I am not surprised. The mechanical keyboard community has a good contingent of people that have a lot of money and nothing to spend it on. People post their keyboard pictures to reddit with a Rolex Submariner or a $750 bottle of scotch in the background. I don't mean this as a criticism in any way, but there is very much that element to it. People pay $600 for a set of keyswitches to get a $600 set of keyswitches, not because of the incremental value over a $0.10 keyswitch.
But I also spend something in the neighborhood of half my waking life using a keyboard, so I could see choosing to spend money there even if you're happy with a $10 wristwatch. Assuming it really is that good, of course. I'd perhaps rather that than spend $1000 on a nice sofa when one of the $300 Ikea models will do.
There certainly is the aspect of exclusivity and collection, but there's a reason it became so notoriously desirable in the first place, and that's the feel: zero wobble, and an unusual tactility profile.
That means they require more force than Model M? Too much I think.
You may cringe at "clone" but the reality is that after the MX patent expired, the Chinese manufacturers are making way better switches than Cherry ever did. Cherry got so bad that the competition forced them to retool; they would have been perfectly happy selling you scratchy switches from decades-old tools if it weren't for the innovation that is happening in China.
Edit: Having said that - I admit my sample size is small and I did enjoy the two Cherry MX Blue boards I have used.
Edit to add: I have two EZs. I also ordered my first one with Kailh's copper speed switches and found them TERRIBLE. Speed switches are very hard to type on. (Imagine pressing Enter when you mean Backspace. It's stressful!) The hair-trigger on the switches combined with not knowing where backspace was on that keyboard made learning a very difficult experience. I now run Healios (linear) and Box Navy (clicky) on my Ergodoxen.
I would also recommend getting comfy with QMK before your keyboard arrives. Install the build tools, make a Github fork for your configuration, and make sure you can build images easily. You will want to tweak stuff extensively when you are just getting started, as the default layout is pretty garbage. (So are the online configuration tools.)
One thing which could contribute to why I don't enjoy the Cooler Master board is that the switches sit on a plastic plate which does cause the keypresses to feel a little mushy. That and the fact that the keypresses themself feel coarse, so the combination of the coarse feel of the brown switch and the flex in the plate ruin the experience. Perhaps if I had MX Browns in a different board I would feel differently but I must admit the experience has put me off, moreso considering the premium you often pay for Cherry. I would probably want to spend a week using any MX Brown mech in future before committing to a purchase (which I probably should have done before buying the CM mech, but it can be hard to find shops near me to experience a wide range of mechs).
I say all of this knowing that I could disassemble the MX Brown switches and lube them, as well as changing the springs. However the 1 Gateron Brown and two Gateron Red mechs have been really enjoyable to use 'out of the box'.
My point was more that I don’t see a problem with spending a lot of money on better tools, while yours seems to be that people are spending more as a status symbol, when substantially cheaper options exist of the same (or very similar) quality. So we weren’t really commenting in the same thing, sorry about that :)
I have everything from Topres to Zealios... my current daily is using switches that cost 30 cents.
The quality to price ratio in mechanical keyboards is completely and totally non-existent since other manufacturers came to the scene, and honestly we'd be seeing even better values if mechanical keyboard users weren't so hellbent on shoving money into things and assuming it makes them better.
I overheard someone saying they wish there was a more expensive version of a certain budget keyboard the other day.
When asked why, the person didn't really have a reason. They just wish it wasn't a budget keyboard so they could like it (read: show it off).
Things like that never have "incremental" value - in my experience, it's almost always something along the logarithmic scale. Same with whisky: a limited Ardbeg release or a record-breaking Octomore is 2-3 times as expensive as a standard 10 year Laphroaig, but the difference in quality is much less than between latter and a typical cheap blend like Black Label.
This is different from a gadget you might put in a drawer and maybe use it occasionally. I have been using my trusty mechanical keyboard every day for around half a day for the past 15 years.
If it makes me feel good (ie. it has satisfying mechanics and is not irritating) then I have no problem paying couple hundred for it.
If you can’t provide a force graph, at least publish the total travel, the activation force and distance, the deactivation distance, and how far the tactile feedback is from both.
Most tactile mechanical switches have what I call 'slack' at the top before the increase in force: following is my daily driver keyboard's switches, the Novelkeys/Kailh Box Navy.
The Holy Pandas have the bump begin at the very top of the travel, which lends to a firmer feel at the top and a smoother-feeling tactility.
Thank you for posting those, that picture is worth a bunch of words.
That said, it doesn't seem like a mechanical switch I'd want to use. The lack of correlation between the tactile feedback and the activation point would drive me nuts. To me, the value of the tactile feedback is to indicate when the switch has been activated, so I can type without having to bottom out the switches.
These have the heaviest point before the tactile 'collapse', so once you clear the bump it's mostly smooth sailing all the way to the bottom, but there's enough resistance to eat up most of the energy before impact.
This is of the latter sort.
And, having used Topres, they don't really remove much of the energy you had to use to bypass the peak. It's still a fairly hard impact at the bottom.
Topre offers a little padding on the bottom as you squish the rubber.
Plastic plates or PCB-mounted switches offer a little give.
Personally, my daily driver has thick steel plates, but it's a small board and I type on my lap, so my thighs cushion the blow.
And regardless of what keyboard I use, I bottom out, really heavily. Box Navy switches are considered rather heavy, but I bottom them out with no trouble.
Great review at https://youtu.be/jfz9TgeZ9m0.
Obviously if you prefer linear there's no room in the discussion for the Holy Panda.
What do you suppose the odds are that a gaming-peripheral manufacturer sat down and came up with a better switch implementation than any that the mechanical keyboard community could?
Almost all switches I’ve seen made by the community are simply Frankenstein switches made with different springs, housings, or stems from other switches.
For example, all the “Holy Pandas” are is a stem from one brand of switch (halo clear/true) combined with the housing from another (invyr panda).
That is ridiculously stiff. I wonder how comfortable they are for extended periods of typing.
The travel after the activation point is just to prevent your fingers from pushing the keys all the way to the bottom. Once you hit the bottom, infinite force yields a movement of 0mm, so it's "infinite grams". So you should look at these numbers as how much cushioning you need after you hit the activation point. With purely linear switches, you don't need a spring to "catch" you, so you can go lower. With tactile switches, the force abruptly goes to almost zero, so momentum will carry your fingers farther down the travel. The bottom-out spring is designed to dissipate that energy before you slam the slider into the bottom of the switch. (As a thought experiment, imagine a car suspension spring as a keyswitch that requires 1 nanometer of travel to activate. You would not tire yourself out typing on that, and you would never bottom out.)
I use 67gf bottom-out switches, "Healios", and they are very middle-of-the road in my opinion. I have used lighter switches, I have used heavier switches. I do not bottom out on them, but they do feel about as light as I'm willing to go. (I use Box Navy as my daily driver, which are quite a bit heavier in terms of activation force. Also louder!)
It’s hard to describe what that feels like in practice, even still.
1. If this has piqued your interest in mechanical keyboards, head on over to http://old.reddit.com/r/mechanicalkeyboards and fall deep into the rabbit hole; and
2. Massdrop or Drop or whatever actually went out and manufactured these — I think the first batch sold out but keep an eye here if you’re interested in Holy Pandas: https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-invyr-holy-panda-mechanical-...
(Looks like they’re doing another batch - good timing)
I think I'm an oddball who uses google.com to browse reddit, but I prefer to to the apps.
A website called NovelKeys usually has some form of Panda switch in stock: https://novelkeys.xyz
I wen to a Mechanical Keyboard meetup (for the first time) last year. I brought my model Ms for people to try out. Someone there had brought his boards and had one of them for sale. Without knowing what it was, I typed on his board he was selling and instantly liked it. He was only asking $200 so I bought it. He was telling me it was using Holy Panda switches, but I had no idea what that meant. I just liked how it felt.
It has a very strong tactile bump, right at the top of the travel.