I’ve reached that awful point in the year where I decide that it’s time to renew my membership in the “Glorious PC Gaming Master Race” by upgrading individual components of my gaming rig. I’ve needed a new keyboard for a while now, so I spent a few weeks considering my options and looking around to see what is out there.
I decided pretty early on that it was time to make the switch to a mechanical keyboard, so at that point it was a matter of narrowing down my options. A lot of people don’t really understand the difference, stating that a “keyboard is a keyboard”, but there are a lot of things to consider. Most keyboards found on the market are “rubber dome” keyboards, which use a rubber sheet between the keys and an incomplete circuit. When the keys are depressed, they complete the circuit and the result is user input.
Mechanical keyboards operate differently, using mechanical switches for each individual key. Beyond that, things start getting a little more complicated. I’m not going to bore you with keyboard lore and lingo, or try and explain why one type of switches is better than another. That being said, let me tell you about this keyboard.
This is the DAS Model S Ultimate keyboard. It is a fully mechanical keyboard, using Cherry MX Blue switches, which provide a nice, loud clicky sound, along with accurate tactile response. Admittedly, I bought the blank one for aesthetic reasons, though they offer a version with labeled keys. I’m familiar enough with a keyboard that it wasn’t an issue, so I took the dive and jumped into the world of mechanicals.
I’ve had this keyboard for a couple weeks now, and all I can say is that i wonder how I survived so long without it. It was a little on the expensive side, but almost immediately I didn’t care. Adding to that, I instantly noticed an increase in my typing speed and accuracy. I’m finding joy in the simple act of typing. I don’t know how to explain that, but just sitting around, hacking away at code has become an enjoyable process. It is very quick to respond, a sharp contrast from the almost “oatmeal” feeling of the typical rubber dome keyboard. This keyboard really is amazing for typing.
While it is excellent for typing, I feel I should definitely make a case for its performance as a gaming keyboard. The MX Blue switches aren’t exactly the best mechanical switches for FPS style games. That being said, I’ve had absolutely no problems playing Team Fortress 2 or Tribes: Ascend with it. Where this keyboard really excels, however, is in an RTS setting. I’ve spent a few hours playing Starcraft 2 with it as I work my way back through the single player campaign, trying my best to use as many of the keyboard shortcuts as I can to speed up my game and become a better player. I can already say that the difference is very noticeable. I know that good hardware doesn’t always equal better player performance, but sometimes it really helps. This is one of those cases.
The keyboard is USB, and requires two USB slots for use. I was a little confused by this until I noticed it has two USB inputs on the keyboard itself, so that quickly becomes a non issue. It also included a PS/2 to USB adaptor which adds full rollover to the keyboard to the USB amount of six. No, it isn’t likely that you’ll be needing to press over six keys at the same time, but it’s nice to have it should the situation arise. Additionally, the keyboard is actually fairly heavy. I don’t mind this at all. It feels well built, and judging by the weight, it is well built, and it won’t slide around your desk.
The biggest problem I really have with it, and I wouldn’t even consider it a problem, is the volume. Being a mechanical keyboard, it is a little bit on the loud end of the spectrum, especially if you’re used to standard rubber dome keyboards. Some people find the noise to be incredibly annoying. I’m not one of those people, so it doesn’t bother me one bit. I actually find it to be somewhat soothing in my own weird sort of way. There’s just something nice about pressing a key and getting a good, resounding click sound out of it in response.
The DAS Model S Ultimate Keyboard retails online for $129, but if you send DAS an e-mail, you can get a student discount which helps knock the price down a little bit. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, especially if you’re a programmer of any kind, I can’t recommend this keyboard enough.
Brandon Dickerson is our resident music man and local video game cynic. He dabbles in many other fields and loves to expand his horizons on the things he loves. While focusing primarily on games and music, he's never afraid to get his hands dirty with just about anything geeky. Follow him on twitter @minusworlds