Mechanical Keyboards: Reviews and FAQs

Mechanical Keyboards: Which One is Right for You?

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The Diatec Filco Majestouch 2 Camouflage.
Diatec's Filco Majestouch 2 Camouflage keyboard (more info) is just what you’d want to be typing on when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. It’s heavy, solid, and dense. It feels like it could stop a bullet. It also has great typing feel and very satisfying, if somewhat noisy, clicky keys. I don't think Filco really thought through the camouflage coloring, though: I don't know of a computer that matches that aesthetic, and really, if you want your keyboard to be camouflaged, it should be desk-colored, right?

Fancy features are at a minimum here. Media controls are on some of the function keys, accessed by holding down the Fn key. You get an extra set of green W-A-S-D keys and a keypuller to replace them with, if you really want to show your first person shooter pride with keys that stand out from the rest of the black ones. So, Filco has produced a really solid, basic keyboard, but the price is a little hard to swallow. It’s one of the most expensive keyboards of the lot we tested, but doesn’t have the more advanced features that some of the others do. --Jason Cross

Thermaltake eSports Meka G1

$110
Switches: Cherry MX Black
Audio jack: Yes
USB hub: Two-port passthrough
USB: Yes, 6-key rollover
PS/2: Needs separate adapter, N-key rollover

The Thermaltake Meka G1.
Thermaltake’s Meka G1 (more info), part of its Tt eSports line, is almost as fancy as the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth. It’s quieter, perhaps due in part to the use of Cherry Black switches, which are similar to the Brown switches in the Razer keyboard but without the tactile half-press resistance. The keys on the Meka G1 feel slightly mushy, with a resistance that is almost too smooth and constant to make for great touch-typing. The keyboard's construction feels slighter than many others. It seems sort of hollow and plasticky, rather than dense and solid.

The braided cord coming out of the back of the Meka G1 is huge--almost as big around as a dime. It carries cords for two USB plugs (one for the two-port USB pass-through to the back of the keyboard, one for the keyboard itself) and both headphone and microphone jacks. With the Fn key, you can use the F1-F7 keys for media control. Thermaltake has moved the Windows key to the right side of the spacebar, next to the right Alt key. If you’re a heavy user of Windows shortcuts, this might take some getting used to, but it at least keeps the key out of the way of your left hand during gaming sessions. You’ll also find a snap-on wrist rest in the box, which seems to be rare among mechanical keyboards. Overall, the Meka G1 is a pretty good deal and a fine keyboard if you prefer the nontactile feel of Cherry Black switches. But if you want to recreate the clicky, half-press resistance of the mechanical keys from 20 years ago, you’ll want to look elsewhere. --Jason Cross

Thermaltake eSports Meka

$82
Switches: Cherry MX Black
Audio jack: No
USB hub: 2 ports
USB: Yes, 6-key rollover
PS/2: Needs separate adapter, N-key rollover

The Thermaltake Meka.
Thermaltake’s Meka (more info) is the G1’s smaller, slightly cheaper sibling. It’s also equipped with Cherry Black switches, and shares the mushy feel and less-than-stellar construction of its pricier relative.

Typing is smooth, and the keys are sufficiently responsive. But because it uses Cherry Black switches, the Meka lacks the authoritative “clack” you get from some other mechanical keyboards.

The Meka is compact, and the layout suffers because of it. It has no Windows key, very little breathing room between the narrow keys, and some keys are in unusual places. Expect mistakes as you’re learning your way around the layout.

The Meka's features are sparse. It has a pair of USB ports at the top edge of the keyboard, pointed away from you. That's a convenient placement, since cables or memory keys plugged into them aren’t likely to snag on anything. There’s nothing wrong with the Meka. But in a crowded field, it fails to stand out. --Nate Ralph

Have your own mechanical keyboard recommendations or opinions? Post them in the comments!

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