Posts Tagged best mechanical keyboard

Rosewill RK-9000 Review 1

Well, as promised, I will be reviewing the Rosewill RK-9000 mechanical keyboard. However, I will be doing the review in multiple parts. This is the initial review of the keyboard.

I just received it via UPS and I was too excited to video the unboxing. So, I'll not be doing that. Let's start with the pros of this keyboard.

Pros

This is perhaps the best keyboard I've ever typed on. If not the best, then it's right up there with my Unicomp Endurapro and my friend Lynn's WASD keyboard. The Cherry MX blue switches are very nice. This is the first keyboard I've owned with blue switches. They are responsive and loud. I wanted a quieter keyboard, but much of the loudness of this keyboard comes from bottoming out. It's actually relatively quiet if you learn to not bottom out. I find that the hardest key for me to not bottom out is the space bar, and it's very loud when bottoming out.

The keyboard is slightly smaller than my Unicomp, which places the keys closer together. This will be listed as a con as well, but I should point out that it will probably make the keyboard a bit faster to type on. It actually has a real good action for my hands. I find that I don't have to stretch my fingers nearly as far to type on it. So this is both a pro and a con. The con being that I have to get used to it.

The overall action of the keys is very pleasing. They are light compared to my Unicomp, and they require less of a keypress distance. I'm going to spend a lot of time practicing to not bottom out the keys. There's a very noticeable difference in the sound, when they aren't bottoming out. I'm usually a very powerful typer. My uncle commented that I sounded like I was going to push the keys through the bottom of his laptop, when I was working on it. If you are forceful with your typing, the blue switches will be a good switch on which to practice lighter typing.

The LED lock indicators on this keyboard are a nice blue color and are easy to see. The keyboard is 100% mechanical, unlike the Corsair Vengeance K90 which uses rubber dome keys for the F keys, the macro G keys, and the group of keys right above the arrow keys (insert, home, page up, etc).

The font used for the lettering on this keyboard is very pleasant. The letters are largish. The bracket keys are very distinct. For a programmer this is actually important. The square braces have a wider look than most keyboards. This makes it easy to distinguish them from the normal parenthesis keys. However, most programmers know where these keys are located, so it's not really a big deal. I just thought it was nice that you could tell what the keys are better.

The red metal base plate is a nice touch. It adds contrast to the keyboard and makes a rather dull keyboard actually look unique. The detachable mini USB cord is a nice touch as well. As an aside, I think that it would be awesome if this keyboard could function as a wireless bluetooth device and charge through the detachable USB cable, similar to a PS3 controller. I would love to see this as an option for a keyboard, but I've not seen one yet. The USB cable is very sturdy. Rosewill ships these keyboards with both a USB and a PS2 cable, both connect to the same mini USB port on the keyboard. I connected mine via PS2 because I wanted to try out the full NKRO (n-key rollover) of the keyboard. This means that every key on the keyboard can be pressed at once, and it will send to the OS. This keyboard does, in fact, have NKRO, and it works very well.

The normal keyboard height adjustment feet (or legs, can't remember the term) on the bottom are perfect. Some people have suggested that these are too short, but I find their height to be perfect for my typing. In fact, I've often found that most keyboards are too low when the feet are collapsed and too high when they are extended. This keyboard seems to have been built with the sweet spot in mind. I love it.

Typing on this keyboard is a dream. I've been coming up with new things to say in this post just so I can type on it more. It's giving me a nice chance to check it out. It's not all good though, as I'm about to point out.

Cons

There are at least two things about this keyboard that I didn't care for right away, but both of these issues may go away with time.

First of all, the keys are closer together than I'm used to, as I describe earlier. The ctrl, win, and alt keys are smaller than usual, especially the ctrl key. This places these keys in an abnormal position for me. I'm sure I'll soon get used to them, but this has presented a problem with alt + tab. I have a problem getting my left thumb over to the alt key without looking. Like I said, this keyboard is a little bit smaller than your normal keyboard.

Lastly, I've had a couple of incidents with stuck keys. The "A" key and the "T" both have stuck, once each. I was unable to replicate the issue, and I think that it's just a case of the switches getting broke in. I'll report more about this issue in a later review, but I don't think this is going to be an ongoing thing. I've been using the keyboard for about two hours now and that's only happened those two times. Plus, that only happened within the first 10 minutes of typing on it.

Conclusion

This is by far a better keyboard than many higher priced keyboards. I returned a Corsair Vengeance K90 to get this keyboard, and I'm glad I did. The K90 had a nice back light on the keys and some very well designed media keys, but the macro software was lacking which made the macro keys a terrible "feature", and there were other issues that I wrote about in my review of that keyboard. This keyboard is more like what I was looking for. It's a joy to type on and it just works. It doesn't have extras like a back light or media keys, but it makes up for that in build quality and performance. Since I'm going to be using this keyboard in Linux primarily later on anyway, I can say that the media keys aren't that big of a deal. I usually set up keyboard shortcuts in Linux that perform the volume, play, and pause functions. The main thing I wanted was a good quality keyboard, and this is definitely it. If you are coming from a rubber dome keyboard, this will feel completely different. It will take a day or two to get fully used to it, but after that, you won't turn back. These things are a dream to type on.

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Best Mechanical Keyboard

I've recently started searching for a new keyboard. I don't really need one but I've been wanting a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches. I have three mechanical keyboards already, a Dell AT101W (with Alps key switches), an IBM Model M (buckling spring switches), and a Unicomp Enduro Pro (buckling spring switches). I'm currently using the Unicomp and I've been pretty satisfied with it. First I'd like to talk about some of the cons with each of the keyboards I own.

The IBM Model M is a classic. I've had mine for a few years. I purchased it on eBay for around 50 bucks. I love the feel of it. That was my reason for purchasing the Unicomp. The IBM doesn't have Windows/Super keys because it was made before those became standard. This isn't a big deal because I use Linux primarily and don't need the Windows keys (at least I can get by without them). However, I was cleaning the keyboard one day and messed up a spring on the left control key. I purchased some replacement springs but in the process of trying to replace the spring, I inadvertently broke some plastic rivets on the board. This didn't cause any immediate problems, but I never got the control key working correctly. It doesn't always register when I press it. As a frequent user of this particular control key, I can no longer use that keyboard.

As a replacement, I bought a Dell AT101W on eBay for around $40. I actually have no complaints about this keyboard. It's has a great feel and sounds real good while typing. The only reason I don't it any longer is because I bought the Unicomp.

I bought the Unicomp because I love the buckling springs of the Model M design, and since Unicomp has the rights for the Model M design, they make a modern version of it. I opted for the more expensive Enduro Pro model because it came with a handy track point reminiscent of the IBM ThinkPad series of Laptop. However, this track point was actually a con. The track point is unusable. I mean it's terrible. You could use it if your mouse went out, but it's not something you would want to use all the time. Trust me, the track point on the Enduro Pro is awful. Not only is it useless, but it also gets in your way when you are typing. I used to hit it all the time when reaching for the G, H, and B keys. I've learned to type around it pretty well over the last year, but I would love if it were just gone. If you get a Unicomp, get their plain Model M version. Stay away from the track point. Other than that, the Unicomp is basically an IBM Model M keyboard with Windows/Super keys. There are three other things I'll add that aren't really cons but things I've noticed about the Enduro.

First, the keys don't have the same design as the original Model M. On the original, there is a key and on it is a key cap. You can remove the key from the spring assembly, and you can remove the key cap from the key itself. Most of the old IBM keyboards were like this. The Unicomp's key caps are one piece.

Secondly, the keys themselves have a slight amount of glitter on the sides. I don't care for this really. It's in the plastic and makes the plastic itself look a little cheap.

Finally, the key action is a bit different from the old Model M. The click is not the same pitch. There's more of a ringing in the original Model M click. It's hard to describe but the click sound just isn't the same. It's closer than you'll find in any other keyboard, however.

So I started looking at the various other keyboards on the market. My friend Lynn really likes Cherry MX key switches. He recently purchased a WASD keyboard. It's an awesome keyboard. WASD allows you to customize the keys in many ways. You can change the lettering and upload your own images to be etched into the key caps. He ordered his keyboard with Cherry MX Blue key switches, which he prefers. Those were also the key switches I was looking for as well, but I've changed my mind a few times upon reading various reviews. Here are some of the keyboards I've looked at:

Corsair Vengeance K90

The K90 uses Cherry MX Red key switches, which are linear. They don't have the tactile "bump" or an audible click. These are quieter than the MX Blue keyswitches. However, I think this is the keyboard I'm going to go with. The reason is in the construction and features it offers. It's a beautiful brushed alumimun and black plastic keyboard. It has a rubber coating on the keys and comes with a rubber coated wrist rest. It also features one of the coolest volume controls I've ever seen on a keyboard. Besides those features, it has a nice blue LED back light on every key. If you are looking for a quieter mechanical keyboard with a backlight and great macro support, this is the only one to check out. I'll probably be getting two of these, one for my wife and one for myself.

Razor Black Widow Ultimate

This was originally the keyboard I planned on purchasing. It also has blue LED back lights behind every key, macro support, and media keys, but it has a super shiny plastic finish which collects fingerprint and smudges. I also read many bad reviews of it on Amazon.com. Most of the complaints dealt with bad key placement. One review said that he tried three of the keyboards and all of them had a defect. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to drop $120 on a keyboard that may be flawed from the factory. Overall, this looked like a very promising keyboard, but there were just too many complaints about the quality control.

XArmor U9Plus

The U9Plus looked like a good deal at $89 on Amazon, but I watched a few reviews on it and one complained about the backspace and spacebar keys being wobbly. This keyboard, like the Black Widow, features Cherry MX Blue key switches. Another complaint about this keyboard was that the LED lights behind the num lock, scroll lock, and caps lock indicators bled over onto one another. So when the num lock is on, it almost appears like the caps lock is on as well. There were also a few reviews stating that the overall sturdiness of the keyboard wasn't all that great. This and the Black Widow are probably very good keyboards, but I get spooked easily when shopping for new peripherals.

In conclusion, I'll probably buy the Corsair Vengeance K90 keyboards, even though I'm not quite sure if I'll like the Cherry MX Red key switches. If this keyboard came with a MX Blue option, I'd be all over it. That's the only thing that kept me from making this my first choice right off the bat. I think the most important thing to take away from this is that you should read reviews and make sure that the keyboard is as good as the price. Mechanical keyboards are expensive. Some are better than others. The key switches themselves may all be the same, but everything else about the keyboards can be a deal breaker.

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