The Mechanical Keyboard Guide


V_R

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Just been reading this guide regarding Mech Keyboards. Very interesting!

This is one of the things i really want, but cant or don't want to part with my beloved G19.

I shall only post part of the guide here as you should really go and read it for yourself. :)

http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keyboard-guide


Fact: Nearly all keyboards sold bundled with computers or at retail stores use rubber domes under their keys. This is the same technology used in cheap TV remotes. They're made to be as cheap as possible to manufacture in order to maximize profits. Yes, this even includes "high end" keyboards. So why settle for something that is made as cheap as possible?

So Why do YOU want a Mechanical Keyboard?
For most people it's all about the feel. With the keyboard you're typing on right now you've got to press the key all the way down to the bottom to get it to register. This wastes a lot of energy and causes fatigue, as most of your effort is spent pushing against a solid piece of plastic. Mechanical keyswitches are designed so that they register before you bottom out, so you only need to apply as much force as is necessary to actuate it, not wasting any. And with as many different types of switches as there are you can pick and choose which one you're the most comfortable with, as each one has a different feel to it. And most people who try one can never go back to using rubber domes, as they realize just how "mushy" they really feel.


Common Key Switches

Introduction - A Switch is Not "Just a Switch"

Many people ask for recommendations about switches without knowing exactly what they are looking for, but instead only with an idea of what their needs are. Fortunately, this is not always a problem because most mechanical switches will always feel nicer than rubber domes. However, the final choice is very important because a switch is not just a switch; it is the heart of what makes your keyboard have its feel and your personal tastes can make or break a keyboard for your uses. If you don't like the switch when you type on it, most likely, you won't ever like the keyboard.

Switches are generally rated by force using the weight measurement of Grams (g). Although force is more accurately described using Centinewtons (cN) However, 1g of weight applies about 1cN of downward force, so we can use "55g" when describing a 55cN-rated switch because that is sometimes easier to understand. For this fact; we'll use Grams as a measurement of force; though either term is correct.
For perspective, it would be wise to remember that your average rubber dome keyboard requires between 55g and 60g of force to actuate.



Cherry MX Black Switches

Type: Linear Switch
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: No
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 60g (40g-80g overall) (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX-Black switches are linear (non-tactile) switches, these are considered one of the best switch types for gaming. When gaming, having a tactile bump does absolutely nothing because you're going to be bottoming out anyway. So these give you a very smooth feel. The actuation and release points are at the exact same position as well. So games that require a lot of double tapping become easier than on any other keyswitch. However, most people don't enjoy typing on them that much do in part, to their linear nature. If you're a person who tends to hit a wrong key every so often while gaming, these will be beneficial in that the high actuation force will help prevent many of those accidental presses.



Cherry MX Brown Switches

Type: Tactile Switch
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 45g (55g Peak Force) (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Brown switches are considered a middle ground between typing and "gaming" switches. They have a light, tactile feel half way through the key press that lets you know the switch has activated. This gives you an indication of what you can release the switch. The switch is considered a middle ground because the reset point & actuation point are close enough together than you can "float" at that point, enabling you to double tap faster.

As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 55G, it is 45G at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.



Cherry MX Blue Switches

Type: Tactile & Clicky Switch
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes, precise
Clicky: Yes
Actuation Force: 50g (60g Peak Force) (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Blue switches are the best cherry switch for typing. The tactile bump can easily be felt, and the resistance is similar to your average keyboard.
Although many people find them just fine for gaming, some don't like the fact that the release point is above the actuation point. This can cause some trouble with double-tapping. This is usually the case with someone who has experienced other mechanical switches before hand.

As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 60g, it is 50g at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.



Cherry MX Clear Switches

Type: Tactile Switch
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 55g (65G peak force) (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Clear switches have often been called "stiffer browns" though some users note that they have more of a tactile feel than browns do. This really can be a subjective topic, though this is another switch that could be considered "ballanced." The force required is comparable to most rubber dome keyboards, with a nice tactile feedback to tell you the key has actuated. These switches are harder to find on keyboards.

As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 65g, it is 55g at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.



Cherry MX Red Switches

Type: Linear Switch
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: No
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 45g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX-Red's are another switch that can be considered a "gaming" switch. It's essentially a lighter version of the MX Black, requiring less force to actuate. Some people do not find this switch that good for typing or gaming because it is so light, but others rave for this fact. Light or Stiff is always a matter of preference. This switch was hard to find; and was reported as EOL, but it is still in limited production with a higher than average MOQ leading to higher cost to board makers. Marketed with high demand, boards with this switch are becoming more common, but are generally more expensive as well.
 
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floppybootstomp

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One of the best things I ever done was change to a mechanical keyboard. Started with a Mionix Zibal 60 in July, that crapped out on me two months later so now have Gigabyte Aivia Osmium which is brill :)

The Mionix was good when it worked but has been unobtainable for two months now.
 

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"The rarely-encountered Cherry MX Red switches are a special variation on the MX Black, and are distinguished by a very low compression point and a low operating force.

Apart from a few followers, these keyboards have found few buyers. They are bordering on extinction as a result of a high rate of typographical errors."
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/mechanical-switch-keyboard,review-32205-2.html

" ... we must emphasize that there is no single genre for which any one of these keyboards would be completely unsuitable. All of these devices teeter between "very good" and "excellent," and accordingly all of our complaints are extremely picky. In addition, one must allow for a user's subjective preferences, especially on a device as personal as a keyboard. Just as hands and fingers are different from one enthusiast to another, the reaction of users to these keyboards could range from good to euphoric."
No clear winner ... make mine black. :)
 

floppybootstomp

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I only have experience of the Mionix keyboard - with Black Cherry switches, and the Gigabyte Osmium keyboard which comes with Red Cherry switches.

To cut to the chase - I preferred the Mionix (black keys) for typing, it was noisier and needed a heavier strike to the keys and the typing was more precise.

But I like the Osmium (red keys) for gaming best.

Have to say though that for me to mention any preference between the two would be extremely picky of me, they're both good. However, the illumination of the Mionix keys died after five weeks and they haven't been in stock with any UK supplier for over two months now so bear that in mind.

I had two criteria other than the keyboard having mechanical switches - I wanted the keys illuminated with variable brightness and I didn't want them backlit red, just blue or green, I don't favour red backlit keys but obviously that's just a personal thing. This somewhat narrowed my choice of mechanical keyboard.

I owned a Logitech gaming keyboard for a while, an expensive one with a fold out LCD screen, can't remember the model number, but imo a mechanical keyboard outperforms my old Logi.

One advantage of my Osmium over my failed Mionix is that is has five Macro keys that can be programmed. It also has a detachable wrist rest so you have a choice, unlike the Mionix which didn't come with a wrist rest.

Black or red keys? Overall, considering both gaming and typing, I'd go for the reds. Individually - reds for gaming, blacks for typing.
 

V_R

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Sounds like it was the G15 you have Flops. The original Blue one. I had the G15 v2 in orange, was a good keyboard. :)

So after a bit more looking and reading last night, i ordered one of these...
http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/sampler-kit-1/wasd-sampler-kit.html

Still debating on switch type, but red, black or brown it will be, i dont want the blues as they seem loud, and i dont want the clicky feedback.
 

floppybootstomp

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My old Logi keyboard died when it took a full glass of wine right between the eyes and since then I've used several different keyboards including the Razer Lycosa before settling on the Gigabyte Osmium >> Link

The black keys on the Mionix were very clicky. The red keys on the Osmium are almost as quiet as a membrane keyboard though obviously not as quiet.

That key sample pack is a good idea - available in the UK?
 

V_R

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That GB one is on my short list actually, looks very good. :)

That, the Qpad MK-85 (comes with any switch type) or the Logitech G710 (Brown only)

Nah i couldn't find that or an equivalent over here.... :( Though now I've ordered it what's the betting if I looked again I'd find it!?

It shipped today though, so should get it sooner or later!

Only $11 too. Which is what? 7 quid ish?
 

V_R

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So! I now have my sample kit i ordered the other week. :)

After messing about with the different switches I've decided that Reds are the way to go.

My thoughts....

Reds - Perfect, not too much pressure needed, non tactile.
Blacks - Too stiff, they actually feel stiffer than my G19.
Blues - As suspected, i dont like the 'click' of them, though its not as bad as i first expected. Thought that may change on an actual keyboard.
Browns - I like the feedback from the browns but again, they are a little too stiff for my liking.

So, all i need to do now is decide on a board, the Qpad MK-85 is favourite at the moment, followed by the Corsair Vengeance K90.

Apologies for the basic pics, i was in a rush, as I've just been sorting out someone's laptop....



 

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floppybootstomp

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The Gigabyte Osmium has red keys - that's my current keyboard - no longer a contender?

And getting back to earlier posts - yes, just investigated and my old Logi was a G15.
 

V_R

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Ah yes, i forgot about that one, that too! Probably more so than the Corsair tbh as if nothing else it looks a little nicer. :)

So, the MK-85 or the Osmium..... Hmmm.
 

floppybootstomp

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The Corsair was the first mechanical keyboard I ever considered but I read reports of it not working with some machines, software glitches. And imo it fugly too ;)

The Qpad looks to be a great keyboard, the only thing that made me choose the Osmium over it was I prefer blue to red illumination, that's all.

Decisions, decisions... ;)
 

V_R

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That is my thoughts exactly. My PC, mouse, even the monitor is lit up with blue LED's, the red keyboard would just ruin the whole thing! :lol:

I could get the MK-80 which is blue backlit, but a few features less too....

I might just pull the trigger on the GB, its probably the better looking of the two. Amazon Prime means i can get it tomorrow too! :D
 

V_R

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Flops is your GB board a UK layout?
 

floppybootstomp

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Flops is your GB board a UK layout?
That's a positive :)

btw, I know you don't like Scan, but don't use them, they're awful.

I bought a Mionix Mechanical keyboard from them in July this year which went belly up 5 weeks after and I've only just managed to get £5 from them towards the £11.50 it cost me to send it back to them. And I had to ask them for that. They have a really bad attitude on the phone :mad:

E-Buyer, on the other hand, have taken two rma's back from me recently, no probs, and one of them simply because it wasn't compatible with my KVM switch. And they pay up to £10 on rma postage if the item is proved faulty.

I just had to say that :)
 

V_R

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Well I've just ordered the GB from Amazon, Prime delivery, due tomorrow. :)
 

V_R

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So, one Gigabyte mechanical keyboard now up and running.

Delivered at about 9am this morning, been using it ever since. It does/did take some getting used to, but i am warming to it.Loving the red switches. Deffo made the right choice there. :D

I like the feel if it and as soon as i shift this slight hangover i shall test out its gaming performance! :cool:
 

floppybootstomp

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My keyboard ten to eleven months oold now and starting to show a problem. The letters 'l' and 'oo' soometimes appear twice when I've only hit the key once. I've left the mistake in this text.

So, still under warranty, I better act quick if I want a replacement. It's becoming a bit annoying, these mechanical keyboards, never had any problems with my high end Logi's.

And come to think of it, I still have a beige Microsoft keyboard that's about 12 years old at least, not mechanical but nice and clunky, nowt wrong with it. But it's only a spare, I never did like the feel of that keybooard for some reason, and beige - darling that is just so passe!

I'm going to try cleaning the prooblem keyboard switches with a dash of Servisol in each but if that doesn't work - RMA time.
 
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That's a bit annooooooying (sorry I couldn't resist!!). Ian had a similar problem with his MEKA G-UNIT, and he sent it back to Scan for a replacement (no quibble, all happened really quickly). I've not had any problems at all with my MEKA G1 though, which is nice. I suppose as with anything - when there are more moving parts there is more that can go wrong...
 

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