Question Looking for advice on wide, durable, backlit, wired Keyboard?

After having issues with my 2nd mechanical keyboard, a Corsair K68, I'm now looking for alternatives. I had just prior tried and returned a VictSing KB that was too small, especially in width. Luckily I spoke to an Amazon person just within their new extended return period and was able to get a return label sent for a full refund.

The problems I had with the K68 were.

1. The key area width was about the same as the VictSing. It had 1mm more spacing between the keys, but only because the keys were pretty narrow. This caused me to often hit adjacent keys, a common one being the Tilde key when I was trying to use the #1 key next to it to equip the Combat Shotgun in Doom Eternal.

2. The Esc key started popping off. I found via Googling that many others were having various keys pop off their K68s. They (and I) thought it was just because some were loosely fitted, but then the other day the Esc key popped off and would not stay on at all, and I found a little piece of it's socket pillar that fits over the switch plunger had broken off.

3. The iCUE software is buggy. I only used it to get more levels of brightness, as the lowest of the 3 brightness settings without the software caused glare and blurriness. At random times the brightness would get stuck, and sometimes at a brighter level. I often had to reboot the PC to fix it.
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I'd like a fairly affordable option this time, as the $70 I paid for the Corsair certainly didn't get me something large or durable enough (maybe $40 max). I know this puts me into entry level Mechanical range, but I can't imagine a mech at that price would be very reliable. Thus I'm mostly looking at backlit membrane KBs.

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Here are my top priorities:

1. Must have a key area at the very least 17" wide, even a bit wider would be better. I go by key area because a lot of KBs have a wide space between the keys and side of the KB shell. I prefer square (vs narrow rectangular) keys, with good spacing between them. I also can only fit a KB that is no more than 8.25" (21cm) deep on my heavy duty pullout tray. I'd also like the bottom edge to not have a ton of space between the bottom row of keys and the bottom edge of the KB. This is because it makes you use a stretched out finger position, which can result in accidentally hitting the Ctrl key when using Shift, vs when your fingers are more arched.

2. Must be reasonably durable and reliable.

3. The key format must be the kind that has a single row, wide Enter key, and wide Backspace key. I DO NOT like the ones with tall, narrow Enter keys and very narrow Backspace keys. I know this eliminates pretty much most Asian brands, but so be it.

4. The keycaps must be double shot to show the backlight through them. I DO NOT want painted letters.

5. The power cord must be at least 6' (1.8M) or close to reach the back of my case, which is large and on the floor.

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These are preferences, but not essential:

1. I'd prefer to get an adequate (includes very dim setting) selection of brightness levels without added software, or at the very least software that isn't buggy.

2. I'd prefer it to not be thin and flexy, and have some weight to it, or at least rubber feet that grip well so it doesn't slide around.

3. I'd prefer something that does not force you to use a static rainbow RGB pattern, having the option to use one solid color.

4. I'd prefer something with Win Lock, to disable the Windows key.
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That's pretty much it. Advice doesn't need to be based on what you've owned, but remember the size is very important. Even if you just know of friends with large hands that love a certain KB, please elaborate.

Thank you!
 
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RealBeast

Titan
Moderator
I really like my Logitech G610 with Cherry red keys. White backlighting that is adjustable without anything fancy. Heavy duty and a good feel if you like red keys, but it also comes in the brown that are a little more quiet. It's my favorite of the 5 mechanical KBs in the house.
 

zakitc

Honorable
Oct 13, 2014
56
5
10,545
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You have very specific requirements. Easiest way would be go to the shop and just try them all - it's very hard to suggest something as ''feels'' are very subjective. I am using Steelseries APEX 300RAW, its bigger than you want, and have extraordinary Space key, but chech newer model Apex 3, palmrest is removable.....
I did get you don't like narrow Enter key, but for some reason - more and more keyboards are using them - very annoying :(
 
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Thanks for the quick responses guys.

The G610 Orion at $100 lowest price is way more than I planed on spending. I'm also not convinced I need a mech KB.

I've looked at some Redragons and my eyes lit up when I saw the dimensions of their K512 Shiva model, but then I realized with the programmable keys added to the left side, the actual 104 keyset is not very wide. The dimensions I've read on the suggested K556 model confirm that, too narrow.

I actually happened to go to the Steelseries site earlier today, but somehow couldn't find dimensions of the one I looked at. Fortunately I DID see dimensions and details about construction on the Apex 3. It's kinda misleading to call the key actuator a "switch" on a membrane keyboard, but at least they do tell you it's membrane with a higher quality more durable material. A first the claimed 20 million keypress guarantee seemed short compared to the ave 50 Million of KBs I've been looking at, but then I realized those are mech switch KBs. 20 million I think is about 5 times the average membrane KB, so it should translate to 8 yrs or so instead of just 2 or 3.

Can you tell me what they mean by "tactile" though? At least that's how this model is described on Amazon. Tactile usually means very short keystroke like the "chicklet" style keys have, and I don't generally like that feel. Also, can you tell me if a solid color is an option, and does the brightness level go pretty low, and does it require software to be installed?

From what I've heard, Steelseries stuff is pretty durable. I'll probably call or email them to get actual width on the key set though.

Oh, and yeah, or course I used to go wherever I could that had several KBs, Mice, etc on displays, but most shops don't even display them anymore, and most of the custom PC component shops where I live are now gone, as many started building their own when parts became more plug n play. I'm sure hands on displays are even less common now with COVID-19 going around. I'll check anyway though.
 
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I found a Steelseries Apex M400 for only $4 more than the $50 Apex 3. It has what they call their "Steelseries QX1" switches, but upon further investigation they are just Kailh switches with a different color stem. I'm starting to get skeptical about how Steelseries advertises their product.

One of the things I didn't like about the mech KBs I tried is they definitely have a wobble to the keys. I'm told this is common, and that some have more wobble than others. However Kailh as of 2017 come in a "Box" style switch, whereby the stem is surrounded by a box. It is described as being there to seal out moisture and dust, but it's said they wobble far less as well. Unfortunately they don't seem to have caught on in gaming Keyboards, maybe partly due to requiring a different type of backlight.

However I also found Bloody makes a KB switch called the LK Libra. It has both the aforementioned box around the stem AND a stabilizing bar, virtually eliminating wobble.

Roccat as well has a switch called the Titan, which uses a semicircular plastic wall on either side of the stem. I doubt I'll find any Bloodys with their LK Libra in an affordable range, but I may look for some Roccats using the Titan.

This looks like a possible winner to me. Only $35 after coupon, has box style LK Optical switches (boxed stem minus the stabilizer), claimed 100 Mill key presses, and it's about 18 .25" wide. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01J2M601E/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza

The Roccat I found is quite a bit more at $60, but marked way down from $130. It's roughly 18.2" wide, and has their Titan switches, but I really don't like the open keycap design that lets tons of light bleed through the sides of the switches. It also bleeds through keys that are farther away from your eyes more, so some have little bleed and others a lot. Too bad, as it seems worse than Bloody's hideous orange backlighting overall.

https://en.roccat.org/Keyboards/Vulcan-80
 
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May 11, 2020
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I really like my Logitech G610 with Cherry red keys. White backlighting that is adjustable without anything fancy. Heavy duty and a good feel if you like red keys, but it also comes in the brown that are a little more quiet. It's my favorite of the 5 mechanical KBs in the house.
I too like the Logitech G610 , I works great for my uses.
 

RealBeast

Titan
Moderator
Yeah, but at $100 cheapest price, for a claimed new one, and likely with zero warranty due to it being on eBay, it's not cost effective for me.
Well if you want the best switches (Cherry), they cost more, probably because they are worth it. And where they are less expensive is on those little scrawny bare bones KBs. But do get a warranty, even the best products sometimes have failures.
 
Well if you want the best switches (Cherry), they cost more, probably because they are worth it. And where they are less expensive is on those little scrawny bare bones KBs. But do get a warranty, even the best products sometimes have failures.
I'm not convinced there aren't other switches now that can compete with Cherry MX on longevity, reliability, and more importantly feel. They may indeed last 50 mill keystrokes on average as claimed, but there are others now that claim 100 mill, including the Bloody B840. Plus there are others as I said that have far less wobble (again, including the B840 with box switch design), and that not only matters in feel, it can alleviate added stress to keycap pillars.

I ended up going for the deal on the Bloody B840. I used to hang out on the TechPowerUp forum a lot, and their review team is one of the most educated, experienced, and professional I've seen on such sites. They reviewed the B840 in detail, as you can expect from all their reviews, and raved about it's build quality and performance.

The only minor nit pick was that the included software, which is pretty sophisticated for a KB in it's price range, required a bit of a learning curve, but he also said once he looked at it's Help file, it became clear how to use it. This is software mind you that lets you bind most keys to intricate macros, and you can even adjust the speed at which the various keys engage. You can even set it up to affect cursor movement if desired. This in itself could be a game changer in games like Doom Eternal, where quick switching of multiple weapons means a huge gain in combat effectiveness.

The sweetest part of it is, I not only got the $15 coupon at checkout, I'd forgotten I still had a $33 gift card on my account from the VicTsing KB I returned in Jan. I also got free shipping on it, the total out of pocket cost even after tax was only $5.50. This KB also has a 3 yr warranty, my Corsair K68 with Cherry MX switches only had a 2 yr.

This KB also originally listed for $100 like the K68, and I imagine the main reasons it's been marked down is the stigma about Cherry MX being unsurpassed, and it's aesthetics. For some reason they chose red LEDs, and amber fonts to create an orange light, and I've seen many reviews saying they don't like the look of it. It IS said that yellow and orange are the more subtle part of the color spectrum on your eyes though, so it could have something to do with less eye fatigue.

Anyway, thanks for the replies guys, I'll post a mini review of the B840 once I get the hang of using it.
 
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