logical step up from using a good membrane keyboard.

That impression changed once I took the Meka G-Unit on a jaunt through Mirror's Edge, a game I continue to be unusually enamored with. The Meka G-Unit's (and by extension all of the Meka keyboards) Cherry MX Black switches have a springier quality to them that becomes much more evident in gaming than in regular typing, and as a result I felt like they performed much more like the Cherry MX Blues in the Rosewill keyboard. Hitting the quick keypresses for some of the jumps in Mirror's Edge seemed just a little bit harder to time with the Meka's keys.

Meanwhile, typing up this review of the G-Unit on the G-Unit has for the most part been a fairly pleasant experience. The tactile response on the mechanical switches continues to be noticeably superior to basic membrane switches, but when it comes to layout I find that Thermaltake's Meka G1 is ultimately preferable. It's common for keyboard manufacturers to place the rows of macro keys directly to the left of the keyboard, but in practice this is a bullet that so far I've only seen Corsair dodge with their Vengeance K90. Even Alienware's M18x notebook has a problem with these keys. Basically, when you go for any of the keys in the lower left of the keyboard you're usually hunting for them by touch, and there were a couple of times in using the G-Unit where I was hitting macro keys when I really wanted to be hitting the Left Shift or Left Control keys. Corsair managed to avoid this by recessing the macro keys, placing them at a different z-height than the rest of the keyboard and thus making the difference clear from a tactile perspective.

As for the software of the G-Unit, I was pleasantly surprised. Thermaltake's software is actually fairly light and includes an OSD that's very inobtrusive. You can also toggle between "Normal" and "Game" modes, which is basically a toggle for the Windows key. My chief problem with the software is that it's a bit obtuse, but not outside of the realm of comprehension for most users. The twelve "T" keys next to the main keyboard can be programmed to launch applications, enter keystrokes, or run macros, and the keyboard and software support three different sets of profiles.

Introducing the Thermaltake Meka The Thermaltake Black Element Mouse
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  • Belard - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    LOL! I expected they bought something else.... Hence the 3 totally different keyboard layouts.

    For the most part, Logitech keys its keyboards the same, as does Microsoft.
    Reply
  • 6x9equals42 - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I Just got a Das Keyboard S with Cherry MX blues and couldn't be happier. It's at my workstation so I haven't tried it for gaming, but I could definitely see the advantages of red or black switches for that. I would be interested to see a review of the Das Keyboard Silent or another keyboard with the MX brown switches for comparison. Reply
  • jgrnt1 - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure how they stack up for gaming, as I'm just a casual gamer, but I'm a big fan of Unicomp's keyboards. They are the direct descendants of IBM's Selectric typewriter keyboards.

    I had an old IBM keyboard for a long time and when it finally died, I found Unicomp. I have the Classic 104 in black. Also note that most of their keyboards come with a choice of USB or PS/2 connectors:

    pckeyboard.com
    Reply
  • sjc1017 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    I type at least 3000 words everyday on my lap top, can someone please tell me what are the advantages of these keyboards? Reply
  • cj145 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    Do you guys ever plan to review mechanical keyboards from companies that have been doing it for years (Deck, Filco, Das, etc)? I like that you started to review them, it's just I have not seen one keyboard reviewed that is built like a true mechanical KB should be; like a brick and designed to outlast everything else. All of these new TT, Corsair, etc keyboards feel flimsy and cheap in comparison. Reply
  • tinspinner - Saturday, July 07, 2012 - link

    I'm using a mech4 Levetron keyboard that uses cherry black MX switches. It's an interesting keyboard because the keypad can be removed from the right side and put on the left. It still has a solid feel and locks into place. It also has an additional 6 key macro add on that plugs into the spare usb port, yes it's usb, ps2 doesn't work. The addon slides on a rail allowing positioning over any part of the main keys, but covers part of the function keys when down in position. It's a flipup style addon. This keyboard is rarely heard of as it is rather unusual. The keys have a standard layout otherwise but the back space key is painted with an arrow(but is back space) and is the size of a standard key, which doesn't affect my typing though it might some)

    Anyhow when I first used the keyboard I liked the feel for typing better than my razer black widow ultimate (I believe cherry blue MX keys, don't quote me though). The higher actuation force doesn't bother me but I like the linear smooth feel in actuation. I almost always bottom out when typing on either keyboard. (Heavy hands, long fingers).
    Reply
  • burkeden - Monday, July 16, 2012 - link

    I can only comment on my experience, but I had MAJOR issues with Razer's build quality and support process (i.e. - I strongly discourage others from making my mistake of going with a Razer keyboard)

    The only place you can buy Razer's BWUS keyboard is directly from Razer online. Let me summarize my experience and let you be the judge:

    May 8, I ordered the BWUS keyboard from the only place you can get it - the Razer store.
    It came to me with the backlit key feature defective. I immediately contacted support expecting a replacement to be shipped. I had to first take photos and send them in, wait several days, and then be told I need to return it and wait 2 weeks for the replacement. I was very unhappy but did just that.
    What I got back on July 2 (nearly 2 months after placing my order) was a dirty unit, in a bent and torn box, completely missing the left shift key. I thought this was a screw up of epic proportions, but I was sure Razer would correct this very quickly. Well, after relaying the story I was told to send pictures of the missing key!!!! Are you serious? You don't believe me when I say it is missing a key? Or even worse, you are trying to determine from the photo if you can send a new key and have my insert it. Forget the fact I ordered a new keyboard and have now been sent a used one.

    And finally I did get the email confirmation that they are going to send a key that I can hopefully just pop in, and that I can just clean the keyboard??? lol - I could not make this up.

    ps - they keyboard itself is decent if you get a new and working one. BUT IF YOU DON'T, YOU CAN ONLY CONTACT RAZER SUPPORT THROUGH EMAIL WHICH TAKES 2-3 DAYS TO GET A RESPONSE AND AS EVIDENCED ABOVE, THEY ONLY TAKE THE BARE MINIMUM STEPS TO GET YOUR PRODUCT FUNCTIONING.
    Reply

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