Keyboard Man - How to choose a mechanical keyboard?

Keyboard Man: How to choose a mechanical keyboard?

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From the outside, the keyboard is almost the same. It’s nothing more than 26 English letters, a string of Arabic numerals, and various characters and function keys. However, in this key arrangement pattern that has been fixed since the era of typewriters, a variety of keyboard forms have been born. At the same time, it also brings a rich feeling of beating. Because of this, it becomes more and more difficult to choose a suitable keyboard.

1. Size

The size of the mechanical keyboard can be viewed from two angles. On the one hand, it is large and compact on the outside. On the other hand, it is reflected in the number of keys. The large keyboard contains more comprehensive functions to meet more diverse needs; the small keyboard has a smart structure, which is convenient enough to place a small desktop or carry it out. Some even restructured the functional structure according to the needs of editing and design.

1.1 Full-size keyboard

full-size mechanical keyboard

Unless new function keys have been added to the new design. In general, the number of keys on a full-size keyboard is usually 104. The design of the main keypad + number keypad can guarantee the convenience and speed of typing, no matter it is used for code words or input data. And because the distance between the keys is wider than the keypad, it will be more comfortable and natural when typing.

From the overall outline, the design of the outer frame also has a great impact on the specifications. For example, the Cherry G80-3000 series keyboard is relatively large, and its classic appearance is loved by many “retro-style”; while the keyboard like Filco is “slim”, which saves a lot of desktop space compared to the former.

1.2 Compact keyboard

compact mechanical keyboard

The other is a compact 87-key keyboard, which is a bit more refined after removing the number keypad. In the case of meeting daily use requirements, it does not take up too much desktop space, and it is easy to put it in a school bag and carry it with your laptop. At the same time, for those workers who need more than two computers, this is obviously a good choice to solve the “location contradiction”.

Representatives include Cherry MX8.0 and MX Board1.0.

1.3 Recommend

2. Key Switch

I often hear people say that the red switch is suitable for code words, and the black switch has a better experience on the game. What are the red and black ones? In fact, it reflects the difference in the feel of the mechanical keyboard. Use the “light and soft” red switch for long-term code words comfortably; the harder black switch can effectively avoid false touches, and it will not affect the rapid connection and release of skills. At this time, it is very important to choose according to daily needs and scenarios.

2.1 Key switch structure

The difference in the feel of a mechanical keyboard is mainly manifested by a device called a “mechanical switch”, which is what we commonly call a mechanical switch, also known as a key switch. Different from the membrane keyboard, a spring is used in this key switch. The difference in stiffness coefficient (which can be understood as elastic force) and length will cause changes in the pressing force and trigger stroke.

key switch

2.2 Key Type

The most famous here is the switch developed by German cherry. Starting from the milestone product of MX switch released in 1983, it has successively developed four classic mechanical switches: MX BLACK, MX Blue, MX BROWN, and MX RED. The name is distinguished by color, and the green switch, white switch, gray switch, and silver switch introduced by it are also the same. At the same time according to some other features there are mute switch, RGB switch and so on.

keyboard switch type

2.3 Press pressure and feel

In addition to the difference caused by the spring, another difference in the MX switch is the difference between the presence of paragraphs. The red, black, gray, and silver switchs only have a single-segment structure. Green, tea, white, and green (the latter two are rare) have a two-segment structure, which will feel a paragraph when pressed. This can be felt not only at the tap, but also with a crisp “click” sound every time.

2.4 Suggestions

All in all, when choosing, you must make judgments based on your own needs and scenarios. In the game, the black switch, the green switch, and the light switch are all acceptable. For code office, you can choose the red switch and G switch. Of course, you still have to choose according to the pressure. For example, I used to use black axes to play games, but later I got lazy and switched to red axes. It should be noted that the red switch is relatively expensive.

To make a choice based on the scene, you need to consider whether you use it at home or in the office. Paradigmatic structures (such as the green switch) bring a strong sense of rhythm and sound cool. This is a treat for myself but it is likely to affect others and is suitable for home use. Using a silent switch in the company will be a quiet option, and if you type quickly, you can feel the rapid trigger of the silver switch!

2.5 Recommend

3. Keycap

The trigger method of the mechanical keyboard switch needs to be transmitted through the keycap. This small top cover that can be directly touched by a finger is also one of the important modules that affect the tapping experience. Fingers are used to be placed gently, and the short keycaps will meet your requirements; prefer the fun of typing on the keyboard, while the high keycaps provide a three-dimensional feel. In addition, some people have a soft spot for the smoothness of ABS, while others have a whole-heartedness about the matte feeling of PBT.

3.1 Keycap height

keyboard height

The keycap height difference is like the size of a mobile phone. The large screen has a good visual experience, and the small screen has good grip comfort. Reflected on the keycap are the different feelings brought by its height and shortness.

In general, the change in height of a mechanical keyboard depends largely on the use of the keycap. The high-key cap itself has a high “elevation”. The slope difference from the F function zone to the space column is slightly larger, and the knocking feeling is stronger. The short flat keycaps or half-height keycaps create a much smaller step-shaped drop, and the smoothness of the transition results in a reduction in the palm placement height. Even without the palm rest, you can let the wrist touch the table, which is more comfortable to relieve pressure and knock.

3.2 Keycap material

In terms of keycap material, it is mainly divided into ABS, PBT and POM. The ABS here is not an anti-lock braking system for automobiles, but refers to a high molecular copolymer. It has the advantages of high strength and good toughness. More importantly, it is low cost and economical, and feels smooth. However, the disadvantage is that the high temperature resistance is poor. And it will be oiled for a long time (the surface is “smoothed”), and the wear resistance is not high.

3.3 Suggestions

In summary, when choosing a keyboard, you should first watch the height of the keycap change. The slope difference formed from top to bottom will bring different tapping feelings. Then compare the advantages and disadvantages of the keycap material. ABS that likes smooth feel and has a limited budget would be a good choice. Love the matte touch or want to DIY yourself, PBT will meet your needs. The coldness and dryness shown by POM is your favorite “dish”, so be prepared to face a single black.

3.4 Recommend