Recently my wife’s been on a quest to reduce our EMF exposure. I’ve been using the built-in keyboard of my Sager gaming laptop, and she suggested that I switch to a keyboard accessory.
Therefore, I picked up a non-mechanical keyboard, the Logitech K740, from a nearby Staples. The main issue with the K740 is that it’s full-width and has a tenkey numpad I never use. From an ergonomic standpoint, the keyboard width forced the mouse to be placed too far off my center line, and this was not comfortable. So I decided that a tenkeyless (compact) keyboard would be the way to go.
Top (@unindel) recommended that I take a look at mechanical keyboards, which provide a more customizable and richer tactile experience relative to rubber dome keyboards. I found a good option in the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Red Switches, which was favorably reviewed on various shopping sites (e.g. Amazon.com, Newegg.com) and forums, and it had a reasonable price point just under $100 USD.
The keyboard came sturdily packaged:
As I had hoped, the compact keyboard allowed for comfortable alignment and distance between my left hand on the keyboard and my right hand on the mouse, which is my default setup when gaming. From an ergonomic standpoint, I want my hands to be about shoulder width apart.
There are several design characteristics that influenced my decision to pick up a CM Storm keyboard:
- Each key is concave, so your finger naturally falls into the middle of the key when depressing
- There is a meaningful gap and crevice between each key and surrounding keys, which helps with correct finger placement
- Each key has good travel distance, which prevents misfires from brush contact
I’ve only been using the QuickFire keyboard for a few days, but I already love it! The only downside to the keyboard is that it’s somewhat noisy, and in the heat of PVP, my wife can hear me clicking madly away in the next room. LOL.
Aside from brand, the main thing one has to decide with a mechanical keyboard is which Cherry MX mechanical switches to go with. There are 4 switch options, denoted by color, and per the manufacturer each option is tuned differently:
- Blue: for typists, tactile actuation bump, actuation click sound, 60cN actuation force
- Brown: for typists, tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 55cN actuation force
- Red: for gamers, no tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 45cN actuation force
- Black: for gamers, no tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 60cN actuation force
I found an article and poll which recommends Cherry MX Brown instead of the Red I’m using. I’m tempted to order the Rapidfire keyboard with Brown switches to see which works best for me.
I got several dozen responses on Twitter about this topic. Here’s a link to the conversation:
Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Brown switches for gaming? Bought Red with new keyboard amazon.com/gp/product/B00… but wondering about Brown—
Ed Park (@taugrim) July 22, 2014
Another thing to consider for your Cherry MX switches is whether to install O-Rings to prevent bottoming out the keys (which means less noise) and to reduce the travel distance. From reading various forums, 0.2mm O-Rings seem preferred over 0.4mm O-Rings, as the latter decrease the travel of the keys too much.
What keyboard are you using, and if you have Cherry MX switches, which color(s) have you used and what’s your take on them? What do you think of O-Rings?
I did extensive hands-on testing on Red versus Brown Cherry MX switches and Red versus Blue O-rings. You can read about that here.