Mechanical Keyboards – Which to Choose?

The world of mechanical keyboards has blossomed over the last few years.  They’ve gone from a niche, expensive product to reaching most high streets in some form or another.  It’s also a rabbit warren of options when you start looking into it.  I thought I’d share my recent journey.

The first exposure I had to mechanical keyboards was way back in the early to mid 1990s.  I was issued a PC by my employer at the time that came with an IBM Model M keyboard.

I loved working on that keyboard, it really was a pleasure to use for hours programming.  That keyboard is most likely the reason I like Cherry MX Blue switches today, or should that be “liked”.  My interest never went any further until around 2013 when I discovered Ducky Channel and their Shine 3 TKL (TKL = Tenkeyless which means it’s missing the number pad).  I fell in love and bought one with Orange LEDs.

Anyway, some back story.  In addition to a lot of typing, coding and wotnot I do a lot of graphic and video work.  A lot of these applications make extensive use keyboard shortcuts.  More specifically they use a lot of number pad keyboard shortcuts.  One application in particular, Blender, uses a mind boggling array of shortcuts, you simply cannot have enough buttons in same cases.  This is where there are short comings of a tenkeyless keyboard layout. In my line of work I often find myself using other peoples machines and lots of laptops. I really don’t get on with laptop keyboards so being able to carry a mechanical one in a laptop bag is attractive.

Once I’d decided I wanted a full sized mechanical keyboard I bought a Corsair K70 Lux RGB with Cherry MX Red switches.  Oh boy was that a mistake.  I had trouble typing accurately on it from the start.  Lots of ghost key strokes and so on, so I just used it for gaming occasionally.  It later transpired that this was a known issue for a batch or so but I discovered all this too late.

At this junction there are a few options.  I could have bought a separate mechanical number pad and had it on the left side of the Ducky Shine 3.  This maintains the admittedly nice spacing a TKL affords between the keyboard and the mouse.  But I’ve recently switched to the using the Logitech MX Ergo trackball (amazing device), so that became a moot point.  Another option would be to buy a whole new full size keyboard … Oooh …

I looked at a few number pad options but nothing really grabbed me.  Ducky Channels own number pad, the Pocket, isn’t something I want on my desk to be honest.

So, a new full sized keyboard it is …

The Options

So I started looking into the options for mechanical keyboards in 2018.  I could live with a non-ISO format keyboard, such as an ANSI US one, but I would prefer a UK layout.  I’m also not looking for a budget keyboard.  I’m looking for a daily driver and I drive a lot.  So the fully expanded shortlist was:

iKBC F108

DAS Keyboard Professional 4

Ducky Shine 6

Topre Realforce RGB

CODE 104

Filco Majestouch 2

Conclusion

Any one of these options would be a great keyboard. Everything taken into account the Ducky Shine 6 just inched out ahead of iKBC F108.

So I ended up going with the Ducky Shine 6. It ticked all my major needs in one board. I have previous experience of owning a Ducky and frankly they are amazing boards. The RGB is a nice additional but the software really is terrible but hey. I can live with that. The build quality is obvious, it’s like a tank. A truly premium board.

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