Thursday February 02, 2017

Confessions of a Custom Mechanical Keyboard Obsessive

At the risk of getting bashed and laughed at, I will take this opportunity to admit that I don’t fully understand what the appeal of a mechanical keyboard is. I imagine that most of these tend to have better build quality than your generic, off-the-shelf membrane/dome/scissor-switch keyboard, but that noise. And that increased key travel distance. These are the exact qualities that I purposely avoid in a keyboard. Now, I realize that my opinion may sound particularly dumb in the context of this article, which is all about how mechanical keyboards can be customized to someone’s likingآ—but my general experience with these keyboards is that they are loud and "slower" than what I’m comfortable with (flat, scissor switch). Any of you mechanical guys want to school me, or is this really just a preference thing?

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I was in the market for a new mechanical keyboard a few years ago, and during my research I stumbled on the custom mechanical keyboard community. Mech enthusiasts are consumed by custom boards with unusual layouts, exotic switches, and fancy keycapsآ—and they'll often spend ludicrous amounts of money on things you or I might consider sillyآ… at first. This is a niche hobby that can hook you, and once it does, won't let go. Before I knew it, I'd spent nearly $1,000 on multiple boards and keysets, started modifying switches, and even picked up soldering again to build my own keyboards. The high cost started to seem less obscene as I realized I could create a board that was perfectly tailored to my needs.