The tenkeyless, 87-key 4C Professional is, as you would expect, nice and compact. It’s a relatively hefty device though, and between its weight and four long rubber feet (about an inch and a half long each), the keyboard simply does not slide around or shift on a desk at all.
The whole thing feels incredibly sturdy, thanks in part to its anodized aluminum top plate. In order to create any flexion at all, you have to roll up your sleeves and put your back into it. The Greetech brown switches have gold-plated contacts, and they’re rated for 50 million keystrokes. There's also a model with blue switches for a clickier experience, if you'd prefer that.
You can clearly feel both switch points on the keys, and the kickback is quite strong. As a result, you also get a distinct feel for the shallow pre-travel. The 4C Professional claims an actuation force of 60g (max).
The space bar and the wider keys employ a Greetech brown switch in the middle that's flanked by two Cherry stabilizers.
Das Keyboard has taken to including a thin riser with the 4C series. It’s bright red to match some of the lettering, and it has magnets that firmly affix it to the bottom of the keyboard. It’s worth noting that with the riser attached, the keyboard is far more likely to slide around on your desk. Its hard plastic edge doesn’t exactly offer the same grip and friction as the rubber feet.
The keyboard is plug-and-play, so there’s no software to fiddle with. It sports a long (6.5-foot) cable with a single USB connector; the keyboard end is wired directly into the board, a decision Das Keyboard says it made because a removable USB connection is too unreliable over time.
The USB end of the cable connects the keyboard to your computer and also powers the 4C Professional’s two-port USB 2.0 hub. You can find the hub tucked underneath the left edge of the keyboard, out of sight. The two USB ports in the hub are spaced about 17mm apart, which should accommodate even bulky USB devices (charming-but-chunky USB flash drives, we’re looking at you).
There are no dedicated media buttons on the 4C Professional, but the Esc and F keys pull double duty; with a press of the Fn key (located on the right side of the keyboard), the Esc key puts the system to sleep, and the F keys offer volume and playback controls.
The F12 key doubles as a Windows key disable control. We like that Das Keyboard conveniently places the Fn key on the right side of the board. This makes disabling the Windows key a quick, one-handed maneuver.
The keys are not back-lit. Although a lack of back-lighting no doubt appeals to a certain subset of prospective customers, it’s an omission that may be tough for others to swallow.
The keys are set inside of the chassis a bit, which makes cleaning slightly more difficult and will probably result in a generally dirtier keyboard. It’s basically designed to be a crumb-catcher, as opposed to, say, Corsair's K90. At least the aluminum top plate cleans up easily.
The concave key caps feature silk-screened characters with a clear UV hard coating, as opposed to prettier laser-etched keys. Some may balk at the look of printed key caps. Indeed, that telltale “sticker” look is painfully apparent. Das Keyboard said that the silk screen plus UV hard coat method is superior to laser etching, stating in a recent Tom’s Hardware AMA that the “durability of the print and the key surface is dramatically increased”.
That is perhaps true, although there’s an argument to be made that, well, who cares? Is it better to have nicer-looking key caps that fade over time, or less attractive ones that last longer?
The 4C Professional is the opposite of flashy, on purpose. Being tenkeyless, it’s nice and compact. And its simple, black austere look is attractive. The lack of extra dedicated media buttons further contributes to the clean look.
At this point, we would discuss software and accessories. In the case of the 4C Professional, though, there’s no software at all. And the only accessory is the riser mentioned above.