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NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



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!

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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.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



pgroce posted:

Why are their shipping fees that much cheaper? They ship from China to their warehouse in NJ (I think?) and ship from there, right?

I accept that they have lower fees, but I don't understand why. Their business model seems like literally the opposite of one that drives prices down.

I may be parting the kimono a bit much here, but most business settle on either:

1) margins via product
2) margins via shipment

Most folks go for the former (i.e. 100% markup at retail), but if you cut that some and decide to go for volume instead, you've got a pretty good recipe for success. Most of the time folks go all in on the former instead of the latter and holding down a day job and then moving fully onto that when you can. But that's also probably not the right/amount of detail you were looking for.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



I need some help, thread! I found my ideal keyboard, and it's the Coolermaster Masterkeys M with white LEDs and MX Brown switches, only downside is that it appears to be sold out everywhere. Is there anyone else that ticks those boxes? I would ideally like to pick up a pair of them, one for home one for office.

https://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Maste...d/dp/B01ITE93K6

Any other keyboards that have a compact layout, but keep the numpad? It's super useful for 3D modeling, but I don't like having full size keyboards.

TYVM, beautiful thread.

PS: Miami doubleshot keycaps on Massdrop: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/tai-hao-miami-keycap-set

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



surebet posted:

your thing has been rolled into coolermaster's quickfire brand, now known as the tk (available as white leds & browns):
http://www.coolermaster.com/periphe...ds/quickfiretk/

couple key differences:
- the lower row is now in the fucky ~gamer~ 1.5/1.0/1.25/6.5/1.25/1.0/1.0/1.5 layout, which will make replacing the god awful keycaps a bit more challenging
- both this and the masterkeys version have a non-standard 1u "0" & "00" on the numpad instead of a single 2u "0" per the standard ansi layout, to accommodate the numpad becoming an arrow cluster

standard ansi layout:


quickfire tk:


the thing i find incredibly dumb about your thing's layout is that they decided to reinvent a basic "this has already been a functionality for literally decades" thing the numpad does; hit any numpad's numlock, and it becomes both an arrow & nav cluster already:



the quickfire does this in it's own non-standard way via an fn layer, which is fine if you've never used a numpad with numlock off, but would be extremely weird if you're already using an unlocked numpad.

other alternatives:
- leopold fc980m (1800 layout, no backlighting)
- zz96/rs96 builds could be needs suiting, but these aren't a walk in the park to source

That's weak about the TK, looks like standard keycaps should fit on the OG, though, so that's nice. I'll probably end up rebinding "00" to "0" - splitting the key would have been just as well.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



surebet posted:

you'll still have the 1u 0/00 issue, those caps aren't standard at all. if you want to run the stock caps that's not an issue, but if the intent is to barbie up a board, you might want to consider another alternative.

if you want a compact option, consider running a tkl+numpad setup; this will leave you with the option of running with just a compact tkl and busting out the numpad when needed. depending on what you go for, you should end up with a standard ansi layout on mx stems, which is the easiest thing to get caps for. you also have the option of unlocking num on the numpad to use it as an arrow/home cluster.

i'd recommend looking into a code in browns or clears (which is a stiffer, snappier version of browns) and pick up whatever mx numpad you want. leopold does some nice stuff in that area.

I was just going to put the arrow keys there on a fresh set of caps and remap "00" to just another "0" in software. It may be a hair inconvenient, but beauty is pain.

I have also found this website: https://meckeyalpha.com/products/ma...ant=41516891598

And I can put together the exact keyboard I want with backlighting and Cherry Browns (no keycaps) for $118. Has anyone heard of this site before? I might rather just order a pair of boards from there.

e: Turns out they're in Hong Kong and I'm just across the border for an extended trip, may post a trip report.

NewFatMike fucked around with this message at 00:32 on Sep 1, 2017

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



surebet posted:

speaking of filthy computing casuals, my sister needs to replace her clunky mouse+keyboard combos at home and at the office

she's working off of a laptop, so i was thinking of suggesting something wireless & logitech with unifying dongle compatibility, so she could leave a single thing plugged in at all times in her machine and have peripherals magically work everywhere

logitech stuff is extremely not my poo poo though, is the mk520 combo as terrible as i suspect it is?
https://www.logitech.com/en-ca/prod...ess-combo-mk520

I spend a lot of time thinking about this exact thing!

My questions would be: what laptop does she have? How many ports does she currently plug in on a daily basis? Are there other peripherals she uses?

If she has something with TB3 or USB-C and uses an external monitor, then my recommendation would be a hub that uses those ports so she can charge, use the external monitor, and plug in her stuff with just one cable plug.

Some kind of USB hub is my general recommendation anyway, that way you can get the best mouse and keyboard in the price range. In that scenario, it would be a maximum of 3 things plugging in every day: power, hub, and monitor.

Keeping one hub and charger at work and one at home is the way to do it, too.

That was my workflow for a long time and it worked well, although planning for expansion is a good idea in case she wants a new peripheral or two in the future and she runs out of USB ports.

The Logitech MX mice are very good, and I guess it depends on what she's looking for in a keyboard? Does she need a numpad? What's she using now?

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



I had a few too many drinks earlier this week and have some keyboards arriving today (MK Fission RGB with Cherry Greens and Leopoldo FC980M with Cherry Blacks). Miami keycaps should be getting in next week (they were supposed to get in today, thanks FedEx for giving them a nice tour around Ohio!).

Meantime, Iíve been getting my 3D printer settings tuned up:



I have some translucent orange and blue PETG for a full set I might give a shot when Iím out of purple.

NewFatMike fucked around with this message at 16:20 on Nov 3, 2017

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



The Leopoldo FC980M with Cherry Blacks might be my end game. The literal only thing that I find remotely problematic is that it doesnít have backlighting. With the grey side-panel legends, I think the Miami key caps I have coming in will fix the visibility issues.

It rules and feels great, I hardly bottom out anymore and that is awesome.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



Gotta return the Leopold, turns out it's not compatible with any key cap sets. I've had my eye on a board from MecKeyAlpha.com that has the odd layout I want (numpad, no nav cluster), will post a trip report.

NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



I got my keyboard from MecKeyAlpha in! Trip report time:



The caps are from MassDrop, but I think theyíre the usual Tai-Hao Miami PBT caps without the biofilm or whatever.

The setup from this site is really cool. You choose the board layout, lighting setup (no backlight, colors, white, whatever), and itís all put together to order. The customer service is really great, and it took about a week from order to receipt from Hong Kong to Chicago with the upgraded shipping from UPS. That includes the assembly time.

Packaging is good, comes in a pretty nondescript box with the company name on it, but thereís good bubble wrap everywhere, and it arrived in great shape.

Itís pretty much everything I wanted from the Leopold FC980M I got and returned - keeping standard key caps on a non-standard layout, getting backlighting (kind of a critical feature for me) was great, and I donít use arrow keys enough to be bothered by turning off the numlock.

Compared to something like the Master Case Master Keys M: the split 0/00 kinda killed me (a slightly rejiggered numpad on the MecKeyAlpha and full-size 0 are great), and the MX Browns didnít quite give me the feedback I needed that the MX Black switches provide. If youíre not a numpad junkie or donít need a peculiar switch, then this one may not be for you.

Pricing is pretty tough to beat - $118 for this keyboard with MX Blacks and white backlighting. It doesnít come with key caps, but they have a bunch of different sets on the site.

Lots of extra goodies were included - including a nicer key puller (one of the metal wire ones) along with the ring-shaped iso puller. A ton of USB cables were included - this board takes mini USB instead of micro USB (a little lame) but it has multiple coiled cables, and comes with a USB A-A extension cable and a Velcro cable wrapper. It also uses the Bootmapper Client software, which Iím new to, but the native macro and remapping functionality is great, so you can set up media/macro keys how you please. Itís my first time with that kind of software, so Iím pretty excited.

The only downside is that to get the software to work right, I had to update the firmware on the keyboard. Itís not on the MecKeyAlpha page, so I had to dig around. Turns out itís all based on WinKeyless.kr equipment, so thatís great!

Customer service rules from MecKeyAlpha also. I had a bunch of questions leading up to my purchase, and ended up upgrading shipping after I had already pulled the trigger since my key caps came in early. They were happy to do so, and it was a quick and easy thing.

Now Iím sad that Iím at work and away from my lovely new keyboard.

Definitely going to buy some stuff from them in the future, too! Itís kind of a deal being able to get the exact keyboard you want for a pretty competitive price.

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NewFatMike
Jun 11, 2015



HappyCapybaraFamily posted:

I know it's Massdrop and all, but the Kailh BIG Switch amuses me. Not sure I'd use it for much more than a desktop fidget toy, but the more creative engineers out there might be able to make something interesting out of it.

Map your overwatch ult to it. It's the best possible application.

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