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  • Greg512 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have an old IBM M, and I love using it, though it is too loud for office work. Mechanical keyboards do make a great investment, especially if they aren't too loud. They may be expensive upfront, but they last forever and never need upgrading. Certainly the second most underrated computer component, after the monitor. Reply
  • adrien - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Agreed. I scavenged my model m keyboards and I've been enjoying them. There are a few things I like in these in particular:

    1- no windows key*s* ; and seriously, who need two of them?

    2- the tilt and curvature of the keyboard which makes it possible to access functions keys without touching the other keys

    3- the space at the top of the keyboard, especially to put pens/pencils; it might sound stupid but when create/debug code with paper-and-pen, it's actually nice

    4- I wash them in the shower (takes a few days for them to dry up)

    Btw, for gaming, I gave up on mechanical keyboards and I actually switch to another keyboard when I play usually. I also had troubles and couldn't explain them at first but when you're playing a car game with the arrow keys, you want to make small and maybe very short presses; that's simply not how you can play on mechanical keyboards.
    Reply
  • Goi - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have a Model M too, I wasn't aware you could throw it in the shower... Reply
  • adrien - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I can't "guarantee" the results but so far, it has been tried on half a dozen of keyboards by myself or friends.

    I made a mistake once however: used a mop on it with the space key removed: it caught the spring with it and now the spring is 4 times too long. Besides that, no issue.
    Reply
  • Googer - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    The Model M was designed to handle a spill when lying on a table. The electronics and key springs are shielded from such a mess. However tilt it on it's side and water will creep in to every crevice imaginable and the metal springs which give it that signature sound and feel, will quickly rust. It is not advisable to submerge these keyboards as they were not designed for it; they will fail over time.

    Proper cleaning should involve disassembly and use a mild rapid drying cleaner/solvent like alcohol.
    Reply
  • dananski - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    "1- no windows key*s* ; and seriously, who need two of them?"

    I use both several times a day. Win+E/D and Win+L are very handy to be able to do one-handed. You could say exactly the same (and be equally wrong) about alt, shift and control, unless you're on Linux that is.
    Reply
  • Sufo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Scavenged DELL AT102W here. It uses Black Alps switches which are just great for those of you who want a satisfying click, but not a very heavy key press. Be prepared to bottom out on every key press, but they keys are light enough that I wouldn't think it was an issue. It's a very fast board - not hugely loud, but loud enough. It's my work board, so one might think the noise could be an issue, but everyone seemed to get used to it pretty quickly :)

    For gaming I use my Logitech illuminated KB. Still convinced it's better than any mechanical for that purpose.
    Reply
  • Googer - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Those DELL Keyboards were just rebrands of a particular IBM design. Reply
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    > Those DELL Keyboards were just rebrands of a particular IBM design.

    Except they weren't. The AT102W is not a rebranded Model M. In addition to looking rather different, Model Ms use buckling springs and AT102Ws use ALPS switches.

    Dell did ship some Model Ms, as did some other brands, but the AT102W is one of their own.
    Reply
  • bs57 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I also managed to salvage a few old IBM 'm' keyboards before they were thrown out at work. The one I'm using now was built in 1984 and still works perfectly. Reply
  • kepstin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Your keyboard probably wasn't manufactured in 1984 - that's a mistake a lot of people make. The design was copyright 1984, and that date is printed on the bottom of all the keyboards - but there's another date (usually dot-matrix printed on the label) which corresponds to the manufacturing date. Mine's from Feb. 17, 1990; still nearly 21 years old :) Reply
  • kepstin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I’ve got an IBM Model M as well, and I love it, despite the noise. The Model M actually has an advantage over the Cherry switches that some people don’t know about:

    On a Model M, you get a click on key press, and another click on key release. At the same time as the click, there's actually a pressure change that you can feel. And the 'click' exactly corresponds with when the key press or release is registered by the computer.

    The Cherry switches have a similar click sound and pressure change, but unlike the Model M the click does /not/ correspond with the point where the key press is registered - I find this really annoying.

    Would be cool if Anandtech would review one of these old-fashioned “buckling spring” keyboards, you can pick up new ones from Unicomp at http://pckeyboard.com/
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Seconded! I have my eye on the EnduraPro PS2 and I would love it if you would give us your opinion on it. Reply
  • Metaluna - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If you don't like the sound the Cherry blues make, you might find a Model M or Unicomp preferable. The Cherrys have a very high pitched click, followed by a second loud noise when the key bottoms out (at least on my DAS). I find that constant clickCLACK clickCLACK very annoying. With my Unicomps, the sound is lower frequency and the two noises kind of blend together, though since they are coil springs, you do get occasional ringing sounds which is a little wierd.

    As for Unicomp vs Model M:
    - My 2 Unicomps feel slightly more plasticky, but also a bit more crisp and clicky than my refurbed Model M. The Model M is more solid and substantial. Feels more refined overall.
    - Unicomps have Windows keys (they may have a Mac model also, and a few other layouts), and are available in USB or PS/2
    - Buying a Unicomp vs a used Model M means you are supporting the only company that still manufactures buckling spring switches (they literally bought the machines and tooling from Lexmark), and they almost went out of business a few years ago so we're not talking about some huge faceless company. That's the problem with making stuff that lasts virtually forever I guess.

    If you want a board that is both really quiet *and* tactile, Topre is pretty much the only choice.
    Reply
  • halfflat - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I splurged on a Topre Realforce 87U SE170S last year while in Tokyo. It is by far the best keyboard I have ever used.

    Key advantages:
    - Great tactile response, without being hard work or jarring like the clicky Model Ms
    - Quiet. The Realforce is fairly quiet to begin with, but the SE170S variant is quieter still.
    - N-key roll over. I have a mechanical keyboard at home which is not too bad (though it is noisy and more jarring), but less than 4-key roll over makes for many missing characters in words, lots of back editing, and general frustration.
    - Configurable control/caps lock with swappable keys. I can place control near my left pinky, have it look like a control key, and have the operating system be none the wiser.

    It definitely was expensive, yet it is a true pleasure to type on. I would claim that the keyboard and monitor are the most important part of any desktop PC — these are the components whose strengths and weaknesses will be with you every time you use the machine, and if they are of any decent quality, will long outlast the usefulness of the PC itself.
    Reply
  • Jaybus - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    Being old, my first keyboard was a IBM 3278 model 4 terminal, a couple of years prior to the launch of the IBM PC. Back then, everyone, (by "everyone" I mean far less than 1% of the population), was used to that type of mechanical switch keyboard. The keyboard on the 3278 series terminals was VERY good. Had IBM come out with a cheapo keyboard for the first PC, "everyone" would have thought it a joke. It is no surprise to me that they used a very high quality keyboard for the first PC.

    Years ago, I managed to acquired an entire IBM model 5150 PC built, complete with CGA video adapter, and IBM 5153 RGB color monitor. The 5150 PC used the 83 key model F keyboard, which was almost identical to the System/38 5253 Display Station terminals. IMO, this was the best keyboard ever made. The model M's were a redesign of the model F to reduce cost. Not that the model M was not an excellent and nearly as good keyboard. As it stands, the model M is more useful, since the model F cannot be made to work with a modern PC AFAIK.
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well written, the important aspects of using mechanical keyboards are explained well.

    Regarding lettering, there are 3 common choices for a manufacturer:
    (1) Printed lettering. Flat layer on the keys that's cheap to do. Wears off rather quickly and unevenly.
    (2) Lasered. The letters are lasered into the plastic keys, then filled in with.. filler paint. This will last much longer than printed, but will dirty and wear out over time, but not nearly as quickly as printed.
    (3) Double-Shot: The letters are cut out of the top key plastic. inside the top key is a smaller key with the same letter but raised. The keys mold together such that you end up with one thick key cap, but the raised plastic lettering raises into the cut-out of the top layer. This lasts (essentially) forever but is very expensive.

    It would have been nice to mention what Rosewill says their lettering is; laser or print. It is not double-shot for sure.
    Also would be nice to mention that keycaps are exchangeable. You could potentially buy a set of double-shot key caps and replace the print/laser ones.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Rosewill claims the lettering is lasered, but the wear and tear after a month... :| Reply
  • hansmuff - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If they don't use enough filler, dirt will set in quickly and look ugly. However, the filler underneath will not disappear for a good long time.

    I have a Leopold Cherry keyboard with similar symptoms. Lasered keys are not optimal, but the next best (double-shot) is very expensive.
    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Why even care about lettering when you're going to be touch-typing anyway? Reply
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    A surprising number of people don't know how to touch-type. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    FWIW, I have a couple of IBM Model M's (mfd for IBM by Lexmark in 1995).

    I have been using one at home and one at work for over 10 years each, and the lettering is not noticeably affected. I even give them a good scrubbing once in awhile to clean off dirt.

    They are definitely not double-shot keys (they do have a second layer, but the top is not cut out and the bottom is gray). I don't know if they're lasered or painted.

    I too would like to see a Model M compared against these new keyboards. My Model M's are not USB compatible so I'm thinking of buying replacements, although a few sites seem to sell adapters such as http://www.clickykeyboards.com/index.cfm/fa/items.... and http://zevv.nl/play/misc/ibm-usb/

    Otherwise, I'd probably get one from pckeyboard.com

    Thanks
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    btw, the ones from pckeyboard are cheaper than $99, so I'm wondering if there is anything remarkable about the Rosewill to make it more expensive. Reply
  • Pylon757 - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    IBM Model Ms are dye-sublimation printed (about as durable as double-shot, but you can use better plastics and only essentially works on lighter colored keys).

    Geekhack has a great article on keys in general here:
    http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=All+About+K...
    Reply
  • vailr - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Why aren't there quality keyboards that are also high visibility?
    Such as: the "EZ Eyes Keyboard"
    http://sanfengxin.com/product/2012197442838686.jpg
    Similar idea sold online here:
    https://www.getezeyes.com/
    Reply
  • eruku - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    There are! http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard_details.asp?PRO... Reply
  • cserwin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    This is a Windows keyboard. I don't quite understand the relevance to Apple. Seems like a cute idea for a hook, but on editorial balance, you probably should have left that baby on the copy room floor. It doesn't strengthen your thesis, credibility, or (most importantly) serve to inform your member about the usefulness od the product you are reviewing.

    Sincerely,
    Your Journalism 101 TA
    Reply
  • Galcobar - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    The relevance is established in the same sentence as the reference to Apple is made: Apple's focus on the user experience, which most definately includes human input devices such as the keyboard.

    Much of Apple's cachet is built on enhancing the user experience through improvements in the peripheral devices -- the quality of the screens the company uses, for instance -- thus Dustin is using Apple both as a means of demonstrating to the reader the value of a good peripheral, and the rarity that is a good keyboard.
    Reply
  • NCM - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I remember Apple's old mechanical keyboards, especially the seemingly indestructible "Saratoga" model. It acquired that nickname due to a size reminiscent of the eponymous aircraft carrier's flight deck. I know plenty of people who would like to see its return.

    But you know what? Apple's chiclet style keyboards, whether in freestanding form or the super-solid laptop version I'm using to type this, are terrific. I don't long for the past at all.

    But tastes in keyboard action and feel are a totally personal thing.
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Maybe you should find a "Reading Comprehension 101" TA.

    :D
    Reply
  • Reikon - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I bought one of these with Cherry MX Red switches about 2 weeks ago and some of my keys already look worn out like the ones picture. The space bar also squeaks like crazy, which seems fixable if I take it out and put some grease on it.

    Unfortunately, both issues seem common enough that getting a replacement isn't likely to fix it.
    Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    The blue switches are indeed reported t be quite poor for gaming use, and as such, most people get the Browns. The MX Browns are tactile but not clicky or if you're a button-masher like me, get the MX Blacks which are non-tactile and non-clicky linear switches and just about perfect for gaming.

    As for the lettering, its far from being a major issue given you can happily swap them out for other keys., I myself have a set of black engraved PBT keycaps instead of the standard painted ABS keycaps. Unlike the ABS keycaps, the PBT ones don't acquire a "shine" to them since they wear out less quickly.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    "Key travel is pretty deep, making the RK-9000's base model a bad choice for any kind of game that requires multiple rapid keypresses, which is pretty much all of them."

    I disagree with this. I play APM heavy games like Starcraft 2 that involve key spamming, and mechanical keyboards are excellent for this type of game. The thing is that key actuation for Cherry switches happen halfway down, not nearly all the way like a membrane or completely bottomed out like a scissor switch, so rapid keypresses are much simpler.

    Blues may not be the best for gaming, but black, brown, and red switches certainly can be. The rest depend on what level of resistance you want. I prefer higher resistance black switches and ended up selling my brown (made too many typing gaming errors because they were so light), but people can prefer the exact opposite. It is a huge advantage of mechanical switches IMO.
    Reply
  • Khato - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well if taken in the context of the MX blue switches, then that comment does make some amount of sense. The blues are horrible for gaming due to the fact that they have something around a 0.75mm 'dead zone' that you have to clear in order to actuate - it actually ends up being more in practice since you basically end up going through the entire 'clicky' zone for each press which is approximately 2mm.

    However, the other cherry mechanical switches don't suffer from this issue and are simply awesome for rapid keypresses. After all, it's a simple matter of toggling the key right around the actuation area, and it can easily register every discrete event. My preference is also for the blacks - the best analogy is that they're like typing on a cloud. Gone are the annoying repeated impact stresses associated with typing on normal keyboards as there's no need to bottom out. I've also used browns, but the tactile feedback is quite overrated far as I'm concerned. Soon as you're used to using the keyboard muscle memory will ensure that you press hard enough for the keypress to register without going so hard as to bottom out.
    Reply
  • OOwl - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Great review and literally a great read. Personally, I've been using mechanical keyboards for a while now, even did a small review on my current Razer BlackWidow (it uses the same Cherry MX Blue), however in terms of pricing $99 is still a bargain for a mechanical keyboard. We are talking about a product which has an average life expectancy of up to 100 times more (your run of the mill rubber domes will start giving up at around 500,000-1,000,000 key presses and as cherry mx switches are rated to 50 million...i think it's a solid investment).

    I also write a lot on a daily basis, so this is helping out a lot in terms of keeping my hands still working. I do agree to some extent with the gaming part, but i'd still drop a membrane in a second to use my BlackWidow (or a SteelSeries 6gv2, or a Thermaltake Meka G1 oorr Mionix ZIbal 60 - these are the only ones i've gotten to play around with :( oh, and a Dell AT101W i think... black but that one uses Alps switches). For gaming you can always go for a linear switch, so like, Cherry MX Black or MX Red, so noise is dropped yet you still get the great feel of a mechanical keyboard :)

    But i digress :D Great review, solid product!
    Reply
  • OOwl - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    ---quick edit--- The BlackWidow goes for $79, so mechanical isn't that expensive :) Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    When membrane keyboards can last more than 15 years I really don't see the increased longevity of mechanical switches as mattering.

    The only reason I retired the one that came with a whitebox 486 my parents bought in the early 90s a few years ago was that the weight of the PS2-AT adapter and AT plug was heavy enough that when jostled it tended to come loose from the back of the case.
    Reply
  • evilspoons - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I typically wear out a membrane keyboard in 3 years, even faster when I was in university typing up notes and stuff.

    Membrane keyboard keyswitches don't have to completely fail to become useless - they start to become weird to press and bind if you don't press them absolutely straight down, rendering the keyboard annoying as all hell to use properly.
    Reply
  • Mr_Bird_Man - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Buckling-Spring keyboards are the best for typing. I had a wonderful 84-key AT keyboard that I used until I found a good 101-key some 20+ years ago. Back in the 80's I could reach 120+ wpm on those beauties. A few years ago I started looking up the old IBM model M keyboards and found out that they are still being made, in the USA, in Kentucky! You can get one with a USB connector, standard windows keys, it weighs 4.2lbs! Why go for an imitation when you can have the real thing? Look up Unicomp, Anand, do a comparison! I love the fact that my keyboard is made in the USA, can be used as a weapon in a pinch, and is 100% awesome. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Haha "used as a weapon in a pinch". Got a "laugh out loud" from me!

    I have an actual weapon for that. A .45. It's also heavy enough to clobber someone with, should I run out of ammo. :D

    Yah I'd love to see an article on the keyboards some of these people are talking about, and the different switch types.

    ;)
    Reply
  • 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
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I'll give you the "iif" error -- and that was me on a non-mechanical keyboard, editing Dustin's article. The other "mistake" is more a difference of opinion on grammar I'd say.

    If we say "I make fewer typos..." that would be correct; so what adverb do you use to modify fewer? "I make far less typos" sounds odd, because "I make less typos" isn't correct -- you make less sense that way. :-) So, I'd suggest far as an adverb to modify fewer, while perhaps not common, is not incorrect. Unless there's some other error I'm missing?
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I think the first sentence was there to contradict the second, rather than saying the first had a mistake too. Reply
  • justaviking - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    bobbozzo's clarification was correct... To me, the first sentence is what made the second one humorous.

    Thanks again for the many articles.
    AnandTech is one of the few sites I check on a daily basis.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    And here I was staring at that first sentence thinking, "WTF is wrong with that!?" LOL Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I've been looking for a decent replacement for my old Logitech something. Went to Media Markt etc. several times and tried ALL of them.. but none felt really any better than what I already have. I think you guys pointed me into the right direction. No if there only was some place where I could try Cherry MX black, brown, red etc. in person... Reply
  • prophet001 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have a Filco with the Cherry MX Brown switches in it and it really is worth the expense. Very nice to type on. Reply
  • bigboxes - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    As others have eluded, there are other cherry switches that work great for gaming. Personally, I own a Cherry keyboard with the Cherry BlueMX switches. I love them! Why? Because I rarely game. The noise doesn't bother me as it is about half the level of the old buckling spring keyboards. I pound on my keys and just love the confidence that when I press a key I know that I have pressed the correct one. Also, they are the keys are laser-etched and not printed. There is ZERO sign of wear after over 3 years. A buddy spilled a beer over the right side of the keyboard a few months back rendering the effected keys inoperable. A quick trip to the shower followed by a day of drying fixed all issues (and it looked good as new!). My only issue was that I had to use my old rubber dome keyboard for the day. Ugh. :) Reply
  • average buy - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I'm one of the people whom this review claims to target -- someone who uses their computer a lot, and cares about the user experience. Even after reading the review, I still don't understand why some people seem to strongly prefer them, and in general, I can't figure out if this is just some type of nostalgia/purism fad. I keep hearing overtures about the complexity of the "switches", lamentations about the cheap quality of low end keyboards available today, and something about noise and relative depth of keystroke being a *good* thing. So excuse me if I continue to be skeptical about the purported advantages of mechanical keys, especially after reading an article full of vague promises and subjective reasons to switch.

    I've actually gone from full sized keyboards (probably not mechanical ones, but I have no idea) to notebook style keyboards to island style keyboards over the year, and I have a clear preference for good island style keys such as those found on most apple products. My impression that the lower key travel is more comfortable and efficient, and probably makes me faster and more accurate. Sure, there are plenty of mushy and uncomfortable keyboards, both for laptops and desktops, but please don't assume that a specialty mechanical keyboard is the only alternative to the POS Dell decided to throw in with your latest PC.
    Reply
  • antef - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    These are my thoughts exactly. I don't think you're missing anything. The review was very vague and the only thing it really said about typing on the keyboard was that key travel is good and the noise may or may not be a problem for you. That's it. Not sure why people are praising it saying it was such a great read. Regarding the actual keyboard, there is zero practical reason to desire a loud sound when pressing a key - do you really need more confidence that you pressed the key than you receive from seeing the letter appear on the screen? Increased key travel is also not a good thing...requires more effort from your fingers. Low travel, low resistance keys let you just fly across the keyboard. The longevity argument is also a weak one. This keyboard costs $99...a good MS Comfort Curve costs $12. You could replace it EIGHT TIMES before even breaking even.

    Seems to mostly be nostalgia and geeks getting excited about geek things as you say. The author is incorrect that I should automatically want this keyboard if I "care about my computing experience." I do care, and prefer regular quiet ones.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    It's not nostalgia; it's more a matter of preference. I've used mechanical keyboards in the past and I'm actually quite happy with my Microsoft Natural keyboard with its "mushy" keys. The problem is that keyboard feel is highly subjective; we have heard from many people that absolutely hate island/chiclet keyboards. Does that make your opinion on them wrong? No, because it's just that: your opinion. Dustin really likes the feel of this Rosewill, and he's entitled to that opinion, but we can't just come out and universally recommend something like a keyboard.

    I'd say one thing for certain, though: if you don't type at >50 WPM, the difference between keyboards probably isn't that great. If you do type very quickly (I have a sister-in-law that types at >100 WPM), does that mean you'll automatically like mechanical keyboards? Nope. C'est la vie!
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If you are happy with your $12 keyboard, that's absolutely fine and it would be silly for you to pay more.

    However, not everyone is YOU; I've never met a cheap keyboard that didn't feel cheap, and I won't put up with one. I'm going to use a keyboard I LIKE.

    Considering a decent quality keyboard, regardless of types of switches, can last a decade or two, or longer, $100 or even twice that seems like a pretty low cost over its lifetime. (Considering what $100 is worth these days, it doesn't seem like it's all that much money in any case.)

    The thing that puzzles me is why people refuse to understand that not everything has to do with them. If it's not good for them, it's either a waste or they can't understand it.

    ;)
    Reply
  • Pylon757 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I guess if you try it, you'll notice the difference. It's simply...a lot better to type on. Precisely why tends to be vague. The difference is sort of hard to describe.

    E.g. take for example, notebook trackpads. I've used atrocious trackpads, and I've used some very good ones (e.g. Apple's Macbook ones for example). What's the difference between Apple's trackpad and say, a Dell one from 2003? Other than size the specifics are really vague, but the Apple one just feels better to use.
    Reply
  • average buy - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Size, amount of friction, responsiveness, configurable (with the help of third party software) multi-gestures, build quality are the major reasons why I'm a bit proponent of Apple's trackpads.

    What about mechanical keyboards though? I'll try one the next time I'm at Microcenter (as long as they have any on display), but up to this point all I keep hearing is essentially "I really like them, so should you".
    Reply
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    > What about mechanical keyboards though? I'll try one the next time I'm at Microcenter (as long as they have any on display), but up to this point all I keep hearing is essentially "I really like them, so should you".

    It's hard to describe something like how it feels to type on a keyboard. A lot of people find the experience more enjoyable and find that they can be more accurate with a good mechanical keyboard. More still find that once they've spent some time using a good mechanical keyboard that they like it's hard to go back to a rubber dome one that might have been "OK" before.

    But you know what? That may not be the case for you. Hence why folks recommend you try one. Type on a couple different types of mechanical boards for a while and see if you like them. If you do, and if you think that $100 for a keyboard that you can use for the better part of a decade is a decent investment for the feel that you get, then go for it. If not, or if you don't like the various mechanical keyboards out there, then they're not a good choice for you.

    It's not that "we like them, so should you". It's that we like them and think that you should at least try them before deciding they're not for you. :D
    Reply
  • Midwayman - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    You could easily say the same thing about people who like mechanical watches. Digital watches are cheaper and keep better one. However there is something about owning something that just well crafted and mechanical that is appealing sometimes. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I also prefer the short travel keys rather than deep mechanical ones although there's frustratingly few about for desktop PCs. I did try the Apple keyboard but found it to a bit too flat and unfeeling compared to the Vaio keyboards so currently using a Microsoft Arc Touch which aside from a bizarrely reduced keyboard layout has a great feel and I find gives me a much better typing speed than the deeper keyboards.

    There was someone in our office that persisted with an old mechanical keyboard but eventually gave it in as the noise it made was irritating everyone in the office.

    John
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    In my experience it is where the cord meets the keyboard that it always tends to break, especially if you move the keyboard at all. Reply
  • koshling - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I switched to a DAS Keyboard (the non-hardcore one that DOES have markngs on the keys!) a little over a year ago. I'd never go back, but I'd love to see a comparative review. Reply
  • fishbits - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    On my second Cherry Blue keyboards (neither Rosewill) and love it. After the first died I really missed the feel of the keys and their precision. There are a few subjective statements in the article that could give some the wrong idea. Just because you can have long key travel if you bottom out when typing / gaming doesn't mean you have to. The point of tactile feedback is that you know when the key activated by the feel (and sound in Blues) without having to bottom out. Can make you use lighter, shorter and crisper inputs after being accustomed.

    These *rock* for games like Starcraft. I haven't had any real detriment when playing other genres, though the sound and feel might not be what a person is looking for in MMO, FPS, etc. Point is that they're still fine for gaming, and wonderful for RTS and typing.

    I've heard reviewers overstate the noise of the Blues. They're clicky. By definition, they'll be much louder than a silent keyboard, but it's not like there are gunshots going off with every keypress. Still, quieter versions exist. If these items interest you, I'd recommend getting your hands on one to give it a try, or even take the plunge if this is affordable to you and something you're likely to enjoy.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well, not this model, but a Mechanical Keyboard made by Matias (The Tactile Pro). Its the best keyboard I have ever used. Unfortunately my Wife gets extremely aggravated if I use it due to how loud it is. Which is unfortunate because I can type so fast on it. Reply
  • JNo - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    Just looked it up. Gosh darnit they make them with bluetooth so you can press an 'iphone' key and use it to instantly switch to typing out a text message on your phone. That is too cool (works with android etc as well). But no UK layout for me :(

    I really want to get a tactile keyboard - probably cherry brown from what I've read. I just want one with a UK layout and a few basic media buttons - y'know like play, pause, ffwd, rwd, volume up and down, mute. Mebbe sleep key. Mebbe a couple of USB ports to recharge/sync my phone/mp3 player. Is that so much to ask?!?!

    I know purists like them plain but I use those things. The new Corsair one has a gorgeous machined metal volume roller but not much more.
    Reply
  • superccs - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Aren't there red, blue, grey, and black versions of the actuators? They are all different, and would be justly suited to people looking for a different feel from their mechanical keyboard. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    There are quite a few. Blue, Red, Brown and Black are most common, but you can sometimes find Clears. Greens and Greys are found in spacebars, which get their own heavier switch type.

    More then anyone should even know about Cherry switches can be found at Geekhack. http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Cherry+Corp...
    Reply
  • superccs - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Wow, unreal... That's waaay too much info lol. Though there was not a section of sound clips letting you hear what each keyboard sounds like when you throw it out of your window in to traffic. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    It might not have as much trivia; but overclock3d has a much better guide about what type of switch will work better for what type of person.

    http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keybo...
    Reply
  • Sunsmasher - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Very much a personal preference.
    I like membrane keys. They're quiet and easy to press.
    Noisy, clicky keys do nothing for me at all.
    To each his own....
    Reply
  • Leyawiin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Had no idea there even were mechanical vs. membrane keyboards. I've been using Keytronice "Lifetime" series keyboards since I read a recommendation for one back in the 90s. They never fail, have good feel and are no frills (which I like). My only gripe is the black keyboard's letters fade (old beige one never did). Still, I have no idea what kind of keyboard it is, just that it works really well. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Keytronics made both mechanical and membrane keyboards, but my guess would be that the Lifetime is mechanical. Reply
  • Metaluna - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have no idea if the Keytronic is membrane or not, but it could just be a really good quality membrane. Usually membrane goes hand-in-hand with cheap, so you have a lot of awful membrane boards out there.

    "Mechanical" is kind of a misnomer. It's really membrane vs. everything else. Basically any switch that doesn't suck, while not obviously being a membrane, is grouped in the mechanical category. Topre capacitive switches, for example, aren't very "mechanical" at all, and have rubber domes that superficially resemble a membrane board, but the switch works on a completely different principle and does not rely on physical contact between two conductors to actuate. Cherrys, on the other hand, literally have two metal contacts that snap together when the switch is actuated, so are very close to how you would normally envision a simple electrical switch to work.

    The common theme of "mechanical" switches is that the actuation point occurs before the switch bottoms out. There is also usually some tactile feedback at, or very close to, the actuation point. For most people this gives a more pleasant typing/gaming experience and generally allows you to type faster with less fatigue.
    Reply
  • fffblackmage - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I picked up my first mechanical keyboard, an RK-9000, just about a couple months ago. I was originally going to get the one with the Red MX Cherry switches, but though I'd better go with the Blue switches, since I do more typing than gaming. $100 was a lot of money for "just" a keyboard, but I definitely love typing on my RK-9000. There's just something really nice about the tactile feel, and maybe even the clicky sound.

    I happen to like the basic appearance of the keyboard, especially the matte quality versus the glossiness of my old keyboard. The red backplate is also a nice aesthetic touch.

    My only complaint is the printing on the keycaps. They are fading, and my keyboard is still practically new. It's a relatively minor aesthetic issue, but considering the keyboard was $100, I suppose I was expecting better.
    Reply
  • 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
  • bigboxes - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    You assume incorrectly. Mechanical keyboards reduce fatigue and injuries from repetitious motions. You want carpal tunnel or some similar injury? Keep on using cheap keyboards. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    It's your finger suddenly hitting something hard which causes the stress.. so a projected keyboard is actually the worst case for that. Try it for a minute on the table, your foremost finger joint will start to hurt quickly. Reply
  • Pylon757 - Saturday, January 28, 2012 - link

    With most mechanical keyboards, you can actuate the switch (i.e. send a signal to the computer) without having to press all the way down. With practice, people can type only pressing the key about 75% down, which might reduce stress like what you mentioned. With rubber dome membrane switches, you have to press the key all the way down, and thus you're going against a hard surface.

    On the other hand, if you do go down all the way on a mechanical keyboard, it hits the bottom a lot harder since there isn't rubber cushioning you like on a rubber dome keyboard.
    Reply
  • mcbowler - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I still have an old IBM keyboard in storage that I miss. I bought a new unicomp keyboard to replace it.. but it has a weird problem of registering two keystrokes randomly when I only typed one. Now I use the Logitech Solar Keyboard K750. Reply
  • drwho9437 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Good guide to the mechanical boards on the market can be found here:

    http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keybo...

    It details differences in keycaps and switch force curves. I have several MX blue boards they mostly are similar. The switch type is the biggest defining trait of a keyboard. I am not a gamer though more program and write.
    Reply
  • Kegetys - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Something the mechanical keyboards in the market currently seem to miss is proper, dedicated media keys. Many of them list "media keys" on their specs but in reality they are done as combo keys usually by replacing one of the windows keys. This kind of sucks, I'd want at least volume control, mute and a few other keys. The only mechanical keyboards I have found that have proper media keys are the Corsair K60/K90, but those apparently do not have all the keys mechanical (the media keys themselves do not need to of course). The K90 also has the extra macro keys at the left which makes it a bit too big. Reply
  • drwho9437 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Ducky DK9008 has stuff. Reply
  • randinspace - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I don't know man, I had a visit from my muse the other day and by the time she'd left I was horrified to discover that I'd typed 30 freaking pages. Even if I wasn't hypersensitive to noise in the first place (wearing a pair of noise cancelling headphones with the volume set to 1% as I type this) I don't think I'd be able to move SOMETHING right now if I'd attempted that feat on a keyboard with a standard configuration.

    Side recommendation to anyone who's ever thought they had a novel in them: don't EVER try to write more than a couple pages a day using a laptop's built-in keyboard. Even the most expensive keyboards on the market (like this thing: http://www.amazon.com/KB500USB-WHT-Kinesis-Advanta... to say nothing of Microsoft's ergonomic wireless options) are cheaper than EEGs and arm braces and weekly physical therapy sessions...
    Reply
  • pj_camp - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Unicomp bought and carried on the old IBM M-series technology. The damn things are bulletproof. I've had mine for going on 10 years now and no keys have faded in the least. Plus, you get to sound like an army falling down the stairs when you type. Reply
  • somewho - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Mechanical keyboards are really a great thing. I'm currently using a Noppoo Choc Pro with MX Blues and the differences with my previous $10 logitech keyboard is really day and night. Here's some of my opinion that can (hopefully) reduce the vague advantages of a mechanical keyboard :

    Zero flexes : in a good mechanical keyboard, the switches are mounted to a special metal plate instead of the PCB, thus making the keyboard very rigid and pratically flexless, unlike those cheap keyboard that use cheap plastic for the case.

    Shorter attenuation point : in a typical rubber dome keyboard, the attenuation point (the time when the press register), is always at the bottom of the key travel, so you have to do a full press to properly register a key. In mechanical keyboard (with MX switches, at least), the attenuation point usually happens halfway, so you don't need to bottom out to properly register a key.

    Tactile feedback : in a tactile mechanical switches, like MX blue and brown, the key will give you a tactile (and audio, in blues) feedback when a keypress is registered, so you can be sure your key is pressed correctly.

    Consistent typing force : the rubber in rubber dome keyboard will lose their elasticity (the "squishiness") far sooner than a metal spring. You know, a lot of cheap keyboard used for heavy gaming will lose the elasticity on the WASD cluster very soon, making the keys unusable. This won't be happening soon with a mechanical switch, due to the metal spring used instead of rubber.

    N-key rollover : Most mechanical keyboard that use PS/2 interface can correctly register multiple keypress at one time, making your epic CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E+X+S+F+G+J super combo possible (even much more). For USB mehcanicak keyboard, usually they're limited to 6KRO (6 key at once) due to the limitation of USB interface. altough my Choc Pro (also USB) can handle 36KRO.

    Customizable : Most mechanical keyboard that use cherry switch is also very customizable. You can buy 3rd party keycaps and make your keyboard looks like whatever you want. You can even order customized ones from wasdkeyboards.com

    Well, I guess that helps!
    Reply
  • 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
  • nexox - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I can't stand all those extra gimmicks on modern keyboards, and I suspect many others in the mechanical keyboard market have similar opinions of the various media keys and other 'value add' litter.

    I, for one, am glad to see a rise in mechanical switch keyboards - I've been using Dell w/ Black Alps keyboards for a decade, and I acquired enough of them (back when they weren't $50 on ebay - I paid an average of about $2 each, some cleaning required) to last me another decade.

    But it's nice to know that if my stash ever runs out I'll probably be able to find some new ones. Not sure that I'd pay $100 for a Rosewill, given that the Das Keyboard is only slightly more expensive... and it comes blacked out.

    Also, to those who love the Model M and it's lack of a Windows key - there's really no better key for global shortcuts in Linux, since nothing else uses that key, you are pretty sure of not running into conflicts. And shortcut keys are pretty much the best way to interact with a computer.
    Reply
  • kbfreak - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    I have a black ducky DK1008 and this one looks very similar. Both have the slim edge design and similar key layout. The only thing I can see that's different is the lack of the 4 custom/shortcut keys just above the number pad. Reply

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