some ideas for fans of mechanical keyboards • TechCrunch
The world of mechanical keyboards is a very deep rabbit hole and it’s no secret that more and more people have fallen into it in recent years. So if you have someone in your life who can’t stop talking about lube switches, gasket holders and the pros and cons of ABS vs PBT keycaps, chances are you want to buy from them something to do with it for the holidays.
A weird thing about the world of mechanical keyboards is that many items are only available through time-limited group purchases, with ship dates that could be a year or more from now. . This is especially true for highly customized keys and keyboards. For obvious reasons, we’re not going to recommend them here. This is a guide for 2022, after all, not 2023. We’ll highlight a few keyboards, but for the most part we’ll focus on accessories. We’re going to assume you’ll want an easily customizable keyboard, so while there are some pre-builts on this list, they’re all modifiable.
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There’s never been so much choice in mechanical keyboards and if you’re so inclined, there’s no limit to what you can spend.
At the bottom there is the Tester68. You can find it for as little as $15 (Walmart), although the list price seems to be around $35 on Amazon. It’s plastic/wireless only, but for the money it’s an affordable way to get your feet wet and start modding your keyboard without worrying too much about breakage.
Once you bump the price up, you get the likes of Akko’s 3068B, a 65% hot-swappable keyboard (so you can easily replace the switches – more on that later) that comes with its own switches from Akko – and very good -, some decent keys and the wireless and wired connections.
The real sweet spot for mechanical keyboards right now, however, is between $125 and $175. Here you get higher quality materials and boards that sound and feel really good, with the ability to tweak them to your liking.
I’m a big fan of the KBDfans KBD67 lite, now in its fourth generation. It’s made from a sturdy plastic, comes in a wide variety of colors, and even comes in European ISO layout, if that’s your thing. It’s a nice step up from the lower end cards and if you want to upgrade later, KBDfans also sells an aluminum case ($125).
If you’re looking for a larger board, Novelkeys’ NK87 Entry Edition ($135) is also excellent, for example, but the company to beat right now (at least in this price range) is Keychron with its series keypads. Q. There are wired aluminum hot-swap boards that come with switches and keycaps, but can be easily changed. At this point, the company offers every layout imaginable, ranging from 60% to full-size boards, including unusual styles like the excellent Q5 with its 1800 layout or the Q8 in the (semi-)ergonomic style of Alice (this is my personal daily driver at the moment).
At the high end, the sky’s the limit, but if you’ve got the cash to spend, I’m a big fan of Mode Designs. I recently reviewed the Sonnet and loved the experience, but unfortunately it won’t be available in time for the holidays. But mode 80 is so if you have $400 to spend the fit and finish and sound you can get from this card is a step up from cheaper cards and it’s easy to see this mode – just like similar high-end keyboard manufacturers. – truly understands the market and what drives mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
Instead of a keyboard, you might just be looking for accessories.
If you know the style of the person you’re buying for, keycaps can be a good option. Drop is one of the few companies that has a limited set of GMK keycaps without having to wait until the end of 2023 for a bulk purchase. GMK white on black is the classic here and you can’t really go wrong, although the price tag at $110 might not be that easy to swallow, but it’s pretty low for a set of GMKs in Germany. But Drop’s own, new DCX keycaps are also very nice and a bit more affordable at $99. Like the GMK sets, these are ABS keycaps and available in black-on-white and white-on-black. For half the price, Keychron’s cherry-style PBT keycaps offer additional color choices and enough keycaps to be compatible with virtually any keyboard on the market today. If you’re looking for something different, check out Cannon Key’s selection, which typically ranges from $65 to $79.
Maybe you also want to buy switches? It’s really hard to recommend them because it really depends on your preferences and some of the best ones aren’t easy to find. But you can’t really go wrong with something like the Gateron Oil King Linear Switch, rightly so, for example. Or if you want something a little quirky, the Akko CS Sponge with its double tactile bump is also fun and very affordable (in fact, all Akko switches punch well above their weight). Another classic is the C³Equalz X TKC Tangerine linear switch. It’s as smooth as it gets, but then you’re in the premium category.
How about some Christmas stockings? Maybe Durock Switch Film? A nice desk mat? Or an easier to use switch opener? Or maybe a grease station – because there is nothing so
boring relaxing than lubricating a hundred switches.