What are mechanical keyboards?

Mechanical keyboards are different from typical keyboards that are generally available from most major manufacturers. Due to the higher cost of mechanical keyboards, they are less prevalent in today's general consumer market. A typical keyboard uses rubber dome technology which is similar to that used in your TV remote. They generally don't have much tactile feedback and feel mushy. The lifespan is much shorter since the rubber dome keyboard can wear out much faster than a quality mechanical switch keyboard. Rubber dome switches are often the culprit of "mushy" feeling keyboards. Another common type of keyboard is the scissor-type switch keyboard. These are commonly found on laptops and some low profile keyboards. They still use membrane technology, but the scissor switch design allows a much shorter travel stroke and usually gives better tactile feedback. Scissor switches are commonly found in laptops.

All WASD Keyboards use mechanical Cherry MX switches for each individual key. These switches are of the highest quality and offer a life span of 50 million operations and feature gold plated contacts. They come in different configurations so the user can choose what fits their typing style the best. Each mechanical switch is mounted to a steel backplate and then soldered to the PCB for a solid feel while typing.

What are the benefits of a mechanical keyboard?

There are many reasons to switch over to a mechanical keyboard. Despite the higher price, the construction, reliability, features, and feel of a mechanical keyboard are well worth the expense.

The main benefit of a mechanical keyboard is the way it feels. If you have never typed on a mechanical keyboard, you will be in for surprise. Almost all people that switch from a rubber dome to a mechanical keyboard would never switch back. With rubber dome style keyboards, you have to "bottom out" a key, meaning you have to fully depress the key, for it register. With mechanical switches, the actuation point is much higher in the key stroke allowing you to quickly change keys without pressing the key down all the way. This allows for less finger fatigue and faster transition to the next letter. Of course, this is not something that is developed overnight. Like a high end musical instrument, it will take some practice before you appreciate its finer qualities.;

Each switch type has it's own distinct characteristics, so you can choose a switch that would best suit your personal preference. Whichever switch you decide to use, you can be sure that the overall feel and response of a high quality mechanical keyboard will be an experience you didn't you couldn't live without.

Key Rollover (N-KRO, 6-KRO)
Another benefit that a mechanical keyboard can provide is something called Key Rollover. This terms describes how many keys can be registered when pressed at the same time. WASD mechanical keyboards all feature N-KRO (infinite keys) over a PS/2 connection and 6-KRO (6 keys) over a USB connection. Our mechanical keyboards uses individual diodes for each switch to provide true N-KRO. The reason why the keyboard only provides 6-KRO is due to limitations of the USB protocol.

When N-KRO is available, you could theoretically press and hold down all the keys on your keyboard at the same time and have every single key register. With 6-KRO, you can press up to 6 keys and 4 modifier keys (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Windows). Effectively giving you up to 10 keys in that situation. Since most situations where multiple keys are being held down require the use of modifiers, you will probably never run into a situation where a key press is blocked. So, under most situations, N-KRO is not needed. Some instances where one might find N-KRO necessary are emulating musical instruments (such as a virtual piano) or while playing some games (such as some flight simulators).

The Cherry MX mechanical switches feature a 50 million operation life cycle. Your average rubber dome keyboard has a life cycle of 5-10 million. WASD mechanical keyboards also mounts the switches to a thick steel plate before the switches are soldered to the PCB. This provides a more stable typing platform and gives the keyboard its rigid body and heavy weight. You can expect many years of use on your mechanical keyboard.

Cherry MX Mechanical Key Switch Comparison

Cherry MX Blue Force Graph
Strong tactile feedback. Audible click. 50g actuation force.
Cherry MX Blue Keyswitch
The MX Blue switch is usually reminds people of the old "clicky" keyboards from the early PC days. The combination of the strong tactile feedback and simultaneous click gives a very satisfying feel while typing. However, the clicking can be loud, which can limit its use in shared computing spaces.

Cherry MX Brown Force Graph
Light tactile feedback. No click. 45g actuation force.
Cherry MX brown Keyswitch
The MX Brown switches can be considered a lighter version of the MX Blue switch without the audible click. The tactile bump not as nearly as distinct, but it does still provide enough feedback for your fingers to detect when the switch has been activated. 

Cherry MX Black Force Graph
No tactile feedback. No click. 60g actuation force.
Cherry MX Black Keyswitch
MX Black switches are linear switches, so they have no tactile feedback unless the switch is "bottomed out," meaning the switch is pressed all the way down. The keystroke is smooth all the way down. The stronger spring is said to help the switch reset faster, which can be useful in some instances where "double tapping" is needed. The stiffer switches may also help with accidental key presses from straying fingers. Commonly marketed as a "gamer" switch.

Cherry MX Red Force Graph
No tactile feedback. No click. 45g actuation force.
Cherry MX Red Keyswitch
The MX Red switches are almost identical to the Black switches, but have a softer spring for a much lower actuation force. Although this switch has the same actuation force as the Browns, it feels lighter due to the linear action. Also commonly marketed as a "gamer" switch.

Using O-Ring Sound Dampeners

Some people may find that mechanical keyboards are a bit too noisy for their preference. WASD Keyboards offers different rubber O-ring sound dampeners that can be installed onto the keycaps to dramatically reduce the sound created from when a switch is fully depressed or "bottomed out." Typically, when a switch is pressed all the way, the bottom of the switch stem hits against the switch casing creating a "clack" sound. An O-ring will eliminate this clack by stopping the stem from going all the way down. O-rings do slightly reduce the key travel by less than 0.5mm and creates a "soft landing" when you bottom out. Some users find the softer landing more comfortable and easier on the fingers and hands.

Please watch our Cherry MX Switch Sound Comparison video to demonstrate the different sounds of each Cherry MX switch type and with and without sound dampeners installed.

Marketing Hype

WASD Keyboards focus is to provide quality mechanical keyboards. We do not use any fancy marketing terms to trick you into thinking our keyboard is superior. Here are some things to look at for:

Key Polling Rate - Although this can make some difference in mice, it is largely irrelevant for keyboards. Even the fastest typist in the world wouldn't see any difference by increasing the polling rate of a keyboard. With Key Rollover, multiple key strokes, even when pressed together in between scan cycles, will be recognized in the correct order during the next scan cycle.

Gold Plated Connectors - Although our cable does have gold plating, in reality, it makes no noticeable difference in connectivity or latency. If anything, it would be more important to look at cable shielding and overall length. Too long of a cable without proper shielding can cause a weak signal.

Gaming Matrix - This is similar to Key Rollover, but is far inferior. To save costs, some keyboards are designed so that only certain areas of the keyboard can register more keys at once rather than offering the true Key Rollover achieved by adding diodes to the circuit.

Anti-Ghosting - This is sometime used in place of Key Rollover, but the terminology is incorrect since ghosting is a different (and rare) issue. You will need to do more research to see what key rollover technology is being used. Ghosting is when two or more keys are pressed and an key that was not pressed registers instead.