Mechanical keyboards

shansoft

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2011
399
220
I have that same desk mat
Good desktop mat ;)

For Mac supported keyboard and layout. It's pretty easy to get around by using a custom keyboard that can be programmed.
Such as QMK support.

Massdrop's CTRL keyboard can also do that as well.

Or if people don't mind spend more money, those "Custom Keyboard" can easily support it as well, and just buy the keycapss to match it.
 

unashamedgeek

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
139
122
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.
It came last Friday so I haven't had a lot of typing time with it yet, but will be using it all week so I'll know by this Friday how I really like it. I know I like it enough to keep it, just deciding if it will be main or backup keyboard. All of my comparisons are based on the CODE keyboard.

The lighting is nice. While there are a number of effects offered, I only like a few as I want it lit all the time without too much changing. Many of the color modes are distracting to me. You can watch their video on the color modes and see it. The lighting is pretty even to me and doesn't disappoint.

For the switches, they are definitely different though I am not sure if they are worse or better. I find them quieter and I feel a bit more even resistance to them compared to the Cherry MX. At this point, I am not against buying a keyboard with either the Gateron or the Cherry MX.

I do like having the full MAC keys so like brightness, volume, mission control, etc. are all working in the function row. I'll update this after I've had more time typing on the keyboard. There is an adjustment for me as the switches are different and the keys feel a bit closer together than my CODE.

Update 1: I didn't think I'd update this that quickly, but as I've been working today, I'm changing my mind on the switches. I'm going to say the Gateron ones are more mushy and I don't like them. I'll be switching back to my CODE. I'm going to gbuy a Das 4 MAC and I'm going to make the K2 my travel keyboard due to it being small. The Das lacks backlight, but that seems common with mechanical keyboards and many mechanical keyboard forums are filled with comments of users not liking them so I'm bailing on that as a requirement.
 
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Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
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Hawaii, USA
It came last Friday so I haven't had a lot of typing time with it yet, but will be using it all week so I'll know by this Friday how I really like it. I know I like it enough to keep it, just deciding if it will be main or backup keyboard. All of my comparisons are based on the CODE keyboard.

The lighting is nice. While there are a number of effects offered, I only like a few as I want it lit all the time without too much changing. Many of the color modes are distracting to me. You can watch their video on the color modes and see it. The lighting is pretty even to me and doesn't disappoint.

For the switches, they are definitely different though I am not sure if they are worse or better. I find them quieter and I feel a bit more even resistance to them compared to the Cherry MX. At this point, I am not against buying a keyboard with either the Gateron or the Cherry MX.

I do like having the full MAC keys so like brightness, volume, mission control, etc. are all working in the function row. I'll update this after I've had more time typing on the keyboard. There is an adjustment for me as the switches are different and the keys feel a bit closer together than my CODE.

Update 1: I didn't think I'd update this that quickly, but as I've been working today, I'm changing my mind on the switches. I'm going to say the Gateron ones are more mushy and I don't like them. I'll be switching back to my CODE. I'm going to gbuy a Das 4 MAC and I'm going to make the K2 my travel keyboard due to it being small. The Das lacks backlight, but that seems common with mechanical keyboards and many mechanical keyboard forums are filled with comments of users not liking them so I'm bailing on that as a requirement.
Thanks for the update - when I logged in this evening I was going to message you if you hadn't updated!

Good to know that the build quality and lighting seems up to snuff. Sorry to hear that the switches didn't get on with you. Based on your review, I'm thinking to go ahead and pre-order the Keychron K4. I'm not sure I like the way that they completely compacted a full-layout keyboard, but it could work to my advantage as my full-layout keyboard forced me to move my trackpad off the keyboard tray, whereas it fit just fine with the Apple "Magic Keyboard."

Now I'm just deliberating on the switch type. I already know I want blue-style switches, but Keychron made optical switches available on the K4. They're marketed as being special for gamers and I don't care about that, but my current keyboard is having a weird repeat issue on some keys that are infrequently used and I'm wondering - given that I live near an ocean - if this is a corrosion problem. Optical switches would be free of that issue. Additionally, I've read that the Gateron blues are louder than the Cherry MX blues, while the LK optical blue switches are perhaps a bit less noticeable. I don't mind Cherry MX blues but they're at the upper limit of what sound I'd find tolerable. The company says that the LK blue and Gateron blues feel about the same, but of course the only way to know for sure is to put some time in on the keys. The Gateron blues are the safest option, but I'm so tempted by the LK optical switches...

It's too bad these keyboard companies don't have policies like Zappos, where you can order multiple boards and then return the ones you don't feel fit or feel right for a full refund.

I've been using the Das 4 Professional for Mac for ~2 years now. When I bought it they were still using Greetech switches instead of Cherry MX. I like the keyboard; aside from this possible corrosion issue, it has served me well and I like the layout of everything. The ruler that they use as the "feet" to prop up the keyboard has also come in use about 1-2 times per year, surprisingly to me. It seemed silly at first but it's actually a pretty nice feature. I think you'll like the keyboard.
 
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Ledgem

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Jan 18, 2008
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I received my Keychron K4 today. For those who don't know, this is Keychron's third keyboard - the first was a low-profile mechanical switch keyboard, and the second was a "ten keyless" board (lacking the numpad), which received good reviews. The K4 has a full keypad layout, but it's a "96%" keyboard, meaning it occupies 96% of the footprint of a standard keyboard. They accomplished this by removing the gaps that usually exist between the standard keyboard, the arrow keys, and the number pad.

They offer this keyboard in plastic and aluminum chassis options, and I went with the aluminum chassis. They also offer it with many switch options: four mechanical switch options from Gateron, and two different optical switch options. I chose the blue optical switches (which are provided by LK optical, based on what I've read). Even though optical switches are current marketed toward gamers, I chose the optical switches over the Gateron blue switches for two reasons. I live near an ocean and one of my mechanical keyboards has started to repeat key presses on some keys; maybe it just needs a thorough cleaning, but I started worrying about corrosion, which shouldn't be an issue with the optical switches. The other reason is based on quality of life: I've read that the Gateron blues are similar to the Cherry MX Blues, but louder, whereas the LK Optical blue switches supposedly offer a more definitive key press feel than Cherry MX blues, but come at a softer volume. That would be win-win if true.

My initial impression is favorable, overall. I'll have to do a bunch of typing with it but the optical switches are interesting. They're not as loud as my Das Professional S with Cherry MX blues; maybe more similar to my Das Professional 4 with Greetech brown switches. (The pitch is similar to the Cherry MX blues but the volume is closer to the browns, if that makes sense). So the claim about the sound factor is probably true, although it's always hard to tell how much of the sound is due to the switches and how much is due to the chassis and keycaps.

Build quality is solid. The lighting options are nice. There is no software to change lighting - you get some patterns and a switch to toggle between them, and that's it. It's all I wanted, so I'm happy. Maybe it's because the keys are fairly close together and the chassis comes up high on the edges, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of light leak. Like Apple's keyboards there is an ability to adjust the brightness level, although it doesn't seem to have the degree of fine brightness control that Apple's do (based on my memory... but this isn't an issue to me).

That's all well and good, but the question is really how the keyboard feels in use. The switches feel good overall - I still rank the Cherry MX blues as being better, but these are about equal to the Cherry MX browns, which I think are better than the Greetech browns. Some of the keys (like the backspace key) feel slightly different, which is interesting, but for the keys that count (your letters and numbers, including the number pad numbers) the keys feel crisp and clicky. The Gateron blues probably feel closer to the Cherry MX blues.

The biggest thing to get adjusted to will be the keyboard layout. Twice while typing this I already accidentally hit the up arrows and backspace key, when I meant to press the del key (which is located very far from where it is on most full-length keyboards). The right shift key, which is the one that I tend to use the most, is also smaller than on the left - which is to say, it's about 3/4 the size of a usual shift key. The lack of any space between the arrow keys and the rest will also take some getting used to, as I'm fairly certain that I used to briefly rub my fingers over the gap to ensure that I was positioned over the arrow keys without looking at them.

Is the reduction in size worth it? I have a small keyboard tray that could accommodate both an Apple Magic Keyboard (version without any number pad) and an Apple Magic Trackpad, but that could only fit a full-sized keyboard without the trackpad. The 96% keyboard does allow me to place the trackpad back onto the tray, but both the trackpad and keyboard are slightly hanging off. It works, but it's not optimal. Still struggling with the slightly different key layout, I don't think it's worth it - but it's impressive that this can work at all and still be a full-sized layout, so I'll roll with it. I know that I'd need the tenkeyless keyboard to fit everything nicely. The fact that the K4 can also operate in Bluetooth mode is a boon that also makes its ability to fit into tighter spaces a bit nicer.

Long story short, I'll go through the learning curve with this keyboard layout and plan to put my Das Professional 4 up for sale, and use this one as my primary. However, if and when Keychron releases a similar keyboard but in a full-size layout (or if Das finally makes something like the 4Q in a Mac layout and with full Mac support) I might trade out keyboards once again. That is, assuming I haven't fully gotten used to the K4's keyboard layout at that time. However, the K4's placement of the "del" key at the far upper right of the keyboard is problematic and makes me realize just how heavily I used that key, and no amount of getting used to the key layout will change the fact that the key is now farther from the standard keys than it is on a standard, full-sized keyboard layout... and while the function key can be held to turn the backspace into the del key, unlike the Apple Magic Keyboard it's a smaller key located on the lower right side of the board. Key bindings can always be redone, but it raises the question of how far a person would want to go to get around a different key layout.

edit: A few days in and I find that I really like the feel of the keys. It's still a bit mushier than I expect compared with Cherry MX Blues, but once I get to typing then it feels crisp. I'm probably just adjusting to how much I need to press the keys down to get the press actuated; perhaps with even more time I won't have that first minute where it feels mushy.

Keychron provides a key cap puller with the keyboard, and they also recommend using Karabiner for remapping keys. I was still having a hard time getting on with the Del key being so far, away, so I swapped it with the num/clear key and remapped it. I'm still not using the Del key as much as I normally would, but it feels better to have it closer.

Still getting used to the right shift key being smaller, and still getting used to the 0 key on the numpad also being the same size as the other numbers. But at least I'm not hitting the up arrow key as often when I'm trying to hit the shift key on the right, and I don't have to look down at the arrow keys quite as often to make sure that I'm pressing the right one. I'd still favor a standard full-sized keyboard so that I don't need to relearn any keyboard layouts, but the muscle memory is developing.
 
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DerKommissar

macrumors member
Dec 1, 2007
39
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Hi Ledgem,

Can you tell me if your K4 has a solid white LED backlight mode? I'm interested in either the K1 or the K4 (because I need the numpad), but I don't really want the color. I'm find with it as a novelty, but I'd like solid white for actual use. The numpad K1 and the AL K4 both only come with color LEDs. Thanks!

I received my Keychron K4 today. For those who don't know, this is Keychron's third keyboard - the first was a low-profile mechanical switch keyboard, and the second was a "ten keyless" board (lacking the numpad), which received good reviews. The K4 has a full keypad layout, but it's a "96%" keyboard, meaning it occupies 96% of the footprint of a standard keyboard. They accomplished this by removing the gaps that usually exist between the standard keyboard, the arrow keys, and the number pad.

They offer this keyboard in plastic and aluminum chassis options, and I went with the aluminum chassis. They also offer it with many switch options: four mechanical switch options from Gateron, and two different optical switch options. I chose the blue optical switches (which are provided by LK optical, based on what I've read). Even though optical switches are current marketed toward gamers, I chose the optical switches over the Gateron blue switches for two reasons. I live near an ocean and one of my mechanical keyboards has started to repeat key presses on some keys; maybe it just needs a thorough cleaning, but I started worrying about corrosion, which shouldn't be an issue with the optical switches. The other reason is based on quality of life: I've read that the Gateron blues are similar to the Cherry MX Blues, but louder, whereas the LK Optical blue switches supposedly offer a more definitive key press feel than Cherry MX blues, but come at a softer volume. That would be win-win if true.

My initial impression is favorable, overall. I'll have to do a bunch of typing with it but the optical switches are interesting. They're not as loud as my Das Professional S with Cherry MX blues; maybe more similar to my Das Professional 4 with Greetech brown switches. (The pitch is similar to the Cherry MX blues but the volume is closer to the browns, if that makes sense). So the claim about the sound factor is probably true, although it's always hard to tell how much of the sound is due to the switches and how much is due to the chassis and keycaps.

Build quality is solid. The lighting options are nice. There is no software to change lighting - you get some patterns and a switch to toggle between them, and that's it. It's all I wanted, so I'm happy. Maybe it's because the keys are fairly close together and the chassis comes up high on the edges, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of light leak. Like Apple's keyboards there is an ability to adjust the brightness level, although it doesn't seem to have the degree of fine brightness control that Apple's do (based on my memory... but this isn't an issue to me).

That's all well and good, but the question is really how the keyboard feels in use. The switches feel good overall - I still rank the Cherry MX blues as being better, but these are about equal to the Cherry MX browns, which I think are better than the Greetech browns. Some of the keys (like the backspace key) feel slightly different, which is interesting, but for the keys that count (your letters and numbers, including the number pad numbers) the keys feel crisp and clicky. The Gateron blues probably feel closer to the Cherry MX blues.

The biggest thing to get adjusted to will be the keyboard layout. Twice while typing this I already accidentally hit the up arrows and backspace key, when I meant to press the del key (which is located very far from where it is on most full-length keyboards). The right shift key, which is the one that I tend to use the most, is also smaller than on the left - which is to say, it's about 3/4 the size of a usual shift key. The lack of any space between the arrow keys and the rest will also take some getting used to, as I'm fairly certain that I used to briefly rub my fingers over the gap to ensure that I was positioned over the arrow keys without looking at them.

Is the reduction in size worth it? I have a small keyboard tray that could accommodate both an Apple Magic Keyboard (version without any number pad) and an Apple Magic Trackpad, but that could only fit a full-sized keyboard without the trackpad. The 96% keyboard does allow me to place the trackpad back onto the tray, but both the trackpad and keyboard are slightly hanging off. It works, but it's not optimal. Still struggling with the slightly different key layout, I don't think it's worth it - but it's impressive that this can work at all and still be a full-sized layout, so I'll roll with it. I know that I'd need the tenkeyless keyboard to fit everything nicely. The fact that the K4 can also operate in Bluetooth mode is a boon that also makes its ability to fit into tighter spaces a bit nicer.

Long story short, I'll go through the learning curve with this keyboard layout and plan to put my Das Professional 4 up for sale, and use this one as my primary. However, if and when Keychron releases a similar keyboard but in a full-size layout (or if Das finally makes something like the 4Q in a Mac layout and with full Mac support) I might trade out keyboards once again. That is, assuming I haven't fully gotten used to the K4's keyboard layout at that time. However, the K4's placement of the "del" key at the far upper right of the keyboard is problematic and makes me realize just how heavily I used that key, and no amount of getting used to the key layout will change the fact that the key is now farther from the standard keys than it is on a standard, full-sized keyboard layout... and while the function key can be held to turn the backspace into the del key, unlike the Apple Magic Keyboard it's a smaller key located on the lower right side of the board. Key bindings can always be redone, but it raises the question of how far a person would want to go to get around a different key layout.

edit: A few days in and I find that I really like the feel of the keys. It's still a bit mushier than I expect compared with Cherry MX Blues, but once I get to typing then it feels crisp. I'm probably just adjusting to how much I need to press the keys down to get the press actuated; perhaps with even more time I won't have that first minute where it feels mushy.

Keychron provides a key cap puller with the keyboard, and they also recommend using Karabiner for remapping keys. I was still having a hard time getting on with the Del key being so far, away, so I swapped it with the num/clear key and remapped it. I'm still not using the Del key as much as I normally would, but it feels better to have it closer.

Still getting used to the right shift key being smaller, and still getting used to the 0 key on the numpad also being the same size as the other numbers. But at least I'm not hitting the up arrow key as often when I'm trying to hit the shift key on the right, and I don't have to look down at the arrow keys quite as often to make sure that I'm pressing the right one. I'd still favor a standard full-sized keyboard so that I don't need to relearn any keyboard layouts, but the muscle memory is developing.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,842
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Hawaii, USA
Hi Ledgem,

Can you tell me if your K4 has a solid white LED backlight mode? I'm interested in either the K1 or the K4 (because I need the numpad), but I don't really want the color. I'm find with it as a novelty, but I'd like solid white for actual use. The numpad K1 and the AL K4 both only come with color LEDs. Thanks!
Interesting, I didn't realize that the aluminum version was RGB-only.

The answer to your question is yes: I cycled through the various colors and there is a solid white setting that doesn't fade or animate with key presses. However, looking at it in darkness, you can sort of see individual colors as you move your head or eyes. This is less of an issue with the animated and colored patterns. It's a slight nuisance, but it's not painful or disorienting. (By comparison, the Das 5Q, before a certain firmware update, had this really weird color shift from the LEDs that was visible from peripheral vision and that was actually uncomfortable... not sure if it had to do with the frequency that they were shining at).

If you do go with the K4, I'd say that it's a nice keyboard but I'd avoid the optical switches if you like Cherry MX Browns or Blues. Even though I went with the LK Optical Blue switch, I don't feel that I can type as quickly on the keyboard as on my boards with the Cherry MX Blue and Brown switches. The keys feel slightly mushier, but you quickly adapt to where the actuation point is and don't need to bottom out... but it feels as if the keys don't rebound as quickly compared with the Cherry MX switches. In practice I don't think I've had any issues with repeatedly tapping a key to generate key presses (such as typing "..."), but the Cherry switches seem to give your fingers a little boost when you're lifting back up. For me, at least, it makes me feel faster and less fatigued.

The K4 doesn't come with Cherry switches, of course, but with the Gateron-made versions. I've never used a Gateron switch, but at this point I sort of wish that I had ordered my K4 with the Gateron Blues instead. I'd rank the LK Optical Blue below Cherry MX Blue and Brown, but above Greetech Brown and "Gamma Zulu" (switches in the Das 5Q).

Still haven't gotten totally used to the keyboard layout... the lighting comes in handy to make sure I'm hitting the proper arrow key. Not making as many accidental key presses anymore, either, so I'm getting there. But it still feels like a relief to sometimes sit down back at a standard-layout keyboard. If Das (or another company) makes an RGB-lit keyboard with Cherry MX Blue (or maybe even Brown) switches and full Mac compatibility, I'd probably sell my K4 and change.
 

avedis

macrumors newbie
Jan 2, 2015
9
1
Am using HHKB, have a preference of it as they're sort of "smoother" than Cherry Browns.

IMG_6634.jpg
 

Saturn1217

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2008
986
242
Just received the keychron k1 keyboard today. Version 3 with blue switches.

Kind of disappointed to be honest. It looks fantastic, and almost everything just works (I had trouble getting wired mode to work but that might have been user error).

Key layout and the reduced travel also makes it easier to transition from a MacBook pro keyboard.

But the switches are so mushy! And kind of loud (which I was expecting so that's fine). Really just was not expecting the mushiness. I'm looking for a crisp switch with light actuation force in a keyboard that is low profile and no number pad (but I need all the other keys cause it will be used for programming).

I NEED to stop buying keyboards so I am trying to see if I can get used to this one but most likely going back. Sigh...
 

unashamedgeek

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2012
139
122
Are those Gateron switches? I had the Gateron Brown in my K4 and ended up not caring for them. It could just be me, but I'm sticking with Cherry MX switches even though I've read much that says I shouldn't know a difference. Even if it's mental, it ends up affecting my typing.
 

Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Jan 18, 2008
1,842
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Hawaii, USA
The K1 uses Gateron switches, but they're "low profile" versions. I avoided that keyboard even though it has a layout I prefer over the K4, largely because I didn't trust how low-profile switches would feel. I think when I looked they were also stuck on Gateron yellow low-profile switches, with yellow supposedly being something between brown and red? It looks like now there are some more choices, but they're all low-profile variants.

As for me, I'm still adjusting to my K4 with the LK optical blue switches, but I recently reconnected my Windows-based G.Skill KM780 (my very first mechanical keyboard) and I find that I prefer the feel of the Cherry MX Browns to the LK Blues. The key presses just feel more solid, and it feels like there's this "bounce" when you're releasing a key that helps with fatigue. The LK Blues are louder and probably have a more defined (yet subtle) click for actuation, but they don't bounce back in the same way. (And I've also come to find that the spacebar sounds clunky, whereas the other keys sound clicky, so that's kind of jarring.) Much as I like the G.Skill, I also have a Das Professional S with Cherry MX Blue switches that represents my absolute favorite keyboard to type on, hands down. So, I'm with unashamedgeek in thinking that Cherry MX switches are really the way to go, even though all of these data and actuation curves indicate that there shouldn't be a huge difference between Cherry and many other manufacturers.

I'll stick with the Keychron K4 for now, partly because it doesn't feel terrible to type on and largely because I really like the lighting effect. But Das recently sent out a survey asking for what I'd want, so I told them: something like a 4Q (because I want that lighting) with Cherry MX Blue switches as an option and full Mac support and layout. If they end up making it, the Keychron will probably become relegated to a travel keyboard, or sold.
 
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TopherMan12

macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2019
497
458
Atlanta, GA
As far as switches, I've used Cherry MX Browns, Logitech GL Clicky, and Cherry MX Red.

I'm sticking with Reds for now on. Just a smooth typing experience without all the noise of the Clicky that starts to get to me after a while. Second choice would definitely be Browns.