Keyboard me! Help me replace my aging Saitek Eclipse.
February 6, 2015 9:35 AM   Subscribe

My Eclipse if finally showing it's age and I need some advice seeing as I haven't even thought about keyboards for what 10 years? What's a good keyboard now? Mechanical seems to be all the rage again, is it worth it?

I loved my Eclipse clearly having used it for so long, but they seem difficult to find now and I'm curious I guess as to how things have progressed since I got my keyboard. I mainly use it for gaming, this won't be for work; it's a strictly personal desktop. I don't need to worry about connecting it to a laptop or anything like that, wired is more than fine. I no longer sit in the dark in front of the computer anymore, so while I do love the gimmick of the eclipse and the keys being backlit, but it's honestly not super useful and I'd be ok giving up that feature.

I'm curious having never really used a mechanical keyboard if it's worth the money. I spent less money on two sticks of 8 gb ram than some of these keyboards. I'm not opposed to spending the money if it's worth it and IU'd be a fool not to, but again without personal experience I'm on the fence. What keyboards have you loved? Have you switched from one type to the other and hated it or couldn't believe it took you that long to switch?
posted by Carillon to Technology (10 answers total)
I recently purchased a daskeyboard for my office and I adore it. It has the "clicky" switches, which I think are a little more typing-centered than game-centered, but of course I don't do a lot of gaming at my office computer. When it comes to typing though, it's very, very satisfying. Feels a little typewriter-like. I imagine it would get annoying to others if I was in a cube, but since I have my own office it's not a big deal (and likewise, since you're at home, I expect it wouldn't be a problem for you either). I honestly enjoy having some project that requires me to sit down and type for a while, since I viscerally enjoy the experience of typing on this thing. I picked it up on a woot deal for $115 or so and am totally happy with the purchase.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:48 AM on February 6, 2015

I own two (one a CM Storm Quickstorm Rapid, with blue (clicky) switches, and an ergodox with red (non-clicky) switches), and very much enjoy the typing experience on both. I find that the consistency of keypresses on non-mechanical keyboards is lower, which annoys me when I find myself making typos for no good reason using other people's keyboards.

That said: This is all a very personal and nitpicky thing.

It's quite possible that there's a store near you that has mechanical keyboards on display; I've seen them at Best Buys and Micro Centers, and I'm sure there are other stores that you'll be able to see them too. Try typing on a few, and see if there's a particular switch you like tying on better than others (clicky vs. non-clicky, resistance, etc.). In my opinion, in terms of typing comfort, the switch and the keycaps are going to be the deciding factor, so there's not necessarily much need to spend extra money on a brand name as long as it has Cherry MX switches in the color you like. (For example, Monoprice offers a relatively inexpensive full 101 key keyboard with Cherry switches, at around half the price of a das)
posted by jangie at 10:13 AM on February 6, 2015

My Eclipse is also nearing the end of it's life and I've been looking at reviews and considering what to replace it with.

I have almost, not quite but almost, settled on the Steelseries Apex. Yes, it doubles down - or more properly quadruples down - on the fancy color backlit keys, but it has a lot of stuff going on that I like. I've kind of drifted away from clicky mechanical keys-especially as I do much of my gaming late at night now and don't want to type any louder than I have to with people sleeping in the next room.

(If I were still mostly about generating huge amounts of text on my desktop machine, I would totally get a daskeyboard, though. I used to be that guy.)
posted by Naberius at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2015

I bought a das keyboard last year and there is most definitely an adjustment period. Key presses are much more positive and longer travel than other sorts of keyboards, especially laptops.

Overall, I like it now, though I still use a standard Logitech at work because of noise issues. I game a tiny amount (mostly stuff like roguelikes and Minecraft) and it works very, very well for those.
posted by bonehead at 10:56 AM on February 6, 2015

There are lots of mechanical backlit boards, btw. I kinda lust after the CODE one for example, but I can't justify switching to myself, as the das is perfectly suitable and very well built.
posted by bonehead at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2015

If you're into building your own stuff, check out the Ergodox Keyboard. Off the shelf, I, like craven_morhead, highly recommend the daskeyboard. I've had two of them through the years. They also have lots of options (quiet vs. loud, markings vs. no markings, different switches, etc.). Be sure to check out /r/mechanicalkeyboards too.
posted by sk8ingdom at 11:14 AM on February 6, 2015

I got a Logitech G710+ mechanical this year and quite like it, I had a Logitech G15 (v1) before that since 2006, which finally gave up the ghost when I spilled a glass of water directly into it. Logitech's build quality is pretty good, but not amazing. The G710+ has backlighting and a few macro keys/media controls and uses MX Brown switches, which are neither IBM Model M loud nor regular membrane keyboard quiet, and are solid for both typing and gaming. Browns are the all-arounder style mechanical switches and the ones I'd recommend if you can't try a keyboard out in advance.

But really it comes down to your preference:
-Do you care about having a numpad? If not, there are many "tenkeyless" keyboards out there that are cheaper/smaller. If so, that narrows your options.
-Do you care about noise? Will people around you care about noise? You can easily hear MX Blue switches the next room over.

Good mechanicals: Das Keyboard, Roccat Ryos MK Pro, CM Storm, Ducky, Filco, Happyhacking, Corsair K60/K70, Logitech G710+, Tt eSports Poseidon Z, Noppoo

Good regular keyboards: Steelseries Apex, Logitech G105, Perixx PX-1100 (Supposedly like a Saitek Eclispe II clone), Corsair K30/K40/K50

Cheap, works: basic Dell/Logitech/Microsoft ones
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:28 AM on February 6, 2015

That Ergodox looks cool sk8ingdom but I don't have a soldering iron or ever a real understanding of that process.

Definitely need a number pad. Don't really care about noise/sound. It'd be nice if it didn't sound like a herd of wildebeest but honestly that's a very minor concern.
posted by Carillon at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2015

If you'd like something ergodox-ish but can't solder, might be an option, once it's released. (I know the folks making it, so I might be biased.)
posted by zamboni at 3:14 PM on February 6, 2015

I'm going to give possibly the boring answer here, but as someone who used to love his IBM Model M with customized keycaps *clicketyclicketyclick* (and still has 3 of them in a box in the attic), but can't use it anymore due to what it does to my wrists, I have to put in a good word for the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000. It's only ~$30, build quality is generally good, and boy does it make a difference for how my wrists feel at the end of a day. If you want wireless, you'll have to go a little more expensive and get the Sculpt, but it adds the "looks cool" factor as well. :-)
posted by jferg at 6:01 AM on February 7, 2015

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