Mechanical Switch Keyboards

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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:25 pm

Well, my RK-9000 arrived just a few minutes ago. I figure it is fitting that the first thing I do with it is post to this thread. ;-)

First impressions:

It looks and feels like a quality keyboard (it had better, for $100). Not quite as far into the "blunt instrument" category as a Model M, but still solid.

I thought I would need to restart my desktop since I'm switching from a PS/2 keyboard to USB, but the OS (Ubuntu Linux) recognized the new keyboard immediately when I hot-plugged it.

The blue LEDs (Num/Caps/Scroll Lock) are a little on the bright side, but are positioned and angled such that they don't shine directly at your face unless you lean pretty far over the num pad, so I don't consider it to be a problem. I think I still would've preferred some other color of LEDs (e.g amber) though.

It is definitely quite clicky, but IMO slightly quieter than the Unicomp. The pitch of the clicks is higher though -- more of a loud "tick" than the metallic "clack" of the Unicomp -- so I suppose some people might actually find it equally (or more) objectionable. My officemate already commented on it -- he initially thought it was louder than the Unicomp, but upon further reflection (after I pressed a few keys on the old keyboard for comparison) he concluded that it isn't louder, just "different". He didn't think it would bother him, but he was OK with me using the Unicomp so obviously he's not very sensitive to keyboard noise.

The tactile feel is very good; however, it has a noticeably lighter touch that the Unicomp, which will take a little getting used to. I think once I've acclimated to it for a day or two (so that I stop bottoming out the keys so hard) I will likely prefer the lighter touch.

I also tested the key rollover. Every combination of up to 6 simultaneous keys I tried registered perfectly; the 7th press did not (as expected with a USB keyboard). I have not yet tested it with a PS/2 adapter to see if the n-key rollover works as advertised, but I have no reason to doubt it since 6-key rollover appears to work perfectly.

So far, it gets a thumbs up.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:17 pm

just brew it! wrote:Well, my RK-9000 arrived just a few minutes ago. I figure it is fitting that the first thing I do with it is post to this thread. ;-)

First impressions:

It looks and feels like a quality keyboard (it had better, for $100). Not quite as far into the "blunt instrument" category as a Model M, but still solid.

I thought I would need to restart my desktop since I'm switching from a PS/2 keyboard to USB, but the OS (Ubuntu Linux) recognized the new keyboard immediately when I hot-plugged it.

The blue LEDs (Num/Caps/Scroll Lock) are a little on the bright side, but are positioned and angled such that they don't shine directly at your face unless you lean pretty far over the num pad, so I don't consider it to be a problem. I think I still would've preferred some other color of LEDs (e.g amber) though.

It is definitely quite clicky, but IMO slightly quieter than the Unicomp. The pitch of the clicks is higher though -- more of a loud "tick" than the metallic "clack" of the Unicomp -- so I suppose some people might actually find it equally (or more) objectionable. My officemate already commented on it -- he initially thought it was louder than the Unicomp, but upon further reflection (after I pressed a few keys on the old keyboard for comparison) he concluded that it isn't louder, just "different". He didn't think it would bother him, but he was OK with me using the Unicomp so obviously he's not very sensitive to keyboard noise.

The tactile feel is very good; however, it has a noticeably lighter touch that the Unicomp, which will take a little getting used to. I think once I've acclimated to it for a day or two (so that I stop bottoming out the keys so hard) I will likely prefer the lighter touch.

I also tested the key rollover. Every combination of up to 6 simultaneous keys I tried registered perfectly; the 7th press did not (as expected with a USB keyboard). I have not yet tested it with a PS/2 adapter to see if the n-key rollover works as advertised, but I have no reason to doubt it since 6-key rollover appears to work perfectly.

So far, it gets a thumbs up.


If you don't turn this into a TR blog post with pictures and such, I'm going to toss beer in your eye :wink:
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:26 pm

Here's something for under $60, apparently Cherry blue key switches http://www.amazon.com/Black-Mechanical- ... B000ZD1L14
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:15 pm

flip-mode wrote:If you don't turn this into a TR blog post with pictures and such, I'm going to toss beer in your eye :wink:

Heh... I may do that. I think I would prefer to wait until I've lived with it for a few days though, to get a better feel for it.

I decided to bring it home with me this evening; I am using it now. I haven't made a final decision yet on whether to make it my home keyboard or my office keyboard. It may be better off as my office keyboard, as I believe I've read somewhere that the Unicomp (Model M style) design is more spill-resistant than keyboards based on the Cherry switches. I drink diet soda at work, which is considerably less sticky than beer! :lol:

flip-mode wrote:Here's something for under $60, apparently Cherry blue key switches http://www.amazon.com/Black-Mechanical- ... B000ZD1L14

Interesting find! That's a pretty amazing price if they really are using Cherry switches; the switches alone would cost about that much in wholesale quantities. Maybe they're clearing out some overstock or a discontinued model...

Edit: I've tested the n-key rollover now; looks good to me. Minor nit -- for $100 you'd think they could include a USB to PS/2 converter in the box; the things probably cost all of a buck in wholesale quantities since they don't contain any electronics (just a passive adapter). I guess Rosewill figures very few people will actually care; the 6-key rollover supported by USB is likely enough to keep all but the most hard-core FPS gamers happy.

Edit 2: Couple of other things to note. This thing is about as compact as you can get for a full size 104-key keyboard with full-travel keys; very little wasted space. The profile of the keys is less "scooped" as you go from the top row to the bottom row than on the Model M (and clones); this does not bother me, but I suppose some hard-core Model M enthusiasts (Ned?) may be offended.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:07 am

just brew it! wrote:Well, my RK-9000 arrived just a few minutes ago. I figure it is fitting that the first thing I do with it is post to this thread. ;-)

First impressions:

It looks and feels like a quality keyboard (it had better, for $100). Not quite as far into the "blunt instrument" category as a Model M, but still solid.

I thought I would need to restart my desktop since I'm switching from a PS/2 keyboard to USB, but the OS (Ubuntu Linux) recognized the new keyboard immediately when I hot-plugged it.

The blue LEDs (Num/Caps/Scroll Lock) are a little on the bright side, but are positioned and angled such that they don't shine directly at your face unless you lean pretty far over the num pad, so I don't consider it to be a problem. I think I still would've preferred some other color of LEDs (e.g amber) though.

It is definitely quite clicky, but IMO slightly quieter than the Unicomp. The pitch of the clicks is higher though -- more of a loud "tick" than the metallic "clack" of the Unicomp -- so I suppose some people might actually find it equally (or more) objectionable. My officemate already commented on it -- he initially thought it was louder than the Unicomp, but upon further reflection (after I pressed a few keys on the old keyboard for comparison) he concluded that it isn't louder, just "different". He didn't think it would bother him, but he was OK with me using the Unicomp so obviously he's not very sensitive to keyboard noise.

The tactile feel is very good; however, it has a noticeably lighter touch that the Unicomp, which will take a little getting used to. I think once I've acclimated to it for a day or two (so that I stop bottoming out the keys so hard) I will likely prefer the lighter touch.

I also tested the key rollover. Every combination of up to 6 simultaneous keys I tried registered perfectly; the 7th press did not (as expected with a USB keyboard). I have not yet tested it with a PS/2 adapter to see if the n-key rollover works as advertised, but I have no reason to doubt it since 6-key rollover appears to work perfectly.

So far, it gets a thumbs up.


Yay! Another convert! Too bad you couldn't get it at $75 like I did :D
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:43 pm

no51 wrote:Yay! Another convert! Too bad you couldn't get it at $75 like I did :D

Yup. Especially so given that after using it last weekend I loved it so much that I ordered a second one, so that I can use an RK-9000 both at work and home. I guess this pair of RK-9000s is effectively a belated Christmas present to myself. :wink:

This is the keyboard I have been missing for the past 20 years. Back around 1989 I had an NEC 386-based PC at work, which had a keyboard that I still measure all others against. In retrospect, I suspect it was a Cherry-based mechanical keyboard. Don't get me wrong, the buckling spring 'boards from Unicomp are good too... but I like the feel of the Cherry switches even better!
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:31 pm

One thing I've noticed about the Cherrys used in the Rosewill: Unlike the buckling spring mechanism used by Unicomp, the mechanical "click" does not exactly correspond with where the key registers and de-registers. It seems to be much better on down (very accurate) than up (somewhat sloppy). Probably not a big deal for 99% of people (including myself) since the down-stroke is more important, but still worth mentioning (since this thread is by definition dealing with keyboard purists).
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:41 pm

Can't someone just write a program that makes your speakers make a clicky sound everytime you press a button on your keyboard and save you guys all this crazy money?
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:42 pm

It's not the audible click that makes these keyboards great. It's the tactile feel of the click.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:48 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:Can't someone just write a program that makes your speakers make a clicky sound everytime you press a button on your keyboard and save you guys all this crazy money?

Nope. It is more tactile (through your fingertips) than audible (through your ears). The muscles in your fingers learn the optimal amount of force to maximize speed and minimize fatigue. This is why I am thrilled to have -- for the first time! -- the exact same model of "clicky" keyboard both at home and work.

I was nearly there with the Unicomp M clones, but the "Classic" (home) and "Spacesaver" (work) versions had noticeably different spring tensions in the keys. Pissed me off! :evil:
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:57 pm

Sunburn74 wrote:Can't someone just write a program that makes your speakers make a clicky sound everytime you press a button on your keyboard and save you guys all this crazy money?


You know, there's already a click sound built into Windows called Start Navigation. XP (and Vista I think) plays it with IE and Explorer (the file browser) when you click a link and forward or backward pages. It is one of the most annoying sounds, and very unlike the soothing, rain-like, tick of a buckling spring.

Anyway, it sounds like JBI really likes the Rosewill! I was thinking about getting a Unicomp (the lack of a Windows key on the Model M is becoming somewhat of a deficit) or the Rosewill for work, but then I'm also interested in the other Cherry types with tactile bump but no click, the Brown and the Clear. Ah, so many keyboards, so little, uh, fiscal approval.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:14 am

Back at it!

I've been using the Blackwidow Ultimate for a while now, and I think it's a great keyboard; I've gotten used to it, and it's quirky shortcut buttons, weird F-key placement, etc; but overall:

-Build quality is excellent, better than expected
-Backlighting is perfect (why I got the Ultimate)
-No issues using it in games after I adjusted to the key weights
-My aunt, a career executive secretary and professional typist, commented: "I like this! I can go fast on it!"

Which leads me to my next question. Due to the excessive benevolence my aunt has shown me, I would like to find a good 'clicky' mechanical keyboard for her. No extra features necessary, would like to minimize cost within reason. Any suggestions?
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:03 am

Airmantharp wrote:Which leads me to my next question. Due to the excessive benevolence my aunt has shown me, I would like to find a good 'clicky' mechanical keyboard for her. No extra features necessary, would like to minimize cost within reason. Any suggestions?

The Unicomps are still pretty nice, and cheaper than any of the other clicky alternatives I'm aware of. You could get one of the "spacesaver" models with a Windows key. As I believe I've noted previously, the more recent one of the two I own seems to have slightly stiffer spring tension; this wouldn't have bothered me as much if I wasn't switching back and forth on a daily basis.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:15 am

Airmantharp wrote:Which leads me to my next question. Due to the excessive benevolence my aunt has shown me, I would like to find a good 'clicky' mechanical keyboard for her. No extra features necessary, would like to minimize cost within reason. Any suggestions?
Is the one I linked to above good enough:
flip-mode wrote:Here's something for under $60, apparently Cherry blue key switches http://www.amazon.com/Black-Mechanical- ... B000ZD1L14
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:26 am

flip-mode wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:Which leads me to my next question. Due to the excessive benevolence my aunt has shown me, I would like to find a good 'clicky' mechanical keyboard for her. No extra features necessary, would like to minimize cost within reason. Any suggestions?
Is the one I linked to above good enough:
flip-mode wrote:Here's something for under $60, apparently Cherry blue key switches http://www.amazon.com/Black-Mechanical- ... B000ZD1L14


THAT is awesome, thank you Flip. I tried looking for the Unicomp keyboards, but came up with console emulators and other oddities!
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:28 am

Airmantharp wrote:THAT is awesome, thank you Flip. I tried looking for the Unicomp keyboards, but came up with console emulators and other oddities!

In case you are still interested in looking at the Unicomps: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/keyboards.html
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:55 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:THAT is awesome, thank you Flip. I tried looking for the Unicomp keyboards, but came up with console emulators and other oddities!

In case you are still interested in looking at the Unicomps: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/keyboards.html


Thanks JBI. I did find that site, but I didn't find anything that looked like a normal black keyboard- am I missing something?
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:00 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Thanks JBI. I did find that site, but I didn't find anything that looked like a normal black keyboard- am I missing something?

Because of the process used to produce the wear-resistant lettering on the original Model M keys (dye sublimation), the keys must be made from light colored plastic with dark lettering. That's why they are only available with white or gray keys and black lettering.

I agree the gray keys look a little strange; it would be nice if Unicomp could retool for a different process to allow them to produce black keys with white lettering. My understanding is that they are a fairly small operation, still using the original IBM/Lexmark molds and equipment.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:06 pm

Damn, the sun is bright in my office and it's obvious that it's time once again to pull apart the Model M and release the chow. It really is grody.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:05 pm

Clickykeyboards.com have a few '90 and a '91 Model M up for sale. Of course, who really needs more than one Model M?

Anyway, the Scorpius M10 linked above is a good choice for $60, but it won't have nearly the same quality of the Rosewill, nor the sexy red backplate. Nothing says 'fast typer' than a red backplate.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:27 pm

drsauced wrote:Of course, who really needs more than one Model M?

Those of us who plan for the long future.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:02 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
drsauced wrote:Of course, who really needs more than one Model M?

Those of us who plan for the long future.

Ha ha, locked in the fire safe:

  1. guns
  2. ammo
  3. canned beans
  4. Model M
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:04 pm

In a mêlée situation, the Model M might in fact be better than a gun. And it can likely be used as a bullet shield.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:13 pm

morphine wrote:In a mêlée situation, the Model M might in fact be better than a gun. And it can likely be used as a bullet shield.

There's a dead M on my office shelves about which I've had the same thoughts.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:54 pm

Flying Fox wrote:The brand may turn some off, but they use Cherry MX Blue switches: Rosewill RK-9000.

Now they've deactivated the listing (in time for the 15% keyboard discount).

If they were cheaper, and white instead of black so I can see it by the monitor's light when it's otherwise dark on those few occasions it's necessary, I'd probably have bought one or something similar by now. As it is, I buy ~5 very cheap keyboards at a time and they generally work good enough.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:13 pm

Ragnar Dan wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:The brand may turn some off, but they use Cherry MX Blue switches: Rosewill RK-9000.

Now they've deactivated the listing (in time for the 15% keyboard discount).

If they were cheaper, and white instead of black so I can see it by the monitor's light when it's otherwise dark on those few occasions it's necessary, I'd probably have bought one or something similar by now. As it is, I buy ~5 very cheap keyboards at a time and they generally work good enough.


Ugh. I really hope it comes back in stock. I had decided on this particular one.

I've seen some threads here and there about the Filco replacements and honestly , they're just ugly. 10-key-less as far as I can tell as well.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:06 pm

DancinJack wrote:
Ragnar Dan wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:The brand may turn some off, but they use Cherry MX Blue switches: Rosewill RK-9000.

Now they've deactivated the listing (in time for the 15% keyboard discount).

If they were cheaper, and white instead of black so I can see it by the monitor's light when it's otherwise dark on those few occasions it's necessary, I'd probably have bought one or something similar by now. As it is, I buy ~5 very cheap keyboards at a time and they generally work good enough.

Ugh. I really hope it comes back in stock. I had decided on this particular one.

I've seen some threads here and there about the Filco replacements and honestly , they're just ugly. 10-key-less as far as I can tell as well.

Well, if you're willing to pay a little more there's always the Das. In addition to the built-in USB hub, the Das also comes with a PS/2 adapter (Rosewill doesn't include one), and lasered (instead of printed) lettering on the keys.

Which brings me to the one complaint I've got with the Rosewill so far: The lettering on heavily used keys (most noticeably Shift, Ctrl and cursor arrows in my case) seems prone to discoloration. It isn't that the paint is wearing off; rather, it seems that the texture of the paint they've used to label the keys tends to catch and hold dirt, and I have not yet found an effective way to clean them. This of course does not affect the usability of the keyboard at all, but it does detract from the appearance of what is otherwise a pretty nice looking piece of hardware.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:53 pm

I'll probably end up getting the Das if the RK doesn't come back in stock soon. My keyboard is in bad shape.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:12 am

This Cherry brand I found on Froogle was cheap enough ($9.99 per, but shipping is also that much, so I bought 3 of 'em) that I thought I'd give it a shot, just to test it.
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Re: Mechanical Switch Keyboards

Postposted on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:24 am

Ragnar Dan wrote:This Cherry brand I found on Froogle was cheap enough ($9.99 per, but shipping is also that much, so I bought 3 of 'em) that I thought I'd give it a shot, just to test it.


If you like them, please let us know! I'd pick up at least one; let me know if you want to send one my way (I'd pay say $15?).
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