Mechanical keyboard "expert" here. I've contributed to communities like /r/mechanicalkeyboards
for a long time now, plus I've been buying them for 2 years and selling them for 1.
Here is yet another long-ass post about mechanical keyboards and how to buy one without wasting your money.WARNING: GIF/Image Overload.
#1: The switches.
Switches are what make the mechanical keyboard mechanical, and there are a lot of them. There are two main types of switches: linear
Linear switches are more geared towards gaming and less on typing, since they don't give you any form of feedback to tell you when you've performed a keystroke. They tend to be lighter as well, and don't produce the famous 'click' noise that tactile switches do. Some examples of linear switches: Cherry MX Reds and Cherry MX Blacks. Here are a couple gifs
Tactile switches are known for their famous clicky noise. They tend to be a bit heavier and louder, and are most recommended for typing. Don't believe the BS people spew out there about them not being good for gaming, they're perfectly fine for that. Some examples of tactile switches: Cherry MX Blues and Cherry MX Browns. Here are a couple gifs
It should be noted that Cherry MX Browns aren't *exactly* as clicky as blues, for they have a tactile bump
rather than a click
The most popular Cherry MX Switches are: Cherry MX Blues, Cherry MX Reds, Cherry MX Browns, Cherry MX Blacks, Cherry MX Greens, Cherry MX Grays/Greys
and Cherry MX Clears.
Cherry MX Switches aren't the only switches though. There are also Buckling Springs, which are my personal favourite. These are used by the older IBM Model M keyboards, as well as their modern Unicomp counterparts.
Here's a gif
of one of them:
#2: Switch Weights.
Choosing the switches you want on your keyboard is one thing, choosing the weights of them is another completely different story.
To sum it up simply, here are the weights for most of the switches I have just covered:
- MX Blues require 55g
- MX Browns require 45g
- MX Reds require 45g
- MX Blacks require 60g
If you don't mind sacrificing your typing speed for a lighter switch that's more optimized for gaming, go with MX Reds or MX Browns.
If you don't mind being incredibly loud and putting a tiny bit more force into your keystrokes, go with MX Blues.
If you don't mind making your hands incredibly tired, go with MX Blacks.
With switches out of the way, you also have to think about how big you want your keyboard to be.
There are 100%
keyboards (AKA the standard), which contain the number pad, arrow keys and QWERTY block, and
There are 80%
keyboards (AKA tenkeyless), which do not
contain the number pad, but still have the arrow keys.
There are also 60%
keyboards (AKA compact) out there, which do not
contain the number pad and do not
contain the arrow keys, and only include the QWERTY block.
Here an example:
This is just personal preference, really. I like all of them.
You can get these from places like WASDKeyboards
and many other online shops.
The only thing you really have to pay attention to are the price
and the plastics
keycaps are okay, included on most boards by default, and give the keyboard a lighter sound. They're thinner and shine a lot quicker than PBT keycaps.PBT
keycaps are amazing, but you generally have to buy them yourself. They give the keyboard a harder, blockier sound because of their thickness, and tend not to shine as easily.
Print is another thing to keep in mind, but it's not as important. I tend not to get in-depth with it because I don't like printed keycaps.
The biggest thing on the list, for sure.Some general distributors:DAS KeyboardsDuckyFilcoRealforceResellers:The Keyboard CompoanyElite KeyboardsWASD KeyboardsUnicompMax KeyboardsErgoGeekNCIX
Manufacturer online stores:Cooler Master/CMStormDAS Keyboards
It's also good to generally look on sites like NewEgg
if you're new and have no idea what you're looking for.
The most preferred brands out there are: Filco, Ducky, DAS Keyboard, Cooler Master/CMStorm, IBM/Unicomp, Corsair,
according to reddit, deskthority and my own personal experiences.
Spend some time looking at reviews. That's the #1 way to find a keyboard you like IMO.
An extra little note:
Please be careful with your money. Avoid impulse-buying and do your research!!!
You have no idea how many times I bought crappy keyboards just to get my hands on one back when I was new. Please refrain from doing that.
Also, get a switch tester if you're still unsure of what switch you want. Cooler Master has some good ones, but there are others on sites like WASDKeyboards and Max Keyboards.
Hopefully that summed it up. My grammar may have not been perfect here and there, but I did what I could.
Have fun click-clacking!