Monday, August 26, 2013

[Article] I need a mechanical keyboard

I have a Logitech G15 gaming keyboard. That is pretty bad-ass those days, but these days Mechanical Keyboards are the new trend. The G15 uses the cheap rubber switches as most of the keyboards out there. That makes it pretty silent, but not so easy to type on or push keys when gaming.

Mechanical keyboards have mechanical switches for each key. That makes them very loud, but the key travel distance until the key is registered is short and that causes less fatigue when typing and whacking the keys while gaming. There are special switch designs that makes them "feel better" when typing. But most of the times, typist keyboards are not great for gaming and vice versa. Some switch designs makes them require less force to push. But that is not always a good thing, because you cannot rest your hands on the keyboards without pressing the keys. You might need that.

Now, the mechanical keyboards have some shortfalls compared to my G15. The most pronounced thing is that none of the gaming mechanical keyboards don't come with an LCD. In fact, only a select Logitech gaming keyboards come with an LCD. Logitech only has one mechanical keyboard, called the G710+ but that doesn't have an LCD. Most people might think that the LCD is a gimmick. But I use it for monitoring certain things while gaming and stress testing. That is pretty useful because I don't have a secondary monitor. (Maybe I should get a secondary monitor!)

The other shortfall is the noise. Some people, especially typists like the click noise when hitting the keys but when you are gaming, you cannot really hear that noise because you would be wearing a headset anyways. But everyone else in the household will hear it and you will get scolded. I don't have a special computer room in my apartment, so I will have to face the wrath of my wife. But there are some mechanical keyboards that are noticeably quieter than the other mechanical keyboards. The difference is the type of the switches used. Well, the switches used these days in mechanical keyboards are almost always the ones called Cherry MX made by Cherry Corp, but there are different switch types. Cherry MX Black, Brown, Blue, Clear, Red and Green. The Black and Red keys are the gaming friendly type. Blue is the typist friendly type. Brown is in between, but also the quietest. Clear is hardly used in keyboards. Green, I have no idea about. Looks like the Browns are the best option for me. Ironically, most of the high-end gaming keyboards like the Razer's BlackWidow Ultimate or Corsair's K95 all use Cherry MX Blue switches. I don't know why they have gone with those.

So which one should I get? Logitech has great customer support here in Japan and the G710+ is considerably quieter than the rest. But their software is flimsy at times. But since I have a Logitech mouse, I will have to use their software anyways. I would rather use one software than two. But on the other hand, the Logitech keyboard has a Japanese layout. I would prefer to have the more standard US layout. However, Razor also sells the US version here at a slightly higher price so they get points for that. Their BlackWidow Stealth edition also uses Cherry MX Brown switches and is considerably quieter. I would love to try Corsair's Vengeance K95 keyboard, but that is very expensive. I want a keyboard that has macro keys on the left edge like my G15 does. So that lowers my options. I will specifically have to go with a gaming keyboard. There are other brands too, like Thermaltake and Coolermaster that make good mechanical gaming keyboards. If you want typist keyboard, there are even better brands, but unheard of in the gaming arena such as Das, Ducky and Vortex.

I need to look more into what7s available here and choose a nice mechanical keyboard, maybe by my birthday. That's a long way to go though! :(

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