In needs of a shiny new keyboard.

#1 Posted by endoworks (297 posts) -

Fellow Bombers,

I've been thinking about getting a new PC keyboard. I've been rocking a Apple wired keybaord for a few years and I love it but it's getting kind of disgusting looking as the white keys are getting less and less white. Does anyone out there have any good recommendations for keyboards?

Thanks!

#2 Posted by L44 (575 posts) -

I've always felt splashing out on keyboards is dumb. My microsoft essentials keyboard set me back 10 bucks and it does everything I want it to.

#3 Posted by endoworks (297 posts) -

@L44: This has always been my approach as well, thought it would be back if anyone could make a good argument on spending more that a few dollars on a keyboard.

#4 Posted by Spoonman671 (4777 posts) -

I've got a Logitech K750 wireless, solar-powered keyboard and I'm pretty fond of it. Hours of gaming in open-world games (or any game where you're holding down keys for extended periods of time) can bring the battery down pretty low, but it usually recharges fully by the time you come back to it after work/school/life. I've never had a problem with that aspect of it. My only issue with the thing is that the power off function on it is directly next to the volume up function, which has led to a few unintentional shut downs.

#5 Posted by dgtlty (168 posts) -

Are you leaning towards wired or wireless? Also are you interested in mechanical keys?

#6 Posted by Sanryd (1369 posts) -

I recently bought a Razer Blackwidow and I'd say it's fantastic. Mostly due to the fact that it's mechanical, but it also lights up for when I'm on my PC until the wee hours of the morning without any lights on. Other advantages include that it looks fucking snazzy, has a USB port and headphone/mic jack built into the side, and 5 macro keys that are coming in handy despite my expectations.

That said, I was rocking a cheap Microsoft keyboard before that and it didn't have any issues, so it all depends on you.

#7 Posted by notdavid (842 posts) -

I've been rocking the Logitech K800 for a week or so now. Mostly because I wanted something that uses the same Unifying receiver that I had for a mouse I was already using. Typing on it feels smooth compared to what I've been used to on shittier keyboards, and it LIGHTS THE FUCK UP.

#8 Edited by Branthog (5598 posts) -

I've never understood people not spending significantly more money on the things they use so much of their time. I spend a good eighty hours per week at my desk and have for fifteen years. It would be insane and fairly reckless not to make a significant investment in a solid desk, comfortable chair, great monitor, and excellent peripherals.

Of course, on the other end, you have people spending absurd amounts of money with little return. Often on gimmicky keyboards and mice that either don't do what they claim or can be trumped with a better product for less money.

Anyway, in my experience, I'd strongly advise looking at a Leopold. I prefer the Tenkeyless, but if you need tenkey, you can get the standard. Just pick what type of switch you want (if you're looking for a solid performer that will do both gaming and typing/coding very well, I suggest the browns) and whether you want it to have printed or blank keys and you're done. For $100, you have a beautiful, solid, well-performing mechanical keyboard with none of the "media button" bullshit or "programmable this and that" gimmics of other keyboards. No stupid fins, rollers, shapes, designs, etc. Just a solid, reliable keyboard that is fantastic to touch (and this is coming from someone that had to be pried away from his IBM model M).

If you're concerned about their pedigree -- these are designed by the same man who created the legendary beloved Filco keyboards and he, in fact, says he likes the Leopold better, because of design refinements.

http://elitekeyboards.com/products.php?sub=leopold,tenkeyless

If you're looking for a good mouse . . . that can be considerably more difficult. There are various sensors and sensor types and very few are high quality. Even among respected brands, one model of sensor can be truly impeccable and the next can be utter shit. You have to deal with positive-accelleration problems, sensor issues (some even do this stupid gimmick of having a blue laser and a red one). The buttons are often poorly placed. Too many of them. Not enough. They break off. They stop working. Wheels don't have a nice click-feel. They have stupid shitty gimmicks like colored lights and changeable parts. They're too wide for your palm. They're too narrow for your palm. They're bad for a finger/claw-gripper. They're bad for a palm-gripper. They make your pinky go numb. You name it. Oh - and people too often fall for the "durpa durpa zillion dpi!" thing, too. Which often means nothing and if it's not a great sensor, means even less than nothing.

So, I can only speak from personal experience as someone who always budgets around a hundred bucks per system for a mouse and spent several months studying current mice this past year before finally buying one. With that in mind, I found the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advanced II to be absolution fantastic. Accurate. Even. Great for a palm-gripper who wants a big mouse, but not too big for other users. A nice shape. Comfortable. Some extra buttons, but not too many. Decent drivers. Decent software for configuration. Seems reliable. Seemingly no positive acceleration. An absolutely great sensor. I can't say it's a perfect mouse, but I'm picky as fuck and have no price limit on what I'll buy if it is good -- and I wount up settling for this $60 mouse.

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/CM-Storm-Sentinel-Advance-II-Mouse-Review/1566

Anyway, hopefully this shit helps someone. You can get lost down a rabbit hole of options and conflicting features for both types of peripherals. In the end, there's almost always a compromise. I've yet to find a device that is truly perfect. Just some that have more positive features which outweigh fewer negative ones.

PS: I wouldn't bother with wireless. Just a personal opinion, of course. People love it, but I prefer having no chance of losing signal or dealing with batteries. Further, if I'm far enough away from my computer to need it to be wireless, I'm too far away to be using my computer. Also, my monitor has USB ports, so they don't need to reach my computer. Just my screen. Easy to keep cables out of the way. I love the idea of going totally wireless on everything, but it's usually at a cost and that's why I do all my real work on cabled connections and leave the wifi router for my sitting-on-the-sofa-and-googling-shit work.

#9 Posted by endoworks (297 posts) -

@dgtlty: I'm leaning towards wired. My keyboard never leaves my desk and I am also using it with a KVM to switch between my PC and MAC and wireless doesn't work the best with that in my experience.

#10 Posted by Snail (8663 posts) -

@Branthog: What do you think of the das uber keyboard? I'm thinking about getting that one. The Ultimate version. It looks amazing, and has become something of a legendary keyboard. But I'm wondering if it's really overpriced when compared to the products you linked to.

#11 Edited by Branthog (5598 posts) -

@Snail said:

@Branthog: What do you think of the das uber keyboard? I'm thinking about getting that one. The Ultimate version. It looks amazing, and has become something of a legendary keyboard. But I'm wondering if it's really overpriced when compared to the products you linked to.

Das, Ducky, and Filco are all great keyboards, but I can't see a reason for spending the extra $30 or $40, unless you need the two USB ports on your keyboard that the Das has. The Leopold also offers you whatever switch you prefer (I suggest brown because they're a good gaming/typing middle-ground, but everyone has their preferences). If you're really sold on the Das and the way it looks, it's not like you're getting an inferior product. I just think it's unnecessarily more costly and I, personally, really prefer the small, square, sleek look of the Leopold. It doesn't have the curve of the top part of the board like the Das and it's not shiny, but it uses the minimal amount of space to provide a full keyboard with proper key spacing and everything else. The shape of the keys and the travel between presses feels exactly like they should.

If $30 or $40 means a lot to you (hey, it's almost a brand new game and it's almost a brand new high-end mouse like the one I mentioned), then I'd say get the Leopold. Or even see if you can find a good Filco around $100. If $40 isn't a big deal and you think the Das is too good looking to pass up, then you are still going to be very pleased with the purchase of a Das too, when all is said and done. :)

#12 Posted by mlarrabee (3064 posts) -
#13 Posted by Jrinswand (1711 posts) -

As always in these kind of threads, I'd like to put in a recommendation for the CM Storm QuickFire Pro. I've owned other keyboards, including other mechanical keyboards, and I've got to say that I really like this one the best. It could use full backlighting, but whatever. I'm a touch typist anyway. Also, the MX Brown switches are muy bueno.

#14 Posted by Grimhild (722 posts) -

@Sanryd said:

I recently bought a Razer Blackwidow and I'd say it's fantastic. Mostly due to the fact that it's mechanical, but it also lights up for when I'm on my PC until the wee hours of the morning without any lights on. Other advantages include that it looks fucking snazzy, has a USB port and headphone/mic jack built into the side, and 5 macro keys that are coming in handy despite my expectations.

That said, I was rocking a cheap Microsoft keyboard before that and it didn't have any issues, so it all depends on you.

Same here. But I'm also really into the aesthetics of my toys since it's hooked up to the big screen in the living room, and it matches the lighting accents on my tower with the black/blue back lit motif.

#15 Posted by dgtlty (168 posts) -

This may sound obvious but there is a wide variety of keyboards out there so it may help narrow your choices down by figuring out what you need and don't need. Mechanical? Numpad? Macro keys? Backlit? Headphone jack?

#16 Edited by Amafi (942 posts) -

@Branthog: Any experience with Zowie Gear keyboards?

Never heard of'em before, but it's the only one I can find with brown switches and norwegian layout for a reasonable price and in stock. Zowie Gear Celeritas, to be precise.

#17 Posted by MikkaQ (10344 posts) -

I'm really digging my Blackwidow. Upgraded from a 15 year old generic Dell PS/2 keyboard and couldn't be happier. So clicky... mmm reminds me of computers from my childhood.

#18 Posted by TooWalrus (13258 posts) -

Go for one of those mechanical keyboards without any markings whatsoever. Show the world how truly badass you really are.

#19 Posted by Amafi (942 posts) -

@TooWalrus: I have an unmarked membrane keyboard, had this idea for a while I was going to teach myself to type with the programmer dvorak layout, but I gave up on it after a couple months, hehe.

#20 Posted by Itwastuesday (987 posts) -
#21 Posted by Amafi (942 posts) -

@Itwastuesday: It's fantastic, got to try it at a buddy's house, but it's way too expensive. At least here it is. I can buy 4 of those zowie gear ones for the price of one happy hacking 2.

And one of those zowie keyboards is still about a 8th of the total price of my PC minus monitor.

#22 Posted by Branthog (5598 posts) -

@Itwastuesday said:

as far as i'm concerned, the Happy Hacking Professional 2 is the holy grail of keyboards

The problem I've found with the Happy Hacking keyboard (I don't know if this holds true for the second) is that it's missing a number of vital keys that are quite useful and the macro keys are a bit convoluted and inconvenient. I do a lot of work in vi and emacs, both, and many command sequences are super inconvenient for me. It made it hard for me to understand what the "hacker" part of the keyboard was, other than the $300+ price. (For comparison to what I'd consider a more "hacker friendly" keyboard . . . mostly by affinity over so many years of using them . . . would be a Sun/Ultra Sparc keyboard with the macro and control keys in the PROPER place, compared to the "improper" place that every modern keyboard puts them).

I don't mean the above to bag on a keyboard you're the joyful owner of. Any keyboard that makes someone productive and happy is the right keyboard. But for the price and the things I found it deficient in for my usage was just too much. I think if I was going to drop $300 or more on a board, I would probably try one of those crazy ergonomic keyboards that don't have any real "keys", but have a series of switches that you flick at with the tips of your fingers in various combinations.

All of that said, I sure as hell do like the look of those!

@Jrinswand said:

As always in these kind of threads, I'd like to put in a recommendation for the CM Storm QuickFire Pro. I've owned other keyboards, including other mechanical keyboards, and I've got to say that I really like this one the best. It could use full backlighting, but whatever. I'm a touch typist anyway. Also, the MX Brown switches are muy bueno.

Normally, I'd respond that people should avoid any peripherals that are made by companies known for other things, primarily. There are too many "me too" manufacturers jumping in on the high end peripheral game and they're usually only high-end in price. Most of their focus tends to be on gimmicks that lure people who don't know better and may not do the research (weeks and months on keyboard enthusiast websites and forums, for example) and they often try to market to gamers, for no real understandable reason (aside from money).

HOWEVER . . . as I said in my first post, I was surprised to become a huge fan of the CM Storm Sentinal Advance II mouse. It was one of those things I tried after I was unsatisfied with all the other mice that were out at the time (earlier 2012). I knew it was going to be a broken and gimmicky piece of shit, but what the hell. And then . . . holy shit, no . . . the sensor is fantastic. The shape and control and software. . . . it's just so well designed. So I'd have to say that, though I haven't played with it myself, a Cooler Master keyboard definitely can't be readily ruled out, without giving it a hands-on try.

@Amafi said:

@Branthog: Any experience with Zowie Gear keyboards?

Never heard of'em before, but it's the only one I can find with brown switches and norwegian layout for a reasonable price and in stock. Zowie Gear Celeritas, to be precise.

Not myself. I didn't even know they made keyboards. A lot of people really like their mice, though. Looking at the specs, I don't see anything the Leopold doesn't deliver on, though -- so I probably wouldn't spend much over $100 for one. Well, based on the product, at least. If they have exceptional customer support/service, that is definitely worth factoring into price comparisons.

#23 Posted by Branthog (5598 posts) -
#24 Posted by Nadril (548 posts) -

Get a Das. If you're at your PC a lot it is completely worth it. Got one for Christmas and it's awesome to type on / play RTS type games on.

#25 Posted by Amafi (942 posts) -

It does turn out to be closer to $160 here, but the leopold would be closer to $230 after shipping and import tax, and it'd still miss the norwegian keys, so I think I'll take a chance on it.

With any luck I'll have it in hand tomorrow. Maybe it's just here, but it's almost impossible to find any local retailers selling brown or clear switch keyboards. Plenty of reds and blues, but that's about it.

#26 Posted by Branthog (5598 posts) -

@Amafi said:

It does turn out to be closer to $160 here, but the leopold would be closer to $230 after shipping and import tax, and it'd still miss the norwegian keys, so I think I'll take a chance on it.

With any luck I'll have it in hand tomorrow. Maybe it's just here, but it's almost impossible to find any local retailers selling brown or clear switch keyboards. Plenty of reds and blues, but that's about it.

OUCH! Let me clarify my representation of the Leopold keyboard, then, so people aren't mislead.

The Leopold is beautiful, solid, robust, slick, responsive, and perfect. For $100 USD. In fact, I feel that is an ideal price-point that they've struck. I would be hard-pressed to pay $150 USD for it or more, though. If you can't get it for around $100 USD in your region, then you can definitely find an alternative that is as good or even better for $100+ that is available where you are.

By the way, anyone looking for a solid old-school IBM Model M mechanical (buckling spring; not cherry switch) keyboard, you can get them for $80-$100 in various configurations at Unicomp. They are the only company licensed to make the keyboards and the only thing they've changed (other than adding PS2/USB and options with and without certain functions) is to remove the heavy metal plate in the base. It's a glorious, heart-warming, ear-filling clickety-clack buckling spring keyboard that delights old neck-beards like me, day in and day out. However, they're not ideal for gaming, in my opinion. (see: http://www.pckeyboard.com/ ).

#27 Posted by Branthog (5598 posts) -
#28 Edited by Amafi (942 posts) -

Nah, stuff is just more expensive here, is all. CM Storm Quickfire Pro is around $140 and only available with mx red switches. If I were to import it'd be closer to $200.

Also, a 6pack of cheap domestic beer is ~$30. :)

Oh, and yeah, Model Ms are just glorious for typing. I know a dude who had 17 of the things from back in '90 or so. Think he's got 4 left now after giving away/selling/destroying the rest. I'll have to send him the link to that site in case he feels the urge to buy more.

#29 Posted by Branthog (5598 posts) -

@Amafi said:

Nah, stuff is just more expensive here, is all. CM Storm Quickfire Pro is around $140 and only available with mx red switches. If I were to import it'd be closer to $200.

Also, a 6pack of cheap domestic beer is ~$30. :)

Oh, and yeah, Model Ms are just glorious for typing. I know a dude who had 17 of the things from back in '90 or so. Think he's got 4 left now after giving away/selling/destroying the rest. I'll have to send him the link to that site in case he feels the urge to buy more.

You should find out what shipping from the US to your country is and see if it'd be reasonable to have someone ship it to you. Or is that what most of the cost is through the website, too?

#30 Posted by Amafi (942 posts) -

It's mainly the 25% VAT (and they charge VAT on shipping, too) as well as the handling fee I'd have to pay for the customs people to send me the bill for said VAT.

So having someone else buy it and ship it as a gift would be much cheaper, but then you run into issues if you have to RMA it at some point, etc. Unless something is under $35 (no vat on purchases for anything under that) or quite a bit over (enough to offset the ~$45 handling fee, the 25% VAT on the shipping, and any potential issues with customer service) I generally tend to buy stuff locally if at all possible.

My cousin's going to the US this summer though, I might just have to have him pick up a couple model Ms to bring home for me.

#31 Posted by Fattony12000 (7587 posts) -

I've had this cheap wireless Logitech MK300 for YEARS, and I've not needed to change the batteries ONCE.

It's a goddamn monster.

I don't use the included mouse, of course.

#32 Edited by Jrinswand (1711 posts) -
@Branthog said:

@Jrinswand said:

As always in these kind of threads, I'd like to put in a recommendation for the CM Storm QuickFire Pro. I've owned other keyboards, including other mechanical keyboards, and I've got to say that I really like this one the best. It could use full backlighting, but whatever. I'm a touch typist anyway. Also, the MX Brown switches are muy bueno.

Normally, I'd respond that people should avoid any peripherals that are made by companies known for other things, primarily. There are too many "me too" manufacturers jumping in on the high end peripheral game and they're usually only high-end in price. Most of their focus tends to be on gimmicks that lure people who don't know better and may not do the research (weeks and months on keyboard enthusiast websites and forums, for example) and they often try to market to gamers, for no real understandable reason (aside from money).

HOWEVER . . . as I said in my first post, I was surprised to become a huge fan of the CM Storm Sentinal Advance II mouse. It was one of those things I tried after I was unsatisfied with all the other mice that were out at the time (earlier 2012). I knew it was going to be a broken and gimmicky piece of shit, but what the hell. And then . . . holy shit, no . . . the sensor is fantastic. The shape and control and software. . . . it's just so well designed. So I'd have to say that, though I haven't played with it myself, a Cooler Master keyboard definitely can't be readily ruled out, without giving it a hands-on try.

Yeah, the CM Storm QuickFire Pro (which is different from the QuickFire Rapid in that it has a numpad and limited backlighting around the WASD keys) is definitely legit. It is manufactured by a company in Taiwan called Costar, which also manufactures the Filco Majestouch and Das line of keyboards, which are supposedly the best mechanical keyboards that money can buy. The great thing about the CM keyboard, though, is that it has virtually the same performance of those top-tier models at a fraction of the cost. You can get a CM tenkeyless with the same build quality as those $200 keyboards for like $60.
 
Edit: I've also heard that Rosewill have really been stepping up their game in the high-end PC peripherals market as well, but I've never used any of their products, so I can't really attest to that.
#33 Posted by Bane (453 posts) -

I'm a fan of SteelSeries. I've got a 7G at home and a 6Gv2 at work. They're built like tanks and you could probably pass them on to your grandkids. They've got Cherry Black switches which means there is no tactile bump when a key press is registered. They've got the option to use the PS/2 port instead of USB which I recommend for a couple of reasons: one, the PS/2 port is not polled by the CPU (meaning no cycles lost looking for input), but rather sends a hardware interrupt which forces the CPU to respond, and two, it supports n-key rollover meaning there is no limit to the number of keys you can press at the same time.

I see they've got a new series coming soon called Apex that looks nice if you want backlit keys.

#34 Edited by Amafi (942 posts) -

Looks like I won't get the zowie until monday, bah. Got myself a Logitech K400 for couch surfing though. No more full size keyboard and wireless mouse on my living room table, finally.

Got it today and it's pretty good. Going to take a while to get used to the mx brown switches after so long on a membrane keyboard but it feels nice and sturdy and I like the layout of it.

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