Mechanical Gaming Keyboards (megathread?)

TushonTushon I'm scared, CoachAlexandria, VA Icrontian
edited January 2014 in Hardware
I am looking to get into a mechanical and wanted to try to consolidate people's experiences from across 3/4 threads into one and post some that I am considering for advice. I bought a little sample key set (which was actually really useful for determining that I want a Cherry MX Brown or Red switch ... and would be happy to send it to anyone who wanted to try them out before committing). I'm also getting back into WoW among other possible MMOs in the future, so a very nice feature would be macro keys on the left side of the keyboard, which rules out a significant chunk of competitors (at least, of stuff I was able to find in stock). Finally, a back-light of some sort is almost equally important because sometimes I'm bad at typing, while media controls are not important to me at all.

Here are some ones I'm considering (all have 4/5 star reviews on newegg/amazon):
Logitech G710+ - $130, cherry mx brown, LED backlit
Corsair Vengeance K95 - $150, cherry mx red, backlit
Tt eSPORTS MEKA G UNIT Red Switch - $110, cherry mx red, backlit

There are also several coming out later this year, but I don't think I want to pay over $200 (estimated) for a keyboard just to have individually customized RGB backlights a la Cherry MX RGB from Corsair (plus the fact that their sample had no macro keys).

Thoughts? Suggestions?


  • ardichokeardichoke Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    You might also want to consider the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth. It's not going to be out for a couple more weeks, but by my understanding it is the same as the BlackWidow Ultimate (which I've heard nothing but good things about) except with Brown switches instead of Blue.

    Edit: Also, could you send that sample key set along to me? I've been looking into getting a mechanical keyboard for a while, but always balked at spending that much without having a feel for what type of switch I like best.
  • SignalSignal Icrontian
    I am giving you an awesome for showing that a sample key set exists. I've always wondered what was so great about these keyboards, and that's the perfect way to find out. Sad that it's not in stock there or amazon though.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    @ardichoke sure, PM me your address. I exluded the Razor keyboard after seeing some reports of bricked devices after a Synapse update but that could be a lot of different things (from inexperience to doing something dumb during the update, etc). I don't have any "industry numbers" to support that, just an aversion to risk from reviews). On a totally aesthetic basis, it would be nice to have a red backlit keyboard from Razer to match the styling of my Naga Molten (which is awesome).

    @Signal you can get ardichoke to send it to you after me and you both save money. No being a dick about paying for shipping to the next person in line

  • shwaipshwaip bluffin' with my muffin Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    I have reds in my gaming kbd. I like them. I hate the keyboard layout as it has the L shaped enter key, moving the \ to somewhere inconvenient. Something to consider if you interact with that key a lot (Linux)

    I have browns on my das at work. Love them and love the keyboard. Haven't tried to game with it, but it is certainly much louder than the reds.
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    I have been a mechanical keyboard enthusiast for many years. I have sampled all Cherry, Alps, Alps knock offs, model M buckling springs and Topre switches in some capacity or another. I currently own keyboards that utilize cheap Alps copies, Cherry MX Black's and Cherry MX Browns.

    My opinion for gaming, for double tapping nothing is better than Cherry MX Black keys. They have the most satisfying rebound and a linear switch feels a bit more natural when you are just going to feverishly bottom it out anyway.

    For typing, Matias Click Switches which are a high end production Alps copy are tactile, bouncy, clickity clack beautiful, they are a joy to type on. They are my favorite typing switch but their availability in a gaming style keyboard with macros and such isn't that great.

    Unicomp makes an old school buckling spring IBM Model M copy. I understand they are wonderful to type on. The Model M was a pretty fantastic keyboard as I recall, but I think it's driven a little more by nostalgia than anything else. Those things were so common, just about everyone of a certain age typed on one at some time or another. I'm tempted to add one to my collection.

    Other things to consider, the type of key stabilizer used can impact how the board feels, mostly how the space bar responds. Several manufactures from China buck Cherry's solution for one made by Costar. Filco, Keycool, Ducky, I think they all use Costar for stabilizing larger keys. I don't think it's that big a deal, but some people swear if it's not using Costar, it's just doesn't feel genuine to them.

    The type of keycap used. ABS will shine over time as they keys start to wear. It's rather ugly, and most mass marketed "gamer" style keyboards use ABS because it forms a little easier so there are less defects to toss thus lower cost. It does not have to be a deal breaker because in the end, you can always order a new keycap set, that's one of the nice things about Cherry MX keys, they are pretty common now, the keycap fit across the switch types is universal, so ordering replacement caps and swapping them out is pretty easy. now, that being said if all other things are equal and you can get a board with PBT caps, do it. PBT holds up much better, they don't get that ugly shine and they continue to feel like they did the first day you typed on them (ABS keys loose texture and becoming glossy, they don't just look different after wear, they feel different), I mean unless a keyboard patina is your thing... Get PBT keycaps. If you what you want has everything but the PBT caps, don't fret, get it, wear out the ABS and you can replace them down the road.

    For me, I've been looking for something very specific, I want something in white to match my desktop, I would like a light blue backlight, I think I'd prefer white PBT keycaps, Not sure, think I might go tenkeyless, macros keys are not desired in my case, nor are extra ports for a headset, or even USB, I'll likely not utilize them. It's amazing with the variety out there how hard it is to find that exact perfect thing to match your specifications. There are kits where you can build your own but it's cost prohibitive. I'd love to do it and document sometime though.

  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    @Cliff_Forster, I can't agree with you about the value of the Model M being purely nostalgia. I use the IBM Model M for work and play because it's the best keyboard I can get. If I could get a modern keyboard with the mechanism and the key spacing of a Model M I would; these things get to be a hassle to disassemble and clean regularly.

    I also have a Das Keyboard Pro with Cherry MX Blues and I have many more typos due to missing keystrokes because the keys are spaced closer together than on my Model M. I think I could live with MX Blues if anyone made one with proper key spacing (and NO L-SHAPED ENTER). I'm not sure if I've found a favorite Cherry keyswitch yet though.

    Alps keyswitches are bliss. The feel is totally different than buckling springs but I've found that I like Alps in its own way; they seem to disappear under your fingers. I have an Apple ADB keyboard with Alps keyswitches that was glorious for the few Mac games I owned. I used to have an AT Model M clone with Alps switches but I was stupid and ditched it when I moved to college. I learned to type on Alps and I haven't seen a new Alps keyboard in 20 years.
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    @drasnor - I agree with you, I don't think I choose my words quite right. It's a classic because it is a fantastic typing experience. It's a truly unique feel, and those things are built like a tank. They have a consistent feel every single keystroke, they never wear down, and you are right, there is something about the spacing of a model M that's unique and comfortable to type on.

    It is nostalgic, a bit of an old school relic, but in a very good way.

    Matias makes a wonderful high end Alps copy. I only wish they made the PC version in white!

  • ardichokeardichoke Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    @Tushon - sample keys received, thanks.

    Definitely like the browns, the tactile feedback is nice but it's reasonably quiet. Glad I checked this out though, as the clickyness of the MX blue switches would have drove me absolutely bonkers. I think I'm going to buy that Logitech G710+ after trying these out.

    @Signal - if you want me to send the sample keys along, PM me the address you'd like them mailed to.
  • shwaipshwaip bluffin' with my muffin Icrontian
    browns will also be very clicky if you bottom them out. i think they are technically louder (on the dB scale) than the blues, but the blues are "clickier" and higher pitched so they're more noticeable.
  • mertesnmertesn I am Bobby Miller Yukon, OK Icrontian
    I have no complaints about my Roccat Ryos MX Pro w/brown switches. I have keyboards with blue, brown, and black switches. Definitely brown for gaming - they have a decent amount of tactile feedback and don't require nearly as much force as black or blue.

    Haven't tried reds yet.
  • Sound can depend a lot on the build of the board as well. The type of plate mount, rigidity of the PCB, stabilizers used on the often used space and enter keys, the overall rigidness of the frame, the material used, the quality of the rubber feet underneath to dampen the vibration.

    Also keep in mind, a simple O Ring mod on the Cherry key caps is so easy and cheap to do.

    I find I type a little quieter on MX blacks because the extra resistance keeps me from bottoming out the key. I understand the brown being the key of choice for many, but I find the bump in the middle a little distracting when I want to play a game, but they can help you with touch typing.
  • midgamidga "There's so much hot dog in Rome" ~digi (> ^.(> O_o)> Icrontian
    Ooh, I want to join the sampler queue :D I've been wanting to try out the different switches for a couple years now. I already know what keyboard I want, just no clue which switches to get...
  • The reds and the blacks both feel like mush to me... can hardly tell the difference between them. I definitely like the tactile feedback, but that blue click is maddening. Really only leaves the one option for me.

    Just ordered a G710+, thought about waiting for the BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth to come out, but then decided since I already have a Logitech gaming mouse, might as well stick with them for the keyboard as well. Should mean less software to install...

    Side note: if you ever try and order from NewEgg and the stupid Verified by Visa shitty website doesn't redirect you back to NewEgg... DON'T try placing your order again. I almost ended up with three keyboards because of that. Luckily the customer service rep I got on the phone was able to cancel the extra orders for me.
  • I'm not a big fan of the Razer Black Widow. They have good distribution being common in Best Buy stores, that's why they sell well. I think it's a hideous looking "gamer" type of board. It's build quality has also been under fire on various forums. Anytime you see w00t offering several of your products on refurb, it's a little alarming too. I think the G710+ is a far better option if you require macro capability.
  • NiGHTSNiGHTS San Diego Icrontian
    edited January 2014
    BlackWidow is like one of the most boring "gaming" keyboards around... standard key setup with 5 'memory' options on the far left. Hideous?

    It's "normal" appearance is what made me enjoy it so much. Would have preferred a matte finish, though.
  • BandrikBandrik Elkhart, IN Icrontian
    I have three BlackWidow Ultimate keyboards (Cherry MX Blue switches). I really like them. I know there are "better" keyboards out there (especially for strictly gaming purposes), but I got them all on refurbished for great prices. In short, the drivers/software (while often scorned) work good enough for me, I really love the feel and sound of the Blue switches (clicky clicky yayyy!) and the keyboard looks attractive to me.

    At the end of the day, just get whatever speaks best to you. It's definitely a personal preference.
  • Logitech G710+ just showed up. First impressions are very good. This thing is surprisingly heavy and feels very solid. The keys have a nice tactile response but are quiet. The backlighting is well done also. Probably won't be able to give it the gaming test until tomorrow night (Payday 2 anyone?), but I'd give it an A+ so far.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    Mine is also arriving today (I ended up going with the 710+ as well). Should be able to get a little test later tonight.
  • UPSLynxUPSLynx :KAPPA: Redwood City, CA Icrontian
    So having no prior experience with mechanical keyboards, I ended up getting one dropped in my lap at work. I was complaining about the crappy Dell OEM keyboard I had, and one of my buddies walked over with a brand new G710+.

    This thing RULES. I'm extremely happy with it. When I go back home to my rubber dome Roccat and use it, it makes me want to punch myself. I love everything about this keyboard, and I think the noise level is just right.

    Granted, I have nothing to compare my experience to, but I love it nonetheless. I can't go back to rubber dome. I'll likely be buying one of these for at home use.

  • midgamidga "There's so much hot dog in Rome" ~digi (> ^.(> O_o)> Icrontian
    What switches does it use?
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    midga said:

    What switches does it use?

    Cherry MX Brown.
  • The G710+ is so sexy.

    For the longest time Logitech stuck to it's guns on fancy little LCD screens and other gimmicks to prop up a sub par rubber dome boards. I'm happy to see them get on the mechanical keyboard bus because everything else they offer is top quality. Finally a keyboard worthy of their brand.

  • RyderRyder Kalamazoo, Mi Icrontian
    I have had ergonomic for so long, I won't go back. May need to do some looking, although my Microsoft has been holding up well, 2 trips through the dishwasher so far.
  • BandrikBandrik Elkhart, IN Icrontian
    That G710+ looks quite nice. If I didn't already have my BlackWidows, I would pick one up myself. If one breaks, I know where to look.
  • ErrorNullTurnipErrorNullTurnip Illinois Icrontian
    Picked up the 710+ maybe 3 months ago and have no complaints with it. Personal requirement was that it had dedicated media keys and that the pipe/backslash was in the right place (which was harder to find than I expected for a mechanical keyboard). As ardichoke said, it is very hefty and solid with very nice backlighting.
  • midgamidga "There's so much hot dog in Rome" ~digi (> ^.(> O_o)> Icrontian
    Is the backlighting on it through-key or behind-key-only?
  • midga said:

    Is the backlighting on it through-key or behind-key-only?

    If I'm understanding you correctly, it's through-key. The characters on each key light up.
  • midgamidga "There's so much hot dog in Rome" ~digi (> ^.(> O_o)> Icrontian
    Neat. Looked it up, and it seems to be around the same price point as the Ryos MK Pro. Not that it's more expensive than I thought, but apparently the MK Pro is about half the price I thought it was. As soon as I have an idea what switches I actually want to use, I'll likely be picking one of those up.
  • Two days typing on browns after a couple years on blacks, I'm having the hardest time getting used to it. I'm so used to that heavy linear key press. It's amazing how conditioned you get to a specific keyboard. It becomes an extension of you after awhile.
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