Mechanical Switches: Cherry MX Blue, Brown, And Red
With the exception of each keyboard physical design, the switch is going to be the most immediately recognizable difference. All three keyboards use MX series switches by Cherry, quite possibly because it's basically the only company to make them in bulk. However, none of the boards use the same kind of Cherry MX switch.
The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2013 uses Cherry MX Blue switches, a very tactile and "clicky" variety. So, while this switch is a bit louder than the others, it does give the board a small bit of extra resistance that kicks in right before complete activation, which is very satisfying.
Logitech opted for the MX Brown switches for its very first enthusiast-tier mechanical keyboard. On paper, Brown switches are slightly quieter and easier to trigger than the Blue variety, but they sacrifice that additional level of user feedback afforded by Razer’s choice. The MX Brown is still a tactile switch, however, so there’s still a bit more resistance at the midpoint.
Lastly, the Gigabyte Osmium utilizes the Cherry MX Red switches. It’s a linear switch, meaning that the force at the beginning and end of each stroke is nearly identical, presenting a pretty big difference between either of today's other two boards.
But switches aren’t the only things that matter. While they are one of the most important considerations when comparing mechanical keyboards, additional features like backlighting, volume control, on-the-fly macro creation, and additional port access can often be the deciding factor in a pricey peripheral purchase. While easy to objectively compare, their level of importance will depend more on any particular user's preferences than most other categories.
Let's begin by taking a closer look at each board, starting with the Gigabyte Aivia Osmium.
Using that as a scoring metric is somewhat absurd.
I had the non-ultimate black widow and it worked excellently for a year and a half and then just crapped out randomly (sent out a random key sequence whenever plugged in). There was no physical damage and I treat my peripherals very well.
Every time I had a problem with a razer product I kept thinking, "this must just be an outlier and not representative of Razer", but I can't really say that anymore. Mostly I use logitech now. And for keyboards (since logitech just started mechanicals) I use daskeyboard.
Carpal tunnel. The harder you have to press and the more you type, the faster this can get you. I'd have to imagine that the lower actuation point on the Blue switches would make them the worst for that - though Razer makes gaming peripherals, not keyboards for typists, so their choice does make sense if you're going for a "trigger" effect. In any event, I seriously doubt any of these top-end keyboards have a too low actuation force issue. They should all be quite solid feeling, and unless you have incredibly heavy hands, that's typically not an issue in this class of product. The preference is probably more between switch types and the different ways they go about providing tactile feedback than any leanings toward a certain amount of force needed to depress a key.
Also, conventional/cheap boards still use individual switches (one per key). It's the type of those switches that make it mechanical (spring-loaded contacts instead of a conductive dome on PCB traces), and rollover etc. is all because of how it's wired to a microcontroller.
My advice would be to check out the corsair K90 or the newer K95 before you throw money at the others.
Keyboards aren't pretty, but the 710+ is just plain ugly. Who thought pairing orange with black and gray would be a good idea? Also, it only has white lighting.
Anyhow, I was able to pick up a 710+ for $99 new on sale. While it's ugly, it's a great keyboard from a practicality/usability standpoint. I like how you can change the lighting level of the wasd cluster independent of the rest of the keys. The tactile and audible feedback of the browns has got to be my favorite of the bunch. I'm constantly using the roller-style volume control too. I wouldn't pay $150 for it though.