Rosewill’s Striker RK-6000 mechanical keyboard reviewed

Mechanical keyboards are pretty great. We never get tired of recommending them here at TR, mostly because we never get tired of using them. As inveterate typists who often write thousands of words in a single sitting, we know the value of good tactile response and consistent action. As gamers, we also love the solid, accurate feel that’s unique to mechanical key switches.

There is just one downside. Entry-level mechanical keyboards are commonly priced in the neighborhood of $100, and upscale models can ring in at $150 or more. That’s a lotta dosh when you can snag a cheap rubber-dome keyboard at Best Buy for 20 bucks. Mechanical keyboards are more durable, of course, and that should factor into any buying decision—but some folks just don’t have room in their budgets for a pricey keyboard.

Enter Rosewill’s Striker RK-6000. At $49.99, this is one of the least expensive mechanical keyboards on the market today. Despite the low cost of entry, it features a full set of mechanical keys, a numeric keypad, and optional rubberized WASD and arrow keys for gamers. There’s even bundled macro software with customizable profiles, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Since we’ve had good experiences with Rosewill’s other mechanical keyboards, I was curious to try the RK-6000. I’ve been using the thing for the past several days to find out if it’s a worthy solution for cash-strapped typists and gamers.

The RK-6000 looks a little different from the Rosewill RK-9000-series keyboards we reviewed a couple years back. There’s more plastic padding around the main key blocks, and the layout is unusual. The enter key has a reverse L shape, the backspace key is no wider than the alphanumeric keys, and the backslash sits beside it (instead of below it, as on most U.S. keyboards). The left control key is also extra-wide, for some reason.

Lift up those key caps, and you’ll find Alps clone switches with a clicky, tactile response. In simpler terms, the RK-6000’s keys produce an audible click and a palpable tactile bump when actuated. They’re based on the same design as genuine Alps switches, but they’re manufactured by another company. (Rosewill wouldn’t specify which firm, but the Deskthority Wiki says the manufacturer is Tai-Hao. In fact, the RK-6000 itself looks remarkably similar to Tai-Hao’s Clicker F21-7D APC.) Actuating these switches, Rosewill says, requires 50 grams of force, give or take 10 grams. That’s about the same as for Cherry’s popular MX blue switches, which are also tactile and clicky. The actuation distance is similar, too, at 4 mm, give or take 0.5 mm.

Compared to keyboards based on the Cherry MX blue switches, the RK-6000 has quieter clicks but a louder bottoming-out noise. In practice, typing sounds less shrill and a little easier on the ears, though it’s still fairly noisy. There’s also considerably more key-cap wobble, which gives the keys a looser, less precise feel. Compounding that looseness is the fact that the switches under some keys occasionally don’t click at all, especially if they’re pressed quickly or off-center. That last issue isn’t really noticeable with the alpha keys, but it is evident in the numpad and with some of the larger keys, including enter and right shift. The keyboard’s backplate has a little bit of flex to it, too—something we’re not used to seeing in mechanical keyboards.

This is definitely a change from the extremely solid, almost surgical feel of the Cherry MX blues in Rosewill’s pricier RK-9000. One quickly gets the sense that the RK-6000 is built out of lower-grade switches, and the specs bear that out. Rosewill says the RK-6000’s keys are rated for 20 million actuations, while Cherry quotes a lifespan of 50 million actuations for its MX switches.

Happily, however, Rosewill says it’s working on fixing the click problem. A company representative told us, “[W]e’re aware of the issue and we’re working toward a resolution in the consistency of the switch clicks.” Future versions of the RK-6000 may be better-behaved in that respect.

What else? Well, the RK-6000 features some of the usual adjustments, like collapsible feet that can increase the already somewhat steep keyboard angle. The RK-6000 also has a few unexpected bells and whistles. For instance, the braided USB cord can be routed through a gutter at the back, should one wish for it to poke out of the corner of the keyboard rather than the center. (The cable itself is a little short, though, at around 59″. The cables for Rosewill’s RK-9000-series keyboards are about eight inches longer.)

The RK-6000 also comes with a little baggie containing a key extractor and eight orange, rubber-coated caps for the WASD and arrow keys. Those caps are shorter than the regular ones, and they have textured surfaces, which might help gamers with sweaty hands get a more solid grip during intense multiplayer sessions. The rubbery, textured finish and flatter surfaces are a little unsettling during normal typing, however. I would probably keep these caps in the box unless I planned to use the RK-6000 exclusively as a gaming keyboard. But hey, kudos to Rosewill for going the extra mile there.

Finally, Rosewill markets this keyboard as having anti-ghosting technology. I tested this out using the ghosting demo on Microsoft’s Applied Sciences website. With the WASD keys held down, the RK-6000 only registered actuations from some of the remaining keys—and it ignored others, including about half the top and bottom alpha rows. Even with only W and D held down, actuations on C, V, and B weren’t registered. I’ve seen worse showings from cheaper keyboards without explicit anti-ghosting support, but Rosewill’s RK-9000 keyboards have no problem in that last scenario. More upscale gaming keyboards often have n-key rollover, whereby the keyboard’s internal circuitry allows any number of simultaneous actuations.

Conclusions

Based on the Striker RK-6000’s somewhat mixed user reviews at Newegg, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Right out of the gate, I was prepared to hate the unusual layout, with its needlessly tiny backspace key and forcibly relocated backslash. Unpacking the thing, I found that it weighed noticeably less than the RK-9000 series, which made me brace for further disappointment.

But you know what? Typing up this review and several other TR stories on this thing actually felt pretty good. The alpha keys have decent feedback and a solid bottom-out point, which makes them surprisingly satisfying—and preferable, in my view, to mushy rubber domes. Yeah, the small backspace key was an annoyance initially, but I got used to it within a couple of hours. Later, going back to my $150 Type Heaven keyboard from Topre, I missed the crispness of the RK-6000’s clicky switches.

The RK-6000’s only serious downside, as far as I’m concerned, is the inconsistent feedback of some of the switches. I’d be happy if none of the keys clicked or if all of them did, but having some keys click only some of the time can be aggravating, especially in games. A number of the Newegg reviews mention malfunctioning or defective keys, which leads me to think that quality control for the RK-6000’s switches may not be where it needs to be.

If Rosewill can step things up on that front, then the RK-6000 could become an excellent entry-level mechanical offering. For now, though, unless you’re particularly strapped for cash, I would recommend coughing up the extra $40 for one of Rosewill’s RK-9000-series models. The German-made Cherry switches in those keyboards are palpably better-built, and Rosewill offers a choice of different variants of them, which doesn’t hurt.

Comments closed
    • Jambe
    • 5 years ago

    I have [url=http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=114&cp_id=11401&cs_id=1140102&p_id=10579&seq=1&format=2<]this tenkeyless exposed-plate Monoprice keyboard[/url<] coming in which is a rebrand of [url=http://www.dearmo.com/product_show.php?id=8<]a dearmo unit[/url<]. Aluminum-bodied, Cherry MX Red switches, orange backlighting, five macro keys and a dimming/volume control wheel.

    • Freon
    • 5 years ago

    Got my Code keyboard with clear switches a week or two ago and absolutely love it. I’d love to buy another one without the backlights and for a few bucks less to take into work.

    • just brew it!
    • 5 years ago

    For $10 more you can get the [url=http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=114&cp_id=11401&cs_id=1140102&p_id=9433&seq=1&format=2<]Monoprice mechanical[/url<], which uses genuine Cherry switches and has N-key rollover.

      • superjawes
      • 5 years ago

      I skimmed the reviews. The common cons are:

      -Loud
      -Glossy finish shows fingerprints
      -There are no media keys, USB ports, etc.

      None of those are deal breakers. That’s $10 more for a tried and true switch type (with plenty of aftermarket options), better switch quality, and (apparently) better quality control.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 5 years ago

        The loud complaints are silly – of course it’s loud, it’s got Blue switches. Purely buyer fault for not researching.

          • superjawes
          • 5 years ago

          Agreed. I really just wanted to have at least three items on my list. Considering that I had to stretch those should tell you a lot.

          • just brew it!
          • 5 years ago

          Indeed. You get Blues because you *want* the “click”. If you want the “click” without the “clack” from bottoming out then you’ve gotta install o-rings under the keycaps (or get a ‘board that comes with them pre-installed, but you’re definitely not going to find that for $60).

            • Voldenuit
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, I went with Reds for my RK-9000 because it was $60, and the Browns version was over $90 at the time, and I couldn’t justify the added cost (to myself, or more importantly, the SO). Typing on the Reds was a bit tricky at first, but now that I’ve gotten used to them, I can type pretty quickly by just gliding my fingers over the caps, and it’s also taught me to be somewhat more disciplined about ‘mushing’ keys to avoid typos.

            Definitely pretty good for gaming, though.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      It’s too bad they don’t make a MX Brown keyboard (or else I could never find one on the site) or I might have gone that route instead of the Cooler Master QuickFire Pro I have.

    • Umbragen
    • 5 years ago

    The Steelseries G6 has the same layout with a diminutive backspace key. I’ve had the board for a couple years and that key still annoys the hell out of me occasionally.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 5 years ago

    Various RK-9000s have been on sale or with MIR for $50. I hope that doesn’t go away because of this.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 5 years ago

    What is it with mechanical keyboards and the allergy to media keys. Probably one of the most coveted feature set of a decent keyboard is those keys and yet 2/3 of the mech keyboards think USB pass through and dedication none function media keys are for whelps.

    I remember hearing someone once refer to the “PC MASTER RACE” and that is what I think of when I look at 2/3 of the peripherals on the market today. They are for people looking to burn money on an elitist status not actually use a multipurpose workstation slash game system.

    I love mechanical switches don’t get me wrong. But the actual design we see in 99 percent of products appealing to that market aren’t premium they are design trash with a fat sticker on it and nice switches under the keys.

    Some different (and sometimes opposing) design features all keyboards should consider:

    Dedicated Media Keys! (Play, Pause, skip foward, skip back, fast foward/rewind, volume nob)
    Sleep Key
    Macro Keys(seems many have this)
    Functional LED back lighting (like, not just making the keyboard glow but actually illuminating the type face of the key caps)
    Different color keys and or LED schemes (I had a great translucent key cap with black lettering rear LED illuminated keyboard, no matter what you could see the type face on each key night or day easier than anything else I’ve ever used)
    Different materials, orientation, aesthetic(take corsair for example)

    There are a few boards out there that have considered most of or all of these things but its insane most apparently don’t.

      • keltor
      • 5 years ago

      There’s two main markets that seem to desire something above the $20 keyboard: Gamers and people who type a lot. Neither market wants the dedicated media keys really. For gamers they are in fact “dangerous” since they might task swap you out of a game accidentily.

      The LED illumination is complicated, but back-lighting the actual keys makes the key-caps wear faster.

        • just brew it!
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]back-lighting the actual keys makes the key-caps wear faster[/quote<] That makes no sense. Backlit keys by their very nature need to be double-shot molded, which is one of the more durable types of keycap.

          • bhtooefr
          • 5 years ago

          Not necessarily.

          Backlit keys are often a transparent key with an opaque paint over the areas that aren’t supposed to be backlit, and then a coating over the whole thing. My MacBook Pro’s keyboard looks horrible due to the coating being worn through on some keys.

          In any case, the problem with backlighting on mechanicals is getting the LED in a good place to light the whole cap. Many Cherry-based backlit keyboards have awkward legend design to get the legend over the LED (which was originally intended for indicator LEDs, not backlighting a keycap), and even then the light distribution is far from uniform.

          As far as Alps, the only ones with the indicator LED hole are linears, although Matias went for a transparent switch case so as to use indicator LEDs mounted below the switch and shining through it. Cherry then shamelessly copied that idea for the MX RGB as used by Corsair, and apparently that does far better as far as having even backlight distribution.

            • just brew it!
            • 5 years ago

            Ahh, I stand corrected. Didn’t realize the keys were sometimes made that way. Makes me want to find my keycap puller and take a closer look at the underside of the keys on the backlit Ducky I’ve got (it has only seen light use while I was waiting for parts to repair my RK-9000, so any key wear would not yet be apparent).

            My only beef with the backlit keys on the Ducky is that when the backlight is off, the keycaps are very low contrast. Not a big deal; if it is dark enough in the room that you need the contrast, turn the damn backlight on!

            I would’ve probably just stuck with the Ducky (and made the RK-9000 the spare after it was repaired) if I’d had an extra set of o-rings to install on the Ducky…

        • jihadjoe
        • 5 years ago

        I’ve never had media keys swap me out of a game, or any application for that matter. Media keys should actually be an advantage for both of those users because they allow control of media players without needing to swap out of the currently active application. Less downtime for both gamers and typists alike.

    • Voldenuit
    • 5 years ago

    A gaming keyboard with wobbly keys, wobbly backplate, inconsistent actuation response and inadequate anti-ghosting, [i<]and[/i<] it gets a qualified recommendation? Even (or rather, [i<]especially[/i<]) if this keyboard comes from a top sponsor, TR needs to avoid any overt signs of favoritism to maintain its journalistic integrity, or it risks harming both it and its sponsor's reputation. Rosewill has been responsive to product issues in the past (such as the fragile mini-USB connector on the RK-9000s - typing this post on a Mk II RK-9000RE), but the problems in this keyboard go beyond installing a simple brace. If and when Rosewill fixes the issues with this keyboard, it could be worth a revisit, but right now, TR needs to call a turd a turd.

      • bhtooefr
      • 5 years ago

      Um… this is the review I read:

      [quote<]If Rosewill can step things up on that front, then the RK-6000 could become an excellent entry-level mechanical offering. For now, though, unless you're particularly strapped for cash, I would recommend coughing up the extra $40 for one of Rosewill's RK-9000-series offerings. The German-made Cherry switches in those keyboards are palpably better-built, and Rosewill offers a choice of different variants of them, which doesn't hurt.[/quote<] The language could have been stronger there, yes, but still, it's saying that it's not excellent yet, just that it could become one.

        • superjawes
        • 5 years ago

        Even then, I don’t read that as a recommendation for an excellent [i<]product[/i<], but as an excellent [i<]entry-level keyboard[/i<]. I doubt anyone using Cherry MX switches is going to rush out for something that feels inferior, but it could be an excellent fit for someone who wants to taste mechanical switches without forking over $100+. EDIT: I can't grammar yet...must absorb coffee...

        • Voldenuit
        • 5 years ago

        This is the sentence that stuck out at me:

        [quote<]The RK-6000's only serious downside, as far as I'm concerned, is the inconsistent feedback of some of the switches.[/quote<] From reading the text of the review, there seem to be more downsides than that, which could get missed by someone skimming to the conclusions.

          • Cyril
          • 5 years ago

          Barring the fact that I can’t be held responsible for what people miss if they only read one page out of a two-page review, the conclusion alone clearly covers:
          [list<] [*<]The poor Newegg reviews. [/*<][*<]The weird layout. [/*<][*<]The inconsistent feedback. [/*<][*<]The user complaints about defective keys. [/*<][*<]The fact that there are clearly quality-control problems with this thing. [/*<][*<]The fact that, because of those quality-control problems, you should not buy it. [/*<] [/list<] If someone still clicks "buy" after reading all that, then I don't think I can help them.

            • superjawes
            • 5 years ago

            You should put a disclaimer on all articles:

            “The Tech Report is not responsible for poor purchase decisions.”

            • Voldenuit
            • 5 years ago

            Suggestion: How about a Pros and Cons summary at the end of TR articles? It’s not so hard for a 2-page review, but on multi-page reviews for more complicated parts, the key points are easier to miss.

            Something like what ars does on their reviews, or Kotaku on their game reviews.

            • Voldenuit
            • 5 years ago

            Also mentioned in your review but not in the conclusions paragraph, is that the RK-6000 does not do 6KRO or NKRO. Come to think of it, from the wording of your sentence, it even fails to do 3KRO.

            For a [i<]gaming[/i<] keyboard, that's got to be a deal-killer, but it's hidden away in the text. That's one of the reasons I think some form of summary or breakdown would be useful in future reviews.

            • PadawanTrainer
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]but it's hidden away in the text[/quote<] Which means I would have had to read. I can't believe the nerve of these crazy tech sites.

            • Voldenuit
            • 5 years ago

            Hey, I’m a simple guy.

            I’d just like the key highs and lows of any given product to be easily accessible at a centralized location. That way I don’t have to remember 20 different points given in 20 different paragraphs across multiple pages.

            I’m not saying omit the review process or backstory describing how a conclusion was arrived at, but a clear, concise summary at the end is something desirable, methinks. And the current system of having a conclusion paragraph could be improved, I think, especially since in this example, one of the potentially most important aspects of a gaming keyboard, the ghosting implementation, had been completely left off the summary paragraph.

    • continuum
    • 5 years ago

    IIRC the small backspace key, double-height L-shaped enter key, forward slash key to the left of the right shift key are all the original QWERTY layout as opposed to the ANSI layout usually seen in the USA.

    [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout#Mechanical.2C_visual_and_functional_layouts[/url<] [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY#Computer_keyboards[/url<]

      • bhtooefr
      • 5 years ago

      The evolution of the modern keyboard layouts went something like this – there’s three evolutionary paths here:

      1971: [url=http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2qguYvYz5II/TywhQw0luOI/AAAAAAAAC_Y/OcXQX_W2yeM/s1600/ibm%2Bselectric%2Bkeyboardlayout.png<]IBM Selectric II[/url<], with L-shaped enter (although not as wide as today's L-shaped enter) in some markets, debuts 1977: [url=http://www.corestore.org/5251-1.jpg<]IBM 5251 terminal[/url<] (large image) debuts, with an almost identical mechanical layout to the later IBM PC keyboard - truncated left shift and vertical enter 1980: IBM DisplayWriter debuts, with a wider layout. [url=http://zonky.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=55214&g2_serialNumber=2<]92-character keyboards[/url<] have the L-shaped enter in a form closer to what we're used to now, and [url=http://www.welook4things.com/displaywriter_images/dw_1850.jpg<]96-character keyboards[/url<] have the vertical enter and truncated left shift (and basically look like ISO). 1980: IBM Selectric III debuts. [url=http://www.dartblog.com/data/images/selectric-iii.jpg<]92-character keyboards[/url<] have the ANSI layout we're familiar with and 96-character keyboards follow the DisplayWriter example, so I won't bother with a link 1981: [url=http://www.vintage-computer.com/images/83key.jpg<]IBM PC[/url<] debuts, with a modified keyboard from the System/23 Datamaster, which in turn stole its mechanical layout from the 5251 for whatever reason. 1981: [url=http://www.kishy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/4704kb.jpg<]IBM 4704[/url<] debuts. Truncated left shift, and TWO keys where Enter is, but in the ISO layout. The 107 key version is what we're most interested in. And, look at the bottom row, too. 1982: [url=http://www.cosam.org/images/vt220/keyboard.jpg<]DEC LK-201[/url<] terminal keyboard debuts. It has a very different lineage (going back to the VT-100, VT-50/52, VT-05, and then the Teletype ASR-33), but note the arrow keys. I think it was the first keyboard with the "inverted T" arrow cluster we use today, and IBM was likely inspired by it. 1983: [url=http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/Images/6110344.jpg<]IBM PC/3270[/url<] debuts with a 122-key keyboard derived from the 4704 keyboard. Vertical enter now, a ton of function keys added to the top, and the modern navigation and editing cluster is starting to form on an IBM keyboard. 1984: [url=http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/Images/6450225.jpg<]IBM PC/AT[/url<] debuts with an "improved" keyboard layout from the XT. Here's where the L-shaped enter and the small backspace were seen, and also note that that's a UK-layout keyboard. Note that the PC/3270's keyboard is a distinctly different evolution at this point. 1985: [url=http://deskthority.net/w/images/4/44/1386303.jpg<]IBM Enhanced Keyboard[/url<] debuts, initially on the 3161 terminal, but later on the PC. The Selectric III influence, previously not seen, appears here on ANSI layout versions ([url=http://deskthority.net/wiki/File:IBM_Model_M_1391406_--_top.jpg<]ISO layout versions follow the trend set by the PC/3270 keyboard[/url<]), as well as the LK-201 arrow keys (although shifted down a row). Some clones of the Extended Keyboard, however, use the AT enter and backspace instead.

        • jihadjoe
        • 5 years ago

        Great post!
        I learned something new today.

          • bhtooefr
          • 5 years ago

          Also, fun fact: I believe the first computer (as opposed to typewriter) to use (essentially) what became the ANSI keyboard layout was not an IBM product, but rather the Apple //e (and they copied straight from the Selectric III, except for making it a quarter key narrower, whereas the IBM Enhanced Keyboard went for a quarter key WIDER to share tooling with the other layouts that already existed), over two years before the first Enhanced Keyboards.

    • spuppy
    • 5 years ago

    If you prefer this over a Topre, even with wobbly keys and switches that don’t click sometimes, and horrible ghosting problems, you might want to look into other clicky options like Cherry MX Green or something…

      • bhtooefr
      • 5 years ago

      Or my favorite, the Matias Tactile Pro. (Now if they’d only sell both PC layout and the Click switches in the same board… although I haven’t tried the Quiet switches yet.) That’s an Alps clone done [i<]right[/i<], unlike the cheaper stuff like this. You still get some wobble, but that's inherent to the Alps design. Model Ms have a bit of wobble, too, though. At least if you get stuck with one of these boards, and have soldering skill, you can likely replace the switches with Matias switches...

      • Cyril
      • 5 years ago

      Nah, the Topre is still a way better keyboard. I’m not a huge fan of the Cherry MX greens, either. (Too springy, too loud.) All I’m saying there is that the Alps clones on this thing, when they click properly, feel good enough to get comfortable with—and to make moving to another switch type temporarily unsettling. Honestly, I don’t always feel that way when testing a different keyboard than my own.

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