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Input Devices Hardware

Cherry MX Mechanical Keyboard Switches Compared 223

Posted by timothy
from the so-it's-back-to-scouring-thriftstores dept.
crookedvulture writes "Keyboards with mechanical key switches are enjoying a renaissance of sorts. They're prized by gamers, coders, and writers alike, and Cherry's MX switches are the most popular on newer models. There are MX blue, brown, black, and red switches, each with a different tactile feel and audible note. This comparison of four otherwise identical Rosewill keyboards details how each switch type feels and sounds, complete with audio recordings of the various colors in action. Recommended reading for anyone considering a mechanical keyboard or one of the Rosewills, which cost about $100. Looks like the removable USB cord on these particular models is prone to breakage."
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Cherry MX Mechanical Keyboard Switches Compared

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:32AM (#40983663)

    Sounds like an ad, but seriously I found the best advice there.

  • I bought one (Score:5, Informative)

    by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:33AM (#40983673) Homepage

    from the company that holds the original design patent from IBM for the Model M, and inhereted the process from Lexmark. The keyboard is still built and serviced in Lexington, Kentucky. They ship internationally. have a nice rennaissance.

    http://www.pckeyboard.com/ [pckeyboard.com]

  • by ZiakII (829432) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:36AM (#40983707)
    Hands down the best set of information have ever seen about mechanical keyboards was this forum post [overclock.net] on the topic it has everything you want to know about the subject.
  • Re:I bought one (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:40AM (#40983765)
    I bought one about 4 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was made in Kentucky. I love typing on that thing. People know you're serious.
  • Re:Bluetooth? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RobbieCrash (834439) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:47AM (#40983849)

    PS/2 has unlimited simultaneous keypresses (n key rollover/NKRO). USB, depending on where you look, either cannot, or needs a workaround to do more than 6 keys and a certain number of modifiers, generally 4 (shift/alt/ctrl/super).

  • Re:Bluetooth? (Score:5, Informative)

    by somarilnos (2532726) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @09:56AM (#40983933)

    Accurate, and, on top of that, USB is polling based, while PS/2 is interrupt based. USB will check the port every "n" milliseconds to see if there's data waiting, while with a PS/2 keyboard, when you press a key, an interrupt is generated. The delay is very short (depending on how often a given keyboard's driver polls, it might only be 10 milliseconds or so), but it's worth noting.

    PS/2 is still significantly better than USB for keyboard technology. But USB is usually good enough if you're not a gamer.

    It is worth noting too, that just because you have PS/2 doesn't mean you have NKRO automatically, as depending on the technology 'underneath the hood' of a keyboard, it might not allow certain combinations of simultaneous keypresses. But that's an issue that's resolved by getting a mechanical keyboard, since they have the individual switches.

    Shameless plug: Steelseries 7G. It's a big investment for a keyboard, but it provides NKRO, is a native PS/2 keyboard, is well constructed, and has audio jacks and USB ports on the keyboard, as well as a removable plastic wrist rest.

  • Re:I bought one (Score:5, Informative)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:02AM (#40984015)

    A real IBM M can be had for less. Real PS2 to USB adaptors, not converters, are available and work great.

    My keyboard weighs more than my laptop.

  • Re:I bought one (Score:4, Informative)

    by Svartalf (2997) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:30AM (#40984391) Homepage

    That's due to the switch design. An MX is a wiping gold plated contact design. Going to be feeling a bit "gritty" for starters. The bucking spring design was superior for tactile feedback- which is why I prefer a Model M "Clacker" over a Cherry keyswitch design- but I'll take a Cherry over the membrane contact and bubble switch designs since it's still superior over those.

  • Re:Das (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @10:44AM (#40984569)

    I have Model M at work and Das Keyboard with Cherry MX Browns at home. They're both great. If I had to chose one, I would chose the Browns over the buckling springs. It's just a little easier to type all day without fatigue, and they are much easier on your co-workers' ears. They are slightly lighter to actuate and just a shade less springy.

    However, you do give up the extra-ordinarily crisp and precise actuation point that the buckling spring has. The spring has the most fluid and crisp motion of any of the switches. I like the feel of that one the most, but still prefer the Browns for straight typing and gaming. They also have a clear actuation point, mechanical and audible feedback and are a million times better than fucking rubber domes.

  • WASD keyboards (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @11:30AM (#40985113)

    I can't believe no one mentioned WASD keyboards:
    http://www.wasdkeyboards.com

    You can fully customize the keyboard, from what is printed on each key (and what font is used) and what color the key is, to what type of switches they use.
    They don't cost much more than other mechanical boards.

    I highly recommend them!

  • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:39PM (#40985859)

    In my humble opinion, ergonomic keyboards are a really stupid response to most typing RSI issues, and it's probably a better idea to get a keyboard with proper keyswitches - all the ergonomic boards I've touched still have the same shitty membrane switches.

    90% of the 'ergonomic' keyboards are only ergonomic because their marketing department decided to call it that. There's no actual testing, no actual thought on what would help the typist, they just copied what everyone else calls ergonomic.

    If you are going to get an ergonomic keyboard, look for the ones where they actually thought about it - they'll cost more, but they'll actually be good as well. Personally, I use a Kinesis, and it's very good. They also all have mechanical switches - some models even offer a choice of which switch you want.

    On the other hand, you'll never find them in a store...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:29PM (#40986429)

    Actually, USB HID devices (keyboards, mice, game controllers, etc) use the USB "INTERRUPT" transport mode. This mode allows the USB device to specify a scheduled update rate at which it will send button/etc updates without having to wait for a driver or application to request updates from it. This isn't *exactly* interrupt timing straight from the key/button press, but it can be close. The USB driver for the HID devices/keyboard may be choosing to poll instead of utilize the USB data arrival interrupt, but that is likely to be OS specific.

    You are correct that *other* USB devices are polling based (ones using the BULK and ISO transports) and must wait for a driver to request data from them before transmitting.

    Furthermore, there is not an inherent 4 or 6 "key at a time" limit in the USB HID descriptor reports.

    1) The modifier keys are sent as a bitfield separate than the keyboard keys, so they wouldn't count toward the max number of keys pressed at a time. :

    USB HID 1.1 spec :
    "Since only one array element can be reported in each array field, modifier keys
    should be reported as bitmap data (a group of 1-bit variable fields)."

    2) While a given keyboard may choose to limit its HID report to only transmit an array of a few keys at a time, it is possible to transmit a much larger number of keys at a time (report sizes greater than 64 bytes can be spread over multiple USB transactions if desired).

    HID Usage Tables 1.1 spec :
    "N selections of a set. More than one selection (button) can be valid at a time. Multiple selections
    can be returned to the system at one time in a multi-byte array. The “n selections of a set” form is
    defined by a Main item with the Array flag set and the Report Count set to n, where n is the
    number of selections that can be reported in a single report. An example is a keyboard."

    HID 1.1 spec again :
    Rather than returning a single bit for each button in the group, an array returns an index in each field that corresponds to the pressed button (like keyboard scan codes). An out-of range value in and array field is considered no controls asserted. Buttons or keys in an array that are simultaneously pressed need to be reported in multiple fields. Therefore, the number of fields in an array input item (Report Count) dictates the maximum number of simultaneous controls that can be reported. A keyboard could report up to three simultaneous keys using an array with three 8-bit fields (Report Size = 8, Report Count = 3). Logical Minimum specifies the lowest index value returned by the array and Logical Maximum specifies the largest. The number of elements in the
    array can be deduced by examining the difference between Logical Minimum and Logical Maximum
    (number of elements = Logical Maximum - Logical Minimum + 1).

  • by Shempster (2523982) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:59PM (#40987765)

    Sounds like an ad, but seriously I found the best advice there.

    It is a decent read. And they did post a deal-breaker (for me anyway):

    The mini-USB jack on the (Rosewill Cherry MX series) keyboard is not very sturdy. Lateral pressure on the protruding USB cable can fracture the solder on the tabs that help secure the connector to the internal PCB, causing the jack to push into the keyboard the next time the cable is plugged in...

    What were they thinking?

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