Five Mechanical-Switch Keyboards: Only The Best For Your Hands

Test System And The Five Candidates

Test configuration and selection of the test objects

Our test introduces five mechanical keyboards that are currently on the market. We received a Mionix Zibal 60, but because the manufacturer dragged its feet sending us the layout we wanted, we decided to test the Ione X-Armor instead. This wired sister of the U27 is already a legend among aficionados.

The games used for testing include typical representatives from various genres, from Doom 3, Half Life 2, Crysis 2, WoW, and Need for Speed to Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein, Jack Jazzrabbit, and some other classics, which we test on a separate DOS-based system. WoW represents the test category of suitability for massively multi-player online role-playing games. Word processing capability is tested in Microsoft Word 2007.

Test System

We affix great importance to a native PS/2 interface, because the current high-end keyboards have at least one of these ports. We also used technology and games that exclude delays caused by an overloaded system.

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Test System 1 (2011)
CPU and CoolerIntel Core i7 2600K (Sandy Bridge) @ 4.5 GHz, Prolimatech Genesis, 2 x Vertex Blue
Mainboard and RAMGigabyte Z68X-UD7B3, 8 GB Kingston HyperX 1600 Genesis
Graphics CardGainward GeForce GTX 580 Phantom
Hard DriveSamsung SSD 470-Series, 1 TB WD Caviar Blue
Connection PortsPS/2 and USB, both tested
Operating SystemWindows Ultimate x64

Of course, we ran classic games in their usual environments. For this, we revved up an older test machine.

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Test System 2 (1992)
CPUCyrix 386 DX40
Graphics CardTsenglabs ET3000
Hard DriveIBM, 500 MB
Connection PortsPS/2 (via original Cherry Adapter PS/2 to DIN )
Operating SystemMS-DOS 6.1

Keyboards Tested

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Overview of the keyboards tested
SteelSeries 6Gv2

Ione X-Armor U9BL

Ione X-Armor U27 (Gemini)

Zowie Celeritas

Razer BlackWidow

  • "You will find keyboards even pricier than these, but that's a consequence of built-in special functions and gimmicks, not better quality or suitability."

    That's a bit ignorant, since you didn't test them. Try a Topre Realforce and tell me it's a gimmick.
  • skaz
    Great write up! I have a tenkeyless Leopold cherry brown and love it.
  • leather_daddy
    Where is the Filco Majestouch in the product list?
  • steve11
    Poorly done overview. A lot of keyboard missing in action.
  • stiehl
    Hmm looking at those keyboard's layouts make me wince. I don't think I could stand a huge enter key, a nonexistent "\", Y and Z being switched, and a funky shift key. I'm happy with my blank das keyboard, thank you very much.
  • michaelahess
    I actually went away from mechanical keyboards about 7 years ago. I really prefer a solid rubber dome keyboard. I currently use a Logitech MX5500 for gaming and a Logitech Wave for typing. Never had any issues with either for their purposes. I do miss the tactile feel, but honestly the 5500 is a MUCH better gaming board, plus the noise doesn't drive me crazy.

    For all of you with exotic keyboards, you must be extra special picky ;) I type 110 wpm without error and have no trouble with the wave or 5500.
  • Stardude82
    My Model M is too cool for this review.
  • fakie
    wheres the das keyboard model s ultimate?
  • mortsmi7
    I kind of wished they had compared them to some mainstream keyboards like the cheapy walmart logitech, dell keyboard, or ibm. Sure they work great, but compared to what. I'm not a fan of loud and clicky ibm, but thats as far as my interest in key-presses goes.

    I bought my G110 for the extra macro keys that I never use. In fact I use the onboard volume control more often.

  • Where is the Model M? Is it too cool for this review?
    And it's "buckling spring", not "bent spring"