Cherry has historically made the vast majority of mechanical switches sold in North America, but in recent months, new manufacturer Kailh has entered the market -- no, not the farmers market. Kailh started selling switches in North America after Cherry's patent expired, therefore allowing Kailh's suspiciously similar switches to be sold legally.
Kailh has rapidly become more popular with companies like Thermaltake and Razer, who have adopted them due to their lower price. Before Cherry's patent expired, Kailh had a reputation for cheap switches in China, both in quality and price. Because some keyboard enthusiasts were less-than-enthusiastic about buying these new switches, Razer has made claims to tighten quality control.
Back in the day, one keyboard reigned supreme -- the IBM Model M. A buckling spring keyboard that informed supervisors how hard their cube-slaves were working due to its loud sound upon actuation. But these wonderful times did not last forever. The membrane switch was developed, which was far cheaper as a result of using a rubber dome instead of springs to register keypresses, and since that day mechanical keyboards grew more scarce.
The mechanical keyboard industry has been expanding. Fast. Cherry MX mechanical switches are the primary switches sold, but there are competitors in the marketplace. Tesoro has been expanding into the North American market with their mechanical keyboards, adding yet another name to the myriad of brands currently on digital shelves. Interestingly, like some other brands -- Razer and Thermaltake included -- Tesoro is using Kailh mechanical switches in their keyboards instead of standard Cherry MX or Topre switches.
Scott's taking a break this weekend for vacation, so I'll be filling-in for the regularly-scheduled hardware sales round-up. This weekend, we spotted an ASRock Z97 Extreme4 board marked down to $130, 27" Acer IPS panel for $195, and Tt eSports Poseidon Z keyboard for $70.
Thermaltake's "Tt eSports" division has been steadily expanding its arsenal of gaming accessories since the brand's launch. After reviewing the Poseidon Z keyboard -- the first Kailh-equipped board we've tested -- it's fair to say that Tt eSports has potential in the gaming market. The brand has primarily centered its strategy upon affordable products to the competitive and streaming crowd, mainly offering products like LAN backpacks (for keyboards), mouse pads, headsets, eSports team jackets, and now keycaps.
We're reviewing Thermaltake's "Tt eSports Metal Caps" accessory today, a collection of mechanical keyboard keycaps to provide a sturdier, more resolute feel to key presses.
Computers can get gross. We've already posted disturbing, NSFL before-and-after photos of preventative maintenance for extremely dusty, uncleaned PC internals; now it's time to look at the only component to accumulate more human filth than the inside of a power supply -- keyboards.
Luckily, cleaning keyboards isn't overly difficult by comparison. Sometimes. Then again, we've all seen the decade-old boards that are caked in brown fuzz, and I'm not so sure I'd even bother cleaning something like that.
Mechanical keyboards have the advantage of easily-removed keycaps and wider spacing between the keys. With the right tools and about 30 minutes of time, a dirty mechanical board can be restored to mostly pristine conditions. In this quick guide, we'll cover the basics of cleaning a mechanical keyboard by removing the keycaps, applying some putty, compressed air, and adding a bit of elbow grease.
The mechanical keyboard market seems to become more crowded each day. Recently, Tesoro made their keyboards available in North America, adding yet another brand to the myriad of boards on market. One of these keyboards is an RGB-backlit keyboard with Kailh mechanical switches, shipping under Tesoro’s branding as “Lobera Supreme” -- the Lobera being a mythological sword.
To celebrate the middle of Summer (also known as "oh no, its almost time to start the back to school count-down clock"), we take a look at some items to make “homework” much more enjoyable. Our weekend sales round-up features the G710 mechanical keyboard for $120, a case from NZXT for only $55, the last-gen MSI Z87-G41 for $70, and a Mushkin 480GB SSD at $210. Keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts for all of our articles and additional sales throughout the week (and if you don't, we will hunt you down and force you to watch Killer Clowns From Outer Space -- you have been warned).
Mechanical keyboards prevailed during the early days of the world's post-typewriter transition; some of IBM's earlier pieces -- like the buckling spring Model M -- have now become highly sought-after items in the world of keyboard enthusiasm. Mechanical keyboard evangelists would likely point-out that we didn't know how good we had it, but with time, membrane and other cheap keyboards rapidly became the norm. As gaming and PC hardware interest has kicked up, we've seen a revitalized focus on high-quality mechanical keyboards; this was discussed in more detail in our recent Rosewill RK-9100xBBR Apollo review.
Of late, we've primarily discussed keyboards using Cherry's somewhat ubiquitous MX switches. The MX switches are best-known for their color coding -- blue liked by typists, brown and red switches often celebrated by gamers, black for medium stiffness, and so forth. Although MX is arguably the most prevalent in today's marketplace, what with Corsair pushing it so hard (and Cooler Master... and Rosewill), there are plenty of other switch suppliers out there. One of them is Kailh ("Kaihua"), who've been making some of the most accurate Cherry MX clones since Cherry's patent expired. When we met with Thermaltake about their new Poseidon Z keyboard this year, we were told that they were "manufacturing their own switches" for the new keyboard -- ultimately, this meant that the company would be sourcing supply from Kailh. Not quite in-house, but Thermaltake staff were proud of themselves for deviating from Cherry. I can't say I blame them -- competition is a good thing.
Everyone's making mechanical keyboards lately. Leading keyboard brands like WASD Keyboards, Das Keyboard, and Ducky (also a supplier) have been at it for a while, but some of the incumbents from other corners of the industry want a piece of the peripherals market. If you've been following case and cooling manufacturers for the last few years, it's pretty likely you've noticed that they all latch onto industry trends: Cooler Master, Rosewill, Antec, and others all have some sort of "mobile" line of (let's be honest) supplied trash that they've slapped their stickers onto. Most of these manufacturers, including rising giant Corsair, have also been working to produce gaming peripherals for the last few years. Unlike the mobile offerings, these peripherals have some actual merit and value to them. Thankfully.
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