Redragon Kumara K552 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review

Front view of  Redragon K552
Front view of Redragon K552

Redragon is a commonly known brand for producing high-quality budget mechanical keyboards. We bought 3 Redragon mechanical keyboards for over $100, and the Kumara K552 was one of them. This mechanical keyboard is $36.54 on Amazon currently. It was a 4.5-star rating with 6,350 ratings. That’s a ton of reviews, and many of which are very positive.

Before, we start jumping into the details and all the review things, we would not recommend this keyboard. For $20 more, we can get a much higher-quality keyboard. Let’s look at why we don’t recommend this keyboard and what other keyboards we can use instead.

Quick Snapshot

  • Compact tenkeyless design with 87-keys
  • Non-detachable USB cable
  • Oetemu Blue clicky switches (a Cherry MX blue equivalent)
  • Black case
  • RGB lighting with 5 pre-programmed lighting settings
  • 5 brightness levels for backlight, adjustable breathing speed
  • N-key rollover
  • 12 Multimedia keys in the function row by pressing FN+F# key
  • 2 rubber feet
  • 2 rubberized kickstands for an incline typing angle
  • Metal base and ABS plastic case with plate-mounted switches
  • ABS Plastic keycaps

Appearance: Size, Design, Build Quality

The Redragon K552 is a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard. This means that it doesn’t have a number pad, which makes it convenient for gaming. Your arms get to be closer together on your desk, allowing you to play with a better posture.

It has 87 keys. The keyboard has a base incline to promote typing naturally. The case is all black. Redragon states that the base is made from metal and then covered in ABS plastic. This can be felt by how heavy the keyboard is in comparison with mechanical keyboards with full plastic case. It is a sturdy keyboard with a simple design.

Back view of Redragon K552
Back view of Redragon K552

On the back of the keyboard are two rubber feet at the bottom of the keyboard. It has a kickstand on either side of the keyboard with rubberized coating for additional grip when crazy things are happening in-game. Without the kickstands being out, the keyboard moves around easily.

Kickstand of back of Redragon K552
Kickstand of back of Redragon K552

The grip is one of the things that I noticed first when I start typing and using this keyboard. It was moving around everywhere on my desk. Only when I pulled out the kickstands did the moving become minimal.    

Rubber feet of K552

However, this limits the adjustability in typing/gaming angle. For it to be still, I must have the kickstands down.

It has a non-detachable USB cord that attaches to the middle top of the keyboard. It’s a 6-foot rubber cable. Out of the box, it has many kinks that needs to be manually bended to straighten out.

Gold-plated USB cord
Gold-plated USB cord

On the front, there is an extruding box above the arrow keys with a non-subtle branding. On the box is where the Caps Lock and Scroll Lock lights are.

Protruding Readragon branding above arrow keys
Protruding Readragon branding above arrow keys

The side walls of the keyboard are relatively short, and the RGB lighting can be seen easily. Many of the single keys such as the arrow keys and function keys have a small exposed area where you can see the switches and the RGB lighting through the switch.

Side angle of Redragon K552
Side angle of Redragon K552

For quick reference, the keyboard size is:

  • Length: 14 inches (355mm)
  • Width: 4.875 inches (125mm)
  • Highest height: 1.5 inches (35mm)
  • Lowest height: 1.125 inches (30mm)

The font for the legends is questionable, but it can be attractive. The arrow key legends are aligned to the left of each key. We go more in-depth in the keycaps and legends below.

Redragon offers this keyboard in different colors and backlight options:

There is no USB pass-through, audio jack, detachable USB cable, or braided cable, but all these special features are not expected of a mechanical keyboard with this price.

One feature that we are not testing is the waterproofness of this keyboard. They boast splash-resistance, but there is no IP-rating. If you’re drinking water and have a little splash or soups, the keyboard will probably be fine.

The switches have some gaps in them that will let water into the keyboard’s electrical components, so definitely don’t dunk this keyboard into the bath or wash it in the sink.

I’ve splashed it with a little bit of water on my fingertips, and that’s easily wipeable. Stay away from large amounts of water that would rise over the switches and enter them.

There are multi-media keys on the function row. Other cool features are that you can start a new window, open the internet, open a calculator, and open search on your PC using some of the keys in the function row. For gamers out there, it’s possible to lock the Windows key, so that when you’re gaming, you won’t accidentally exit out of the game window.

Legends and media keys on function row
Legends and media keys on function row

The Function keys are:

  • F1: Launch the music player. I got Groove music.
  • F2: Volume down
  • F3: Volume up
  • F4: Mute
  • F5: Stop
  • F6: Last track
  • F7: Play or pause
  • F8: Next track
  • F9: Opens email. Mine opened another internet window.
  • F10: Homepage
  • F11: Calculator
  • F12: Windows search

Switches and Sounds

The Redragon K552 offers only one switch option: the Oetemu Blue variant. They are Cherry MX Blue clones. These switches are very similar to Cherry MX in terms of switch rattle, sounds, and typing experience overall.

The Oetemu switches tend to be more cost-efficient. They’re common on budget keyboards, but they still offer the same switch performance as Cherry MX. Perhaps the durability is not as good because Cherry MX boasts 100 million keystrokes for their switches.

Cherry MX Blues have a total travel distance of 4mm with an actuation at 2mm and an actuation force of 55g. The tactile even happens at 1mm.

Oetemu Blues have a total travel distance of 4mm with an actuation at 2.7mm and an actuation force of 46g. The tactile even happens at 2mm.

Oetemu blue switches
Oetemu blue switches

Oetemu Blues are a bit slower than Cherry MX Blues in terms of the tactile event and the actuation. They are lighter, however, so that make them easier to press.

This keyboard is loud. We’ll include a typing test at the end of our review video below. It’s not the best keyboard if you’re planning on gaming late nights with people around or trying to sleep. The stabilizers are a bit rattly, but it’s like many other keyboards. They are Cherry-style stabilizers and easy to take off with the included keycap puller.

The switches are very reliable. There were no missed keys. The tactile feedback is very accurate.  One gigantic complaint I have is the ringy sound that occurs when the keys bottom out. It echoes off the case and rings through quite loudly. This occurs louder for bigger keys such as Enter.

Keycaps and Legends

The keycaps and legends are a common complaint among other buyers of this keyboard. The keycaps are made of cheap ABS plastic. Compared to our Razer Blackwidow that’s over 6 years old, these seemed more matte and less shiny.

Over time, though, ABS plastic is expected to get shiny. Compared to our HyperX Alloy Origins Core, the keycaps are much smoother and less grippy.

The legends are a simple font. They’re geared towards gamers. The 2nd symbols on the numbers are aligned side-by-side instead of the number being on top of the symbol. This makes it easier to see the symbol with the backlight on.

RGB lighting and legends
RGB lighting and legends

This keyboard has a standard layout, so changing the keycaps out is no problem. That could increase the price though.

The RGB lighting shows through nicely on every key. Even with the backlight completely off, the keycap legends are easy to read, unlike the Drop CTRL with the backlight off.

The Verdict

ProsCons
Price is low and affordable at around $35.Non-detachable USB cable.
Tenkeyless compact designRubber feet don’t keep keyboard in place when on flat incline
Adjustable height with kickstandsBranding is not subtle, protrudes from board above arrow keys
6 pre-programmed lighting effectsRingy switches due to plastic case, echoes
Decent stabilizers, minimal rattleGamer-focused fonts for the legends
Different functions built into function row and Windows lockArrow key legends are aligned to the left instead of in the middle
Sturdy build with aluminum baseplateVery generic keyboard design, not special.

The Redragon K552 is a popular first mechanical keyboard for many people. It offers the mechanical switches sound and feel at a low-cost budget price tag of $35.

We do not recommend this keyboard because at about $20 more (about 3 hours of work at minimum wage in Texas OR 1.33 hours at minimum work in Washington state), you can get better mechanical keyboards such as the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition that currently is on sale at $55.99.

The Blackwidow X Tournament Edition is worth it and has awesome features and benefits. They feature clicky Razer green switches which last forever (my 2014 Blackwidow TE has lasted me more than 6 years) and are super clicky if you like that.

It has no backlight, however, but does have 10-key rollover and anti-ghosting. There’s a gaming mode, on-the-fly macro recording, and a braided fiber cable (non-detachable).

Another good recommendation is the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, at $69.99. We’ve bought, reviewed, and kept a close version of this keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Origins Core.

The difference is that the HyperX Alloy Origins Core has a USB-C detachable cable, HyperX linear red switches, and RGB lighting. The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro has a detachable micro-USB cable (braided, which is cool), a choice between Cherry MX red or Cherry MX blue switches, and only red backlight.

HyperX Alloy Origins Core with aluminum case, HyperX red switches
HyperX Alloy Origins Core with aluminum case, HyperX red switches

They both feature a tenkeyless design with a full aluminum case, which makes it very sturdy and beautiful to look at. It has N-key rollover and anti-ghosting for gamers.

The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro also comes with a keycap puller and 8 additional red colored keycaps if you’re into that. And a carrying case to bring your keyboard to the office, work, tournaments, or your friend’s house.

How Long do Mechanical Keyboards Last?

It can be difficult to justify buying an expensive mechanical keyboard for yourself when there are so many cheap non-mechanical keyboards available. Before committing to the purchase of a new mechanical keyboard, you’re probably curious, how long will this mechanical keyboard last for? Is it worth the price?

Mechanical keyboards can last for up to 10 years or more depending on how heavily they are used. Mechanical keyboard switches are rated for 50+ million keystrokes, which will last for years of heavy use. If you are willing to repair some of the parts as they break, mechanical keyboards can last for even longer. The quality of your keyboard also matters, a pricier keyboard will usually last longer than a cheaper one.

We’ll break down some of the details of what makes certain mechanical keyboards last longer than others and go over parts that can be repaired to increase the time your mechanical keyboard can be used.

There are also several features that can make a keyboard last longer, so we’ll go over that as well.

Why do Mechanical Keyboards Last So Long?

At first glance mechanical keyboards don’t look too different from a normal keyboard. So, what makes mechanical keyboard so special? Why do they last so long?

Anne Pro 2

Well, mechanical keyboards have much better quality than normal keyboards because they have more reliable parts and build structure. Every single key on a mechanical keyboard has its own independent switch mounted underneath. This allows for each key to have its own feel and response when pressed.

The switches have an incredibly long lifespan. You’re looking at 50-100 million keystrokes before the switch will even think about breaking. Normal keyboards generally don’t have quality standards anywhere close to those requirements, which is what makes mechanical keyboards so impressive.

Most membrane or chiclet style keyboards are mass produced for the public and are focused on a product that is extremely low cost, so in general they are not built for longevity. For reference, the IBM Model M mechanical keyboard, one of the first models of mechanical keyboards originally produced in 1984, still has a lot of keyboards that are still working 25+ years later.

The Model M uses the old buckling spring design instead of Cherry MX style switch, but they were the first to proof the mechanical keyboard design and the rest is history.

Post image
IBM Model M Industrial. Compliments of u/j0d1

What Parts are Easily Replaced on your Mechanical Keyboard?

A cool feature with mechanical keyboards is its quite easy to repair many issues that may come up with your keyboard. Whether you are DIY inclined or not, some fixes can as simple as ordering a replacement part online and spending 5-10 minutes replacing the broken part.

Lots of Repairable Parts

Mechanical keyboards are very similar to a PC. When ever a part breaks on your PC, it’s possible to buy a new part and replace. For example if one of your RAM sticks corrupt, you simply order a new stick of RAM online and replace it.

Some of the mechanical keyboard parts that are most likely to break first are the switches, keycaps, and stabilizers. The switches, as mentioned before, are rated for millions and millions of keypresses. So, after a few years to a decade of heavy use, one or two of your switches may break.

Broken PartHow to Fix/Replace PartCost to Repair
SwitchDesolder/unplug the broken switch and replace with a new switch. May require soldering and desoldering.New switch will cost ~$1. Will require solder kit unless you have a hot-swappable keyboard.
KeycapRemove broken keycap with fingers or keycap puller. Replace with new keycap.New keycap will cost anywhere between $0.50 to $2 depending on keycap material.
StabilizerRemove broken stabilizer from plate/PCB. Replace with new stabilizer.New stabilizer will usually cost ~$2 but can go up to $25 depending on which stabilizers you have.

Switches

In that case, we recommend ordering spare switches online and replacing the part yourself. This will require you to desolder the broken switch from the keyboard PCB, and re-solder the new switch back on. If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, however, no soldering is required.

Keycaps

Over time the keycaps will wear down from the friction of your fingers sliding over the tops of the keycaps. The letters/numbers on the keycaps will start to disappear and the keycap plastic will thin out. This will be after lots and lots of use, so no reason to worry about this happening if your keyboard is only a few years old. It’s a relatively easy fix, all you need to do is order the replacement keycaps online and replace the broken ones.

Stabilizers

The stabilizers are another issue that may develop over time. Stabilizers are used to keep your larger keys, such as space bar and enter key from shaking too much. To repair the stabilizers, you need to remove them from the PCB and replace with a new stabilizer. There are different styles of stabilizers, but generally you just unclip/clip them to the PCB.

What Features Make a Mechanical Keyboard Last Longer?

There are several things to look for when buying a mechanical keyboard that will help increase the longevity of the keyboard. These features are usually more wear and tear resistant and because of that will usually cost more as well.

Detachable Power Cable

Mechanical keyboards with detachable USB power cable tend to last longer than ones with a fixed non-detachable cable. If the non-detachable cable gets damaged in any way and no longer works, you will need to replace your entire keyboard to fix the issue.

A keyboard with a detachable power cable does not have this problem. If the detachable cable gets damaged it’s easy to order a new cable online for a relatively cheap price. No need to buy a brand-new keyboard just because the power cable broke. There are different f power ports on keyboards, but generally USB-C is considered the best.

keyboard with custom cable
Mechanical keyboard with custom detachable power cable.
Photo compliments of u/EST4R

Splash Resistant or Waterproof

Over the many years of owning a mechanical keyboard, there’s a pretty good chance that you may spill something on your keyboard. Whether you accidentally dump soda, beer, or water on your keyboard, it’s a good idea to buy a keyboard that is splash resistant.

A splash resistant keyboard will not get damaged by water or soda spills. As long as you’re not taking a bath with your mechanical keyboard and fully submerging it, a splash resistant keyboard will protect the vulnerable parts of your keyboard from water damage. The PCB is generally the most vulnerable component, so avoid getting water on this part if possible.

Aluminum Keyboard Case

The case is an important part of the keyboard, as it protects the inner components from outside damage and impact. The case will also determine how the keyboard feels in your hands, whether it’s heavy and solid or light and flimsy. It can also change how each keystroke will sound, as a heavier case will generally make your keystrokes sound deeper and fuller.

Cheaper mechanical keyboards tend to come with a plastic case. Plastic is by far the cheapest material to produce which is why it’s used so widely. There are some downsides to plastic. Plastic cases are lighter and more flexible and will scratch and bend more easily than other types of material. Because of this, they don’t usually last as long as other case materials such as aluminum.

Aluminum keyboard casing is usually a bit more expensive but does a much better job at protecting your keyboard from the outside elements. Aluminum is a much heavier, stronger material and can take more abuse before it will scratch or bend.

PBT Keycaps

The plastic material the keycaps are made of will also determine the how long your keyboard will last. The standard plastic material for keycaps is ABS plastic. Over time, a keyboard with ABS keycaps will start to develop a greasy shine and it will look like someone was typing after eating a bag of potato chips.

PBT vs ABS Keycaps
PBT vs ABS Keycaps

PBT keycaps, on the other hand, are made from a different type of plastic that does not develop this greasy shine. This style will last much longer, and will look brand new for a long time, even after heavy use. For this reason, we recommend buying a keyboard with PBT keycaps if your interested in the longevity of your keyboard.

Less RBG Lighting

While people find colored backlighting on a keyboard exciting and enjoyable, backlighting can cause issues over time. RGB lighting can have issues due to LED bulbs going out over time, and unlike other components are not that easy to replace.

Also, RGB lighting requires more parts to be soldered to the PCB which creates more possible points of failure on the PCB. Because of this, having RBG lighting can make your keyboard more susceptible to damage over time.

Conclusion

There are a lot of reasons why a mechanical keyboard will last longer than a normal keyboard, such as better build quality and higher standards for how long the components will last. If you’re wanting your keyboard to last even longer, mechanical keyboards are easily repaired, and broken parts can be replaced.

In addition, there are several features you can look for in a mechanical keyboard that will make it last longer than other keyboards. Look for a detachable power cable, splash-resistant design, aluminum case material, PBT keycaps, and minimalistic lighting.

We hope you enjoyed this post. As always, happy typing!

What Are Topre Switches? Are They Better Than Cherry?

Topre switches
Image from Xahlee.info

Recently, we went to a Seattle Mechanical Keyboard meetup. There were so many different switches to try there, most of which we’ve heard but some we haven’t. A special switch that we didn’t know much about was the Topre switch, which someone told us a mix between a rubber dome and a mechanical switch. Interesting, so we did a lot more research about what it is and if they’re better than Cherry switches. What are Topre switches, and are they better than Cherry switches?

Topre switches are electrostatic, capacitive keyboard switches that have the feel of a rubber dome keyboard with all the benefits of a mechanical switch such as more tactility, less noise, and a non-mushy bottom-out. They are available on a limited number of keys. Topre switches are similar to Cherry MX browns with more “thonk” and a crispier tactile feedback. It is difficult to compare Topre vs. Cherry because there is a large variety of Cherry switches, and it is up to personal preference in the end.

Topre switches are only available in certain keyboards and have a unique feel. Some love them, and others don’t feel that they’re worth the premium price.

History of Topre Switches and What are They?

Topre switches are made by TOPRE Corporation. They are a Japanese manufacturer and are the only people that make Topre switches. TOPRE Corporation started making mechanical keyboard switches in 1983. Topre switches were first patented in 1986.

They are electrostatic capacitive non-contact keyboard switches. What does this mean? When you press a Topre switch, the first thing that moves is the plunger, it gets pushed down. This compresses the rubber dome, and a spring lives inside of the dome. When the electrical capacitance between the spring and the PCB (printed circuit board) reaches a certain amount, it registers a key press. Each rubber dome and conical spring is easily replaceable if one happens to break as they are all their separate parts.

Here is TOPRE’s patent for this kind of switch for more information.

These are also some of the most expensive switches on the market. Many Topre keyboards are over $200.

How do Topre Switches Feel?

Topre switches are comfortable and snappy to type on. They were designed with the primary goal of being a typing keyboard.

When typing on a membrane keyboard, the keyboard feels very mushy due to the membrane. Topre keyboards have a rubber dome that can be adjusted to change the tactile feedback. This enables Topre switches to not feel mushy when bottoming out or pressing the key until it’s at the very bottom.

Many feel that due to Topre’s special design, these switches must be tried out before committing to one due to its high price point. However, because of this, they also resell nicely without suffering much of a loss.

If you’re used to Cherry Browns, Topre switches can be described as similar, but with a better sound that’s less rattly or noisy and a crisp tactile feedback. Typing on it is very smooth. Some say it’s like “typing on pillows.”

They come in different force options, ranging from 35g to 55g. These are average forces because it doesn’t have a homed in actuation force or point.

There are many differing opinions on Topre switches. Some say that it’s just an overpriced rubber dome keyboard. Others feel that Topre switches are the smoothest switches in the world to type on.

What do Topre Switches Sound Like?

As for what they sound like, here is a sound clip of a comparison of different Topre switches vs. Cherry Browns and another sound clip of Topre switches. And another sound clip.

If you’re going to buy a Topre keyboard, it probably will be for the sound. It has a low-pitched bumpy sound and does not bother the ears while you’re typing.

There is no springy or clangy sound that you may hear in Cherry MX switches. It’s a mellow and soft sound.

What Mechanical Keyboards Have Topre Switches?

There are a limited number of keyboards available with Topre switches. It’s not possible to trial Topre switches by themselves like MX style switches such as Kailh or Cherry because you need a special PCB, housing, spring, rubber dome, and plunger. To get Topre switches, the only option is to cannibalize a pre-assembled mechanical keyboard with Topre switches.

A big benefit for Topre switches is that you can replace the individual rubber domes if one starts feeling mushy or different than the others. You can also get higher force rubber domes or lower force ones if you want. For the keyboards below, the “actuation” force ranges from 35g to 55g of average force.

Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB)

HHKB
Image by u/brianlzf

The Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB) is legendary within the community for its design and Topre switches.

HHKB makes several different keyboards, all of which are relatively similar. The Happy Hacking keyboard’s design first emerged in 1992 by Professor Eiiti Wada. The HHKB is light and compact with a 60% layout with 60 keys. It easily fits in your bag for easy transportation and saves space on your desk.

The HHKB is primarily all plastic. It is a light and compact 60% keyboard. It has two open spaces on the bottom left and bottom right spaces with the brand being on the bottom right side. It has a clean design in stealth black or grey.

The bottom of the keyboard has two rubber feet and 2 flip-out feet with 2 different angles. The back of the keyboard offers 2 low-powered USB drives, which you can connect mice or USB ports. However, being low-powered, it won’t be able to power headsets.

There are six DIP switches on the back as well. The bottom of the keyboard explains exactly what each DIP switch does.

The layout of this keyboard is non-standard with the FN key being on the same row as the Shift key. It may be difficult to get used to this layout. The backspace is also lower than it normally is by one row, so it sits right above the Enter key.

A downside is that there are empty spaces on the bottom of the keyboard that are unused. Why not add 2 keys there instead of empty space? The CapsLock is also not a dedicated key. Instead, it exists on another layer. Where the CapsLock currently is, there is a Control button instead.

Overall, it takes time to get used to this layout. However, once people have gotten used to this keyboard, others were not able to switch back to the regular layout without feeling disadvantaged.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S model and the Pro Hybrid can connect to PCs wirelessly via Bluetooth or via a USB-C cable. The Pro Classic is only able to connect via USB-C.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S and the Pro Hybrid both are fully programmable. You can make your own custom keymaps using their keymapping software. The curvature and layout of the keyboards reduce hand and finger fatigue because you leave the home row keys much less often due to the closer Backspace.

The keycaps are PBT plastic with dye-sublimated key legends that never fade. You can also choose to have blank keycaps rather than printed.

Now for the price: The HHKB ranges from $190 to $280, depending on which model you pick.

Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Mechanical Keyboard

The Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard has hybrid capacitive switches.  It has N-key rollover, only for Windows. This keyboard is not compatible with Mac computers. It’s also a TKL keyboard with 87 keys.

It also has a repeat rate modification, which changes what happens when a key is held down, ranging from 1x to 8x. I’m not sure why this would be super useful other than for gaming.

There are two kickstands in the back with 4 rubber feet. The Cooler Master branding is super subtly in the back of the keyboard. It has a Micro USB cable which is detachable.

It has a black case with white laser-etched legend keycaps. Unlike other keyboards that may not let you switch out your keycaps due to its non-standard stem, this keyboard does. It has a MX-stem, which is compatible with custom keycap sets.

The keyboard comes with O-rings to make the keyboard quieter if necessary. However, the keyboard is very quiet in the first place.  The switches have 45g of force for actuation and 4mm of travel distance.

One downside is that the Cooler Master Novatouch is not available in most retail stores, not even Amazon. It is available after-market, however.

Leopold FC660C/FC980C

The Leopold FC660C is a 65% mechanical keyboard, while the Leopold FC980C is a full-sized keyboard.

The base price of the FC660C is $239 on MechanicalKeyboards.com, and the FC980C is $259. Both come in different colors, such as black, blue and gray, white, and gray. They come with two switch options, the Topre 45g and the Topre Silent 45g (for $10 more).

Here is a sound clip of the Leopold FC660C with Topre 45g switches with the stock factory lubrication. The stabilizers have been lubed.

Here is a sound clip of the FC980C. They sound very similar. The only difference in them is size. The full-sized version differs from other full-size keyboards in the fact that it’s a compact version. The arrow keys are positioned in a cut-out area between the number pad and the alphanumeric keys. The browser buttons such as Home, Delete, PgUp, and PgDn are on top like the function row. The image below shows this.

Leopold FC980C
Image from MechanicalKeyboards.com
Leopold FC660C
Image from u/commontao

Both keyboards come with dye sublimated PBT keyboards with black/white legends depending on which keyboard color you go with. They have a detachable cable design with a mini-USB port. It also has four DIP switches on the back to swap key functions like Ctrl, Alt, Fn, etc.

Topre Realforce

The Topre Realforce is available in different varieties. There is a full-sized black keyboard with RGB version with ABS keycaps, a full-sized white PBT keycap version, a full-sized black PBT keycap version, a TKL Dye Sub PBT white and gray version, a TKL Dye Sub PBT black version, and then the variable Topre versions in black or white.

They have cable management built into the back of the keyboard. There are 4 DIP switches on the back. There are four rubber feet with 2 kickstands for some typing angle adjustability. The typing angle without the kickstands are already slightly inclined.

The variable Topre keyboards have 4 different weights on the keyboard: 30g, 45g, and 55g. The Esc key has 55g of force. All of the keys have 45g of force except the following: 1, Q, A, Z, 9. 0, -, +, O, P, [, ], L, ;, “, >, and ?. Mechanicalkeyboards.com has this in visual form on their product page.

The prices of all the versions are over $200. They range from $209 to $259. The switch options range from Topre Variable, Topre 55g, and Topre 45g.  

Should your Mechanical Keyboard have a Volume Wheel? Our keyboard picks.

Are you looking at purchasing a new keyboard? Perhaps you want one that can easily adjust volume levels on the fly. Volume wheels can be a great option, but the question is, are they a gimmick or worth getting?

We’ll discuss what we think of volume wheels and if you should get a keyboard with one installed.

While volume wheels can make changing the volume levels on your computer very easy by raising/lowering the sound by just scrolling the wheel, they unfortunately tend to not be very useful. Volume wheels built into a keyboard are not very reliable and can fail or act sporadically at any moment. If you want a volume wheel, it’s recommended to get a separate detached volume wheel. With its own dedicated connection, the volume wheel will be more reliable and can be placed anywhere on your desk.

Although they are not very useful, volume wheels can still be a great fit for some people. We’ll go more into the details of the different types of keyboard volume wheels and look at some of our favorite keyboard choices.

What is a keyboard volume wheel?

A volume wheel is a circular wheel built into the keyboard structure that when spun, will adjust the sound levels output by speakers or headphones.

The volume wheel can be useful for those who constantly need to adjust their sound levels and don’t want to go into the settings on their computer. It can be used by gamers, streamers, audiophiles, and anyone who listens to music while working from their computer.

Most keyboards do not come with a volume wheel installed, they instead have dedicated media keys to change the volume levels. Other keyboards have them placed on lower layer so they can be activated when pressing FN + one of the F keys. Both styles are easy and efficient to use.

Many people enjoy the feel and convenience of a volume wheel, as it can be much more enjoyable to use instead of just pressing a key. Spinning the volume wheel lets you act like a DJ for a short period while changing your sound levels.

Just keep in mind, you might get auditory feedback when using the wheel and changing the settings may not always move smoothly. Sometimes the wheel doesn’t respond at all when attempting to change the sound levels. Other times it may jump up or down too much.

Not All Volume Wheels are the Same

It’s important to note that not all volume wheels are the same exact style. Most volume wheels are vertical and are spun by rotating clockwise to increase the volume and counterclockwise to decrease the volume.

There is another style that is horizontally mounted inside the keyboard, and you can only see a small rounded part. The horizontally mounted volume wheel is different in the design and feel, to change the volume levels you roll the wheel up and down respectively.

Horizontal Volume Wheel

Neither style is considered superior to another, as they both are entirely dependent on what the user prefers. The vertical style is activated by rotating the wheel with your index finger and thumb, while the horizontal wheel is rotated by running just your index finger across it.  

Because of this, the horizontal style is easier to spin. However, it is also easy to jam. If any sort of debris gets inside the horizontal wheel, it can be very difficult to fix and may require you to remove the wheel to clear out the debris.

Das Keyboard vertical volume wheel
Vertical Volume Wheel

Issues with a Keyboard Mounted Volume Wheel

Due to several quality issues with keyboard mounted volume wheels, it’s difficult to recommend someone to buy these keyboards. Due to the fact the volume wheel needs to share the same USB input of the keyboard, it can create many problems.

In addition, these keyboards will sometimes require additional software installed on your computer to get them to work properly. Nobody wants to go through the trouble to download software that will bog down their computer just so they can properly use their keyboard.

Some of the possible issues include:

  1. Volume wheel movement does not register.
  2. Volume changes jump up and down more than it should.
  3. The user gets some auditory feedback when adjusting sound levels.
  4. Keyboard software does not work properly.

Get a Separate Volume Wheel

Independent Volume Wheel

If you still want a volume wheel, but a keyboard mounted volume wheel no longer sounds appealing, consider purchasing a separate, independent volume wheel. By having a separate volume wheel, you will see that the volume changes are more reliable and responsive. Since your keyboard and volume wheel will operate on separate USB inputs, the volume wheel will work more consistently, and the wires will get crossed less, hypothetically and literally speaking.

For the true audiophiles out there, consider getting a headphone amp and a volume wheel. Like the world of mechanical keyboards, this can get pricy and is quite the rabbit hole!

The benefits of a headphone amp are the volume controls are completely independent of the keyboard and will provide the highest quality sound possible. When your music reaches its peaks, the headphones don’t receive enough power and the sound gets distorted. With a headphone amp, the headphones will receive enough power and the sound will be much cleaner.

Best Keyboards with A Volume Wheel

If you’re still dead-set on a keyboard with a built-in volume wheel, we’ll go over some of our favorite picks with this feature that are not too gimmicky and that are reliable.

#1 Pick: Das Keyboard 4 Professional

The Das Keyboard 4 Professional keyboard is our number one pick. This keyboard is quite expensive coming in at $169, but the quality and craftsmanship are high. With a vertical style volume wheel, this is the most reliable keyboard on the list.

In addition to the volume wheel, there are some cool and unique features such as a USB 3.0 hub with two ports. It’s incredibly uncommon to find a keyboard with USB 3.0 ports, most keyboards are lucky to have 2.0 ports or any additional ports at all. USB 3.0 is 10x as fast as 2.0.

Also, there is an adjustable detachable footbar that also doubles as a ruler for taking measurements on the fly. Useful for both engineers and artists, or anybody who needs a straight edge.

You have the option between Cherry MX Blue and Brown switches, so whether you enjoy loud and clicky switches or a simple tactile switch, there are options for you.

#2 Pick: Redragon K550/K580

The Redragon K550 and K580 are both excellent picks and come standard with a horizontal style volume wheel. These keyboards are a bit more affordable coming in at $60-$70.

If you enjoy lights on your keyboard, these keyboards come with several RGB lighting options including individual key lighting and general keyboard backlighting, which allows for a lot of customization.

These keyboards come with Cherry MX knockoff switches, Outemu’s.

#3 Pick: Logitech G710

The Logitech G710 also comes with a horizontal style volume wheel and six programmable G-keys. An interesting pick for those who enjoy a keyboard with lots of programmability and customization.

The Logitech G710 comes outfitted with Logitech’s own proprietary switch that is tactile and silent, similar to the Cherry MX Brown.

Conclusion

While volume wheels can be an interesting and novel to have on your keyboard, they tend to be gimmicky and not reliable. If you really enjoy using a volume wheel, we recommend buying a separate volume wheel altogether.

If you are still determined to buy a keyboard with an integrated volume wheel, we recommend the following three keyboards: Das Keyboard Professional 4, Redragon K550/580, and the Logitech G710.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and as always, happy typing!

Top Tenkeyless (TKL) Mechanical Keyboards of 2020

DROP CTRL
DROP CTRL

What Are Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards?

Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards are 87-key mechanical keyboards that do not have the number pad. They have the top function row, the arrow keys, and the browse keys such as PgUp, Home, End, and PgDn.

These mechanical keyboards are often called tournament keyboards because they are much more portable than full-sized mechanical keyboards, that have 104-keys. This design also lets you use your mouse closer to your keyboard, which enables a more comfortable position and less strain over long periods of time.

Many people can live without a number pad, but they won’t sacrifice the other keys such as the arrow keys and function row. Many TKL keyboards do not have dedicated media keys due to their compact design. However, this can be done through the FN key or the function row.

Here are Switch and Click, our top keyboard size is the tenkeyless layout. This is something we have used for many years, and there is no downside to using a keyboard of this size. Unless you’re doing number-input at work, then this will lead to many inaccuracies over many inputs.

We have tried and tested many TKL keyboards with more coming on the way, that we’re super excited to review and discuss.

How We Tested

We have ordered and used these keyboards for an extended period. Some for many years, some for a few months, and some are on the way with features and benefits that we are looking forward to. We’ll test those accordingly, and then see if they can make the list of not.

We looked at price points and features to see if the keyboard was deserving of the price. Alongside that, we looked at many testimonials, videos, articles, and whatever else was available on the keyboard in question.

What We Looked For

Size: We primarily only looked at tenkeyless mechanical keyboards in this article. The reason is that TKL keyboards are the perfect size. They’re compact, minimalist, yet they still have all the features needed on a keyboard to fully function without any sacrifices. It might not have a number pad, but you can always get a separate number pad (put it on the left side because this is more efficient). We looked at the best mechanical number pads in another article. We have other “Best Of” articles covering the other keyboards of different sizes as well as in-depth reviews in our Archives.

Switches: Tactile switches will always be our favorite because they give you a tactile bump mid-way. It lets you know that the key press registered, or actuated, and that you can now lift your finger off the key to type another letter now. Linear switches are known to be good for gaming because of the quick response. Clicky switches are tactile, but they make so much noise. Due to our line of work, we prefer keyboards that are quiet. There are many great brands of switches. Many companies make their own such as Logitech’s Pro X switches or Romer-G switches, Razer’s Mechanical or Optical switches, Cherry MX, and so many more. We go over the most quiet mechanical switches, clicky mechanical switches, Cherry MX switches, as well provide a comprehensive guide on all switches.

Case Material: We prefer a full aluminum build. That may cause additional weight, but it offers noise dampening as well as being sturdy and unbreakable. Plastic cases allow more noise to echo inside them and are easily bendable given enough force.

Keycap Material: There are two common keycap materials: ABS and PBT. ABS plastic is more common and are not as preferred. Over time, they tend to develop a grime on top of them or an oil shine after heavy use. PBT keycaps can come textured or not, but they are more durable and do not develop that shine.

PBT vs ABS Keycaps
PBT vs ABS Keycaps

Cable: Ideally, a USB-C cable would be preferred instead of a Micro USB one. Also, a removable one is better since the keyboard is meant to be portable. When your cable is attached to the keyboard, it takes up more space and the likelihood of that cable breaking is higher.

Hot-Swappability: Being hot-swappable means that the PCB (printed circuit board) allows you to pop in and out switches, switching them out easily without desoldering and soldering. It adds price, but it adds a lot of convenience. Unfortunately, pre-assembled hot-swap sockets come with a limited number of hot-swaps, although this is a relatively high number still.

Wireless: There are many wireless mechanical keyboards out there. We talked about our top picks in another article. Being wireless is not something that we look for since we just connect our keyboards to our personal computers at home. For people on the go or using their mechanical keyboard with their laptop, this would be a great option. There are definitely benefits to being able to go wireless.

Backlight: Many people prefer RGB lighting to customize the colors to their set-up. Backlight is almost a requirement because many times, we type in the dark or dim lighting. White backlight is probably the most versatile because it can go with any set-up. The other colors are okay, depending on your set-up.

Our Top Picks

Our First Pick for Gaming Under $100: HyperX Alloy Origins Core

Our top pick for TKL mechanical keyboard of 2020 would be the HyperX Alloy Origins Core. It is the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard due to its high build quality and minimalist design and appearance. It’s available with HyperX Red switches and comes in at $89.99. For people new to mechanical keyboards and hoping for that competitive edge when it comes to gaming/typing, this keyboard is a really good choice.

HyperX also offers another TKL keyboard, the Alloy FPS Pro. This keyboard is available with Cherry MX Blue or Red switches (you can pick between tactile clicky or linear), but a downside is that it only has red LED backlights and a Micro USB instead of USB-C. This keyboard costs $69.99. They’re both high-quality and affordable mechanical keyboards. Both of them excel at gaming due with their linear switches and compact, minimalist design.

We wrote an in-depth review of the HyperX Alloy Origins Core here and loved it so much.

Hyper X Alloy Origins Core
Hyper X Alloy Origins Core

HyperX Alloy Origins Core

  • Aircraft-grade full aluminum top plate and case – matte black
  • Four rubber feet at the bottom with 3 different angles for personalization (3 degrees, 7 degrees, and 11 degrees)
  • USB-C connector (removable and braided) on the right-hand side
  • Clean legends, lights shine through brightly
  • ABS plastic keycaps with double-shot molding with laser-etched legends
  • Fully customizable RGB lighting using their Ngenuity firmware
  • Floating keycap style design
  • Subtle branding on top of arrow keys and on the spacebar
  • Onboard memory for 3 profiles
  • 100% anti-ghosting and N-key rollover
  • Standard bottom row
  • Cherry style stabilizers
  • HyperX Red linear mechanical switches
    • Total distance is 3.8mm
    • Actuation distance is 1.8mm
    • Actuation force is 45g
    • Up to 80 million keystrokes
  • Two downsides:
    • USB-C port only fits the original cable due to the intrusion of the case
    • Keycaps are sprayed matte black and made of cheap ABS plastic, easily replaceable with HyperX PBT Pudding Keycaps for about $20

How is the Alloy FPS Pro different?

The Alloy FPS Pro has Cherry MX switches instead of HyperX switches. These are pretty much the golden standard of mechanical keyboard switches, but many companies nowadays have made Cherry MX clones with comparable quality.

The Alloy FPS Pro offers only red backlit keys. It costs cheaper at $69.99. It has 6 preset lighting profiles that all involve the red backlight. It also has a detachable Micro-USB cable instead of a USB-C cable.

Which one should I get?

We highly recommend the Alloy Origins Core due to its build quality, RGB lighting, detachable USB-C cable, and fully customizability. It costs about $20 more but has a lot to offer. The keycaps might be the only downside, but they are easily replaceable due to its standard layout.

The Next Best Thing with Tactile Switches: Razer Blackwidow Lite

If you’re looking for a TKL mechanical keyboard with a tactile switch or the option to be tactile, then the Razer Blackwidow Lite is a good and affordable option. It uses the Razer Orange Mechanical Switches, which are tactile but quiet. They also come with O-rings for more silence. This keyboard currently costs $89.99. It has white backlighting, so you can work or gaming in the dark and has a floating keycap style design.

It has excellent build quality and is available in 2 colors: black or white. They’re both good colors to use at the office, but the mechanical switches also offer quick responsiveness for whenever you’re gaming.

Blackwidow Lite Features

  • Available colors: black or white
  • White backlighting for work in dim lighting
  • Clean, minimalist, compact design for work at the office or at home
  • Razer Orange Mechanical Switches, rated up to 80 million keystrokes, quiet tactile switches
  • Comes with O-rings to make it even more quiet ($10 value separately) that are easy to install and remove
  • Floating keycap style design
  • Adjustable kickstand
  • Detachable braided Micro-USB cable
  • 10-key rollover with anti-ghosting
  • Fully programmable keys

I’ve never used this keyboard, but I have been using my Blackwidow Tournament Edition for over 6 years. It’s high-quality and lasts forever pretty much. Razer offers high-quality gaming peripherals for a decent price. They have their own switches that are all rated up to 80 million keystrokes. They offer quiet to loud switches. We picked this specific model because it has the Orange switches, which are tactile and quiet. Many of Razer’s lineup has their loud, clicky switches or the linear switches.

This would be the best pick for typing in the office or at the library. Even at home for video game streaming or typing up articles with your significant other in the room too. It has a nice and clean design. It has very minimal Razer branding right above the arrow keys, you can almost not even be able to tell that it’s a Razer keyboard.

Budget Pick: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition

Razer Green Mechanical Switches
Razer Green Mechanical Switches

Our budget pick comes in currently at $55.99. It is the least expensive TKL mechanical keyboard on this list. It is the Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition. It is a TKL keyboard that comes in all black, with Razer Green Mechanical Switches (super clicky and rated up to 80 million key strokes),  military grade metal top plate and plastic frame, 10-key roll-over anti-ghosting, fully programmable keys, a braided cable,  and gaming mode.

This keyboard is very similar to the Blackwidow Lite except that it is clicky, only comes in black, and has no backlight. For some people, backlight isn’t necessary. The legends are white and offer nice contrast, so it’s possible to type even with dim lighting.

From personal experience, this is an amazing first mechanical keyboard. It lets you experience high-quality mechanical switches that offer nice clicks. It’s also at a reasonable price and doesn’t come with all the extra bells and whistles (which may not even be necessary).

It’s great for gaming, super portable, and easy to throw in your backpack without feeling guilty for it.

Additional Great TKL Mechanical Keyboards

Drop CTRL: Customizable Options, yet Pricey

This keyboard costs $200 on Drop and is currently available for pre-order. It initially came out in late 2018 and has been in several group buys since then. It has a 4.25-start rating with over 450 ratings on Drop.

The original has a floating keycap style design, but they also have a high-profile version as well for $250, if you do not like floating keycaps.

Special features:

  • Floating keycap style design, or high profile ($250)
  • Hot-swappable
  • Fully programmable via QMK
  • Dual USB-C ports on either top side of the keyboard
  • Magnetic feet for angle adjustment
  • Shine-through PBT textured keycaps
  • Variety of different switches to pick from (price varies)
  • Variety of custom keycap sets to pick from (price varies)
  • Solid aluminum frame
  • RGB lighting, also fully customizable
  • Variety of pre-programmed lighting settings
  • Cherry style stabilizers

For a more thorough review of this keyboard, we did one awhile back.

DROP CTRL
DROP CTRL

Some Complaints

Some important things to note are the downsides to this keyboard. One primary problem was key chattering, when you press one key, but it registers twice, such as double spacing. Another complaint is that the colors reset after every restart.

It’s been six months since I’ve started using this keyboard daily. It still does the key chattering despite the attempted fix that Drop put out in its discussion boards. The chattering does not occur regularly, and from what I’ve read, it’s not a universal problem among all users of this keyboard. Many people do complain about this problem though.

For a $200 mechanical keyboard, one might expect a high-quality braided USB-C cable, but it’s not. It’s a simple 6ft rubber-coated USB-C cable. There are no problems with it, but it’s just not special for that price point.

Logitech G Pro (X)

There is the Logitech G Pro and the Logitech G Pro X.

The Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard is currently priced on sale at $79.99 on Amazon. It has a 4.5-star rating with 580 reviews. The original price for the Pro Keyboard is $129.99, and they also have a Pro X keyboard at $149.99. We’ll talk about both in detail and the differences.

A special product of theirs is their switches. They sell their Pro X switches separately at $49.99 for a pack.

The Logitech G Pro

Out of the box, this keyboard comes with GX Blue switches, which are as clicky as it gets.

It has RGB lighting that is programmable to your setup’s specifications, but it also has preset lighting effects for quick use.

It has a detachable braided Micro USB cable for quick and easy connection or disconnection for travel. As special feature is that it has prongs on each side to secure the connection, so it doesn’t accidentally fall off.

Unlike other keyboards, the rubber feet offer three different angles (flat, four degrees, and eight degrees) of customization to enhance your comfort while gaming. It also features a fully programmable row of F keys to put in your custom macros via their firmware, the Logitech G HUB.

It is a sturdy keyboard with no flex. The top right hand has an LED light button to easily turn on and off your lights.

The actuation distance for these switches is 2.0mm with 50g of force to activate. The LED lights are directly in the middle of the switches, enhancing the light through the keycaps.

The only downside is that the bottom row is a non-standard bottom row. It will not fit some custom keycap sets, so make sure you check for compatibility prior to buying.

Differences Between Pro and Pro X Keyboard

The Logitech G Pro X Keyboard is slightly more expensive and for good reason. Pretty much everything is the same.

One of the differences is that you can pick the type of switches you can get out of three different sets: GX Blue (clicky), GX Brown (tactile), or GX Reds (linear).

The GX Browns have an actuation distance of 2.0mm with an actuation force of 50g. It is not as loud as the GX Blues.

The GX Reds have an actuation distance of 1.9mm (slightly less) with an actuation force of 50g.

Another big benefit is that the PCB is hot-swappable! That means you can mix and match these GX switches however you want. Inside the box is a keycap puller and a switch puller as well.

The switches are mechanical switches with a clear top housing. The stabilizers have a decent amount of rattle, which isn’t a good thing.

A super cool thing is that you can use any switches you want to with this keyboard, considering they’re MX-style.

A downside is the price. It sells at $150. The keyboard still has a Micro-USB, which is a little outdated for 2019. For this price, there are many other keyboards out there that have a USB-C cable, hot-swappable switches, and with a more aesthetic look as well.

Logitech Pro X Switches

These switches are only available on the Logitech website. They come in boxes of 92 switches, so you get a few extra in case you need some replacements.

They are currently selling for $50 for a box of 92 switches.

Ducky One 2 TKL: Something You Might Not Have Heard of So Far, but High Quality

Ducky is not a commonly recognized brand outside of the mechanical keyboard community. They offer the Ducky One 2 in all sorts of sizes: 60%, 65%, TKL, and full-sized.

This keyboard can be found at MechanicalKeyboards.com for $125. The switch options are all Cherry MX: Red, blue, brown, black, natural white, and silver.

Ducky always sends you a nice special spacebar with some extra colored keycaps. They let you do something special and customize your keyboards a little bit more. The keyboard is black with a white bottom bezel, which makes it unique from other mechanical keyboards.

It’s a fully plastic build. There is a 3-level kickstand design with 4 rubber feet. It also has 3 DIP switches on the back, letting you change the layout a little bit.

One thing that the other keyboards did not have that the Ducky has is PBT Double-shot keycaps.  

Ducky One 2 TKL Features:

  • PBT doubleshot keycaps
  • Cherry MX switches
  • Detachable USB-C cable
  • 3 level angle adjustment
  • RGB lighting with fully customizability
  • Anti-ghosting with N-key rollover
  • Comes with special keycaps for modifiers and spacebar as well as a keycap puller
  • Ducky firmware to customize new layers
  • Has pre-set lighting modes that’s accessibility onboard

Related posts that you might be interested in reading:

The Best Budget 60% Keyboards Under $75

Best 65% Keyboards as of 2020

Best 40% Keyboards as of 2020

Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2020

Best Low-Profile Keyboards of 2020

Best Hot-Swappable Keyboards of 2020

Best Mechanical Numpads of 2020

Best Mechanical Keyboards for the Office

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

The Five Best Mechanical Keyboards For Typing of 2020

Happy typing!

Mechanism Behind Why Mechanical Keyboards Can Be So Loud (with Sound Clips)

hyperx mechanical keyboard switches
Photo by Shrimay Dash on Unsplash

When I first started typing on a mechanical keyboard, the only switches available, at least I thought, were the clicky and loud switches. I started to wonder exactly why mechanical switches can be so noisy. So, I did some research, and this is what I found out. What makes a mechanical keyboard switch so loud?

Clicky mechanical switches such as Cherry MX Blues have a mechanism within each individual switch that produces a high-pitched clicking noise when the key actuates. Inside a switch is a stem, a plastic bottom and top housing, a spring, a slider component, and a leaf switch. When the key is pressed, the slider component builds up force on the leaf switch as it slides down. When the slider releases, it hits the housing, causing the clicky sound. Other switches that are also clicky have followed the Cherry MX Blue model, and most companies have kept the same color with some exceptions.

In addition of the mechanism of the switch itself, there are other sources of sounds that can make a mechanical keyboard make extra sounds such as rattles and echoes.

Why Do Clicks Matter?

There are two important factors to consider when picking a keyboard switch. They are sound and feel. For many, sound is a crucial element to consider because it’ll be something that you’ll listen to everyday as you’re typing.

For many, having a clicky mechanical keyboard makes them feel as if they’re typing super-fast. When people think of mechanical keyboard, the thought of clicks instantly enters their mind.

If you plan on doing things such as recording videos, live-streaming gameplay, or bringing your keyboard into your workplace, it may be a good idea to avoid getting these loud clicky switches. We have a guide on the top 5 quietest switches. But since you’re here, you probably want a clicky switch.

What Are Some Other Sources of Sounds in Your Mechanical Keyboard?

While certain switches may be quieter than others, a switch that emits a higher-pitched sound tends to be get picked up more on microphones and is more disturbing to those around you.

A deep, low-pitched sounding switch on the other hand, will be less intrusive and tends to not get picked up by microphones as much, even if it’s louder. The lower-pitched sound is generally much more pleasing on the ears and is a sound most keyboard switch manufacturers and enthusiasts attempt to go for when buying a keyboard.

Other sound factors include the amount the switch rattles and shakes. Rattling is when the switch is not fully secured or machined to a tight tolerance, this makes the moving components inside the switch bang against each other instead of smoothly sliding up and down.

The rattling increases the noise output of the keyboard and makes the sound output much more unpleasant.

The material of the keyboard also makes a difference when it comes to sound. A plastic case will create more sound for each key press. An aluminum case or acrylic is denser and will dampen the sounds more, causing less ringing.

Another factor is the stabilizer. Stabilizers can make rattling sounds when they are not effective at reducing the shakiness, especially the space bar. For different techniques and strategies to make your keyboard more silent, we wrote a thorough guide on how to do so. This could also help with clicky switches because you want to only hear the switch click, not the stabilizer rattle or the spring clang in the background after each press.

white meechanical keyboard
Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash

Guide to Clicky Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Now that we know why these switches make their clicks, let’s look at some animations to see exactly what happens.

Input Club has an animation that shows the blue stem being pressed, the slider building up force, releasing and then hitting the bottom housing, producing the clicking sound.

There is a YouTube video that visually shows the movement of these switches happening. He cut out a cross-section of the switch housing so that the inside is visible, and the switch remains fully functional.

There are many different clicky switches out there. The mechanism above only applies to clicky switches. Tactile switches have a tactile bump, but they do not have the second slider mechanism that produces the sound.

Clicky Mechanical Switches, What They Sound Like, and More Information

Switch NameActuation ForceTotal DistanceActuation DistanceSound Clip
Kaihua Gold31g3.5mm1.5mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=185  
Kaihua Bronze*40g3.5mm1.4mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=169  
Kailh Box White50g3.6mm1.8mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=312  
Kaihua Blue50g4mm2.2mmhttps://youtu.be/a4-XclsIcX0?t=61  
Cherry MX Blue55g4mm2mmhttps://youtu.be/lAmiYr0GjaY?t=22  
Cherry MX Green52g4mm2.3mmhttps://youtu.be/ECK1Ym5V8Xw?t=25  
Kaihua Box Pale Blues42g3.7mm1.93mmhttps://youtu.be/eZuHJGoJQSs?t=173  
Kaihua Box Jade30g3.7mm1.95mmhttps://youtu.be/vKnH_SZbT1A?t=354  
Kaihua Box Navy40g3.5mm1.82mmhttps://youtu.be/93PCro8hB_A?t=14  
Gateron Blue45g4mm2.2mmhttps://youtu.be/gLWon7edBNI?t=377  
Oetemu Blue46g4mm2.7mmhttps://youtu.be/kmcz7qBVaQY?t=265  
Razer Green50g4mm2.3mmhttps://youtu.be/CcZhehmVRbs?t=74  
Gateron Green65g4mm2mmhttps://youtu.be/kbBvMQK9jBQ?t=12  

*Kaihua Bronze switches are also known as Thick Gold or Platinum switches.

Another thing that may be confusing is that some people say Kaihua or Kailh. They are basically the same company and the same switches. Kaihua is a brand under Kailh.

The table above covers most clicky switches that are available right now. If we are missing any, please let us know and we’ll fix the list with updated information.   

What Are BOX Switches?

Kailh/Kaihua makes BOX switches. These switches were initially created to be used in gaming cafes, cafes with rows of computers that people can pay to use and play games on, in primarily Asian countries.

The Kailh BOX switches are rated IP56, which we learned about in our article about waterproof keyboards where we also explained IP rating. IP56 means that the switches are dust-protected, permitting only little dust, and is protected against high pressure water jets from any direction.

They’re easily recognizable with their box design around the switch stem. These were designed to prevent food dust and water/drink spills from people using them within gaming cafes. Due to their IP56 rating, they’re much more durable and protected than regular switches. They keep food, crumbs, dust, and liquids away from the keyboard PCB.

These BOX switches cost $3.00 10 switches, making them 30 cents each.

Where to Try These Switches

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the sound of your keyboard, including the case material, stabilizer quality, and the keyboard switches (of course). We listed out all the clicky mechanical switches available on the market right now, including the actuation distance, actuation force, total travel distance, and a sound clip of each switch type for your reference and convenience.

As always, it’s better to personally test each switch prior to filling up your entire keyboard with it and then realize that you don’t like it after all.

Some places to get switch testers include NovelKeys and MechanicalKeyboards.com. NovelKeys offers different size switch testers, ranging from 4-slots to 49-slots. They are acrylic with clear keycaps. You get to choose your choice of switches. Below are all their options for switches. YES, there are a LOT of options.

novelkeys switch tester options
novelkeys switch tester options
novelkeys switch tester options

MechanicalKeyboards.com provides a 6-slot switch tester for $15. You have the option of including different switch sets, including Cherry MX, Gateron, Greetech, Kailh, and Outemu.  

Amazon also has a few options as well. This Glorious MX Switch Tester includes 14 different switches of Gateron and Kailh brand along with O-rings. They do not come with a testing board or keycaps unlike the two above.

This 4-slot Cherry MX switch tester allows you to try the basic Cherry MX switches (Red, Blue, Brown, and Black) with a minimalistic case and clear keycaps. They also have one with 9 slots and includes additional Cherry MX switches (Green, Grey-brown, Grey-black, Clear, and White, as well as the original four).

Another good option for experimenting with Kailh BOX switches is this Kailh BOX switch tester kit with clear keycaps, an acrylic testing board, a keycap puller, and 9 BOX switches (Navy, Jade, White, Red, Black, Brown, Yellow, Blue, and Orange).

There are many places to try out different switches prior to getting them. If spending money is not possible, you can also look for mechanical keyboard meetups where people will bring and showcase their custom-made keyboards for people to try out and type on.

Many switches that are interesting to explore include the ZealPC switches and the panda switches, which are a combination of one part from one kind of switch and the other parts from another kind of switch.

As always, happy typing!

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Top 5 Most Quiet Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Upon entering the world of mechanical keyboard switches, most people are first attracted to mechanical keyboards due to the loud, satisfying clicking noises that some switches make. These sounds open their eyes and ears to the possibilities that mechanical keyboards offer.

However, after the honeymoon phase ends, the keyboard owner is left with a loud keyboard that they can’t use at work or around other people. The loud clicking noise that used to bring such joy to their life, now echoes in the background when attempting to play video games and chatting with friends. The clicks have become a curse that follow you everywhere.

A change is needed, it’s time to change your switches to a quieter option. But with so many silent switch options available, which one is the best?

The top five most silent mechanical keyboard switches are:

  1. Zilents
  2. Healios
  3. Zealios
  4. Cherry MX Silent Red/Black
  5. Matias Quiet Linear

Upon creating this list, we did not rate the switches solely on what was the most silent. We also looked at overall quality and feel, along with the switch type. Whether you are looking for a silent switch for gaming, typing, or streaming, the other factors will help guide you in making a more informed decision and can impact which switch is ideal for you.

Why does Sound Matter?

The sound of a keyboard switch is one of the biggest factors when picking out a switch for your new mechanical keyboard. The other factor is typically the feel of the switch.

Photo by Troy Chen on Unsplash
Photo by Troy Chen on Unsplash

If you plan on recording videos, streaming, talking over a microphone, or working in a public space, it’s a good idea to stay away from the loudest and clicky switch types.

The loud switches will create more background noise and microphones will pick up the sound of each keystroke. It’s also good to keep in mind, most people don’t enjoy the sound of your loud keyboard, especially in an enclosed area packed with people.

Avoid these loud switches:

  • Cherry MX Blue, Green, and White
  • Kailh BOX White, BOX Navy, and Kailh BOX Jade

Not All Sounds Are Created Equal

The pure decibel output of a keyboard switch is not the only factor when it comes to deciding which switch is the best pick for you. While certain switches may be quieter than others, a switch that emits a higher-pitched sound tends to be get picked up more on microphones and is more disturbing to those around you.

A deep, low-pitched sounding switch on the other hand, will be less intrusive and tends to not get picked up by microphones as much, even if it’s louder. The lower-pitched sound is generally much more pleasing on the ears and is a sound most keyboard switch manufacturers and enthusiasts attempt to go for when buying a keyboard.

Other sound factors include the amount the switch rattles and shakes. Rattling is when the switch is not fully secured or machined to a tight tolerance, this makes the moving components inside the switch bang against each other instead of smoothly sliding up and down.

The rattling increases the noise output of the keyboard and makes the sound output much more unpleasant. Because of this, we considered this factor when making our top five list.

Your Keyboard Case & Stabilizers Matter

It’s important to note that the switch is not the only factor that determines the sound of the keystroke. The overall build material of the case can change the overall feel and sound of each key.

Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash
Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash

For example, the lighter and more flexible materials such as plastic, tend to create more noise and dampen the sound less. The flexible material allows the vibrations and sound to travel through the keyboard, instead of reducing the overall decibel output.

Case materials such as aluminum, steel, and acrylic are heavier and sturdier. Because of their denser build material, they can dampen the sound of the keystrokes more effectively, creating a quieter and deeper sounding switch.  

The stabilizers are also a big factor in determining the overall sound output of your keyboard. Stabilizers are placed under your larger keys, such as your spacebar, and reduce the amount the key shakes when pressed. Therefore, stabilizing it.

By reducing the amount the keys shake, stabilizers can lower the overall sound output of your keyboard. There are several ways to make your stabilizers more effective at reducing shakiness and ratting of your keys, but we’ll get into that later.

Switch type matters: Tactile vs Linear

#1 Pick: ZealPC Healios

Our first pick is the Healios, a silent linear switch made by ZealPC. This is the quietest linear switch available on the market, and an excellent option for those who want to keep their typing sounds low.

Healios Switch

The Healios have a silencing bumper to dampen not only the bottom out sounds, but also the up-stroke sounds. This means that the switch is silenced when pressed and released.

The switch also has a 67g bottom out force, which is slightly on the heavier side. Most mechanical keyboard switches have a bottom out force of around 50-60g.

Keep in mind these switches are on the pricier side, coming out to $1.20 each. It’s hard to beat the quality and sound of these switches though, so the price may be worth it for you.

#2 Pick: ZealPC Zilents V2

Second up on our list is the ZealPC Zilent V2.

Zilent Switch

The Zilents are very similar to the Healios, but they are tactile instead of linear. The Zilents have a big smooth bump to provide tactile feedback to the user, and unlike other switches the bump starts at the very start of the key press with no pre-travel.

This means the keystroke does not happen unless you press hard enough to clear the bump, which removes user error from “half-pressing” a key. Coming in four different bottom-out forces, each Zilent variation offers its own feel and resistance. The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g.

At a price of $1.20 each, these are not cheap switches but similar to the Healios, the quality is great.

#3 Pick: ZealPC Zealios

Third on our list is the ZealPC Zealios. Notice a trend here?

Zealios switch

While very similar to the Zilents, the Zealios are also a tactile switch that are slightly louder. The main difference is the overall tactility is more prominent. They have a slightly larger bump and because of that make more noise. I have personally used the Zealios and prefer the feel to them over the Zilents, although they are slightly louder.

The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g for the bottom-out force.

Coming in at $1.00 each, the price is more affordable than the first two options on the list. Making it a better pick for those trying to keep their costs low.

#4 Pick: Cherry MX Silent Red/Black

cherry MX linear silent switches

The Cherry MX Silent switches are linear with a 3.7mm total travel distance. They are slightly quieter than the other Cherry MX linear switches with a similar feel.

Cherry attributes the dampening to “patented technology”, and I believe they achieved this by making a heavier duty switch housing that vibrates less and produces less noise.

The Silent Reds have a 45 g bottom-out force and the Silent Blacks have a 60g bottom-out force.

The Cherry MX Silent switches are ranked number four because they produce a slightly louder and higher pitched noise than all of the ZealPC switches listed above.

#5 Pick: Matias Quiet Linear

The Matias Quiet Linear is a truly quiet switch made for court stenographers and anyone else working in a environment where they need to keep the typing sounds low.

The spring has a unique design where there is more resistance at the start of the keypress that gradually decreases as the internal spring is compressed.

The Matias Quiet switches are slightly louder than the other options on the list, but are still a great pick for anyone looking for a quiet switch.

These are the cheapest on the list by far, coming in at $50 for a box of 200 switches. Or about $0.25 each.

How to Make Your Keyboard Even Quieter

There are a lot of silent switch options out there, and we hope we’ve helped you narrow down your search. For some people, however, even with the silent switches, your keyboard may still feel too loud.

mechanical keyboard from unsplash
Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

Do not fear! There are several other options you can do to lower the sound of your keyboard. Such as adding a dampener inside your keyboard case, lubricating your switches, adding O-rings, and other great options. Check out this post for a more in-depth write up on how to lower the sound output of your keyboard.

Conclusion

In general, there are a lot of factors that effect the overall sound output of your keyboard including the case, stabilizers, and switches. In this article, we went over our top five picks for the best mechanical keyboard switch to make your keyboard more quiet.

Our top pick was the ZealPC Healios with the Zilents in close second. Both of these switches are incredibly silent and have excellent build quality. While a bit on the pricier side, they are worth it if your budget allows it. If not, there are other great options on this list that are more affordable as well.

We also recommend ordering a sample pack to test out several different switch types to figure out the best switch for you.

We hope you found some helpful information in this post and are one step closer to getting your next keyboard.

And, as always, happy typing!

Explaining Different Mechanical Keyboard Layouts: ANSI and ISO

iso layout keyboard
ISO Layout

On some mechanical keyboard forums recently, I’ve noticed that some people are asking for ISO keyboards or ANSI keyboards. We did some research, and in this article, we’ll tell you all about what we learned. What are the differences between ANSI and ISO layouts on mechanical keyboards?

The acronyms, ANSI and ISO, stand for two different world’s standards organizations. ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, and ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. These are both keyboard layouts that describe the size and position of the keys. These are different than the logical layouts such as QWERTY, Colemak, Dvorak, etc. ANSI and ISO keyboards differ in the size and orientation of the Enter key, Backslash, and Left Shift keys.

Many mechanical keyboard users say that the keyboard layout really depends on the user, but there are benefits and disadvantages to using either layout.

ANSI vs ISO Layout

 ANSIISO
Enter keyEnter key is a wide rectangle. This is seen commonly in keyboards in the United States.Enter key is an upside-down L-shape.
Backslash keyBackslash key sits above the Enter key, and fingers need to stretch to reach it.Backslash key is to the left of the Enter key, and fingers do not need to stretch as far.
Left Shift keyLeft shift key is the same size as the Right shift key.Left shift key is about 50% of the size of the right shift key and is the same size as the Ctrl key.
Right Alt keyLeft and Right Alt keys are the sameThe right Alt key is replaced with a Alt Gr key.
Number of Keys104 keys for full-size keyboard and 87-keys for a standard tenkeyless layout.105 keys for a full-sized keyboard of 88 keys for a TKL keyboard.
Commonality of keycap setsTypically, keycaps are common in ANSI layout.ISO keycap sets are less common, many people living in countries that use ISO layouts buy an ANSI keyboard just for the keycap sets.  

The Alt Graph key is available on ISO keyboards and allows the user to access the third symbol on a key. This is common in other languages. If there is a fourth symbol on the key, this is accessed by pressing Shift and Alt Gr.

The one-key difference between the ANSI and ISO layouts exists in the left shift key. In ANSI keyboards, the left shift key is one large wide rectangular key. In ISO layouts, this shift key is broken into 2 different keys, making up that one key difference. Typically, this extra key will be the <> key.

In fully programmable keyboards, that extra button is what you make of it. It just allows you to fit another extra key. Perhaps in a different language, it could be a symbol or something else.  

Disadvantages of an ISO Layout

The Enter Key is Far Away

On an ISO layout, the backslash is closer, but this poses a problem such as the Enter key being farther away from the home row. Your hands are commonly on the home row. In ANSI, with your pinky on the ; key, you only have to reach over one other key to press Enter. On the ISO layout, your pinky must jump over two keys. This is a problem of ergonomics since this is a frequently used key.

Does the Backslash Matter That Much?

So now the backslash is closer, but daily, that key is rarely used. I have only ever used it when doing programming when typing file paths in the Command Prompt or terminal window.

With the Enter key, we use that on a regular basis, every time we start a new line when typing in a document. Or when we’re typing something in a search bar on Google or YouTube, we press that Enter key quick.

The Left Shift is Far Away

The Left shift is split into two keys, which results in the left shift key being about 1” away from its typical position. The extra key could be <> or |\, depending on the language. These are not common keys. When I type and press my left shift, I press the right side. If I w as using an ISO keyboard, I would be accidentally pressing that extra key very often.

Many people who come from countries that use an ISO layout often opt for an ANSI keyboard because they find themselves accidentally pressing that key of the backslash all too often when trying to press something else.

Which is better: ANSI or ISO?

The answer boils down to preference. As we can see from the above, there are many disadvantages to using an ISO layout keyboard. There are some languages that cannot be used without an ISO keyboard, typically in certain European countries. ISO keyboards make sacrifices in ergonomics to fit in an extra key that would be needed for that language.

In fully programmable keyboards, getting an ANSI keyboard and then reprogramming it to fit all the keys needed for your language would be the most optimal.

Alongside being more ergonomic, you also get access to so many more options for PCBs, keycap sets, and more. Many group buys that offer ISO layouts do not hit the minimum funding needed to manufacture and distribute them. A quick Google search for ISO keycaps shows minimal results.

Often, even if the group buy minimum limit is hit, the ISO keycap sets tend to be more expensive.

Frequently Asked Related Questions

What is the JIS layout?

The JIS layout is the Japanese Standard layout for their keys. The JIS layout uses the upside-down L-shaped Enter key, splits the right shift into two keys, splits the backspace key into two keys, and adds 3 more keys within the spacebar space. Altogether, the JIS layout has 5 additional keys when compared to the ANSI layout, totaling 109 keys. These extra keys are needed for Japanese character inputs.

ansi, iso, and jis layout

Can I still use an ANSI keyboard even if my language uses an ISO layout?

It is possible to use an ANSI keyboard with languages that need the additional symbols and keys due to the programmability of mechanical keyboards. The ANSI keyboard has better positioning of its symbols and frequently used keys. To go into other layouts, it’s possible to use Alt + Shift and then press the key with the symbol you need.

Where can I find places that sell ISO keycap sets?

A good place that sells ISO keycaps is at CandyKeys. They offer many different sets in different colors. It’s not much compared to the vast variety of ANSI keycaps, but it’s a good place to start.

Drop also sometimes have ISO keycaps for group buys. Currently, there are none available, but they previously have had them.

KBD Fans currently has 8 sets of keycaps that fit the ISO layout. They offer dye-sublimated Cherry profile keycaps, blank keycaps for a 65% and 60% keyboard, and the extra keys as a small standalone purchase if you buy ANSI keycap kits and then just replace those specific keys.

Where can I find ANSI keycap sets?

ANSI keycaps can be found pretty much everywhere. It’s unnecessary to type ANSI when looking for these keycaps, just searching for keycaps will give you these results as the default. Some good places to find keycaps is at Kono, Candykeys, KBD Fans, and Mechanicalkeyboards.com.  

Summary

We talked about the differences between the ANSI layout and the ISO layout as well as presented the many disadvantages of the ISO layout. It’s not as ergonomic and makes little sense when typing unless you type a language that absolutely needs the extra key. We also discussed different places to buy ISO and ANSI keycaps.

Hopefully, this article helped you. I found it cool. I had no idea that the ISO layout was a thing. At first though, I thought it was better because it fit an extra key, but now I think my keyboard is fine for me.

As always, happy typing!

What kind of keyboard layout do you have, and what do you think of it? Leave it in the comments down below.

How to Install Your Stabilizers for Your Space Bar and Bigger Keys

Maybe you dropped your keyboard and one of the larger keys fell off and you’re not sure how to put it back on. Or perhaps you removed your keycaps to do some deep cleaning, only to realize you didn’t know how tricky it was to put them back on.

In this post we’ll go over how to install your larger keys and make sure the stabilizers and keys are put in correctly.

Depending on your mechanical keyboard model, the spacebar and larger keys can be difficult to install. Keyboards such as the Razer Blackwidow have Cherry MX stabilizers that have extra components and are require more work to install the keycaps back on.

Here are the steps for this style of stabilizer:

  1. Unplug your keyboard
  2. Install the plastic stabilizer clips into the keyboard plate. This will require the side with the hook to be pressed in first, then the other side can be pressed in. Make sure these are facing the correct direction, or else the key will be installed backwards.
  3. The stabilizer spring (metal bar) will need to be pressed into the back of both plastic stabilizer clips. This will require a little bit of force to press into the clips.
  4. Double check the keycaps have two small stabilizer inserts pressed into the bottom side of the keycap. These holes will be plus-sign shaped, and the inserts will get pressed into holes on the two ends of the keycap.
  5. The spring stabilizer (metal bar) ends will need to be hooked into both keycap inserts. This step can be difficult and will require some patience and coordination. It’s easiest to hook one side in first, then carefully hook in the other side.
  6. The last step is to install the key onto the keyboard switch. Gently press the keycap until you feel the keycap slide onto the switch. Congratulations, you installed the spacebar!

Installing the larger keys, such as the spacebar, can be difficult. In the next section we will go over a more in-depth instruction with pictures of all the components and the steps for installation. If you don’t have this style of stabilizer, we will go over some of the various stabilizer types to try and help with your issue.

Keyboard Components

Shown below are all the required keyboard components and a suggested tool, the keycap puller. This will make it easier to remove keycaps from your keyboard. If any of your components are missing or broken, it’s possible to order replacement parts here.

Required components

The components are relatively cheap. If you are replacing the stabilizer spring, make sure the spring size is correct, because the spacebar spring size is different from the other keys. All the other keys will require the same size stabilizer spring, 2x. Just keep in mind the spacebar spring will be different. The other components such as the inserts and clips will be the same for every key, regardless of the size.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a stabilizer is, we can explain here.

Steps:

1. Unplug your keyboard.

2. Remove the keycaps around the key you are trying to fix. This will give you more room to install everything. A keycap puller can make removing the keys easier.

Remove keycaps

3. Install the plastic stabilizer clips into the keyboard plate. This will require the side with the hook to be pressed in first, then the other side can be pressed in.

Insert stabilizer clips

Make sure both clips are facing the same direction, or else the spring will not be able to be installed. Both clips need to be facing the correct direction or else the key will be installed backwards.

Generally, the spacebar stabilizers will be reversed relative to the other keys, so the spring will be on the top side of the keyboard. The other keys will have the spring located on the bottom side. The clips may already be installed into the plate, in which case you can move onto the next step.

4. The stabilizer spring (metal bar) will need to be pressed into the back of both plastic stabilizer clips. This will require a little bit of force to press into the clips.

Stabilizer spring install

Make sure the spring is facing the correct direction, as you want the rounded section to go around the keyboard switch or they will hit when actuating the key.

5. Double-check the keycaps have two small stabilizer inserts pressed into the bottom side of the keycap. These holes will be plus-sign shaped, and the inserts will get pressed into holes on the two ends of the keycap.

stabilizer insert install in bottom of keycap

6. The spring stabilizer (metal bar) ends will need to be hooked into both keycap inserts. This step can be difficult and will require some patience and coordination. It’s easiest to hook one side in first, then carefully hook in the other side

Hook in keycap onto stabilizer

7. The last step is to install the key onto the keyboard switch. Gently press the keycap until you feel the keycap slide onto the switch. Congratulations, you installed the spacebar!

Spacebar on stabilizer

Try pressing it a few times to make sure the key is working properly. If not, you may need to take everything apart and try again. It’s possible you installed the clips facing the wrong direction.

How do I reverse the spacebar?

Due to the feel, some people enjoy having the spacebar reversed. To do this, you will need to remove the spacebar keycap.

Then, remove the inserts underneath the spacebar. Once removed, reinstall them, but facing the opposite direction from which they were originally facing.

Typically, the inserts face towards the top end of the keyboard. So, when you reverse the clips, they will face towards the bottom of the keyboard.

Next, reverse the space bar keycap and line up with the switch and press back into place.

There you go, your space bar is now installed backwards!

What if I have a different type of stabilizer?

Typically, other types of stabilizers are much easier to replace as they do not hook into the keycaps. The other stabilizers simply need to be pressed into the plate/PCB and then the keycap just gets installed directly onto the stabilizer and switch. You can read more about the different stabilizer types here.

These types of stabilizers work much differently as they do not require the stabilizer bar, and in general are easiest to repair and do modifications on.

What if my spacebar still isn’t working?

If your spacebar is stuck, there are several problems that can cause this issue, including:

1. Switch is sticky and damaged.

If you run into a stuck switch, we recommend removing the keycap and dropping a little bit of rubbing alcohol onto the switch housing and then pressing the key a few times. After the key loosens up, wipe up the excess alcohol and let dry for a few hours. The switch should be working properly now.

2. The stabilizer is not installed correctly.

If the stabilizer is not installed correctly the spacebar will feel rattly and unstable. Make sure all the steps were followed properly. We recommend restarting the process and testing the spacebar again to see if everything is fixed.

Typically, the most likely mistake is the stabilizer clips or the inserts are backwards. Try flipping them around and retesting.

If it still feels wrong, check the components for damage, as you may need to order a few replacement parts.

Can I mod my stabilizers?

For some stabilizer types, it’s recommended to mod them. You can band-aid, lube, and clip the stabilizers to make them quieter and give them a more stable feel.

For the stabilizers mentioned in this post, we do not recommend doing any modifications, as the improvement will be marginal at best.

Conclusion

In this post, we went over the steps to fix your spacebar and talked about all of the components in the stabilizer underneath the spacebar. The parts include the keycap, clips, inserts, and springs and how to install them.

We also went over some of the different stabilizer types and how to reverse your spacebar. If you’re still confused or your stabilizers are still not working, leave a comment below and we will try to help!

Thanks for reading the post. Happy typing!

Why you Should Get a Mechanical Keyboard for Your Laptop

separate mechanical keyboard for your laptop and macbook

I really have a hard time typing fast and pain-free on the keyboard of my laptop, and this is where a mechanical keyboard comes to mind. Although it means bringing an extra mechanical keyboard, it’s 100% worth it. I did some research and experimented by bringing a mechanical keyboard to work with me to use to see. Is bringing a separate mechanical keyboard for my laptop worth it? Should you get one?

Bringing a separate mechanical keyboard to use with your laptop is worth it because it will enhance your typing or gaming experience. The keyboard that comes with most laptops do not have extra features such as N-key roller, mechanical switches, and make you type awkwardly because of the positioning.

Mechanical keyboards can be positioned wherever you want, the switches will be personalized for you, and you can decide to add other things such as dedicated media keys, productivity macros, and a dedicated number pad if you do a lot of number entry. A key benefit is being able to position your keyboard and mouse further away from the laptop screen to decrease neck strain and awkward wrist and finger positioning.

We’ll be going more in-depth about what N-key roller over and different positioning tips to improve the ergonomics involved with using a laptop computer. Many people that type a lot or use their laptop for gaming opt to bring a separate compact mechanical keyboard for many reasons.

The Benefits Over a Mechanical Keyboard Over Laptop Keyboards

Imagine this. You are planning on going to the local coffee shop to write a blog post or type up some paperwork for work. You take your laptop out of its sleeve, place it on the table, and you realize that looking at the monitor requires you to crane your neck down.

The next step may be to place your laptop on top of a textbook you have lying in your backpack. That helps a little bit.  But now you must reach your hands up higher to type. It’s a little awkward, but you think, “This isn’t so bad, it’s just for a little bit.” Or you go back to craning your neck, it’s one or the other.

Mechanical Keyboards Improve Your Screen Positioning When Using a Laptop

Having a separate keyboard is going to let you place the laptop further away and on the stack of books so you’re looking straight ahead instead of down.

It also lets you type in an ergonomic position with your elbows at 90 degrees and wrists are not in extension (or tilted up.)

uncomfortable wrist position when using laptop

Mechanical Keyboards Lessen Your Risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries

Many laptops also have short, flat keys that have awkward spacing, so you may have to spread and stretch your fingers out more to type on them. With a mechanical keyboard, the switches are at the same distance and since you happen to use one at home, you’re already used to the layout. Alongside that, you also know exactly the distance you need to press to register each key press.

Usually on a laptop, the switches make you bottom out so that you know the key has registered. Bottoming out keys increase the pressure on your fingers and joints each type you do it. With a mechanical key, especially tactile ones, you know the point to stop pressing and never press the key harder than it needs to be pressed.

Mechanical Keyboards Decrease Your Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, also called CTS, is when the nerves within your carpal tunnel (the area right below the palm and wrist) get compressed or irritated. There is a nerve that runs inside there called the median nerve. It is responsible for the sensations of your thumb, index and middle finger.

When this nerve is pinched, you may feel tingling or burning in the fingers affected. If the nerve is compressed for too long, the muscles may begin atrophying (or getting smaller), resulting in a weak hand and decreased sensation in the most important fingers.

People who do a lot of work with their wrist extended or on a keyboard that is not positioned properly, the risk of CTS is increased.

Okay okay, my occupational therapist side is coming out. But enough about the science, we know that having a mechanical keyboard can improve your wrist positioning, enabling you to type with a neutral wrist position. Also, it’s possible to get ergonomic keyboards.

We wrote an in-depth guide to ergonomics, desk positioning, and the top ergonomic keyboards in another article if you’re interested in that.

Mechanical Keyboards Improve Your Productivity When Working with a Laptop

Many people who switch to using a mechanical keyboard say, “Once you go mechanical, you won’t go back to your laptop keyboard.” I’ve had enough of using a laptop at work with the short, small keys with a ton of space in between each key. I mean, why?

Due to the key layout, I have to stretch my fingers out and not every key registers when I press it. The backspace is often overused because of the mistakes.

My typing speed on a mechanical keyboard average around 110wpm. However, when typing at work, it goes down to about 80wpm (even if I know what I’m typing about).

The reason here is, with research and self-experimentation:

  • The space between each key is too wide and maybe increase the amount of typing mistakes
  • The keys do not have N-key rollover (This means that you can press more than 1 button at a time, and it will also register) – Sometimes it won’t capitalize when I tell it to
  • The touchpad in front of the keyboard OFTEN interferes with the typing experience and may be touched accidentally, moving my position on the screen somewhere else

Also, if you’re already bringing an external mouse for your laptop, might as well improve the positioning even more and have an external keyboard as well.

Mechanical Keyboards Are Still Super Portable and Convenient

Just because you’re bringing around a separate device doesn’t mean it still isn’t portable. There are so many different mechanical keyboards that you can pick from.

There are different sizes (that we explained in another in-depth article as well) such as 40%, 60%, 65%, TKL, a separate number pad, full-sized, and more). They can go small. You can ditch the number pad, ditch the function row, ditch the arrow keys if you don’t need that.

There are also wireless mechanical keyboards too that connect via Bluetooth or a USB receiver. If you’re interested in some of our recommendations, we wrote a guide to those too.

If you still enjoy the short keypresses, there are mechanical keyboard versions of that called low profile keyboards. We also looked at the best low-profile keyboards if you’re interested in those.  

We have looked at many different 40% keyboards, 60% keyboards, 65% keyboards, and even the best mechanical keyboards for typing.

The options are almost endless, and you can bet you’ll be able to find the perfect mechanical keyboard to pair with your laptop.

using separate keyboard black for black macbook

Increasing Laptop Resale Value

Using a separate keyboard can improve the resale value of the laptop because you’re not messing around with the keys. If, when typing on a laptop, you happen to be eating chips or drinking soda and oops, something bad happened. The laptop is basically done for.

Laptops are difficult to open and the electronics inside it can get damaged easily with water spills. Mechanical keyboards are different.

Mechanical keyboards are much easier to clean. You can choose between different plastics, colors, and designs. It’ll increase the overall hygiene of the user too.

There are also waterproof or water-resistant mechanical keyboards. We also covered this subject in a more in-depth article if you are interested in learning about IP rating and different water-resistant keyboards.

Laptop keys are made of cheap plastic and can accumulate grime and nastiness easily. By choosing not to use the laptop keyboard, you are keeping it more pristine and thus, keeping its resale value higher. No more shiny finger oil stains, no dust, no hair, none of that stuff that could turn away a buyer from a good product.

Summary and More

For some of our most-recommended keyboards that we’ve done thorough reviews on that may be good to pair with your laptop, check out:

If you have any additional questions, please post a comment down below. We love doing research for you guys and providing quality content. If there’s anything we can improve, shoot use an email at theswitchandclick@gmail.com

As always, happy typing!