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

Keyboards 101

Keyboards, along with mice, are the most important input devices on a PC, and should therefore be chosen carefully. Like a good pair of shoes, the ideal keyboard is well-made, comfortable, and suited to its purpose. But what if the technology doesn't conform to our needs?

Before we put the samples in this story through their paces, we want to get rid of some of the myths and uncertainties surrounding these devices:

We'll explore differences between the two main key switch designs. All buttons are not created equal!   • USB or PS/2: hype, legend, or nonsense? We perform a more detailed analysis.   • We demystify the myth of anti-ghosting. It's a tale of marketing versus reality.

What will readers find in this article?  First, we'll present the different kinds of switches and the accompanying application scenarios. Then we'll explain some of the most important keyboard concepts. And finally, of course, we'll give you the results of our practical tests, including:

  • Five models with different types of keys
  • Five hours gaming use per keyboard by various users
  • Typing test by a professional secretary
  • Evaluation of materials, workmanship, and durability

Each of the keyboards we're testing underwent many hours of taxing gaming use, was mercilessly pounded by a professional composing long documents, and was subjected to hands of varying strength and size. Not every keyboard is right for every user, but once you find a keyboard that works for you, it may define whether work is enjoyable or not.

Let's first take a look at the switches, the heart of any keyboard.

  • "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.
    Reply
  • skaz
    Great write up! I have a tenkeyless Leopold cherry brown and love it.
    Reply
  • leather_daddy
    Where is the Filco Majestouch in the product list?
    Reply
  • steve11
    Poorly done overview. A lot of keyboard missing in action.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Stardude82
    My Model M is too cool for this review.
    Reply
  • fakie
    wheres the das keyboard model s ultimate?
    Reply
  • 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.

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