review rosewills rk 9000 series mechanical keyboards reviewed

Rosewill’s RK-9000-series mechanical keyboards reviewed

Mechanical keyboards are pretty much standard enthusiast fare nowadays. That wasn’t always the case. There was a time when nearly everyone was seemingly content with the mushy, rubber-dome switches of Logitech or Microsoft keyboards. Today, though, a visit to the nearest enthusiast message board is certain to reveal gaggles of geeks debating the merits of this mechanical key switch or that.

Sensing a golden opportunity, or perhaps simply capitalizing on a trend they created, peripheral makers have swelled their lineups with all manners of clicky keyboards. Entry prices are lofty, often in excess of $100, and product pages tout various additional amenities for hard-core gamers, inveterate typists, and those who are neither but want it all.

In exchange for $134, typists are promised tactile bliss with the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Silent. For $5 more, gamers can delight themselves with a Battlefield 3-themed version of Razer’s BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard, which has light-up-in-the-dark keys, macro buttons, and a paint job crafted to highlight one’s taste for simulated warfare. Hopeless addicts of massively multiplayer games may indulge themselves with Corsair’s $115 Vengeance K90, which is also backlit and features even more macro keys (18 in total, plus three macro switching buttons). Some even take to specialized retailers, who might carry keyboards like the $345 Topre Realforce 87U Tenkeyless 55g. Other options abound; manufacturers like Cooler Master, Gigabyte, Steelseries, and Thermaltake all offer at least one type of fancy mechanical keyboard.

And then, amid all of that, there’s Rosewill.

You wouldn’t suspect Newegg’s innocuous house brand to be catering to keyboard snobs, but it does. It all started, if my memory serves, with just one mechanical model. That keyboard was pulled from Newegg’s listings one day and, not long afterward, replaced with a whole family of offerings, one for each type of the most popular mechanical key switches on the market. I’m talking, of course, about Cherry’s MX switches, which are known for their color-coded nibs and are widely used by makers of mechanical keyboards everywhere.

We’ve reviewed a number of Cherry MX-based keyboards recently, so the switches should be familiar to most of you. Some of those switches make a clicking noise when actuated, while other variants do not. Some demarcate the actuation zone with a tactile bump, while others have a completely linear response curve, giving the user no information beyond what’s visible on-screen. Different folks prefer different switches for different reasons, and we’ll look at those reasons in more detail shortly.

Keyboard Cherry MX
switch type
Feedback Clicky Actuation
RK-9000 Blue Tactile Yes 50 g 65 g $99.99
RK-9000-BL Black Linear No 60 g 80 g $99.99
RK-9000-BR Brown Tactile No 45 g 60 g $109.99
RK-9000-RE Red Linear No 45 g 60 g $99.99

The point is, Rosewill delivers all major Cherry MX key switch types inside affordable, no-frills keyboards priced around the $100 mark—eminently reasonable by mechanical keyboard standards. There are no flashy backlights, no fancy paint jobs, no blocks of macro keys, and no amenities beyond the strictly necessary. There’s just a plain black plastic frame, a set of 104 conventionally assorted keys, and some LEDs for caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock. Everything you need is there, and nothing more.

The concept is admirable, at least on paper. We certainly thought so. You might have seen a tentative recommendation tossed in the latest editions of our system guide. In any case, we’ve always been eager to give one of these keyboards a shot.

Rather than testing a lone representative of the lineup, we got our grubby mitts on four of ’em—one for each switch type available. We’ve compared and contrasted them to figure out not just whether the RK-9000 series is any good, but also which of the four options is the most comfortable for typing and gaming. Our findings are subjective, of course, but they should help you choose between the different key switches and decide whether you want them on one of Rosewill’s keyboards.

A closer look
Before we study the differences between the various Cherry MX key switches, let’s first look at the similarities between our four keyboards. They all look the same from the outside, like so:

If that spartan layout seems familiar, that’s because it’s not exclusive to Rosewill. The now-discontinued ABS M1 keyboard we reviewed over three years ago has essentially the same frame, and so do those Filco mechanical keyboards from Japan that were all the rage a little while back.

We like the design, for the most part. The outer rim of the bezel is very narrow, which gives the keyboard a very compact look and feel. It also affords as much space as possible for mousing, short of lopping off the numeric keypad altogether. We at TR like our numpads; we spend too much time entering data into Excel to do without them.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say. The blue LEDs for caps lock, num lock, and scroll lock are bright, but not blindingly so like on the ABS M1. The keys are arranged sensibly, with a full-sized backspace and no tomfoolery around the paging block area. Our international readers may take issue with the shape of the enter key, but that’s the most common design here in North America, and these keyboards are, to the best of our knowledge, not sold elsewhere.

It’s a shame about the ugly logo, though. Spencerian script looks great on Coca-Cola bottles, but not so much on computer peripherals.

Rather than a soldered-in USB cable, RK-9000-series keyboards feature a Mini USB port at the back. That seems like a good idea in theory. If anything happens to the cable, replacements are easy to come by. In a pinch, you could even use the cable from your digital camera as a temporary substitute.

Unfortunately, we’ve come across a number of complaints about the durability of the Mini USB port on the keyboard itself. You’ll find such complaints in Newegg’s feedback section, and a quick look through our forums shows TR forum admin and occasional contributor Just Brew It! voicing the same grievance. In his words:

The mini-USB jack on the keyboard is not very sturdy. Lateral pressure on the protruding USB cable can fracture the solder on the tabs that help secure the connector to the internal PCB, causing the jack to push into the keyboard the next time the cable is plugged in. This renders the keyboard inoperable since it is impossible to properly seat the USB cable.

Just Brew It! was able to repair the keyboard himself by re-soldering the connector. You’ll find pictures of the operation here. Less adventurous users who suffer broken connectors will likely have to go through Rosewill’s warranty service. The company offers three years of coverage for parts and one year for labor.

Rosewill could alleviate this problem in a number of ways, perhaps by recessing the port, or maybe simply by mounting it more solidly to the circuit board. For now, prospective users will want to keep the Mini USB jack clear of potential hazards.

Pictured above is the USB cable plugged in. Rosewill also bundles these keyboards with Mini USB-to-PS/2 cables (yes, whole cables, not adapters). According to the company, the PS/2 connection enables full n-key rollover with all 104 keys on the keyboard. When connected via USB, the keyboard can only register up to six simultaneous keypresses. MMORPG fiends, take note. I’m sure folks with older KVM switches will appreciate the PS/2 option, as well.

There’s not much on the underside. You can see the four thick rubber pads that keep the keyboard nice and stable and the retractable feet—for users who like that sort of thing. I’ve never understood the appeal of keyboard feet, personally. Good ergonomics mean keeping one’s wrists as straight as possible, and that’s awfully difficult to do with the back of your keyboard tilted up.

Which switch?
Let’s now look at what differentiates our four specimens—the type of Cherry MX key switch used. Note the response graphs embedded in each picture. We grabbed those from Cherry’s website. They show how each type of switch responds to pressure and how much pressure is required to reach the actuation point and bottom out. The “cN” in the Y axis stands for centinewton, with one centinewton being equal to 1.02 grams-force. (A gram-force is the amount of force exerted by one gram in Earth gravity.)

We’ve also recorded audio samples for each keyboard. If you have Flash installed, you can listen to the samples by clicking the play button at the bottom left of each image below.

Cherry MX blue switches most closely resemble the famous buckling spring switches of the venerable IBM Model M. While they operate very differently, they offer fundamentally similar feedback, generating both an audible click and a tactile bump upon actuation. The advantage is that you know the exact actuation point, regardless of what happens on screen, so you can calibrate the amount of pressure applied accordingly. Instead of bottoming out with each keystroke, you can teach yourself to press down only as far as needed to reach the actuation point. You might wind up typing faster with less fatigue.

That’s the theory, at least.

In practice, the Rosewill RK-9000 with blue switches feels crisp—almost too crisp—and really makes a racket. Instead of the musical, typewriter-like clatter of the Model M, the blue switches pelt you with shrill, high-pitched clicks. They’re very difficult to tune out, and they can get tiresome after a while. There’s an odd sort of grittiness to the tactile bump, as well, which makes it feel… sticky, somehow. The sensation didn’t bother me at lower typing speeds, but it got on my nerves when I ramped up over 110 words per minute or so.

In games, the blue switches feel a little awkward. As you can see in the graph above, the actuation and release bumps aren’t at the same spot in the curve. Sometimes, when you mean to repeat a keystroke rapidly, your finger might get stuck in the twilight zone between the two for a fraction of a second, and you might miss your shot—whether it’s steering a fast-moving vehicle or firing off a spell at an enemy. The noisy clicks can mar the immersion factor of some games, as well.

The Cherry MX brown switches also have a tactile bump, but it’s a more subtle one that requires less pressure to reach and isn’t accompanied by a sharp, shrill click. All you hear is an extremely faint, almost inaudible ka-chunk as you pass the actuation point. Also, the actuation and release bumps are at almost the same spot, so there’s practically no dead zone between them.

The softer bump and the effective lack of audible feedback makes the browns feel a little more uncertain, perhaps imprecise, than the blues. You can feel for the actuation point without much trouble, but it’s easy to miss if you type too hard or too fast. The result, at least for me, is a sort of mild bounciness that, while not entirely unpleasant, can take some getting used to.

Nevertheless, the browns feel very satisfying to type on. They still make some noise—a faint clatter that’s loudest when you bottom out—but that noise is actually pleasing to the ear. There’s something oddly satisfying about it. Gratifying, even. I still noticed some slight grittiness around the tactile bump when typing very fast (over 120 WPM), though.

The browns work well for gaming. Since there’s no twilight zone between the two bumps, the switches feel more predictable. Also, because the bumps are softer, actuation requires less pressure overall. That means quickly repeating keystrokes takes less work. Finally, there’s no noisy clicking to distract you.

The Cherry MX blacks are universally touted as gaming switches. They have an entirely linear response curve without clicks or bumps, and they require more pressure to actuate than the blues or browns. The appeal, or so I’ve heard, is that there’s nothing to slow you down on the way to the actuation point (or on the way back), which improves responsiveness and aids rapid keystroke repetition.

My take? These are the worst of the bunch. The linear response makes it difficult to tell exactly where the actuation point is, which leaves you no choice but to bottom out—and since the springs are even tougher than on the blues, that quickly gets uncomfortable. Fail to bottom out, and you’ll unknowingly miss the actuation threshold every once in a while, resulting in a growing collection of missing characters throughout your work. Also, paradoxically, the black switches make it easier to repeat characters by accident.

You’d think these purported gaming switches would excel in games. However, the total lack of precision proves punitive in titles like Trackmania 2, where minute, hair-trigger movements are paramount. There’s just no way to toe the actuation line as with the browns. The linear response proves to be less of a handicap in first-person shooters, but there’s still not much of an upside. Even if rapid keystroke repetition is easier—and I’m not entirely convinced that it is—that benefit comes at the cost of pretty much everything else. I just don’t see the appeal.

We don’t have a response graph for Cherry’s MX red switches, but it’s easy to picture one in your head. These switches have a linear response, just like the blacks, only with softer springs. Bottoming out takes only 60 g of pressure, down from 80 g with the blacks, and actuation takes 45 g, not 60 g. In that respect, the reds resemble the browns, sans the bumps in the curve.

The reds still compel you to bottom out in order to guarantee actuation, but the process involves much less effort than with the blacks. In fact, because there’s nothing in the way to slow you down, these may be better than the browns at very high typing speeds (when you’re likely to bottom out regardless). I managed to type slightly faster on them than on the browns. That said, the imprecision of the blacks is still present in the reds to some degree, and it still encourages typos. At lower typing speeds, it starts to feel like your fingers are digging into a block of jello. Not the nicest feeling.

If you’re choosing a linear switch to speed up keystroke repetition in games, then the reds are clearly the way to go. The lower actuation force makes repetition faster and easier than with the blacks, and there are still no bumps or clicks in the way.

Personally, though, I’m more partial to the browns for gaming. They’re almost as easy to mash repeatedly, and the bump in the response curve adds much-needed precision.

Well, you probably know where this is going.

Of the four models we sampled, the RK-9000BR with brown Cherry MX switches is our favorite. None of the switch types are perfect, but the browns do the best job of balancing accuracy and ease of repetition, which makes them great for gaming. Also, the fact that the browns feature a tactile bump without an overly shrill click makes them, in our opinion, superior to the blues for typing. The blues are just unpleasantly loud, and the gritty feel of their tactile bump—plus the dead zone between the actuation and release points—can make them uncomfortable.

As for the keyboard design, which is shared with the other three models, we’re rather impressed with it. The frame feels sturdy, and the action of the keys is solid. There’s none of that musical ringing we noticed with other mechanical units like the Das Keyboard—just nice, solid click-clacking. The Rosewill enclosure has no glossy finish to collect fingerprints, either. Some folks might have preferred to see a palm rest and some media keys included, but we appreciate the elegance of a plain, no-frills design.

For $109.99, the RK-9000BR is a rather solid deal. Other models may be $10 cheaper, but the more comfortable brown switches easily justify a small premium. Besides, Newegg offers free shipping on the RK-9000BR right now, while a couple of the cheaper variants each cost $7.87 to ship.

The only downside is the Mini USB port. Rosewill may have cut corners there, which is a shame given that mechanical keyboards are prized in large part of their durability. There’s no sense in having switches rated for 50 million operations if bumping the Mini USB jack too hard can make your keyboard inoperable. That said, as long as you’re aware of the issue and keep the jack out of harm’s way, there’s probably little reason to worry. As Just Brew It! demonstrated in the forums, a little soldering can resolve the problem if the connector does become unseated.

Before we sign off, we should note that Newegg also sells an “ivory white” variant of this design, the RK-9000I. From what we can tell, it has Cherry MX blue switches and is functionally identical to the others. The only difference is a white paint job on the outer frame.

0 responses to “Rosewill’s RK-9000-series mechanical keyboards reviewed

  1. I have a 9000 BR and spruced it up with some keys from [url<][/url<] Great solid board for the price. I tried the 9100 and felt it felt way cheaper and gimmicky.

  2. I purchased the 9000 BR and while I liked the feel, the tab key had an intermittent problem. I think Rosewill must have damaged the switch during assembly. Good switches but poor quality control of the assembly.

  3. See Apple fanboy:
    “YOU need USB 3.0, I don’t and I definitely do not want to overpay for the features that I don’t need. Is that really hard to comprehend for you?”

  4. You can keep living in denial while the rest of the world moves on. As long as you can tell yourself that you are ‘smart’ for spending $110 on a keyboard lacking the same functionality of a $10 membrane keyboard. Let me guess, you also have a Fatal1ty mouse because “you just know better than everyone else”. Keep buying those kW power supplies to support your 400W PC, telling yourself that “it’s an investment”. Anyone with half a brain would simple go find a model M at a garage sale for $5 if all they wanted was a basic keyboard with good switches.

  5. I’m rocking an IBM Model F 122-key.

    About 22 keys that are free to be mapped to whatever I need, and I do have a few media keys in there. The left function key block is assigned as:

    VolUp Esc
    VolDn PrtSc (I think? Been a while since I mapped it, and PrtSc doesn’t do the same thing on OS X)
    VolMute BriDn (I’m sure I didn’t map it like that, meaning I mapped something else here, but hell if I know what it is (I’d have to look on the old HDD), but in OS X it does brightness it seems)
    Play BriUp
    Menu LWin (and then in OS X I remap it further, LWin becomes Ctrl, Ctrl becomes Option, Alt becomes Cmd.)

    Oh, and I’ve got 12 function keys that are completely unassigned.

  6. UNI0P4A or UB40P4A, depending on whether you hate white the least, or you hate black with keys that sparkle the least.

  7. You’re wrong. The IBM Model F is the best for gaming because you can break things [b<]with[/b<] it. (Although the plastic case is brittle, but it doesn't strictly need that to function.

  8. Different people respond differently to different keyboards.

    Myself, I fail to see the point of reds and blacks, browns aren’t anywhere near tactile enough for me, and my favorite Cherry switch is the blue… but I prefer buckling spring and some older variants of Alps (the taxi yellow ones used in later revisions of the Apple //c are my favorite Alps switch).

    My favorite switch altogether (from what I’ve tried so far, anyway) is a bit on the exotic side – it’s IBM buckling spring, but a bit older – the capacitive version used in the IBM Model F keyboards. You think a Model M is a tank, try a 122-key Model F meant for use on an IBM terminal (the one I’m using is intended for a 3180, which acts like a 5250 terminal, connecting to machines like the System/34, System/36, System/380, and AS/400). 9.3 pounds.

    And, turns out, the wire protocol for the terminal keyboards is very similar to the Set 2 protocol that PC/AT keyboards use, just extended for 127 key support and using different scan codes. (Most PS/2 keyboards use “Set 2 Extended”, a different variant, that exists due to too many programs accessing the keyboard directly, rather than using the BIOS like they’re supposed to. But, DOS actually has support for Set 3, and there’s hacked keyboard drivers to use Set 3 keyboards on Windows 2000 and XP, as well as source to use a Set 3 keyboard on Linux.)

    So, Soarer on Geekhack and Deskthority wrote firmware for the Teensy 2.0 to adapt it to USB, with full support for N-key rollover (which a Model M can’t do, period), and full programmability in the adapter. And it can do XT, AT, and ordinary PS/2 keyboards too, complete with full NKRO. (Meaning, the Rosewill that was reviewed? You can use the PS/2 cable, plug it into this adapter, and get NKRO over USB, whereas you can’t with the Rosewill’s native USB mode. Blame cheap keyboard controller makers for never getting around to properly implementing the USB HID spec.) Here’s the link for that: [url<][/url<]

  9. I’m running one with blues and blue light. It is nice.
    Only issue i have seen is that occasionally on power up it wants to run blindingly bright and you have to reboot to get lighting control back. I have not tried messing with all the other bells and whistles.
    You could use the thing as a baseball bat and it would be fine.

  10. You left off the bottom line.

    IBM M1 *still* r0olz !

    And since they are built like tanks, they are still readily available. Okay, no USB, but PS/2 is preferable anyway, and there are always adapters.

    You will get mine only by prying open my cold, dead fingers.

  11. That’s the way it was when the RK-9000 was originally introduced. I even mentioned that in the post you replied to.

  12. Not all the techies and gamers would be no, but you think for all the other little, annoying details and extras we can’t live without these would be some of those things. I’m not saying I or we should be intrigued by flashing lights and whistles…but we are much with everything else except keyboards.

    And just for example, I’ll mention the LCD: it’s like having a tablet, a niche, but once you find a use for it becomes almost second nature and a huge convenience. Just one of many things to have tacked on to the ole keyboard.

    And Razer’s BlackWidow, horrah.

  13. Or they could have just had a non-removable cable like most keyboards and then it wouldn’t even be an issue.

  14. Yea, first problem with getting used to my reds was realizing they weren’t much different from domes except they were more consistent and they make slightly more noise.

    The whole ‘less stress’ on my fingers doesn’t really happen since I still end up ramming my fingers into the bottom of the keyboard to register a keypress. Trying to ‘float’ on the actuation point is really hard to do since I can’t feel it.

  15. I’ve been looking at those pads, and wondered if they’d help with the noise at all.

    Might try moving to a very thin rubber/paper washer that fits around the post so you don’t restrict key travel as much? You just want to avoid the loud plastic on plastic clack right?

  16. I really, really, need to try some Reds and Browns next to each other. I’d bet that they’re pretty close, but I love the idea that the feedback and actuation on the Browns are at the same point. It’s the one weird thing about the Blues on my Blackwidow that bothers me (besides the noise, but that’s a compromise).

  17. The display on the G15 seemed to work very well, if you needed to monitor Ventrilo or CPU/GPU stats without a second monitor. It was small and un-intrusive. The keys on the other hand.

  18. My WPM are much better on my mechanical keyboard than a dome keyboard. Additionally I can type as fast as I can think on my mechanical keyboard, where as I have a harder time doing that on a dome keyboard (I am still quite fast on it though). Also, my fingers tend to fatigue less on a mechanical keyboard than a dome keyboard. I find that it also is much more pleasant to the touch when using a mechanical keyboard versus a dome keyboard.

    Realistically type for a week on the dome and take a WPM test, and than type for a week on the mechanical and take the same test. I have converted my entirely family to mechanical keyboards through this method, as their WPM shoot up considerably with the mechanical keyboard.

    Either keyboard style will get your job done, but one is much more enjoyable when you type a hefty amount on a frequent basis. If you are not doing mass amounts of typing it probably won’t help you that much, or you are much less likely to see the benefit. As for the sound, you can find ones that are near silent if you look around and are willing to spend the money.

  19. Dude, these “thumbs up/down” are just cosmetic effects, why do you care about them??? Ignore them and move on.

  20. No, and there’s no real need for that for most of the people. I used to own many Logitech keyboards, including all of their models with LCD screens and macro keys. I almost never used those features (the LCD screen was just showing clock most of the time, and I sometimes used it for monitoring CPU utilization) in ANY games, and after switching to “regular” mechanical keyboard I do not miss any of them (macro keys, LCD displays, media ports) at all. If you want those – write a mail to Logitech and ask them to start making their G-series with mechanical keys.

  21. ‘Cause the mates at the LAN-party are going to love you for making so much noise that they can’t hear people sneaking (running) up on them?

  22. That’s a pretty good analogy and the only real answer I’ve gotten!
    It still feels kind of like comparing a touchscreen keyboard to a real one as there really is tactile feedback also from a chiclet, scissor or even a “domed” keyboard.

  23. I was born in the seventies so I also learned to type on a typewriter! Not being able to adapt to “new” stuff even though you use them daily for decades is kind of bad though…

  24. As Duck says, it wasn’t an accusation, alcoholics get reduced sensation in their extremities, hence the reference.
    I was kind of drunk when I wrote it, which explains the bad formulation, but at least I was sober enough to realize that it might be misinterpreted. Did I hit a nerve? 😛

  25. I have no problem whatsoever in feeling when the keys are properly pressed. Sure, there are some pretty awful keyboards as well, but the ones on my UL30vt and the Logitech UltraX give plenty of feedback and are as smooth as a baby’s bottom without hammering. Travel is very short so there’s no need for it neither.

    Alcoholics get nerve damage and loose sensation in their extremities, hence the reference.

  26. I have owned mechanical keyboards, and I’ve always hated them.
    To me there is a clear tactile feedback from the keyboard on my Asus UL30VT and my Logitech UltraX was the best keyboard I ever used. I feel right away if the key if pressed and I don’t hammer the keys either.

    edit: So I get thumbs down for explaining that I can feel the tactile feedback from my keyboard? Do you think I’m full of s**t, lying, trolling, or are you just jealous? Pathetic…

  27. I didn’t say wrt rubber dome, but rather rubber dome domination =P
    Kinda like getting pushed out of people’s minds for awhile, so making a comeback makes it feel fresh and new.

    And yes, I hate typing at work every day, and I’ve only been using Blues for a few months now. I can actually notice the “gummy” feeling. I hope some other people design some cheap alternatives to the Cherry switches just so we can get some mehcanical replacements. A $30-$50 keyboard that will last 10+ years would be way easier to sell than a $100 keybaord regardless of lifespan.

  28. Actually, they’re [b<]not[/b<] new WRT rubber dome; they're just making a comeback. Most early PC keyboards were mechanical. Rubber dome came to dominate the market because they can be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of a mechanical, and generally have better resistance to spills. The downside is that many people who learned to type on a mechanical keyboard (or got hooked on them later in life) tend to have a pretty intense dislike for the way most rubber dome keyboards feel.

  29. Not all techies are into keyboards with extra bells and whistles on them. I want a full-size ‘board with standard layout and a large Backspace key, top-notch tactile feedback, and as small a footprint as possible consistent with a full-size layout. Aside from the connector issue with the newer ones, the RK-9000 is pretty much my ideal keyboard.

  30. Razer’s BlackWidow Ultimate, which was mentioned on the first page, has some macro keys and audio passthrough. And it has backlit keys.

    I don’t know where mechanical leyboards are going since they’re fairly new (wrt rubber dome domination), but the main appeal to them is better typing, which is relevant to techies/gamers. You type messages, write articles, hammer out code, post internet comments…

    So I think the big thing is that typing is the appeal, and extra features will be coming to mechanical designs, or else mechanical will just fade out/find a niche, and your “fancy” multi-feature keyboards are going to be using rubber domes.

  31. Yup. Or they could’ve recessed it underneath the keyboard, or used a captive cable with a strain relief like they did when it was first introduced. Any of those methods would’ve been an improvement.

  32. So you prefer flashy aesthetics and lights that add nothing to the experience other than to make you look like a douchebag at a LAN party over pure functionality?

    Some gamers, present company included, couldn’t care less for an LCD display on my keyboard, how useful is that while gaming? Read: never. Are you watching the screen or the keyboard?

  33. Are there mechanical keyboards with the media ports, LCDs, and/or extra keys?

    I get that business people may want certain grades of [mechanical] keyboards for typing when they’re spending several hours a day in front of a computer screen. I do.

    But this is also a site that caters to techies and gamers: read people that need more input and love the gadgetry. Why then is there such a huge outpouring of love for no-frill keyboards at a large expense? I’ve tried to understand this phenomenon or find the Kool-aid but I can’t. Nothing, kaput. It’s almost like it’s taboo to mention keyboards that include anything besides the stock layout. Fight club rules and all.

  34. Blacks are the supposed best gaming switches? Corsair really tried to push the reds…

    And after using a K90 I have to say I really wish they would’ve came in browns. The whole idea of no tactile feedback causing lags is good in theory, but you can’t feel the actuation point so you bottom them out anyway.

    Honestly from a gamer pov I would say a easily actuateable, but very tactile feedback would be the best. As in it’s easy to register a keystroke, but you know immediately when you do and can easily ‘rock’ on that point. If there is too much travel it’s hard to do that, especially without a tactile response.

    I bottom out my reds just like my rubber domes before it.

  35. There’s enough space that they could have used a full-sized USB-B connector (like the one on printers) which would be more durable.

  36. [url<][/url<]

  37. IMO a well-done laptop style (scissor switch) keyboard can be pretty good (better than most rubber domes), but I still prefer mechanical.

  38. I’d much rather have the more compact footprint, and use hotkey combinations for media control instead of having dedicated media buttons.

  39. I have it, but with Black switches. Build quality is awesome (well worth its price, IMO), though it has a drawback which might be significant for some – the backlighting resets when keyboard loses power. Not a problem for me – I almost never turn my PC off, and it takes a couple of clicks of “Fn+F9” keys to get teh backlighting back to appropriate levels during the rare times I turn my PC off (or reboot it).

  40. I’ve played with some Ducky’s in person, and they are pretty slick. The price is a little high on them though.

  41. Yeah, color is definitely just a personal preference thing. I can’t stand blue leds personally, but some of my friends only use blue. I am miffed on the power supply though, but I guess it’s not too much of a big deal.

  42. [url=<]Here is the keyboard I'm looking for.[/url<] Ducky Shine with MX Browns and white back-lighting. Why is this hard?

  43. My perfeckt keyboard would be a tenkeyless Corsair K60 with MX-Browns. oh… with teh softland pads I linked to.

  44. takes about 5 minutes if you have a keypuller ( i know from replacing every letter and number row key on my Leopold with BlackWidow keys for a tighter fit). They make a grey set that are firmer too.

  45. I want to see them review the stealth tenkeyless tounament edition BlackWidow or whatever ( I heard about it 8 months ago so it should be out soon) off topic, but i saw the spawn mouse by coolermaster 2 years before it was available retail (really cheesed me off that i had to wait 2 years to hold it for a couple weeks before going back to my cheap Zowie EC2 I have to replace every year due to button malfunction).

  46. That’d be the ones. I emailed those guys a while back to see if they’d send me a board with those pre-installed, but apparently that’s a no go- you get to do that yourself, though they look like they’d work with any keyboard. Just not sure how keen I would be on pulling every key off the board and putting it back, that’s a lot of repetitions to make a mistake.

  47. “bash the intruder over the head with it”
    Sheeesh, doesn’t anybody keep a gun next to their gaming PC anymore?
    n00b kids these days 🙂

  48. $95 is actually pretty cheap :).

    Still, why the hell can’t Coolermaster use a back-light other than Red?

  49. That’s exactly what I was going to say! (not really, but seriously, if I was a car geek too I would be hopelessly broker than I am now). +1 to you sir

  50. Because browns are the best, I would have one if I hadn’t already purchased keyboards with MX: blacks, blues and reds. Corsair should make a tenkeyless K60 with MX-Browns and it would be TEH perfect keyboard for me.

  51. Just did a quick search on Newegg for cherry brown switches, and now have this on a wishlist:

    [url<][/url<] Cherry browns, nice looks, and media keys. While they have to be activated via a function key, they're much quicker to access that having to precisely move a mouse over to the system tray and then have to click again to mute or change volume. $95 seems a bit high for a keyboard though, to me, not including another $8 bucks shipping.

  52. I know Jenny.

    She’s married, and a Democrat… I could almost shoot myself, but not on vacation.

  53. My friend, all you need to do is type a resume or play a couple rounds of FPS on a mechanical to fully understand. Beware, you’ll never go back to anything else (lest maybe topre capacative switches or alps switches).

  54. I have to agree.

    I’ve purchased and used a couple of these, including a Razer Arctosa and I need real keys to type on, not chiclet keys as on a laptop.

    Would be awesome to see a ‘real’ keyboard with full-sized keys on a laptop, but then again, that will probably look absolutely horrible.

    So I’ll put up with chiclet keys on laptops for now, but not for desktops.

  55. My Leopold MX-Red tenkeyless started popping keys everytime i went to reload or throw a frag after just 6 months. I replaced all the letter and number keys with keys from a BlackWidow that I was just going to throw away anyway and it’s been a dream ever since.

  56. Yes, you formulated it badly. You asked a “serious question” and then called everyone “severely alcoholized”.

  57. shipping deal is only temporary, within the US, and not even to all the states. the point still stands. why are brown switches more expensive?

  58. YOU need media keys, I don’t and I definitely do not want to overpay for the features that I don’t need. Is that really hard to comprehend for you?

  59. Different people prefer different things… What’s not to understand? It’s like with car’s power steering system: some do not care if it’s an electric power steering with a very little “resistance” and small amount of “feedback” from road surface (like for example on current BMW F30 models), but some prefer a hydraulic power steering system with more “resistance”, more linear response and more “feedback” (like it was on previous-gen BMW E90 models) 😉

  60. You might try trolling harder, it will get you more down-votes.

    You don’t need back-lighting for everyday use, but it does help with gaming, as keyboards are used more like abstract input devices than typewriters.

  61. Backlight: worthless, have to spend time cutting power to the leds.
    USB interface: deal breaker.

  62. These silm keyboards are, imo, junk and practically impossible to type on.

    Everyone has different preferences.

  63. You know, there’s a company that made a little ‘ring’ pad to put under each key to mute the bottoming sound. I’ll be looking it up again when I get around to upgrading from Blues to Browns, though I’d bet that they’d be especially useful for someone using Reds.

  64. In all fairness, many laptop keyboards have much better ‘tactile’ feel than the rubber domers. Bottoming out on a laptop keyboard is also very quick and very short in comparison.

  65. Hey, I think Wal-mart is great!

    But I’m a free-marketer. Everything else, well, doesn’t fit :).

  66. After looking that guy up, I don’t know either.

    The Rosewills are probably more solidly built but I do like almost everything about the Trigger, except:
    -Gaudy orangey-red back-light. Can we get a soft white please?
    -Lack of a 5v power adapter. I’d be using a USB mic and a power hungry mouse (Steelseries Sensei), or possibly a joystick or gamepad, and they all need the power.

  67. Not so much a superpower when he makes two typos per page, but that’s how we love him.

  68. Well, I think we’ve discovered Cyril’s superpower. 130 wpm, god damn.

    Yeah i’m sorry it couldn’t have been one of the cool ones like laser vision or super strength. You must use your powers for good , not evil 😀

  69. I really don’t know why you would buy this keyboard over say, a cooler master trigger if your focus is gaming. I mean, it’s $10 more, has back lighting (with a multitude of settings), extra usb ports, macro keys, media keys, software to turn off the windows key, and it has brown switches. Kind of a no-brainer for me.

  70. The only thing worse than having a mechanical keyboard, is someone else bashing away on one nearby. That includes the browns. Look up youtube videos of them.

    This mechanical keyboard thing seems like a lot of hype or a fad. The best keyboard would be more like a laptop style. Something like [url=<]that Apple keyboard[/url<], only with better key action. Oh and a backspace key would be nice. But then there it would need a numberpad too. Then I would buy it.

  71. I can only recommend getting Leopold keyboards instead. About the same price, recessed USB connector, no ugly logo on it. And you can get a tenkeyless if you prefer.

  72. It’s what you’re used to. The tactile feedback helps not bottoming out the keys, but I am sure you can accomplish that on a linear keyboard just as well.

    I do not like the blue switches, they’re too loud and particularly in an office environment it’s really kind of inconsiderate using such a loud keyboard.

    I am using brown switches at home and an ALPS switch keyboard (Dell 101 black ftw!) at work, the ALPS being very similar to the Cherry browns.

  73. ::ahem::

    If a laptop keyboard is your idea of “tactile feedback,” then I am not so sure we are the ones “severely alcoholized.”

    If you use a rubber dome keyboard, it’s fairly easy to feel a “gummy” response from the keys. Mechanical keys are much smoother in general, at least in my opinion. The tactile keys give you an actual point at which the switch actuates, rather than needing to bottom out (like every laptop keyboard ever).

  74. I abhor “clicky” keyboards and have never understood what it is you people really “need”…
    I get all the tactile feedback I need from even a so-and-so laptop kb. Have you been severely alcoholized since the age of three and have no feeling left in your fingers or what? Do you really need the same amount of pressure/resistance needed to squeeze the trigger of a gun to realize that you have pressed a key? With the freaking sound of a gun to go with it?!

    This is a serious question, I may formulate it badly, but I really want to know because I really don’t understand!

  75. Agreed – my board uses the black keyswitches and I not only know exactly when they will be recognized, but at this point I can type just about completely silently, even at a decent speed (around 80-90WPM) by carefully not bottoming out the keys as i press them. Any of the switches with noticeable detents cause me to bottom out the keys more often because I have to push harder to get past the detent…when it ‘pops’ through, usually the key bottoms out before I can stop pushing as hard – or at the least, it makes it quite awkward and slows me down.

  76. IMO if you do care about being able to see your keys, it makes sense to spend the extra 50$ over rosewill’s offerings, and go ahead and pick up a Deck Legend. Every key is individually backlit, and the letters do not rub off because they are actually printed into the plastic rather than simply onto it. I’ve had 2 for about 6 years + now. Had to replace 2-3 bad LED’s, but TG3 sent me spares for free. Also, they have a strain relieved PS2/USB cable so that you won’t have to worry about the plug on the keyboard breaking….

  77. OEM?
    Er, you do know where you are posting right?
    The people here build their machines to have the best components.
    The “vast majority of people” buy Dell’s and HPs and such.
    The “vast majority of people” live off fast food.
    The “vast majority of people” love Dancing With the Has Beens/Nobodys and other “reality” TV.
    The “vast majority of people” do not know how to look up their IP address.
    The “vast majority of people” do not know how to drive.
    The “vast majority of people” will vote for people this November, that they know nothing about.
    The “vast majority of people” think Walmart is great.
    The “vast majority of people” are pretty much the opposite of who this site caters to.

  78. I would be interested in comparing buckling spring to, say, Cherry MX Brown in terms of noise and feedback. I really like my Rosewill w/ Browns, but the Unicomps have been around since before I was born and they’re still being made. There has to be a reason for that.

  79. You know Unicomp gets a nod in every [url=<]System Guide,[/url<] right?

  80. I fail to understand why no one reviews the Unicomp keyboards. They are REAL buckling spring technology, are durable enough to commit murder with, and are only $89.00. I have had mine since the 2007, and the springs are as fresh as the day it came out of the box.

    There are even models with a built in track point, if you need mousing and keyboard in one item.

  81. Aren’t there other ways to set that up, too? I mean if media keys are there for it, the functionality must exist, right?

  82. ‘Real’ keyboards as in keyboards used for work.

    I understand the function of media keys fully, I just don’t feel that they’re terribly important. I’ve also not found myself listening to music while gaming in well, years. A good shooter with Ventrilo in the background is more than enough noise in the headset.

  83. Good one, “real” keyboards. As in the ones that the vast majority of people use, the ones that come with every single OEM machine out there. Come back to reality, the weather is nice here. Have fun alt-tabbing (and possibly crashing) out of your games in order to change the track your listening to, or to mute your music so that you can answer a phone call. Enjoy having to stop your game, click through several tiers of menus to get to your audio settings in game in order to adjust the volume of your game. I’ll be here taking the 1/2 second to use my media buttons without missing a frag.

  84. The stiffness of black switches is a bit overstated IMHO. This is coming from someone that has owned keyboards with brown, black, red, and clear switches. Clears are the only ones I’d call noticeably heavy since they are high force combined with a mechanical bump.

  85. Most people buying real keyboards have no use for media buttons. They wind up going unused and looking cheap.

  86. Another mechanical keyboard, another keyboard too cheap to add a few incredibly useful media buttons that even $10 garbage boards have. *sigh*

  87. I liked the blues at first (quickfire rapid) but then I began to notice that some keys would click differently than others, and some would only click when you pushed them just right. It drove me crazy.

    I dropped it for a quickfire rapid with browns and couldn’t be happier.

  88. grats on getting /. again!

    BTW Browns are the best for gaming. However, if you need to be quiet fugedaboutit.

  89. You’re wrong. Rubber domes are the best for gaming because I constantly break keyboards in gaming rage and having to replace a $100 mechanical keyboard is expensive.

  90. I got used to the clicky sound of my blues…

    But if I had the choice, I would probably upgrade to a brown variant in the future. I REALLY like the tactile feel from these keys.

    I should also note that you mentioned the Blackwidow earlier in the article, but I did not see a reference to the Stealth/Ninja version, which is equipped with brown keys instead of blues. Just more info 🙂

  91. You’re wrong. Browns are the best for gaming and for typing. Browns are perfect for super-fast and super-accurate typing. Over the long run it will make reds feel like the rubber domes.

    (see what I did there?)

  92. [quote<]Ignorant[/quote<] That word, I don't think it means what you think it means.

  93. If you read the article you’d know that the Browns are only $2.13 more expensive. That’s worth less than the time it took you to complain about it.

  94. I’ve got a couple of those kicking around here. Side-by-side, the Rosewill RK-9000BR may not be as heavy as the Model M, but it’s better for routine typing.

    I’m still using a CVT Avant Prime (Northgate Omnikey design) on my main PC. My father is still using the same Northgate Omnikey Ultra that I purchased for him over 20 years ago.

  95. Supply/demand. When I ordered mine late last year the different keyswitch models were all priced the same. I’ve had my Rosewill brown since last year and it ‘s been a joy to use as is my CM Storm TenKeyLess. I may get a white LED brown MX Ducky Shine just for kicks.

  96. Browns are considered to be the best all-around switches and are the highest in demand.

    Personally I’ve been looking at the [url=<]Tt MEKA G1[/url<] for gaming (black key switches). Any of these switches are going to be better than a cheap membrane keyboard.

  97. Yeah, Reds are also linear. Maybe louder because you’ll have a tendency to bottom them out more often, which you can probably avoid a lot better by going with blacks. The actuation point comes before bottoming them out with all switch types, so really you want to get used to typing without doing this for greater speed. Browns seem better for typing because they give you tactile feedback around the time of actuation, however even the linear ones have very slight tactile feedback. For gaming, you’re going to be bottoming out anyway all the time so linear is fine and maybe even preferred, with the greater resistance of blacks being a good safety against accidental key presses. Reds might be better for games where you’re going to be mashing buttons a lot more.

    Linear – Black (heavy), Red (light)
    Tactile – Clear (heavy), Brown (light)


  98. Yup, and not having to bottom out to know that you’ve actuated the key is a big selling point for gaming, at least for FPS gaming. The Browns should outperform in this respect.

  99. Well, they’re probably a bit more likely to bottom out hard due to the lower spring force. But I agree, the difference in noise level should be minimal.

  100. Not sure where you got the idea that reds are louder than browns from, but you’re mistaken.

  101. Rosewill should provide a free glue gun, or at least a tube of KrazyGlue, for all the models with such flimsy connector 😉

  102. Wow, the ivory white one (linked from the last page) is fugly. Not that I generally care too much about appearance, but jeez… you’d think they would’ve at least had matching keycaps made.

    My 2 original RK-9000s (with MX blues) are still going strong, and I still love ’em! Guess I need to try me some browns someday…

  103. Well, I definitely don’t like the noisy blues or the separate actuation and release points, so Browns still ‘seem’ like they’d win. I don’t want Blacks that are heavy just for the hell of it, so Reds would probably be the best alternative to Browns, except they’re probably louder.

  104. Switch choice really comes down to personal preference. I owned a Filco with brown switches (I assumed they would be the best based on internet research) and ended up selling it after a few months. I replaced it with a keyboard with black switches that I much preferred, turns out I hated the tactile bump for both typing and gaming. Now I own a Steelseries 6Gv2 with black switches and a Leopold tenkeyless with red switches, love them both (black is my main while the red is in my living room and travels with my laptop sometimes).

    Not knowing when the switch actuates with a linear switch is a complete non-issue IMO. You get a feel for linear switches very quickly, plus the tactile bump in browns is less noticeable once you get up to typing speed. A blanket “brown switches are the best” statement is something I really disagree with, people should audition different switches for themselves if possible to see what they like.

    Choice is one of many advantages mechanical keyboards have. 🙂

  105. …you do realize my complaint was that i didn’t want to part with more money, right? filco keyboards are even more expensive across the board.

  106. I liked my xarmor, too, until I just (literally only about thirty seconds ago) broke the wrist rest just by leaning my elbows on it while reading the review. Now, I’m not a skinny guy, but I’m not that big either (about 185 pounds), so that’s just inexcusable.

  107. Razer has a Blackwidow ‘Silent’ or some such with the Browns in it, and I’m jealous- I get the hunting issue with the Blues, as you can’t sit on the actuation point; you have to move above it to reset the key. I’m also not keen on the noise.

    Still, my perfect keyboard has the Browns, NKRO in USB (it’s been done!), and a USB hub on the back edge of the keyboard, with white variable backlighting. Blue is just tiresome, and anything else is gaudy at best.

  108. One thing which I’ve experienced personally and seen others mention about these keyboards is that the laser etched labels on the keys have a tendency to fade after only a few months of use. Personally I couldn’t care less, who spends that much time looking at their keyboard? But I can understand people not liking to see it happen to their formerly shiny new $100 keyboards.

  109. I bought my xArmour clicky-clack probably near a year ago and although I forget what switches are in them, I love this thing. Just the way the switches “click/clack” and the fact the keyboard is heavy so it doesn’t move (that, and if someone ever breaks in I can bash the intruder over the head with it).

    I do like this article and would highly encourage TR to do more reviews outside the standard (gpu’s, cpu’s and motherboards). The Korean monitors, the sound cards and now keyboards. This is stuff that you just can’t find reviews on (well, readily. They’re out there, you just have to look). I find these reviews much more interesting (as in, I don’t just don’t skip to the last page to read the conclusions).

  110. Cyril take one apart and tell us if it is a costar pcb in there or something else. I expect the typical in depth TR review 🙂

  111. Just get a Filco then. And it’s quite ignorant of the article author to single out Logitech and Microsoft as producing “mushy rubber domes” when they’re probably the two best manufacturers there are as far as rubber domes go (which there is nothing inherently wrong with either – a good rubber dome is better than a bad mechanical).