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 reduce 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 typically 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.

The consistency of the Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent is remarkable, even for a keyboard with Cherry MX switches. With a disparity of only ± 1.93% across the main keys, the Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent likely is the most consistent keyboard that we have ever tested and is a testament to Cherry’s quality control. The average actuation force is 58.5 cN, slightly lower than the 60 cN rating of the switches. This behavior is natural for linear switches such as these, where the operating force increases smoothly up to the actuation point, as even the weight of the keycap itself slightly lowers the switch’s specified operating force.

Hands-on Testing

I always try to use every keyboard that we review as my personal keyboard for at least a week. My typical weekly usage includes a lot of typing (about 100-150 pages), a few hours of gaming and some casual usage, such as internet browsing and messaging. I personally prefer Cherry MX Brown or similar (tactile) switches for such tasks. The MX Black switches that the Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent is using are, in theory, the exact opposite of my preference - stiff and linear, with no tactile feedback at all. However, I personally found the Cherry MX Black Silent switches very comfortable to work with, as they are stiff enough to avoid the mushy feeling of the Cherry MX Red switch, yet not so stiff as to sacrifice long-term comfort. The Silent variant was especially helpful when I needed to work without bothering someone else in the vicinity. I should, however, stress that you should not expect miracles here - the Cherry MX Black Silent switch is much quieter than its regular variant but that alone cannot make any keyboard entirely silent. The Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent is much quieter than typical mechanical keyboards but it will still be audible.

For gaming, the Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent works fine for gamers who aren't after advanced features such as macros. Gamers that usually stick with single-player action and adventure games are likely to be content with it. However, without any advanced features whatsoever, the Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent is unsuitable for modern gaming, especially for MMO gamers that will sooner or later require advanced gameplay commands. As for me, with my favorite games being MMO RPGs, I quickly had to switch to my regular keyboard in order to avoid frustration.

The Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent Mechanical Keyboard Final Words
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  • Ninhalem - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    This keyboard is designed very similarly to my second generation DasKeyboard. In fact the internal shots are almost identical compared to the Das, even down to those stiff ribbon cables connecting the PCB switch board to the microchip board. One of the improvements they need to make is putting big strips of rubber on the bottom to prevent sliding on desks. Reply
  • Gothmoth - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    "his keyboard is designed very similarly to my second generation DasKeyboard"

    more the other way around...
    Reply
  • HStewart - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    Probably so - since Cherry is one that make the keys - but this is first time I heard of them having actual keyboard.

    Keep in mind, one thing these keyboards are not just for desktops, I use a DasKeyboard on my Lenovo Y50 notebook and love it. Most of time it connected to keyboard and have it connected to Samsung 4K monitor - I do use it as laptop but for this laptop that is rare.

    I wish I had more of these keyboards - they are perfect for me. There also portable enough if I need to travel with it. I guess that is why they are call some laptops, desktop replacements
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    Yeah, I use keyboards with Cherry MX Browns on my notebooks. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    "but this is first time I heard of them having actual keyboard."

    come on man

    "This keyboard is an especially interesting item to review because rather than being a wholly new design, it's a new iteration on a classic design, following in the footsteps of the original iconic Cherry G80-3000 series keyboards that have been in circulation for decades."

    the one they mention has been around since 1988 - https://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_G80-3000
    Reply
  • Ninhalem - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    Err no. I bought this DasKeyboard in 2005. Certainly the switches are Cherry MX Blue's but the design of the keyboard setup itself, where the control board is placed, where the cord exits the casing, and how the control board and the switch PCB board are connected, those are all design decisions. Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    and the older Cherry board this is based on came out in 1988 so... Reply
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    LOL this reminds me a little of arguing with an Apple fan about a "new" feature. Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    1988 came before 2005? You don't say. Reply
  • bigboxes - Thursday, September 21, 2017 - link

    You may as well stop while your behind Reply

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