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Constellation I
Apr 3, 2005
I'm a sucker, a little fucker.

NewFatMike posted:

I have a little bit of a peculiar question: I have a handful of keyboards coming in with a variety of switches. I more or less have to review them and I'm not totally sure where to start.

Are there common construction shortcuts different manufacturers might take?

Are there common issues or pain points with relatively unknown manufacturers?

And I guess the same goes for mice if anyone knows anything there. Pointing towards more technical/tough reviewers than hardware Canucks might also help since they're the only ones I know reviewing in the peripheral space.

Thank you thread!

I don't really know if there's much more to talk about when reviewing keyboards. There's nothing much else to be said with regards to switches since they're a known quantity and all the different switch types have been done to death and sound sampled / type tested to death.

I guess for things to look out for and talk about are case build quality, materials, flex, etc. Next would be reviewing the stabilizers, what type they are, if they're rattly or if they feel mushy. Next would be the quality of the PCB if it's a bad soldering job / bad layout. The only people I know who do this on mainstream review sites are GamersNexus for gaming keyboards:

http://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreview...cherry-mx-speed
http://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreview...keyboard-review

Next you can talk about is keycap quality and aesthetics, which relatively unknown manufacturers will definitely make bad decisions on. Also pay attention to non-standard layouts I guess. Another thing to focus on is the programmability of the keyboard, how customizable it is, if there's issues with NKRO, 6KRO, etc. Next would be LED quality, then also if there is a requirement to use lovely software to handle programmability or LED profiles. My suggestion would be to go to the review forum section on deskthority and kind of base your review on what people focus and sometimes sperg on there.

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Ultimate Mango
Jan 18, 2005

She's a sharkmouth clam
beware
she is


The Unlife Aquatic posted:

Thank you, I put a lot of work into this but there's still so much I can do.

There's always custom keycaps to feed your habit!

The reactive or ripple effects when hitting a key is really really tempting. If it did that and felt like my Cherry Clears or ~*GASP*~ Heavier (clutch my pearls, I am veklempt over here) yeah okay I need new underpants now.

The CODE isn't perfect by any stretch and their shine through caps kind of suck, but it is such a joy to type on.

Custom shine through caps that were evenly lit and clear to read would be tempting.

The Unlife Aquatic
Jun 17, 2009

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

Ultimate Mango posted:

The reactive or ripple effects when hitting a key is really really tempting. If it did that and felt like my Cherry Clears or ~*GASP*~ Heavier (clutch my pearls, I am veklempt over here) yeah okay I need new underpants now.

The CODE isn't perfect by any stretch and their shine through caps kind of suck, but it is such a joy to type on.

Custom shine through caps that were evenly lit and clear to read would be tempting.

Vortex makes great backlighting compatible keycaps

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




dirby posted:

1. I have a relatively cheap Cherry Blue keyboard (probably this one). I already had got it replaced under warranty when the E key started dying, and now, much later, the T key doesn't work consistently. It's a problem with the switch itself. What can be done besides replacing the whole keyboard? Is there a way to open/clean/replace the switch under the T keycap?

2. I have a Cherry Brown keyboard for general use that works well for most things, but for certain high speed/precision gaming it feels too slow to react, at least when releasing the keys. Would Red switches/some other kind of keys fix this, or am I just bad at games?

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja4U75kF1Jw

it's doable, especially if you already have the gear, otherwise it would be a nice foray into this kind of stuff.

2: if you want the absolute most twitchy stuff, reds, or better yet, mx speed.

betterinsodapop
Apr 4, 2004

64:1

Yup, typing on a TKL Code w/Clears with backlit PBT caps from Vortex and it is fantastic.

chippy
Aug 16, 2006

OK I DON'T GET IT

betterinsodapop posted:

Yup, typing on a TKL Code w/Clears with backlit PBT caps from Vortex and it is fantastic.

Same, they look and feel so much better than the stock caps.

teethgrinder
Oct 9, 2002



Soiled Meat

The Vortex caps are perfect for CODE. I found that more colourful backlighting-compatible caps on it looked weird with the luminous paint behind the caps.

chippy
Aug 16, 2006

OK I DON'T GET IT

Yep. If anything I think the backlighting works better than it does on the stock caps. The legends seem to diffuse the light a bit better, so that it comes through a bit softer and more even, a bit less 'shiny', but still more than bright enough.

teethgrinder
Oct 9, 2002



Soiled Meat

Found a picture I took when I had blue gradient PBT shine-through caps on my CODE, that sort of illustrates the issue:

Only registered members can see post attachments!

chippy
Aug 16, 2006

OK I DON'T GET IT

Oh yeah, that's no good. The Vortex caps don't have that problem at all. Were those caps just a bit too thin, maybe?

teethgrinder
Oct 9, 2002



Soiled Meat

It's mostly the channels between the keys I'm talking about, the colour of it being a bit "off". Maybe its also reflecting a bit off the inside of the caps?

leper khan
Dec 28, 2010
Honest to god thinks Half Life 2 is a bad game. But at least he likes Monster Hunter.

Deviantfish posted:

Topre-stem aftermarket keysets by and large don't exist. You could get a set of Topre HiPro (similar to SP SA profile) caps, which would involve you buying a HiPro and stripping off the caps, or occasional novelties/artisan caps here and there. The other alternative would be to buy sliders to replace the Topre ones, which is kind of a pain in the rear end. Sliders are of rather variable quality too, the cheap ones will wobble and be lovely

surebet posted:

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pr...2748140639.html


umph

i prefer the original color mods, but one of my keeb regrets is passing on a cheap granite set last year. looks good!

Thanks but that's too much

I just wish topre released a full set of green caps like they did blue, red, yellow, and orange.

chippy
Aug 16, 2006

OK I DON'T GET IT

teethgrinder posted:

It's mostly the channels between the keys I'm talking about, the colour of it being a bit "off". Maybe its also reflecting a bit off the inside of the caps?

Ahh, I see. Yeah probably, it's got that white back plate to reflect off.

dirby
Sep 21, 2004


Fun Shoe

surebet posted:

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja4U75kF1Jw

it's doable, especially if you already have the gear, otherwise it would be a nice foray into this kind of stuff.

2: if you want the absolute most twitchy stuff, reds, or better yet, mx speed.

Thanks! I don't actually have a soldering iron, but I'll either find someone who does or get one since they're apparently really cheap.

The Unlife Aquatic
Jun 17, 2009

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

teethgrinder posted:

The Vortex caps are perfect for CODE. I found that more colourful backlighting-compatible caps on it looked weird with the luminous paint behind the caps.

Yeah, I've tried other backlighting compatible keycaps with my POK3R RGB and these are by far the best.

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




dirby posted:

Thanks! I don't actually have a soldering iron, but I'll either find someone who does or get one since they're apparently really cheap.

like anything in life, don't go too cheap, but yeah you should be able to gear up for well below the cost of a replacement keyboard. Keep in mind you're aiming to work on a pcb, so don't borrow a 1970s radio shack hobby iron as it might be aimed at something bigger. the gadget used to pull the solder off the pcb is a solder sucker/vaccum. hopefully someone better at this than me can recommend specific items.

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




leper khan posted:

Thanks but that's too much

I just wish topre released a full set of green caps like they did blue, red, yellow, and orange.

topre stemmed caps do exist, but just like model m caps, they're somewhat few and far between

http://www.elitekeyboards.com/produ...ccess#toprekeys

another option to consider: the realforce rgb board. it comes out of the box with mx stems, along with a few interesting gimmicks including key level rgb customization and key level actuation customization between 1.5mm, 2.2mm & 3mm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9G3jkxaQYs

while it's been on my list of things to check out in person, i've yet to come across one so i can't vouch for it personally, but it seems well received by your fellow topre weirdos.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



Constellation I posted:

I don't really know if there's much more to talk about when reviewing keyboards. There's nothing much else to be said with regards to switches since they're a known quantity and all the different switch types have been done to death and sound sampled / type tested to death.

I guess for things to look out for and talk about are case build quality, materials, flex, etc. Next would be reviewing the stabilizers, what type they are, if they're rattly or if they feel mushy. Next would be the quality of the PCB if it's a bad soldering job / bad layout. The only people I know who do this on mainstream review sites are GamersNexus for gaming keyboards:

http://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreview...cherry-mx-speed
http://www.gamersnexus.net/hwreview...keyboard-review

Next you can talk about is keycap quality and aesthetics, which relatively unknown manufacturers will definitely make bad decisions on. Also pay attention to non-standard layouts I guess. Another thing to focus on is the programmability of the keyboard, how customizable it is, if there's issues with NKRO, 6KRO, etc. Next would be LED quality, then also if there is a requirement to use lovely software to handle programmability or LED profiles. My suggestion would be to go to the review forum section on deskthority and kind of base your review on what people focus and sometimes sperg on there.

Thank you! That's very constructive.

Krailor
Nov 2, 2001
I'm only pretending to care

Nap Ghost

Topre please make a TKL Realforce.

Alternatively, has anyone seen a backlit board with front printed legends? I feel like it would look cool but I'm not sure how well the lighting would come through.

Deviantfish
Jun 25, 2006

P L E A S E
D O N ' T


Grimey Drawer

Krailor posted:

Topre please make a TKL Realforce.

Alternatively, has anyone seen a backlit board with front printed legends? I feel like it would look cool but I'm not sure how well the lighting would come through.

You meab other than the 87U?

Ultimate Mango
Jan 18, 2005

She's a sharkmouth clam
beware
she is


betterinsodapop posted:

Yup, typing on a TKL Code w/Clears with backlit PBT caps from Vortex and it is fantastic.

chippy posted:

Same, they look and feel so much better than the stock caps.

teethgrinder posted:

The Vortex caps are perfect for CODE. I found that more colourful backlighting-compatible caps on it looked weird with the luminous paint behind the caps.

I knew I should have stayed out of this new thread. Instead I am about to buy two sets of these keycaps.

And I will love them.

The Unlife Aquatic
Jun 17, 2009

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

Ultimate Mango posted:

I knew I should have stayed out of this new thread. Instead I am about to buy two sets of these keycaps.

And I will love them.

This hobby is a gaping maw made of artisan keycaps.

Krailor
Nov 2, 2001
I'm only pretending to care

Nap Ghost

Deviantfish posted:

You meab other than the 87U?

Yeah, I want backlighting. It doesn't even need to be RGB, I'd be happy with just white.

Ultimate Mango
Jan 18, 2005

She's a sharkmouth clam
beware
she is


The Unlife Aquatic posted:

This hobby is a gaping maw made of artisan keycaps.

No, no, after this I'm done. I placed the order. That's it.

Back to lego sets and other goon hobbies.

ColHannibal
Sep 17, 2007


Krailor posted:

Yeah, I want backlighting. It doesn't even need to be RGB, I'd be happy with just white.



No you dont.

Weedle
May 31, 2006



Ultimate Mango posted:

No, no, after this I'm done.

teethgrinder
Oct 9, 2002



Soiled Meat

SymmetryrtemmyS
Jul 13, 2013



It does work for some people

I've been using my AT101W (with swapped switches when they wear out, because vintage switches aren't usually in mint condition) for 8 years now. It's all I use. I've spent a grand total of $40 on keyboard stuff in those 8 years, between the original purchase ($20) and two additional ALPS boards that I was able to scavenge a total of ~150 switches from ($20).

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




Constellation I posted:

I don't really know if there's much more to talk about when reviewing keyboards. There's nothing much else to be said with regards to switches since they're a known quantity and all the different switch types have been done to death and sound sampled / type tested to death.

thought about this a bit, and i disagree. switches are a known quantity, that's true, however switch noises are largely dependent on keeb chassis construction.

Constellation I posted:

I guess for things to look out for and talk about are case build quality, materials, flex, etc. Next would be reviewing the stabilizers, what type they are, if they're rattly or if they feel mushy.

all good points, especially the stabilizers, which no one ever really mentions and have a huge impact on how the larger keys sound/feel.

Constellation I posted:

Next would be the quality of the PCB if it's a bad soldering job / bad layout.

don't agree here, both because it's probably above the technical level of the audience and also because unless we're talking about a hand built boards soldering will probably not be a significant issue and the layout itself is even more relative. pretty sure they added such details for the credibility-through-technical-wank factor.

unless the intended audience is way more technical than i'm expecting, you're just biasing the review based on things that might sound important, but really aren't that much.

a blurb about how the pcb is secured and the fitment of the internals could be interesting from a rattle/durability point of view.

Constellation I posted:

Next you can talk about is keycap quality and aesthetics, which relatively unknown manufacturers will definitely make bad decisions on.

yes to all of this, and also known manufacturers make horrific design choices all the time too!

Constellation I posted:

Also pay attention to non-standard layouts I guess.

yes!

http://www.maxkeyboard.com/mechanic...size-chart.html

the one true layout, standard ansi, is the second one in that list. while some keycap manufacturers will provide extra keys to allow for some compatibility, it's neither a guarantee if it's not stated and you should still know if the extra caps are relevant to your special snowflake layout.

Constellation I posted:

Another thing to focus on is the programmability of the keyboard, how customizable it is, if there's issues with NKRO, 6KRO, etc. Next would be LED quality, then also if there is a requirement to use lovely software to handle programmability or LED profiles. My suggestion would be to go to the review forum section on deskthority and kind of base your review on what people focus and sometimes sperg on there.

true usb nkro is rare (often splicing the output to two usb ports or using some kind of proprietary transfer protocol that requires special drivers), so pointing out what's nkro and what's nkro* could be interesting.

programmability, both for macros and lighting, should only be blurbed unless the audience is expected to be highly technical.

some very solid points overall, good job! i'd also add a few more mundane metrics like average reviews, msrp vs street price vs availability (good place to plug those referral links), other related choices to consider, warranty, etc

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




The Unlife Aquatic posted:

This hobby is a gaping maw made of artisan keycaps.

stare into the abyss and remortgage your house

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




The Unlife Aquatic
Jun 17, 2009

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

surebet posted:

stare into the abyss and remortgage your house



I'm the F key.

Artisan keycaps are the silliest poo poo.

surebet
Jan 10, 2013

avatar
specialist




if they weren't steeped in this weird uber nerd ~investment~ culture, i'd probably grab a couple, but i think i'd rather opt out than encourage any of this poo poo

leper khan
Dec 28, 2010
Honest to god thinks Half Life 2 is a bad game. But at least he likes Monster Hunter.

surebet posted:

if they weren't steeped in this weird uber nerd ~investment~ culture, i'd probably grab a couple, but i think i'd rather opt out than encourage any of this poo poo

How can it be an investment? There's effectively no intrinsic value. And nothing is preventing a supplier from flooding the market with replicas of "rare" caps.

Also literally no one cares about them. There's what, a few thousand people on the planet that have ever bought an artisan cap? Who are they going to sell their "collection" to?

chippy
Aug 16, 2006

OK I DON'T GET IT

I do not understand it at all. I put off buying a Vortex set for nearly a year until the stock CODE caps were completely hosed, because spending ~£30 on some plastic caps seemed a bit extravagant for what they are. I don't regret buying them at all now, but I cannot imagine forking out as much as that or even far more on a single cap that doesn't event look comfortable to type on.

LochNessMonster
Feb 3, 2005

I need about three fitty



surebet posted:

if they weren't steeped in this weird uber nerd ~investment~ culture, i'd probably grab a couple, but i think i'd rather opt out than encourage any of this poo poo

Yeah some of them are pretty cool and I might have bought 1 or 2 if they are 5 bucks a pop.

But 40+ a key is crazy.

evil_bunnY
Apr 2, 2003



I mean a cool escape cap is nice and all but $30 is just lmao

LionArcher
Mar 29, 2010


evil_bunnY posted:

I mean a cool escape cap is nice and all but $30 is just lmao

Agreed (why yes, I did just join the group Buy of the deep sea keycap set on Massdrop, why do you ask?)

Ultimate Mango
Jan 18, 2005

She's a sharkmouth clam
beware
she is


Do they have artisanal hand carved keycaps made of like jade or some poo poo carved by child workers in impoverished nations?
Or is it all 3D printed maker stuff?

Forget PBT, I want carved mouse skulls.

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Krailor
Nov 2, 2001
I'm only pretending to care

Nap Ghost

ColHannibal posted:



No you dont.

If you get rid of the light around the outside of the numpad and put it in a black case it would probably look really good. That's what I'm looking for.

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