Mechanical keyboards

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
Couldn't find one thread detailing this; as a mechanical keyboard fan, I figured I'd try to create one place where we could talk about mechanical keyboards, ideally with a Mac focus.

I've used a few switch types at this time... originally bought a mechanical keyboard with a Windows layout because I was doing a lot of typing on a Windows machine that I was remoting into, and had heard good things about them. Went with a G.SKILL Ripjaws KM780R with Cherry MX Brown switches (because I liked the idea of the colors to add a bit of cheer to my work). It didn't feel overly special at first, but when I tried to use my standard Mac keyboard with the scissor keys it felt awful... as did practically every other keyboard. And from then on, it was mechanical keyboards or nothing! I bought a Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac to replace my Apple keyboard, again sticking with Cherry MX Brown switches, and was enjoying myself tremendously after that.

More recently, I've been away from home for a time and decided that I was getting tired of my MacBook's keyboard. I bought a Das Professional S in Windows layout with Cherry MX Blue switches and absolutely loved it; when I returned home briefly, I found that my Cherry MX Browns seemed very quiet (they had seemed very loud when I tried them at first, compared with my Mac keyboard) and felt more "mushy." It has me contemplating swapping out my Mac keyboard with a Cherry MX Blue version, or switching to another switch type that is more "clicky."

Most recently I decided that I wanted a keyboard with backlighting - ideally RGB, and not just a single color - and I went with a Das 5Q (have not yet bought the Mac keycaps; still assessing it). It uses Das' custom-made "Gamma Zulu" keycaps, which are supposedly like Cherry MX Reds (which are on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Cherry MX Blues). My impression is that the lighting - after the firmware update - is decent (prior to that it hurt to look at and I had a hard time differentiating the colors from each other, although I can't really explain why), although I'm disappointed that there are no animated lighting effects available... supposedly they're coming. The keyboard is relatively quiet, probably even more quiet than my MX Brown keyboard, and when I initially pressed a few keys I liked the solid feel of it. I've only logged a few hours on it so far, yet I find it a bit fatiguing to type on... ironic, since the actuation force required is less than the Cherry MX Blues. I'll keep at it for a bit, but I'm thinking I might need to continue my search...

Aside from Das, other popular keyboard companies that offer Mac-layout or specifically Mac-compatible keyboards include WASD, Ducky, and Matias. Most of them also offer backlighting, but at this point in time, not RGB (or RGB with mechanical switches).

So, what about the rest of you? Any preferred Mac-specific mechanical keyboards? Any questions about mechanical keyboards?
 

iMaculate

Suspended
Jan 9, 2019
11
3
Toronto
I just got an Anne Pro 2 with Gateron blue switches and I love it. The angle is tough for my wrist to get used to after using the butterfly keys on my MacBook Pro, but it's worth the trade off. It's also RGB backlight so it's perfect in lower light situations. It comes with windows keys but I just swapped those with blank green ones and reassigned the keys in the settings.

I picked the Anne Pro 2 because it was the only 60% keyboard I could find with bluetooth. No wire gang.
 

HenryAZ

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2010
606
97
South Congress AZ
Unicomp has the patent for the old IBM Model M buckling spring keyboards, and they offer a buckling spring keyboard with the Mac keys layout, in three different colors. I have tried both the Unicomp and the Matias, and prefer the Das Keyboard, which I've used for several years. The Matias was good, with one major objection. Their Option keys are small (same size as a regular key). I use Option a lot, and most Mac keyboards make the Option key larger and easier to find by feel.
 

Nhwhazup

macrumors 68020
Sep 2, 2010
2,497
765
New Hampshire
678F852F-3878-45BB-BC0F-146CCF171E52.jpeg
9AAB1F6F-A99E-4224-AA50-26583CE83F5B.jpeg
E90199D8-3593-4B27-9C83-4694D8DCA9CF.jpeg
I don’t have any Mac geared mechanical keyboards but I’m a big fan of tenkeyless keyboards with Cherry reds. I love the light feel and the softer sound as compared to the browns and blues. I have a Filco and also a Poker with cherry red switches. Another favorite keyboard of mine is my Realforce with topre keys. As you can also see by the photos, I prefer white keycaps. Had more fun with adding the red ones on the Realforce.

Once you get a keyboard with the perfect feeling keys, there’s no going back.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ledgem

shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,332
1,499
I'm using the Das Keyboard Model S Professional, which has been fantastic and rock solid.

I've thought upgrading to the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, but my concern is the (strange) ruler on the bottom not keeping the keyboard in place well enough and not raising it up to the height of the old model. Would like the dedicated media keys and volume dial, though. Also, the aluminum looks nicer compared to the shiny plastic on this model.

Before the Das, I had several Matias Tactile Pros, which were good but not as satisfying or as durable as the Das Keyboards.
 

skoone01

macrumors newbie
Dec 13, 2018
3
0
I'm curious for those who own the Das Keyboard variants. I've read more than one review stating that they're not fully compatible with Macs.. Issues such as the computer doesn't recognize the keyboard during bootup, unable to enter recovery mode or choose a different boot drive, etc. therefore the Command and Option keys initially do not work and that a genuine Apple keyboard is necessary for these tasks.

Is any of this true or just a myth?
 

shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,332
1,499
I'm curious for those who own the Das Keyboard variants. I've read more than one review stating that they're not fully compatible with Macs.. Issues such as the computer doesn't recognize the keyboard during bootup, unable to enter recovery mode or choose a different boot drive, etc. therefore the Command and Option keys initially do not work and that a genuine Apple keyboard is necessary for these tasks.

Is any of this true or just a myth?
I don't have that problem with the Model S. Works as you'd expect.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
I've thought upgrading to the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, but my concern is the (strange) ruler on the bottom not keeping the keyboard in place well enough and not raising it up to the height of the old model. Would like the dedicated media keys and volume dial, though. Also, the aluminum looks nicer compared to the shiny plastic on this model.
I can't comment on the height issue, as my Model S and Professional 4 aren't in the same location, but the ruler doesn't slide around; the magnets are pretty strong, and there's a small, elevated bracket to further keep it in place. And while the idea of a detachable foot that can act as a ruler seems kind of silly at first, I have to admit that over the three or so years that I've owned the keyboard, I've detached and used the ruler two or three times... so I guess it wasn't as ridiculous as it initially seemed!

The media controls are definitely nice, and I only regret Das' choice with the 5Q and 4Q to remove the "back" button (which has now been replaced with a LED brightness button). Not going to lie, I probably use the "back" button more than the "forward." You know how it is when you're really just listening to a song on repeat endlessly, but you keep telling yourself that this is the last listen and so you don't change your media player over to "repeat one"? Ah well...
 

shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,332
1,499
I can't comment on the height issue, as my Model S and Professional 4 aren't in the same location, but the ruler doesn't slide around; the magnets are pretty strong, and there's a small, elevated bracket to further keep it in place. And while the idea of a detachable foot that can act as a ruler seems kind of silly at first, I have to admit that over the three or so years that I've owned the keyboard, I've detached and used the ruler two or three times... so I guess it wasn't as ridiculous as it initially seemed!

The media controls are definitely nice, and I only regret Das' choice with the 5Q and 4Q to remove the "back" button (which has now been replaced with a LED brightness button). Not going to lie, I probably use the "back" button more than the "forward." You know how it is when you're really just listening to a song on repeat endlessly, but you keep telling yourself that this is the last listen and so you don't change your media player over to "repeat one"? Ah well...
I do the exact same thing with the back button hehe, until I get "used to" the song and it loses its catchiness.

The 4 Professional for Mac is actually on sale now. Think I may buy it. Do you have any issue with the lip at the edge of the keyboard closest to you being too sharp? There are some Amazon reviews where people complain about that:

"The top surface is a nice piece of sheet metal, but it extends far over the plastic casing and has a sharp edge. I immediately did not like the feel. I rest my right thumb on this edge when I am not actively typing."
and
"Furthermore, this top aluminum surface edges are quite sharp and they are not flush with the plastic bottom -- they extend past the plastic bottom between 2 and 3 mm on all sides. They are not razor sharp (i.e. you can't cut yourself on them unless you apply considerable force), but they are sharp enough to feel very uncomfortable if you rest your palms against it. Given that the side facing you sits at a whooping 19 mm from the desk surface there is no way to avoid it."
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
I do the exact same thing with the back button hehe, until I get "used to" the song and it loses its catchiness.

The 4 Professional for Mac is actually on sale now. Think I may buy it. Do you have any issue with the lip at the edge of the keyboard closest to you being too sharp? There are some Amazon reviews where people complain about that:

"The top surface is a nice piece of sheet metal, but it extends far over the plastic casing and has a sharp edge. I immediately did not like the feel. I rest my right thumb on this edge when I am not actively typing."
and
"Furthermore, this top aluminum surface edges are quite sharp and they are not flush with the plastic bottom -- they extend past the plastic bottom between 2 and 3 mm on all sides. They are not razor sharp (i.e. you can't cut yourself on them unless you apply considerable force), but they are sharp enough to feel very uncomfortable if you rest your palms against it. Given that the side facing you sits at a whooping 19 mm from the desk surface there is no way to avoid it."
I never had an issue with it, but my keyboard is on a desk slide-out tray and I don't know that I usually rest my hands against my keyboard... maybe against parts of the slide-out tray, but I never noticed any part of the keyboard feeling uncomfortable. When I'm typing I tend to hover my hands above the keyboard, rather than resting anything on them. I suppose it might be a consideration if you tend to rest your hands or wrists on parts of the keyboard, but I'd imagine that you could just line it with something or get a gel wrist rest if it were uncomfortable and you liked the rest of the keyboard.

As for me, the 5Q is growing on me. Took more getting used to than some of the other keyboards (particularly Cherry MX Blues, which "clicked" :p with me right away), but I'm coming to appreciate the feel. And the lighting is rather pretty, even if it lacks some of the animated lighting effects that other PC RGB-illuminated keyboards tend to have. Hopefully in the future...
 

allan

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2004
39
9
That Das Keyboard 4 Professional looks really nice with the big volume knob. :cool:

Does it do quarter-increment volume adjustments like on Apple's keyboards (Shift-Option, Volume up/down)? I listen to a lot of music at my desktop and this feature is really nice for fine tuning the exact volume level I want.

I wish this feature was available on iPhones as well. Instead, I have to resort to using my Fiio X3II when listening to music on the go.
 

zen

macrumors 68000
Jun 26, 2003
1,714
462
Big mechanical keyboard fan here.

I use a Ducky Shine 5 (Year of the Goat edition) with Cherry MX blue switches. While I now use it with my PC, I used it with my previous Mac setup. Full RGB (hardware controlled in the keyboard, so doesn’t matter what OS you are using), and I just swapped the option and Windows keys (or was it Alt and Windows) to match the Mac layout. All keys were fully functional under macOS.

If you want full RGB under macOS, I’d recommend Ducky Shine. I think they are on version 6 now. It’s possible replacement Mac keycaps are available somewhere (I never bothered looking).
 

shinji

macrumors 65816
Mar 18, 2007
1,332
1,499
I took advantage of the sale over the weekend and bought a Das Keyboard Professional 4 Mac. What a great keyboard.

The keyboard looks and feels much higher quality than the Model S, and I don't find the height with the ruler to be too low at all. It really does stay put with the rubber feet at the bottom.
 

Love Divine

macrumors regular
Dec 14, 2014
153
134
Any thoughts on the Keychron K1?

I'm also looking at the Anidees Prismatic, as well as the AnnePro 2. I'm intrigued by the bluetooth and Mac focus of the Keychron, the low price of the Anidees, and the overall extremely positive reception of the Anne Pro 2
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
Any thoughts on the Keychron K1?

I'm also looking at the Anidees Prismatic, as well as the AnnePro 2. I'm intrigued by the bluetooth and Mac focus of the Keychron, the low price of the Anidees, and the overall extremely positive reception of the Anne Pro 2
Those are some interesting keyboards. The Anidees looks really bizarre, at first glance - the keycaps are so thin, revealing the undersides and lighting pipe. But it's pretty unique; if I come across a cheap one I'd probably buy it to try it out.

The AnnePro 2 looks nice, but I'm not sure about Gateron switches... and the lack of arrow keys is just... I have no idea how I'd get on with that, I use the arrow keys pretty regularly when typing.

The Keychron looks nice... just wish they had a RGB-backlit version.

I'm thinking of getting rid of my Das 5Q and putting it up for sale. I find that you need to use a mechanical keyboard for a while and then switch to another keyboard to really feel the difference, and I did that a few days ago: took a trip back home, sat down at my Das 4 Professional with Cherry MX Brown switches, and it just felt so... light and effortless to type on. Now using the 5Q again, it feels like there's an added weight and resistance to the keys. I again puzzle over this because the actuation force should be less on the 5Q, but I guess there's more to the feel than that.

Pity, because I otherwise liked the lighting (even if it's still missing many animation effects) and build quality. The Q software is still under active development, and aside from checking to see if animations have been added with each update, I never use it; I tried some of the notification features, but ended up disabling them as they ruined my lighting scheme and just weren't that useful. It was a nice idea but I'm not really sure who will find it useful.

I gave it a fair shot, and really wanted to like it. But at the end of the day, it reminds me of the feeling of a new membrane-based keyboard - crisper than most tired keyboards, but not as light and quick as a good mechanical keyboard. I'll be going back to Cherry MX Brown or Blue switches, I think.

Das does have the 4 Professional-style keyboard with lighting in the 4Q, which retains the Cherry MX Brown switches, but they still don't offer it with a Mac-style layout (and also don't specify Mac compatibility on their website, which most of their other keyboards do). I guess that would be the safest bet...

... but now I'm looking into the Ducky Shine series. The Shine 6 and Shine 7 look really nice, although their styling is different. Ducky supposedly has a Mac mode through physical switches; their software is Windows-only and you give up dedicated media keys. No Mac layout, nor do they seem to offer any officially, but those can probably be procured from a third party. The other nice thing about the Ducky keyboards is that you can choose your switch type.
 

leovilma

macrumors newbie
Feb 22, 2017
18
9
I don't know if this is against rules but I'd suggest you guys check out Chyrosran22 on youtube if you already haven't. I just accidentally stumbled on his channel few days ago and he seems to be THE guy in regards to mechanical keyboard reviews.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
Ended up selling the 5Q. Returned home and my main keyboard is occasionally having issues. It's a Das Professional 4, but I think the switches are technically made by Greetech; this was before they went back to Cherry MX. So now I'm looking around again.

It's nearly impossible to find a mechanical RGB-backlit keyboard with a Mac key layout. The Das 5Q seems to be the only one, and unfortunately I couldn't get on with that switch. They still don't officially support Macs on the Cherry MX Brown-bearing 4Q and their support indicated that they have no plans to do so. There are keyboards that could work but I haven't yet found any replacement keycaps that can handle backlighting. At this rate it seems like it'll be compromise: go with a keyboard with a Mac layout that has white backlighting, or go with a keyboard that has RGB backlighting but a Windows key layout.

Does anyone know of any other keyboards that are Mac layout and RGB backlit, ideally using Cherry MX switches?
 

unashamedgeek

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
135
114
Does anyone know of any other keyboards that are Mac layout and RGB backlit, ideally using Cherry MX switches?
I've hunted for a full Mac compatible, TKL, RGB, with brown Cherry MX switches and came up short. I compromised and ordered a Keychron K2 RGB aluminum frame with brown switches (Gateron) and it is set to arrive on Friday. I keep 2 keyboards around so this is going along my CODE WASD TKL that uses Cherry MX brown, but is only white backlit. I'm getting rid of non-backlit red cherry MX switched keyboard. The CODE is currently my main keyboard, but I'm looking forward to testing out the keychron to see if it becomes my daily driver. My daily driver stays connected to my Mac and my backup connects to my linux laptop and is around in case my daily ever has an issue.

If you ever find anything that meets everything you're looking for, please share.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ledgem

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,788
544
Hawaii, USA
I've hunted for a full Mac compatible, TKL, RGB, with brown Cherry MX switches and came up short. I compromised and ordered a Keychron K2 RGB aluminum frame with brown switches (Gateron) and it is set to arrive on Friday. I keep 2 keyboards around so this is going along my CODE WASD TKL that uses Cherry MX brown, but is only white backlit. I'm getting rid of non-backlit red cherry MX switched keyboard. The CODE is currently my main keyboard, but I'm looking forward to testing out the keychron to see if it becomes my daily driver. My daily driver stays connected to my Mac and my backup connects to my linux laptop and is around in case my daily ever has an issue.

If you ever find anything that meets everything you're looking for, please share.
Thanks for mentioning this company and its keyboards. Their upcoming K4, reportedly due to ship at the end of this month, looks like it might be everything I was looking for... with the exception of the switch. When you get your K2 I'd love to hear your thoughts on the build quality, lighting quality, and how the Gateron brown compares with Cherry MX brown.
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
6,771
3,361
Kentucky
I love my Unicomp Spacesaver M on my Mac Pro at work. My one at home has an Apple Extended Keyboard(Alps switches) via a Griffin iMate ADB-USB adapter.

I've used "true" Model Ms via a USB-PS/2 adapter on Macs before, but that's not the most elegant solution. The Spacesaver M gives me all the Mac-Specific keys I need and works flawlessly.

The Spacesaver M feels just like some of the 30 year old IBMs I've used when typing. I still can't get around the fact that regardless of what types of switches I try, I still prefer a buckling spring over anything else.
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2018
2,219
3,523
Earth
My IBM Model M has faulty membrane contact, that causes keys to get “stuck” and type indefinitely. What is funny, is that I have Model M with rubber domes, that can be used for taking contact sheet out of it, but I don’t know how to open damn thing.

So, in meanwhile, I am using some Redragon keyboard with Outemu Blue switches (copy of CherryMX Blue). Nowhere near Model M, but does the job for now.