Help Me Purchase a Mechanical Keyboard

Hi everyone!

I'm a code programmer and usually I code in my laptop.

Recently my Laptop keyboard started failing (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't). I wish to replace it but, as it is an expensive investment I am thinking to get an external one so that I save my laptop new keyboard.
I don't understand anything about mechanical keyboards, but I'm curious about them, I've tried several (razer and Ozone) in the biggest chains and I liked the feeling, but they're pretty expensive (my budget is 100€ MAX).
So I've started my search online and found this Portuguese (i'm from Portugal) website which gathers some offers and I noticed that they have a filter which is about the switch (you can choose brown, red, etc cherry switches).
I've sorted the ones I think will fit, I understand that these keyboards are much louder than the membrane ones, but I still think they are much more precise and confortable.

What do you guys think I should buy from here? It has to be from a Portuguese store (i'm from Portugal).
Thank you!

My selection:https://www.tecmagnet.com/produtos/peca-e-acessorios/perifericos?id_sub_categoria=188&pagina=1&precoMaximo=100&q=Mec%C3%A2nico+-+&query=%5B%5B%22204%22%2C%221563%22%5D%5D&orderPreco=+preco+DESC
MarisaMonteiro

Unread post22 Feb 2018, 16:20

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Maybe number 5 from this list: for-sale-f55/das-keyboard-razer-corsair-and-logitech-europe-and-uk-only-t18311.html
(even if it's not from Portugal, you still get more value for the money in my opinion).
Laser
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Unread post22 Feb 2018, 16:57

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I'm not considering to invest in something without warranty.
I prefer to buy it here!
Anyway, Thanks a lot for the reply!
MarisaMonteiro

Unread post22 Feb 2018, 18:17

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This raises a number of questions:

  1. Do you need to have an ISO keyboard, or would you be OK with ANSI? See ANSI vs ISO. Accepting US layout opens up a huge amount of options not available in European layouts.
  2. If you require ISO (European key positions), does it matter whether the keyboard is labelled in Portuguese layout? i.e. if you had a British or German ISO keyboard, for example, would that cause trouble? If you don't look at the keyboard when typing, this opens up your possibilities more than if you require it to be labelled in Portuguese
  3. Does it have to be new? For example, warranty is irrelevant if the sale price is very low
  4. Is there a reason why it must come from a Portuguese store? For example, you could start out with a cheap keyboard from China just to see how you get on with mechanical switches, as it will be a sharp change for your fingers, but you won't be able to get one in Portuguese layout

This is without getting into the fun of switch preference. Also, for our sake, you should indicate any preference for or against backlighting or the numeric keypad, and whether having the Windows keys matters (if you don't need those, there's a huge amount of old keyboards to choose from). (On my ThinkPad T43, Alt Gr serves as the only Windows key, and I use Ctrl+Alt instead of Alt Gr, but I imagine that you use Alt Gr a lot and cannot sacrifice that key to get a Windows key.)
Daniel Beardsmore
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Unread post22 Feb 2018, 18:19

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Hi Daniel!
Regarding your observations:
1 and 2 - Layout is not important, i don´t need to look at it to type.
3- It doesn't have to be new, but it has to have warranty, that's why I would prefer to buy in any Portuguese store.
4- I understand your point, but I think the solution has any value at all. If I order some keyboard from China I will probably have to pay custom Taxes (unless we're talking about 10€ mechanical keyboards, that probably suck) which will invalidate any price difference that might have existed with some local store.

Loved your windows Solution, but not for me ;) I need to have it!
MarisaMonteiro

Unread post23 Feb 2018, 09:54

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I think that you may want to try out some switches first, if you aren't sold on one or the other. Your personal feel and office environment requirements are *very* important to picking out what you should get.

I am a software developer as well, so yeah, you can get addicted to nice keyboards when you get into it. I am personally not a fan of MX browns [which seems somewhat of a go-to for developers in a shared/open office environment], because they feel like bumpy linear switches more than tactile switches, so I'm not assuming you are going right there.

For a person who codes, I would recommend either a black or a blue if you go for a modern Cherry MX switch. As I said, browns are kind of a hot mess and depending on the chassis and caps can sometimes be almost as loud as blues. Reds are not fun to type on. They are far too light most people doing serious work for extended periods of time. Some people are against linear switches (like MX Black and Red), but I use Blacks at work for 8 hours a day and do very well with it. I enjoy MX Blues and Greens much better, because I like a click/tactile point [hell, I really want to get some of those heavy click-bar Kaihls, since that sounds just like my deal], but it is not 100% necessary for most.

In a shared environment, I would go for "closed" [more traditional, with a bezel around the keys] case rather than an open one [where you see the sides/switches under the keycaps].

Honestly, I am not that impressed by the options on that site.

I'd scrub through local auction sites/ebay/etc. and perhaps pay a bit more for shipping from elsewhere in the EU. Too bad you aren't a touchtypist, since Portuguese layouts are not super common, hence probably the limited selection.

Does anyone you work with have a mech board to try? Would be nice to try a few types, since knowing what switches you like is a good first step. A good "generic" pick is MX blue for "workhorse" boards, but again, I don't know your office environment.

You also may want to consider getting a nice vintage board. Apple Extended Keyboards (especially the AEK1, but the AEK2 as well) are fantastic tactile coding keyboards. Honestly my Orange-Alps early AEK1 is my favorite board to type on. Likewise, IBM buckling spring keyboards are phenomenal coding boards [but loud]. Even the standard AT101Ws you can find everywhere 2nd hand are really pretty nice boards [and even unmodified feel much better than MX Browns as a tactile switch]. You would just need a USB/PS2 converter that supports ISO layouts [otherwise the key right near the left Shift may be dead] or if you are electrically inclined, build a Soarer's converter from a Pro Micro board and a female PS2 plug.
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 12:10

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MarisaMonteiro wrote:Hi everyone!

I'm a code programmer and usually I code in my laptop.

Recently my Laptop keyboard started failing (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't). I wish to replace it but, as it is an expensive investment I am thinking to get an external one so that I save my laptop new keyboard.
I don't understand anything about mechanical keyboards, but I'm curious about them, I've tried several (razer and Ozone) in the biggest chains and I liked the feeling, but they're pretty expensive (my budget is 100€ MAX).
So I've started my search online and found this Portuguese (i'm from Portugal) website which gathers some offers and I noticed that they have a filter which is about the switch (you can choose brown, red, etc cherry switches).
I've sorted the ones I think will fit, I understand that these keyboards are much louder than the membrane ones, but I still think they are much more precise and confortable.

What do you guys think I should buy from here? It has to be from a Portuguese store (i'm from Portugal).
Thank you!

My selection:https://www.tecmagnet.com/produtos/peca-e-acessorios/perifericos?id_sub_categoria=188&pagina=1&precoMaximo=100&q=Mec%C3%A2nico+-+&query=%5B%5B%22204%22%2C%221563%22%5D%5D&orderPreco=+preco+DESC

Hello fellow programmer. I can share my journey with you, but even though we do the same thing, keyboards are highly subjective, but I will share my journey with you.

My first keyboard had cherry mx blues. I liked them alright, but it was immediately clear they were far too light for my unusually fit typing fingers. Typing 12 hours a day tends to do that.

My next keyboard had mx browns. I hated them the moment I typed on them. I don't think I have used my MX brown keyboard for more than 1 hour total. They have nearly no tactility, and again, are too light.

My next keyboard had mx clears. I was in LOVE. They were better than anything I had ever typed on. Tactility was excellent, and they had a very interesting feel where the heaviness increases more and more after actuation. It reminded me of the suspension of a car, how the suspension gets stiffer the farther you compress it. To me, it was a very high quality feel, and that keyboard actually trained me how to type without bottoming out. This did a lot to reduce typing fatigue, in spite of the heavy switches.

My next keyboard was zealios switches, and they are like clear switches but better. However, the spring has more linear weighting, so you lose most of the effect that initially drew me to mx clears.

My next notable keyboard was an alps keyboard I found at the recycling center for free, it was full of orange alps. At this point I basically retired ALL of my cherry mx boards to the shelf of gather dust. Cherry switches could not compete with how nice alps felt.

My next notable keyboard was a Ultra 102 full of white alps. These then became my new favorite switch. I built and cleaned up quite a few white alps boards after this.

My next notable keyboard was kailh box Jade. Once again a cherry mx switch got my attention, and were trading blows with alps boards. This is the switch I am currently using.

Maybe this will help you on your journey :)
rich1051414

Unread post23 Feb 2018, 13:15

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MarisaMonteiro wrote:1 and 2 - Layout is not important, i don´t need to look at it to type.

Oh it does. If you touch type, ANSI vs ISO is important, because when you can't see the keys, you'll be pressing them where you think they are, when they are not. For example, if I try to type \ on my laptop, I just hit left shift and nothing seems to happen. (The layout on that is stupid.)

Also, using an ANSI keyboard in ISO layout (i.e. trying to type in Portuguese on a US keyboard) will break as there's one fewer key and you lose two or more glyphs as a result. So you either need some remapping software to cope with this, or simply abandon the Portuguese layout.

As a rule, I will not use ANSI (US) keyboards because I require all the keys to be where I expect them to be, but many people here have moved to ANSI to increase their available options.

Personally I can't really advise on which ghastly gamer keyboard is less awful than any other, as I don't pay them a lot of attention. One of the cheapest options is the Cherry G80-3000. It's thin and flimsy, but it's serviceable, and the bendy PCB offers a softer typing experience, which is ideal for anyone coming off a worn rubber dome keyboard, because the hard stop of mechanical switches combined with their light resistance makes for painful fingertips from smashing the new keys as hard as you had to do on a rubber dome, and having a bendy PCB will ease this until you learn to type more gently. Coming from a laptop though, I suspect it won't be as bad.

Also, you didn't indicate a preference on size.

The new keyboard will take a lot of getting used to, whatever it is; it took me some time to settle into Cherry switches, but I've had my Filco Majestouch seven years now (MX Blue), and my Poker II (MX Red) four years.
Daniel Beardsmore
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 20:54

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I get a feeling all these very well intended answers are a little overwhelming for the OP, who started with a strict set of requirements whose intersection with what Deskthority advises is pretty much nil :)
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 21:20

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Yes, we're not the best people to advise on the type of keyboard advertised … The QFR would have been a nice choice, if it were still sold and we were certain that ANSI was OK.
Daniel Beardsmore
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Unread post23 Feb 2018, 21:44

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I no longer have a place here.
A quick look at the "guides" category in the wiki reveals that wiki/(Mechanical)_keyboards:_getting_started and wiki/Introduction_to_keyboards seem to be the only pages resembling a guide for choosing a keyboard. Maybe a combination of both could be written, following a process of elimination based on simple questions until we reduce a long list of candidates down to only a few choices. The first problem to tackle however is the fact that most people will be like the OP here and come looking for a keyboard that can actually be bought new in a store somewhere, and those are precisely the ones less documented in the wiki.

I suppose I could write the basic structure of such a page anyway, but I am not exactly up to date regarding the latest boards released, and even less so for the switches. Should I give it a try...? I'd start it in my personal page in order to not make it sound "official" until it becomes useful.
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Unread post24 Feb 2018, 16:17

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Honestly? With all the failed attempts to get people to contribute to the wiki over the years, I don't imagine for a second that we're suddenly going to have up-to-date details on all the latest keyboards on the market.

Besides, the OP stubbornly insists on requirements that make no realistic sense. So it's not a question of what's on the market (even if we can get proper feedback on size and layout) but rather, a matter of whether or not the products already listed for sale in Portugal, are reliable or not. Just listing keyboards on the wiki won't give us all the missing reliability data, something we have precious little of. Do Gaterons last? Do Tai-Hao keyboards and switches last? Do Razer keyboards last?

Even if we were willing to gather this data (and you'd want to look to Reddit for anyone who actually buys them) the data would only be valid after an amount of time has passed after which the product is probably no longer on sale anyway!
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Unread post24 Feb 2018, 16:34

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I no longer have a place here.
OK, first things first: to provide an answer to the OP, if I were going to pick one among those in the proposed selection, I'd go for a TKL keyboard (Marisa: this means one without a numeric keypad) with either Cherry MX Red or Blue switches, depending on whether noise is a factor or not (MX Blue is "clicky" and thus noisy; red is linear and virtually silent). Also, I'm presuming she would rather have a small keyboard to have on the go next to the laptop instead of a more bulky solution. Without any more information, this is all I can recommend. Kailh switches aren't necessarily a bad choice at least until decent statistics become available about their reliability; if you want to go that way, see the wiki for more information about them.

---

@Daniel

The page I'm suggesting would be a generic guide that gives people new to mechanical keyboards some reasonable rules of thumb on where should they spend their money for their first board depending on whether noise is a factor, space available, layout, budget and all that stuff. Ergo, the kind of advice that every keyboard related forum provides, but trying to keep it simple. Is this doable or even necessary? Well, I'd say it wouldn't hurt to have such page. As for being doable, I think a generic guide is certainly doable. One based on what you consider the most and least important features to have in a keyboard would be IMO a good start.

Sure, in an ideal world we would have a wiki fully populated with all the keyboards in the market and whatnot, but we know that that's not going to happen, neither here nor anywhere else. Even if we did, a static wiki page without some kind of dynamic content is hardly the ideal way to go if you intend to provide filters like every retailer web page does, so we won't, as we lack the required data anyway. What we *can* do, however, is give some general advice, and instead of hinting at specific keyboards, point the user towards the features they should be paying attention to in whatever boards they are considering while browsing a listing such as the one posted by the OP. The use case of a coder, for example, is quite typical and from what I have seen most are happy and productive with a board based on the US ANSI layout, no matter what their background is.
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Unread post24 Feb 2018, 20:56

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The actual choices are too personal to be able to offer much hard advice — I'd say that the most that could be achieved is to ensure that people understand the general choices on offer (layout, form factor, switch types etc).

Introduction to keyboards was entirely my own work — it's just a first draft for now, and needs a lot of editing, and I'm happy for it to be redesigned to be more useful.
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Unread post24 Feb 2018, 22:41

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I no longer have a place here.
rich1051414 wrote:My next keyboard had mx browns. I hated them the moment I typed on them. I don't think I have used my MX brown keyboard for more than 1 hour total. They have nearly no tactility, and again, are too light.

I like browns. I'm using them for more than 15 years now. I used black and blue switches too but browns are the best!
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Unread post25 Feb 2018, 08:42

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