Question Seeking quality mechanical keyboard that's feel > frills — Recommendations?


Jun 1, 2011
Hello and thanks for reading...

I've had an IBM Model M keyboard that I've used for decades that may finally be showing its age, so I'm looking at the mechanical keyboard market for the first time. And while I'm a pretty quick researcher, weeding through all the offerings is a daunting task, so I'm hoping to lean on others' experiences. Here's what I'm looking for, and a bit of what I'm not:
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Quality feel for a mix of productivity/office and games (while I play some "twitch" games, I don't need competitive FPS response times)
  • PBT or similar keycaps with texture
  • Preference for quieter, non-clicky keypresses
  • While macros, extra programmable keys, audio/video controls, etc. are nice, they're not at all mandatory
  • Simple aesthetics suit me fine (all black works for me)
  • Zero need for any lighting
  • No intention to customize — would prefer to get what I need out of the box vs. having to replace keycaps, switches, etc. So hot swapping not needed.
  • Ideally, around $100 or less, but willing to go higher if there aren't great options at that price point
I tried a number at Best Buy from the usual household names, and I found Corsair's K70 and Logitech's G915 to be the best (while I didn't care for Razer's Huntsman or SteelSeries' Apex 7). But I figure those also come with extras I don't need and quite possibly lower build quality compared to less well-known names.

I welcome your recommendations and insights, and appreciate your time.

It's going to be difficult to find mechanical switches that feel like the Model M, because the Model M isn't mechanical but a rubber dome keyboard with buckling springs.

If you are okay with the clickety-clack, the cheapest new but quality option is a new Model M (yes, the original manufacturer still makes them). They just reintroduced the space-saver version too (full-sized but tenkeyless) but the price does not seem to have transferred to their new website. Even cheaper would be to get your trusty old keyboard refurbished by them for $50.

If you want quieter and mechanical, then red or black "linear" switches have no feel or noise at all (the black switches have more resistance), while brown "tactile" switches have the same bump feel but without the clicky noise that blue "clicky" switches have. Most gamers use red, writers blue, and office workers who must not bother their cubicle neighbors brown.

Once you know the type of switch you want, you could "roll the dice" and try a cheap and cheerful Chinese keyboard with knockoffs of the German Cherry switches. They can feel quite nice, although longevity may be iffy (sometimes the knockoff is so close though that you can replace individual switches as they fail with genuine Cherry). Note that Logitech and Razer have created their own switches too but claim theirs last longer than the Cherry switches. Corsair and Razer even have high priced optical switches now (Razer claims theirs is fastest) for their premium products.


Honestly, if you're looking for build quality and not absolutely certain what kind of switches you'll like long-term, I absolutely would make hotswap switches a priority. It would suck if you spend $150 to get a whole keyboard of, say, Cherry Browns, and then decided that you would prefer a linear switch or a heavier/lighter tactile one.


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