Per-Key Quality Testing

In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users. It is worth noting that there is typically variance among keyboards, although most keyboard companies will try and maintain consistency - as with other reviews, we're testing our sample only.

The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduces the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typical sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.

Meanwhile, regular readers who are familiar with our keyboard reviews will want to note that a few keys have been removed from our testing pattern, due to the different layout of the keyboard.

Omron’s B3K switches are clearly much different than Cherry’s MX switches and their clones. They are tactile but the bump is so subtle that it is almost impossible to notice it. Most users would actually compare the Romer-G to the Cherry MX Red switch, not to the Brown one.

The average actuation force is at 48.6 cN, slightly higher than the 45 cN rating of the switch, but the disparity over the main keys is only ± 5.75%. This indicates that Omron’s switches are of very good quality, with little inconsistencies between their products that cannot be perceived by human touch. It is worthwhile to mention that the operating force of the larger keys is similar to that of the main keys, even that of the huge Space Bar.

Logitech Gaming Software & ARX Control Application Final Words and Conclusion
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  • klagermkii - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    How much lateral wobble is there on the keys? One of the things I dislike with the Corsair K90 that I currently use is that the key caps feel very wobbly and seem to make it easier for my fingers to "slip" off the keys when I'm trying to press them. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Friday, October 07, 2016 - link

    I don't have the Specturm, but I can tell you that the Spark is more stable than the K90 as far as lateral key wobble goes. I'd expect the Spectrum to be similar as they both use Romer-G switches that support the key closer to the edges rather than the middle. There is also no keyboard flex to speak of that might, in other keyboards, contribute to lateral instability. The Spark's key caps are not easy to slip off of either, but it seems many people don't like the ridges.

    I actually didn't mind the Spark's key caps after I got used to them. I found myself more accurately hitting the middle of the key and less often catching the edge. The palm rest looks to be a big improvement, though, and I'm wondering if I could acquire a spectrum palm rest for my spark. They look to have the same mount. Of course, I paid less than $100 for my Spark, and certainly don't think it is worth an extra $80 to change the keycaps and palm rest. That said, I wouldn't recommend skimping on it if the key caps bother you either. I always find it funny how much some people will spend on the internals of a computer while neglecting the three devices that make up %90+ of your interaction with the computer (Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse).

    Perhaps the keys are slightly different on the Spectrum than the Spark, but I very slightly disagree with the authors assessment (at least in regards to the Spark). While I agree that the tactile bump is certainly less pronounced than Cherry's MX Brown switches, I do not think they can be compared to Cherry MX Red switches. Perhaps I'm more sensitive to the bump, but I have no trouble feeling it. Where Reds give me a dissatisfying lack of feedback, Romer-G provide a subtle, but distinct response only a little less satisfying than the Browns for typing. A slightly longer throw might be better for typing as well, though I consider both the feedback and throw to be some of the best for gaming.
    Reply
  • xerandin - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    It's not technically wrong to use myriad in noun form, but please...reconsider doing so.

    In the headline:
    "Logitech is perhaps the most reputable manufacturer of peripherals on the planet, with [myriad] products for PCs, mobile devices and consoles."

    I realize I'm being overscrupulous, but many Grammarians argue that the noun form doesn't make sense.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    Thanks! Reply
  • mjrpes3 - Sunday, October 09, 2016 - link

    Also, the use of "sit on their laurels" (page 1) is reversed from the right context. Logitech would be "resting on their laurels" if they had created the best keyboard out there, only for it to languish over time to the competition. Reply
  • plsbugmenot - Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - link

    myriad is an adjective and a noun.

    Your reply contains a myriad of inconsistencies.

    I groan at the myraid inconsistencies within your reply.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    Man $180. I thought $99 for my Leopold Mechanical keyboard about 5 years ago was a lot. Reply
  • Vayra - Friday, October 07, 2016 - link

    This is a lot for a mechanical keyboard with RGB. Sharkoon's MK80 can be had for far less and is 100% programmable as well, only lacking the macro and multimedia keys - which is more of a matter of preference than production cost. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    To think that, back in the day, mechanical keyboards were on everything and super cheap. It's amazing how companies rip people off. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, October 06, 2016 - link

    I'd argue that no one is being ripped off. What you're seeing is a price the company believes the market is willing to endure. A lot of people believe they're reaping a benefit worth the cost when they pay $50-200 USD for a keyboard. What they get back is only emotional satisfaction as there's no evidence that a "gamer" keyboard makes your character run forward better when the W key is mashed over a membrane keyboard, but because the buyer believes they've reaped some sort of a reward, the purchase is made anyway. If you want to blame anyone for stupid keyboard prices, blame the ones who are buying these things. They created the market for them in the first place. Reply

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