Brothers in Gaming and Tech
After being given the opportunity to try out a mechanical keyboard and having a choice as to the type, I browsed online for explanations as to what Cherry would be the best for my work and casual gaming. I opted for Cherry Brown, which are reputed to be good for both.
Cost: $120 imported from the US
Interface: 2xUSB (one for lighting)
446(L) X 140(W) X 36(H) mm
17.56″(L) X 5.51″(W) X 1.42″(H)
Weight: 1.3 Kg
Looking at the keyboard from a first glance, aside from it being a US layout whereas I am more accustomed to a UK layout, the keys feel slightly closer together and smaller than my previous keyboard, the Saitek Eclipse II.
Aesthetically, the keyboard itself isn’t as flashy as some other keyboards of the same price range but in this case, I believe substance over style is the correct way for this keyboard.
With its matte black finish the RK9100-BR is fully backlit in blue with the Caps, Num and Scroll Lock keys having a green LEDs underneath to light up when the key is active.
The keyboard, due to it using 2 USBs on your computer (one for the lighting one for the keyboard itself), has 2 USB ports on the back. I find these useful to the point where I do not want to stick new USB devices round into my system.
The board comes with 12 additional Function Keys, most commonly seen on newer keyboards: Volume control, Main, Home page for your web browser and so on, but there are some to do with the lighting for the keyboard. The keyboard has 3 lighting modes: one where every key is lit, one where just WASD and the directional keys are lit, and one where everything but the number pad is lit. Personally I leave the whole keyboard lit as I tend to use a bit of everything. For those that do not want any lights, either select the option or do not plug in the second USB connector.
Regardless of the light mode, the keyboard has 4 different brightness settings for the keys to adjust to personal preference.
I took the keyboard into my workplace for more daily use, and I got the feel of the keyboard very quickly. There is something strangely satisfying about the light clacking sound it makes when you strike the keys.
Compared to my previous keyboard outings (I only tend to change mine every couple of years or until one breaks), everything looks the part and feels properly built. $120 is a lot for a keyboard, even a mechanical one, so I would expect it to be an all round performer for the price.
With regards to faults found so far: the only issue I seem to have is that I am not used to the position of the Enter key – typically it has been taller (two rows) on my previous keyboards. But that will stop over time I am sure.
A few months later…
So having gotten to grips with this keyboard I can easily say I am glad I have got the chance to have one.
However there is a noticeable drawback, which to most people will not mean anything. That is the weight, coming in at 1.3 kilos. It is a concern if, like me, you choose to take it to work with you. I found the weight annoying at first, but when you work in front of a computer a lot, having a good responsive keyboard that offers feedback is a positive point.
That brings us onto the keys; ‘Cherry MX Brown’ switches are somewhere in the middle between the classic ‘typing’ (Cherry Blue) and ‘gaming’ (Cherry Black) style switches. For those not familiar with mechnical switches, there are two other common types you can get : Red and White. There is also a Green variety, which acts as a harder Blue, but that is fairly uncommon.
Under pressure the keys feel light and responsive – the purpose is to provide tactile feedback as the button is pressed. There is also a somewhat satisfying ‘klack’ sound when pressed, much to the annoyance of some staff members in the office(!).
From the Overclock.net mechanical keyboard guide, we get the following animated gif for Browns:
Now some people will say ‘a keyboard is just a keyboard’, I was one of those people, but having tried something like the RK9100-BR I am now a big fan of using mechanical keyboards, or at least browns.
Changing keyboard is like changing socks, unless you have a snug fit, your never feel comfortable until you find one that’s right for you.
Overall, I do not regret switching keyboards. I would even recommend to those who have no experience of mechanical keyboards to try one out if they can. They are not your £6 eBay keyboards, but if you end up using one a lot, it can have a positive effect on how you feel during use.
Funnily enough I have a Saitek Eclipse I. This sounds like a great keyboard, but I wish it came in an 88 key variant. I never use the numpad.