Aorus K9 Optical keyboard senses strokes with infrared light


— 12:55 PM on November 20, 2017

Most people seem to prefer mechanical keyswitches over rubber-dome offerings. Dome switches require you to mash a key pretty forcefully for it to register, and they get progressively less reliable with use. Mechanical keyswitches are more reliable (so much that they'll likely outlive the keyboard's practical usefulness) but they're still vulnerable to moisture and corrosion. Aorus' new K9 Optical keyboard, which we saw briefly at Computex this year, uses optical switches that have no physical switch mechanism. As a result, the company claims the keyboard is spill-proof.

The keyswitches used in the K9 Optical are called Flaretechs. They work by using an IR sensor that detects when the key stem approaches the baseplate. Since the sensing is optical, the switches are essentially immune to key bounce and chatter. As a result, there's little need for complicated debouncing circuits found on other keyboards, and the bounce time is listed at only 0.03ms. That also means that keypresses should be registered faster and can be repeated more quickly than on keyboards using traditional switches.

Thanks to the lack of a physical switch mechanism, the Flaretechs should last essentially forever—Gigabyte says they're good for up to 100 million keystrokes. Even though the K9 Optical doesn't boast an IP certification, Gigabyte is so confident in its water-resistance proprerties that it claims the keyboard can be used underwater.

You can choose between "blue" or "red" variants of the K9. The designations have the same significance as on Cherry MX keyboards: models with blue switches are clicky, while models with red switches are linear. The steel springs used in the keyswitches require 55cN of force to actuate, once again not that different from similar MX models. The Flaretech keycap stems are also Cherry-MX compatible, so you can easily swap out your favorites to replace the K9's ABS caps.

Besides the fancy switches, the Aorus K9 has RGB LED backlighting, N-key rollover, a 1000 Hz polling rate, and a braided cable. You can use the Aorus Graphics Engine software to manage the RGB LED backlighting. The real question mark about this interesting keyboard will be its price. The only other optical-switch keyboard that we've seen is Tesoro's Gram SE, and that goes for $120 on Amazon despite lacking the K9's waterproofing. Hopefully Gigabyte can hit that mark or below.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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