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Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:12 pm

Getting a new keyboard and mouse for my son, so I figured I'd ask the people who still game what's good these days.

His current keyboard has MX blacks; I'm not replacing it because he dislikes the blacks, but because he's basically beat the crap out of the keyboard over the years and it is starting to flake out. Looks like nearly all of the Corsair gaming keyboards have reds these days? He'd probably be fine with reds, but if there's another good choice with blacks I might go with that instead since that's what he's accustomed to. Need something reasonably rugged, with a numpad; don't require extra media keys or RGB.

Mouse is wide open.

Budget is what I'd call "mid range". Don't want cheap junk, but don't want to pay for features he doesn't need either.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:34 pm

MX Black is kind of rare, yes. If you're serious about switch types it might be worth either taking a trip to Microcenter (which has KBs on display) or ordering one of those Cherry sampler kits to see which switches he like the most. Red and brown are the most common.

For the mouse, it's good to know what style he wants or uses now. They come in two general types: big fat right-handed style, and low profile ambidextrous style. I tend to prefer ambi because they're closer to old-school mouse designs, but I've done some righties too. My thoughts on a few of my recentish rodents:

Logitech G3 (ambi): Great mouse, too bad they quit making it like 10 years ago. This is the baseline I use to compare to other stuff.

Razer Taipan (ambi): My first entry into the world of gaming mice, I exchanged a defective portable HD for two Razer mice. Feels fantastic and the sensor works on most surfaces, but their driver software pisses me off and it won't store settings locally (something Razer initially became famous for). One of the side buttons started to give out after several years. I will say that of all the mice I've used, the Razer rodents had the best ergonomics.

Razer Deathadder 2013 (fat RH): Feels good in hand, and has held up for several years of workday use. It's on my RHEL workstation so I can't even use the driver software, though supposedly there's a third party alternative floating around. Requires an occasional xinput tweak to deceleration in order to not be too sensitive.

Mionix Avior 7000 (ambi): Felt decently good, but lacked the nice rubbery trappings of some of the others in the market. Buttons are louder than I'd like, and its Avago 3310 sensor is notorious for not liking anything but a mousepad. Driver software was decent, and it has an onboard ARM processor for doing everything locally--no special software needed for driving backlight, macros etc.

Logitech G403 (less-fat RH): Logitech is starting to re-establish itself as a respectable high-end peripheral brand, and the G403 is a worthy representative. I haven't spent a whole lot of time with it, but it feels pretty good in hand and appears to work well with most surfaces. Note that it requires Logitech driver software in order to do the fancy stuff. I'd probably be more critical except that I got it bundled with a decent keyboard for 60 bucks, so I approached it as a $30 mouse which is about half the MSRP. For $60+ I'd have the same complaint I do with Razer, that in 2017 a 'premium' product should have more in the way of onboard smarts and/or interesting materials.

EVGA TORQ X3 (fat-ish ambi): I generally liked it as an entry level gaming mouse, but I was not so hot on the plastic they used for the top surface. It's a little bigger than most of the others, so there's more room for a big floppy palm grip. Fully programmable and all that, IIRC worked great on all surfaces tested. I think there's a review floating around on the forums somewhere. This is the cheapest of the EVGA mice, and the nicer ones probably use better materials.

Steelseries Sensei 310 (ambi): My most recent addition, only had it about a week. So far it's been great, with a feel similar to the Taipan but it's fully programmable w/onboard ARM and the sensor likes my desk and various envelopes and glossy boxes I have handy. The TR review complained about the ring finger being crowded out, I agree with that assessment though it's a general problem with these smaller ambi mice.

Pricing wise, all of these options have a street price around $40-60 which is where most gaming mice live. Also, 'midrange' and mechanical switches don't really play well together so you're looking at 70-80 minimum.
Last edited by NovusBogus on Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:39 pm

I use a Corsair M65 myself, but mice are extremely subjective, and alot depends on his grip style and preferred amount of weight. He's probably going to want to try a few in person before buying (maybe ask at Microcenter?).

For gaming keys, I use a Razer Orbweaver Chroma Stealth (standard switches are equal to cherry blues, Stealth is browns). Not exactly what you're looking for in the switches, but the ergonomics are good, it's very configurable, and the thumb buttons (and hat switch) help alot. The RGB aspect might get groans, but I use it to color-code a handful of different functions, rather than dazzle myself with rainbow patterns. :P

That said, the price on the Orbweaver is too high. I think I waited until they had a sale for about 100 bucks, but you could be waiting a while.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:43 pm

Yes, RGB is both good for specific keys and also getting a color like low intensity orange (my preference) that isn't popular as a standard backlighting color.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:48 pm

I only mention blacks because that's what he's using now (and is therefore accustomed to). I know about the different switch types and their characteristics (I prefer blues myself, but figure they're non-optimal where gaming is the primary use case).

He doesn't seem too picky about mice. Just looking for something performant and reliable.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:59 pm

NovusBogus wrote:
Yes, RGB is both good for specific keys and also getting a color like low intensity orange (my preference) that isn't popular as a standard backlighting color.

Yeah....I think RGB gets a bad rap on keyboards (where it can actually be useful), mainly because it's overused elsewhere ad nauseam, and every advertisement shows them with enough rainbow colors to cause an epileptic seizure. If you've got full independent range of color, there's no reason you couldn't just set the whole deck to something easy on your eyes (such as low-intensity orange), change the WASD keys only, or color-code for a specific game.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:00 pm

Reds are like blacks but easier to press, so he may not mash them as hard.

Personally I prefer the browns, both for typing and gaming because the tactile bump happens at much shorter travel than the feedback you get from bottomming out a red/black switch, yet they're much quieter and lighter to press than the blues.

With browns and blues, you rapidly adjust to much lighter keystrokes - I didn't even really realise that I had stopped bottoming out the keys, it was subconscious. Half travel is quicker to press repeatedly too, so it means faster gaming and typing. This graph is really useful to illustrate it:

Image

I'm a total convert to MX browns, but like NovusBogus said - it's worth taking him to a Microcenter to try them out. I migrated from reds to browns and I'll never look back. the whole point of mechanical keyboards is the tactile feedback. If you're not going to bother with that you might as well get a cheap membrane keyboard every few years instead.
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:09 pm

Light or heavy mice, with what kind of target sensitivity? 8 cm/360 and 90 grams will probably feel pretty weird, as will 30 cm/360 and 140 grams.

Zowie, Mionix, Roccat, and Logitech would be my top brand picks (in approximately that order), but they're not the cheapest bunch. Logi is mainly up there due to the G502/G303. Steelseries or one of the more wide-ranging brands (like Corsair or EVGA) might be good for saving a few bucks. Razer is the bulk of my "avoid" list, due to driver shenanigans and persistently iffy longevity.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:09 pm

I am using a K70 RGB (paid for it with points!), and it has been my favorite keyboard so far. I did like Blue switches, but I still bottomed them out, so I saw no reason to be picky on switches. The reds are nice for quick presses, and I don't have trouble typing on them. As for everything else, this thing is solid and easy to clean. Definitely keep a Corsair on the list.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:22 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
The whole point of mechanical keyboards is the tactile feedback. If you're not going to bother with that you might as well get a cheap membrane keyboard every few years instead.

Excuse the self-quote, but I want to clarify this point.

For gaming, when I say membrane I mean short-travel scissor switch like this.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:34 pm

I like Cherry MX Brown switches. I'm still using a first-generation Roswewill RK9000-BR, but I've had recent experience with keyboards from CoolerMaster, Corsair, Logitech, etc. I liked the feel of the Corsair Strafe, especially after I modified it to reduce clatter by adding O-rings to the keycap stems.

Logitech mice are my go-to choice. If you could get a G403 in a bundle with a G710+, that would be a good combination.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:45 am

Ya should find out if he palm-grips or claw-grips mice. That and the size of his hand will determine what he will like.

Upgraded my really old G500 mouse to MSI's DS200 over Black Friday, so far it feels like an all-around improvement. Mouse is much more ergonomic, grips better, cord is more durable, and the software button customization is definitely better than what Logitech offered. Amazon is selling the DS200 for ~$34 shipped, not far off the BF price. He'll probably enjoy the customizable LEDs. Whatever you get, I don't see any justification in $50 mice anymore when fully equipped mice can be had for ~35.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:08 am

Potential things to consider:

Keyboard:

It's a guess, but if he doesn't like Blacks then he probably won't like any other linear switch either ..which of course includes Reds.

I personally prefer Blues (gaming and typing), and feel that Browns are indistinct with their tactile bump. Clears are sort of straddle between the Blues and the Browns - so that might be a viable match.


For gaming and typing I prefer 10-keyless (..and of course it can always be purchased as an addition that can be removed at-will).

10-keyless is a better spaced design for the mouse, while not having the cramped key character of some of the smaller boards.


Programmable keys are great.. BUT I don't really like this for a standard keyboard (instead preferring my Belkin Nostromo.. which is updated in the form of a Razer Tartarus v2).

IF I were to purchase such a design (programmable keyboard), then it would have to be from a major brand, have full on-board memory (of course), and have full gui-programming software support for those macros. My thinking here is that you are more likely to get the program working with an ever-updating Windows if enough other people are purchasing the board. (..the on-board memory is pretty obvious, and the gui-programming makes it a lot easier to change profiles depending on the game or application rather than having to re-program from the keyboard itself.)


Lighting.. eh. Some gamers really depend on this to be able to identify the keystroke in the dark (or even in the light with different colors). I figure if you are going to have lighting it should be per key and RGB for differentiation. Personally though I find that it's distracting and have gone so far as to tape-off the lighting on my Belkin gaming keypad.


I like good construction, I'd take that over most other attributes. IMO a good keyboard should last at least 10 years without problem (..and continue to maintain the functionality it had at its optimum).

This means a good thick, non-flexing, and weighty board. Also,

..DOUBLE SHOT (if backlit) *PBT* caps (with good texture) - really make a huge difference in feel over time. Either purchasing a board with these, OR making sure the keyswitch is compatible with after-market PBT caps. Additionally, making sure the keyboard layout is compatible with after market key caps.


This is a very nice (though pricey) keyboard that meets the above requirements:

https://www.amazon.com/Double-Shot-Mech ... B01LYV47MV

without lighting:

https://www.amazon.com/IKBC-KD87-BK-BL- ... B01MUBME0Q
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:43 am

He doesn't have a problem with the blacks per se. The issue is more that there seem to be very limited choices with blacks these days, so we're trying to figure out what to go with instead.

Tenkeyless is a non-starter; he needs the numpad.

So is IKBC good? I've never heard of them before.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:06 am

For mice I would recommend the Zowie EC1-A or EC2-A. I've gone through quite a few mice and all the extra frill, lights, buttons, DPI settings and other **** just tend get in the way.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:29 pm

just brew it! wrote:

Tenkeyless is a non-starter; he needs the numpad.

So is IKBC good? I've never heard of them before.



Again, you can always get a separate num.pad - and it's not just that you have a mouse nearer the keyboard with a 10-keyless design, it's also that you can more easily place the num.pad when you are actually using it. In fact, it's amazing the difference there (and how a full keyboard kind'of gets in the way of really good num.pad operation). You can also get one that's better than the keyboard itself for an even better experience, AND you can purchase with different key-switches as well. ..it's an area that I think traditional tape-num.pad's made a mistake by not moving forward with a combination tape AND computer connection - because those machines just felt (and sounded) better. EDIT: HOLY COW Batman, such a unicorn does exist:

https://www.amazon.com/Victor-1280-7-Tw ... B000TTZ2U0

(..notice how much better the spacing is on those keys; computer num.pads just don't have the same sort of layout.)


This looks like a nice num.pad (with good key caps):

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/FC210TP ... 30741.html




Yeah, IKBC is sort of a poor-mans Leopold in overall construction (..a little cheaper on the keycaps). (..and by "poor-mans" I mean when contrasting pricing withOUT back-lighting.)

Speaking of Leopold, this is the one I think would be about perfect as just a really good mechanical keyboard for your son, though very expensive (..with the comparatively rare Cherry MX Clear switches.) Out of stock here though :oops: :

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/in ... ail&p=2900

They also make pricey num.pads:

https://www.amazon.com/Leopold-FC210TP- ... 78XZ3?th=1
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:05 pm

I want to recommend the Kingston HyperX Alloy FPS. I just picked one up on sale recently and its great, extremely tight design and contruction, seems a step above most keyboards. I got MX blue but theres brown/red options too I think. Also have a G403 and that's been great as well.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:53 pm

CScottG wrote:
EDIT: HOLY COW Batman, such a unicorn does exist:

https://www.amazon.com/Victor-1280-7-Tw ... B000TTZ2U0

Getting off-topic, but funny you should mention printing calculators. My calculator app of choice (on Linux) is SpeedCrunch, which is basically a simulated printing calculator. You get a scrolling window with a history of everything you've calculated, and you can also annotate calculations with comments if you want. Being able to look back at the past few results and copy-paste from the history is very handy.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:13 pm

Very nice little app.. EDIT: Grazie! :D

(..yeah, a history to look back through to see where you screwed up is really handy - especially if you are moving at a rapid pace without really looking at num.pad when using it.) :lol:
Last edited by CScottG on Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:46 pm

CScottG wrote:
Very nice little app.. Graci! :D

(..yeah, a history to look back through to see where you screwed up is really handy - especially if you are moving at a rapid pace without really looking at num.pad when using it.) :lol:


So off topic, but this annoys me (not you CScottG, but rather the wide misconception). The word for Thank You in Italian is "grazie." Italians don't pronounce it "grazi" either. The e at the end makes an "eh" sound so it's more generally "grazy-eh." Your random Italian fact of the day yw.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:50 am

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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Mon Dec 11, 2017 1:15 am

DancinJack wrote:
CScottG wrote:
Very nice little app.. Graci! :D

(..yeah, a history to look back through to see where you screwed up is really handy - especially if you are moving at a rapid pace without really looking at num.pad when using it.) :lol:


So off topic, but this annoys me (not you CScottG, but rather the wide misconception). The word for Thank You in Italian is "grazie." Italians don't pronounce it "grazi" either. The e at the end makes an "eh" sound so it's more generally "grazy-eh." Your random Italian fact of the day yw.



My bad. :oops:

..still not as bad as coupe de gra(s). (The cut of FAT.) :P
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:17 am

CScottG wrote:
My bad. :oops:

..still not as bad as coupe de gra(s). (The cut of FAT.) :P


No worries mate. Like I said, I wasn't criticizing you, but rather the fact that most people think "grazi" is how you say it. I don't even know where that came from. Probably us terrible English speakers if I had to guess.

And aye, definitely not as bad as coop day grass.
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:01 am

I generally prefer MX Browns as a good compromise between noise and tactile feedback but that being said (I like the feel of clicking keys but not the sound), I have found that not all MX Browns are equal.

I used to have a Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid-i with MX Browns but could never really get comfortable with the action of the keys. It was also quite noisy for some reason so I installed rubber rings below the keys which helped but I still didn't feel that it was perfect. It ended up malfunctioning (some of the lights went dark) so I had to send it in for replacement.
It could take a while before I would get the replacement so I bought another keyboard while I was waiting and this time I went for a Logitech G610 Orion Brown which was discounted as a shop was closing down. This model is also using MX Browns but somehow it feels much nicer than the Cooler Master. The noise is lower and it feels like the actuation force is a bit lower as well so typing seems to require a bit less effort. I also disliked the removable cable on the CM as it was using a flimsy micro-USB connector. When I got the CM keyboard back I sold it in the sealed package as I was quite happy using the G610 now.

Any idea as to why they could be so different? The overall keyboard height looks like the same and base is also metal so they both feel as solid.
 
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Re: Gaming keyboard and mouse

Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:32 am

If you take the keycaps off an MX switch, you can see that the keycap is 100% supported by the MX switch itself. The only effect the manufacturer can have on the feel of the MX switch is how robust the baseplate is, and I've found the Rapid-i's baseplate very robust.

It's possible you just got some dud MX browns. Cherry may be the best/most popular mechanical switch vendor but I doubt they're immune from the occasional faulty batch.

I love my Rapid-i but agree that the microUSB is a poor choice, especially since it's not recessed or protected in any way.
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