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:

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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):

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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):

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"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?

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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!


February 23, 2016 | 11:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

WTF is "Go Mechanical Keyboard"? Sounds like some Engrish site. Not ripping on it - one of my favorite movie studios is http://www.wellgousa.com/

February 23, 2016 | 01:12 PM - Posted by GoMechanicalKeyboard

Kyle from Go Mechanical Keyboard here, wish I had a good explanation for the name but there really isn't one! Just a domain that makes the niche obvious and tries to add some sort of "brand" so people can discern it from other mech sites. It does sound something like a bad Japanese translation if taken literally.

February 23, 2016 | 11:51 AM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

Pretty nice infographics from that site. Thanks for posting their survey results Sebastian!

Their results seem reasonable overall. The popularity of the 60% form factor is likely skewed higher by the requirement of survey respondents already following a mechanical keyboard specific site. My impression has been that 60% form factor is especially popular with keyboard enthusiasts. If you look at the results for Razer in the top 10 gaming section, it is clearly lower than the real world sales numbers would predict. Those consumers just don't visit that type of site as much.

I have a leopold FC200 TKL with blank keycaps, brown switches. I added O-rings to mine.

February 23, 2016 | 01:00 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I agree that these results are more reflective of the enthusiast community. I'd be curious to see what the results would be among gamers at large.

February 23, 2016 | 12:06 PM - Posted by Randal_46

Corsair Vengeance K70 (MX Brown, full keyboard) for general use and gaming when I'm not working on a laptop.

February 23, 2016 | 12:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm clearly in the minority as I prefer MX Black.

February 23, 2016 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

How about NO.
1. Roccat Ryos TKL with black cherry switches.
2. Any of your "arguments" are automatically invalid. Have a good day, sir.
3. /thread, because you simply cannot beat the PURE PERFECTION that is Roccat's Ryos.

February 23, 2016 | 12:51 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Roccat, sure. But what about [ARGUMENT AUTOMATICALLY INVALIDATED]

February 23, 2016 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

https://youtu.be/0FThgw8mXWo

February 23, 2016 | 04:41 PM - Posted by ddg4005

Looks like there's no love for Logitech's G910 with its Romer-G mechanical key switches.

February 23, 2016 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Mikey (not verified)

I just made my own keyboard from scratch.
65% is perfect!

http://imgur.com/a/snhrB

February 23, 2016 | 05:17 PM - Posted by thezfunk

Full size, Das Keyboard with MX Browns. I also have a Razor full sized with MX Blues but my roomate/wife was going to kill me with the clicking of the Blues so I took it to work as I do a lot of typing at work and it is great for that. Besides, annoying my coworkers is a nice bonus.

February 23, 2016 | 11:23 PM - Posted by Thordrune (not verified)

Home - Das Keyboard Model S Pro w/MX Blues

Work - IBM Model M (June 1992)

I guess I like annoying those around me :P

I don't think I've seen a 60% keyboard before; no idea they were that popular. Sounds interesting, but I couldn't use one; I use my F keys a lot in WoW at home, and occasional iSeries (aka AS/400) tasks at work. It's all good though, seeing any kind of mechanical keyboard makes me happy.

February 24, 2016 | 09:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Cherry G80-1800 best keyboard every keyboard.

To the point I'm considering a custom PCB replacement to allow illuminated keycaps and to add a macro row by shifting the Function row down.

February 24, 2016 | 10:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm glad bucking springs aren't too popular - keeps the prices of good keyboards down

February 24, 2016 | 11:53 PM - Posted by Speely

I wish I could find a mechanical keyboard with this form factor:

http://i.imgur.com/wCiztQ4.jpg

I like having Tenkey, I could care less about Home/End/Pg Up/etc., and I like still having arrows.

The closest I've found is the CM QuickFire TK, which I still haven't made up my mind on. Comes in Reds, Blues, or Browns. But the Cherry MX demonstrator at my local MicroCenter looks like it's a few million keystrokes in so I don't know how reliable it is.

February 25, 2016 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Darylict (not verified)

Closest would be the CM Storm QuickfireTK

only issue is that the arrow keys are integrated into the TenKey part but a great keyboard!

I have the Quickfire TK w\ Red Cherry Switches
KBP V60 Mini 60% board with Cherry MX Blacks
old Razer Blackwidow w\ Cherry Mx Blues

The cherry mx blacks are my favorite hands down, had browns but didnt like the feel of them as much as a linear, reds are great but VERY sensitive

February 25, 2016 | 05:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Black switches are basically Reds with a higher spring force, right? Still linear? If that's the case, I might just find myself wishing they made the QuickFire TK in black switches.

I'd considered getting Brown switches as I like the idea of a tactile "bump" feedback but without the 1980's clickies that the Blues have. Currently wondering whether I'd like the Brown or Red, but likely either way I'd be adding O-rings.

To the best of my knowledge, I haven't had a proper mechanical keyboard since well before Win98. I'd like to find out what I'm missing - if anything.

February 27, 2016 | 05:39 AM - Posted by Pepijn (not verified)

I have the Quickfire TK as well and absolutely love it. You get used to the position of the arrow keys and pgup/pgdn block pretty fast and it's nice to still be able to enable the number keys (I'm much faster entering numbers with it than with the top row).

Also with MX Reds, had a ducky with browns before and it just was not my thing at all. I actually found that the spacebar would get stuck halfway if I didn't press it hard enough, which would totally mess up my playing. I returned it and the seller (who was very cool about it, it was just this one guy who imports the ducky keyboards) tested it and he didn't find anything wrong with it, so it's probably just a matter of taste. MX reds are awesome in my opinion though :)

I also wouldn't want a full size keyboard anymore. It's not so much about deskspace as it is about your hands not having to be so far apart because the WASD keys and your mouse can be closer together. It's much more comfortable, definitely outweighing the minor inconvenience of having to adjust to the odd layout of the Quickfire TK.

March 3, 2016 | 08:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm using MX Browns as well, blues are too loud and I don't want to be keeping people awake with my keyboard plus I don't care for hearing it myself either.

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