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9 great mechanical keyboards for coders (hpe.com)
34 points by Chocolator 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

One thing I rarely see discussed in any detail in mechanical keyboard roundups is a noise comparison. For a tool for "coders", many mechanical keyboards can be pretty disruptive to your coworkers if you're using it in a workspace without a closed door.

My favorite switches for typing (and thus, coding) are MX blues. Unfortunately these are also the loudest, with a distinct click at each key activation. You can purchase small rubber rings that act as dampeners on each key, but this also changes the feel of the keyboard.

I'd pay well for a solution that lets me have both the tactile experience I enjoy and the sound level I need to use a mechanical keyboard at work. Until then it's bog-standard rubber domes for me.

Cherry MX come in a spectrum on both tactile and auditory (clicky) feedback.

MX Blues are tactile and clicky.

If you want tactile, but not clicky, then you would want an MX Brown. You can feel when the actuation happens, and as long as you don't bottom out the keys, they are silent. Many DasKeyboard models come with a choice of Blue/Brown, but other manufacturers have them as well.

Here is a site that has an explanation of the various colors:


Brown + dampening rings should be plenty for an office environment

Edit: another thing that helps is having the keyboard on a oversized mousepad, to dampen the vibrations from keyboard -> desk

Matias actually has a sound comparison on their website [1].

I had a keyboard with Matias quiet pro switches and I really loved them. Very tactile, about as much as Cherry blue. But with less snooze than browns.

Too bad that keyboard was the KBP V60 which after a few weeks gained lots of key chatter. I read that many more people suffered from that, their firmware is bad at preventing it.

[1] http://matias.ca/switches/quiet/

Interesting anecdote from my experience using mechanical keyboards in open, corporate offices: people never stop me and complain about the noise. Rather, people usually are curious about my "retro" or "vintage" keyboards. I quickly tell them that these are new products and then they ask the price. Once they hear that I pay for "special" keyboards, their eyes usually roll and I feel the judgements coming :)

Yeah... I was so loud with my MX Greens at work that my job ended giving me the Matis Quiet Pro so that I wouldn't disturb others.

I'm a fan of Das Keyboard Silent. The feel is slightly different from my clicky but it's still pretty solid.

No Das Keyboard?

How can I be leet without a blank keyboard[1].

(I've owned two standard(clicky, and silent) of them over 3 jobs and both are still going strong)

[1] - http://www.daskeyboard.com/daskeyboard-4-ultimate/

I have a Das Ultimate - look really cool, but the switches started failing at random recently. I then found out they don't use Cherry switches, but another unproven brand. Either I'm just unlucky or they need better switches.

I picked up a CODE keyboard with Cherry MX Greens that works great. The greens are a little harder to type than I expected, but I'm used to them now and quite happy with them.

Das Keyboard is my current favorite also. I have three.

By far my favorite "mechanical" keyboard is the Topre Realforce 104u[0]. When I initially purchased it, I thought it was the biggest waste of money. Over the span of about a month, maybe I broke it in or maybe I just got used to it? But it essentially felt like I was typing on buttery smooth pillows. It's not sensitive until you actually try to type on it. And it just feels so good. Like no other keyboard I've ever had.

I would honestly recommend it over every other mechanical keyboard I've had (blues, reds, clears, browns, the hi-profile version of the topre).

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Realforce-Keyboard-English-Layout-Xf0...

Topre switches are the best ever, and they get no love in the fervent mechanical keyboard community. It's just "cherry cherry cherry" ad nauseum with the occasional model-m imitator like the ones in this article.

Do yourself a favor and get a Realforce keyboard. It's typing nirvana.

>Topre switches are the best ever

Do you know of a decently built and split design keyboard that uses them? A quick googling didn't show anything. I'd be willing to give it a shot but I'm not going back to a one piece keyboard for anything.

I've never seen one unfortunately. I suspect they exist but maybe aren't easily found on english websites.

That's a bummer. I have a Das Keyboard, and love it, but at some point my keyboard obsession will return, and I can't really justify getting a keyboard that isn't split/configurable. It would be great to be able to try out topres at the same time – the enthusiasm is strong!

Offtopic(ish), but do you mean like the MS ergonomic keyboard split-but-one-piece, or actually two separate pieces? If the latter, what do you like about them?

>do you mean like the MS ergonomic keyboard split-but-one-piece, or actually two separate pieces?

The MS ergo keyboard isn't wide enough for me but I'm not against a one-piece design. I just recently switched to a Kinesis Advantage2 (split-but-one-piece) at home but I have a straight two-piece keyboard at work. The width I keep the two-piece at is a bit wider than the Advantage but it's not enough to bother me.

>If the latter, what do you like about them?

The main issue for me is that I'm 6'6" and have broad shoulders. Normal keyboard layouts cause me to roll my shoulders dramatically so I can get my hands on the home keys. This caused some shoulder pain issues in the past when I had code-heavy weeks. Split configuration seems to have fixed that completely.

Don't physically split keyboards allow for more extreme flexibility?

Single piece split keyboards still restrict the angle of your wrists. I find the MS ergo keyboards to better by default, but having the ability to adjust the angle opens the possibility of finding an even better angle (that may change over time).

Not love?

Topre have a lot of love. Exist a lot of jokes about it be "just membarane" .

The main thing are:

1- The higher cost 2- Most good are very hard to get, and only from Japan

and the most important:

3- You can't get alternate key caps (easily). All the ecosystem is around MX Stems.

ALPS like matias suffer mostly for this too.

There are a few of us at work that love Topre - HHKB + replacement controller board <3

The elephant in the room for most programmers in the world is the non-us layout making common PL punctuation like /{}[]* etc convoluted faraway unergonomic combos. The world needs an extended layout with extra keys for those, approximately in the US positions.

Experience shows that switching between layouts is not appealing for most.

I'm building one semi-based in the MS Ergo.

This is my layout:


Note how it have some punctuation for coding more easily reachable.

I'm trying to figure out how bend it to match the MS Ergo.

I request a custom keycap set from http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/1... with custom icons, colors (for the limited set available, but enough) and text.

Hopefully I can start the build soon. Waiting for the plate now...

A challenge I had in choosing a mechanical keyboard was the availability of 105-key (ISO) layouts in North America, as I prefer the Canadian Multilingual layout. Apparently, such keyboards are mostly sold through European resellers, even when they're actually made in the US (looking at you, DAS).

In the end, I went with a Unicomp, and I'm very happy with it.

The world needs more ergonomic and mechanical keyboards. My fingers love Mechanical but fingers and wrists love ergonomic. Kinesis is quite steep in price (500 Loonies).

Anyone got any favourites?

I still Love my Avant Stellar, but since they're long out of production, this is an excellent intro to what's available today and not hidden away on eBay.

I used to use a mechanical keyboard (blue switch), but I found it too stiff and it hurt my wrists. I switched back to Logitech K120 and couldn't be happier.

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