Survey Results on Mechanical Keyboard Preferences Released

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2016 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: survey, mechanical keyboard, Go Mechanical Keyboard, gaming keyboard, Cherry MX

Keyboard enthusiast site Go Mechanical Keyboard recently conducted a reader survey to determine what their readers preferred in a mechanical keyboard, and the results (from 950 responses) provided some interesting data.

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The data (which the site has made available in its raw format here) includes results from favorite key switch to preferred form-factor, as well as brand and model preferences. The site created an impressive infographic to display the results, which is partially reproduced here. I'd recommend a visit to Go Mechanical Keyboard to see the full version, as well as links to prior year's surveys.

Getting to a few of the results, we'll start with the all-important mechanical key switches:

switches.png

Cherry MX Blue was the winner for favorite typing experience, with MX Brown switches actually winning both gaming and all-purpose categories. Of course, key switches are a very personal choice and these results are limited to the readers of one particular site, though that does not invalidate the results. The position of the MX Brown surprised me, as my impression had been it was less popular than a few of the other options out there. (I'm curious to see what our readers think!)

Next we'll look at the preferred form-factor (which is accompanied by a couple of other data points):

formfactor_etc.png

Tenkeyless (TKL) slightly edges out the next highest result, which was the "60%" form-factor. Admittedly, I had not heard of this size prior to reading these results, and here's what I found from a quick search (I retrieved the following from the Deskthority Wiki):

60_percent.jpg

"60% keyboards omit the numeric keypad of a full-size keyboard, and the navigation cluster of a tenkeyless keyboard. The function key row is also removed; the escape key is consequently moved into the number row."

I'll skip ahead to the favorite overall keyboard results, which in no way could cause any disagreement or disparagement on the internet, right?

keyboard.png

The Vortex Poker 3 was the winner, a 60% keyboard (there's that form-factor again!) offered with a variety of MX switches. These keyboards run from about $129 - $139, depending on version. A model with Cherry MX Blue switches and white backlighting is listed on Amazon for $139.99, and versions with other key switches are also listed. The CM QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless design that sells for under $80 was second, followed by the Corsair K70, a standard 104-key design that sells for $129.

There was quite a bit more info on the full version of the infographic, and the source article (and site) is definately worth checking out if you're interested in mechanical keyboards. I'm curious to know what our readers prefer, too, so I'll be checking the comments!

All of your manuscripts will be illuminated with the SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: input, steelseries, Apex M800, mechanical keyboard

The Steelseries Apex M800 uses their own QS1 mechnical switches, designed by Kailh and similar in feel to a Cherry MX Red switch.  It uses seperate processors for input and lighting, which allows you to get very creative when using the SteelSeries Engine 3 to program effects. It is also capable of recording macros on the fly, which you can then edit from within the software if you so desire.  Some users will also like the two USB 2.0 ports present on the keyboard, perhaps not for data transfer but handy for charging your phone or if you have USB powered toys on your desk.  Check out the full review including a video of the lighting effects over at Techgage.

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"SteelSeries has always been a heavy hitter in the world of peripherals. With a slew of highly touted mice, keyboards, and headsets, it looks to take things to the next level with the Apex M800 illuminated gaming keyboard. Does it have another winner on its hands, or are thousands of gamer nerds wrong? Read on to find out."

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Source: Techgage

ASUS Announces ROG Horus GK2000 Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2016 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, Republic of Gamers, mechanical keyboard, GK2000, cherry mx red, asus

ASUS has announced a new mechanical keyboard from their Republic of Gamers division, and the Horus GK2000 sports an aluminum upper body, with Cherry MX Red switches under the ABS keycaps.

2-ROG-GK2000.jpg

The keyboard is a standard 104 key layout, with an additional 5 macro keys to the left, and wheels for volume and backlight control on the right side. It features 1000 Hz polling rate and offers a 2x USB 2.0 hub and 3.5 mm audio passthrough. As mentioned above key switching is handled by Cherry's MX Red, a linear switch which provides a lower actuation force than the MX Black.

In addition to the angular styling and large detachable palmrest, the GK2000 also offers adjustable (red) lighting to further enhance its appearance. We've seen quite a bit of the black/red color scheme for products targeting the gaming segment, and in this case it compliments the design of the company's ROG Swift monitors and other gaming products.

1-ROG-GK2000.jpg

Specifications:

  • Interface: USB 2.0 (1000Hz) with NKRO (can be disabled)
  • Layout: Standard 104 + 5 macro keys (left) + ROG key (right) + volume and backlight wheels (right)
  • Keyboard switches: Mechanical Cherry MX Red 45 g, 2 mm actuation, 4 mm travel
  • Volume knob: Infinite wheel switch (scroll to increase/decrease backlight)
  • USB hub: 2x USB 2.0
  • Audio pass-through: 1x audio, 1x mic
  • OS support: Windows XP/ Windows Vista /Windows 7/ Windows 8/ Windows 8.1/ Windows 10 32/64 bit
  • Approx. dimensions: 52.65 x 17 x 4.9 cm
  • Palm rest: 47.2 x 8.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Cable: 180 cm braided cable
  • Keycaps: ABS with UV grip coating
  • Materials: 3 mm brushed aluminum, 3 mm sandblasted aluminum, ABS underside 
  • Weight: 1700 g

No pricing or availability information accompanied the announcement.

Source: ASUS

G.Skill Rolls Out Refreshed Mechanical Gaming Keyboards

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2016 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: ripjaws, RGB LED, mechanical keyboard, G.Skill, Cherry MX

Memory maker G.Skill recently announced a refresh of its mechanical keyboard line that tweaks the KM780 series and cuts $10 off of the MSRP pricing. The two new refreshed products are the Ripjaws KM780R RGB and KM780R MX.

GSkill KM780R-MX front.png

The new keyboards use an aluminum plate/base, Cherry MX switches, and a black anodized finish on the frame. The KM780R MX is backlit by red LEDs while the KM780R RGB can have custom per-key backlighting. Both feature a full QWERTY layout plus number pad as well as media playback keys, a LED volume level display, and six macro keys (three on-board key profiles). There is also USB and analog audio pass-through ports.

G.Skill is offering the new gaming keyboards in several models depending on your choice of key switch. Specifically, users can choose from Cherry MX blue, brown, or red switches. Connecting via USB, they employ anti-ghosting and full N-key rollover tech as well.

GSkill KM780R-RGB.png

The every so slightly cheaper KM780R series does away with its predecessors bundled extra gaming key caps and key removal tool. The KM780R MX has an MSRP of $120 while the KM780R RGB model has an MSRP of $159.99 (Note that the brown and red variants are actually $140 on Amazon right now, but the Cherry MX blue version is not on sale.)

While I have not used them, the original models from last year appear to have garnered quite a bit of praise in reviews (particularly from AnandTech). It seems like G.Skill has not changed much and the R variants are more of the same for a bit less, and that's probably a good thing. I'm looking forward to seeing full reviews though, of course.

Have you tried the memory giant's other products before?

Also read: Mechanical Keyboard Switches Explained and Compared by Scott Michaud @ PC Perspective

Source: G.Skill

Zalman enters the mechanical keyboard market, meet their ZM-K700M

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2016 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: ZM-K700M, zalman, mechanical keyboard, input, cherry mx red

For a market that barely existed outside of a few users pining about a certain old IBM keyboard, the range of mechanical keyboards that have appeared over the past couple of years is incredible.  Another company recently joined this market, Zalman has released the ZM-K700M LED keyboard, which contains Cherry MX Red switches.  If you would like a refresher course on what that actually means, check out Scott's animated guide right here

Instead of depending on software Zalman has included programming keys on the keyboard to modify lighting effects and macros; they also added a nice feature to the numlock key, press it twice and it launches the calculator app.  Check out the full details over at Benchmark Reviews.

Zalman-ZM-K700M-Mechanical-Gaming-Keyboard-Top-600x183.jpg

"I'm picky, and have been described as a perfectionist too many times to count. So it stands to reason that the keyboard, that peripheral attachment that works like a natural extensions of the body for the eSports gamer, becomes a personal choice for many. Keyboards are used for both everyday workload as well as entertainment, so picking the right one is important."

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CES 2016: New Cooler Master Mechanical Keyboards

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 11:02 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, cooler master, mechanical keyboard, RGB LED

Back in September, we mentioned that the CoolerMaster QuickFire XTi was launched worldwide. They have now launched three more keyboards. Two of them have Cherry MX switches and RGB LEDs, while the third uses a supposedly high-quality membrane switch.

coolermaster-2016-cesstuff.jpg

According to The Tech Report at the show, Cooler Master has apparently used their own LED solution, rather than just purchase Cherry MX RGB switches directly. They also say that they needed to change the housing to fit those. The MasterKeys Pro L and S are fairly minimalist keyboards. I assume L stands for long, and S stands for short, because the S is the tenkeyless version of the L (which means it is cut off to the right of the arrow keys).

The Devastator II has switches that Cooler Master calls “Mem-chanical.” They apparently created high-end membrane switches that are supposed to feel like tactile mechanical ones. I guess this means that they were trying to emulate the Cherry MX Brown force curve. This doesn't say what quality the keyboard will end up being, that said, one of the most precise keyboards I've had (according to my straight-edge test) was a Microsoft Media keyboard from the early 2000s.

The Devastator II also has an ambidextrous mouse. Not sure about pricing and availability, though. The Tech Report claims $30, which is right around what the original Devastator costs today.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Even more keyboards, check out Thermaltake's Poseidon Z RGB

Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2015 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: poseidon Z RGB, thermaltake, mechanical keyboard, input

The keyboard market has changed drastically over the past year with the introduction of mainstream mechanical keys and improved LED backlighting features.  Where once the market was not that competitive and only a few major players were offering products we now have a wide variety of brands to choose from.  This makes it hard to stand out in the market without adding extra features to your keyboards, which leads us to the Thermaltake Poseidon RGB.  This particular keyboard has an integrated 32-bit processor which allows you to choose between 16.8 million colors for each key.  The keys use Kailh Brown RGB switches, a less expensive clone of the Cherry MX Brown switches more commonly found on these types of boards.  Find out if they are good enough over at Benchmark Reviews.

tt_poseidon_z_rgb_straight.jpg

"Just a few months ago, full RGB mechanical keyboards were rare beasts, and the inclusion of full per-key RGB lighting commanded a very high price, with some keyboards selling for almost $200.00. Now, prices are coming down rapidly and vendors are starting to compete on features, but how many more features are there left to add?"

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Corsair Introduces Strafe RGB Silent Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2015 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: Strafe RGB Silent, mechanical keyboard, keyswitches, keycaps, gaming keyboard, corsair, Cherry MX Silent, Cherry MX

Corsair has introduced the Strafe RGB Silent mechanical keyboard, which is the first keyboard to use the Cherry’s new MX Silent keyswitches.

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“With a sophisticated noise dampening system integrated into each key, the Strafe RGB Silent offers all the legendary precision and feel of German-engineered Cherry MX mechanical key switches, but up to 30% quieter.”

Corsair says that “you simply won’t find a Cherry MX Silent keyswitch anywhere else”, so if the noise from mechanical key-switches bothers you (or those around you) this looks like a great alternative. So how is it silent? Corsair explains:

“Rather than using rubber O-rings or other quick-fix external fittings to reduce key noise, the Cherry MX Silent uses a patented fully-integrated noise reduction system built into every key, greatly reducing key bottoming-out and spring-back noise. The result is a keyswitch that’s up to 30% quieter, making Strafe RGB Silent the ideal choice for gamers that demand the tactile feel of a mechanical key, but prefer a quieter operation to not disturb their partner, kids or co-workers.”

The keyboard also features full RGB lighting powered by Corsair’s on-board controller, and offers “individual multi-color dynamic backlighting for nearly unlimited lighting customization, effects and personalization”. Lighting profiles can also be downloaded using Corsair’s RGB Share service.

Corsair lists these other features for the new keyboard as well:

  • USB pass-through port allows the easy connection of a mouse, gaming headset or phone to a PC
  • Full-length soft-touch wrist rest offers comfort for even the longest gaming sessions
  • Gaming grade circuitry provides 100% anti-ghosting and full 104 key rollover ensuring every critical key press registers
  • Two included sets of custom textured and contoured keycaps, vital keys offer enhanced grip and feel for FPS or MOBA games

The Strafe RGB Silent carries a 2-year warranty from Corsair and is available now with an MSRP of $159.99 from Corsair’s web store, or exclusively at Best Buy (in North America).

Source: Corsair

A keyboard joins the G.SKILL Ripjaws family; meet the colourful KM780

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: cherry mx brown, G.Skill, ripjaws, KM780, input, mechanical keyboard

G.SKILL has extended their Ripjaws family beyond RAM with the introduction of the KM780, a mechanical keyboard sporting some unique features.  For lighting enthusiasts the Cherry MX Brown keys are clear instead of black which allows the backlighting to show through significantly more than on other boards.  There is a bar at the back of the keyboard which adds an interesting aesthetic and allows for a cord holder to be incorporated into the design.  As well, not only can you program macros using the software there are keys which can be depressed to allow you to program a macro on the fly while playing a game.  The lighting is perhaps a bit much for some but if you are a fan of keyboards that are seen and not heard you should check out the full review at Overclockers Club.

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"Upon first look at the KM780, I was taken aback by the design. The bars looked odd to me, but in use they didn't bother me, in fact I had many ideas as to possible uses for them including using them as tie downs for traveling, such as to LAN parties, and for locking the keyboard down to a surface using clamps on the bars – great for systems where the keyboard will move a lot such as gaming PC chair rigs."

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Cooler Master Launches QuickFire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, quickfire xti, mechanical keyboard

Once again, a mechanical keyboard with 104-key rollover claims to have 100% anti-ghosting, because that is expected from a marketing perspective. Once you have a key matrix that has each key isolated, which 104-key rollover strongly suggests, then ghosting cannot occur so “anti-ghosting” is meaningless. Unfortunately, keyboard companies are still compelled to advertise the feature on the box, but I hope our readers understand the difference.

coolermaster-quickfirexti.jpg

Regardless, Cooler Master has launched the QuickFire XTi mechanical keyboard. It uses official Cherry MX switches, but not the Cherry MX RGB switches that were once exclusive to Corsair. Instead of 16 million colors in the typical human spectrum, it allows for 35 colors on the red-blue spectrum. This could be a problem for people who want yellow, white, or green keys, but acceptable if you'll keep it at colors in the range of red, blue, or magenta. I'm not particularly sure why they cut so much of the spectrum away, but it clearly made sense to them. The lighting can be animated, though.

Cooler Master is proud of their cable management, though. The cable is detachable with a micro USB head and braided. They also have a few different ways of routing the wire under the keyboard, allowing the cable to come out on the side that makes the most sense for your desk, which is particularly good for lefties.

The Cooler Master QuickFire XTi is available now for $150 USD. I've found it on Amazon for $123.86, though.