Author Topic: Considering new TKL buy.  (Read 2121 times)

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Offline atarione

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 158
Considering new TKL buy.
« on: Fri, 05 August 2022, 20:31:16 »
So I have been using this Filco MJ2 TKL (mx-reds /dampers/ Vortex PBT keycaps) for the better part of 8yrs now...    Honestly I really like this keyboard and may well just keep using this.. but I figured I would look at what the options are currently 8yrs after I bought this filco.

I have just realized that my Vortex doubleshot keycaps are starting to shine (i guess pbt shines after awhile too?? meh) on spacebar and left shift mainly.   In the process of shopping for new keycaps I started to consider new keyboard options... but I just kept coming back to more or less the same filco I already have... and other then the aftermarket caps starting to shine the rest of the filco is basically good as new.. no chatter, no uneven stabilizer feel (i can discern?), key feel is still consistent across the board.     

But I figured I would check to see if there is something out there that would be a improvement (significant ) to my filco at or below $200...   my enthusiasm to build a keyboard is limited due to the fact I'm pretty crap at soldering..

My priorities / preferences and use case seem to favor the Filco ?

1. Solid TKL
2. Don't care about backlights (on 2nd thought I would say I'd rather not have backlights)..
3. Don't really care about media keys ..etc  However a windows key lock would be nice?
4. Classic professional looks /no gamer fonts branding ..etc no thanks
5. Minimal noise
6. Less Keycap wobble (which isn't much) than on my current Filco



I have only ever used Cherry Switches (browns and reds mostly) ...I like both of these ..I have also tried mx-black (fine) mx-green (no thank you) and mx-blue (also NO).    It seems that there are a lot of people making switches now that cherry's patents expired... however it seems most better quality prebuilts still tend to use Cherry switches??

I haven't seen anything that really set my heart on fire... when I look I often just start looking at other filco's ... other stuff I looked at seems like just doing something for the sake of doing it..at best a side-grade.

Here is my Trusty 8~yr old filco ... (notice shine on right of spacebar).
 289940-0

alternately decent black pbt keycap replacement set recommendations also open to / encouraged ... good quality / no backlight / no gamer fonts / bounus points for "professional" look but with Kanji alt legends... I keep comeing up short on my search for great option for this.. always some key(s) that I don't like /bad fonts.. and or profiles... The profile of the Vortex caps (oem) I have is good.. I don't like the cherry profile caps .. and haven't really tried any other profiles but I don't like deeply sculpted caps..

Offline PlayBox

  • Posts: 84
Re: Considering new TKL buy.
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 06 August 2022, 10:12:35 »
cherry =\= quality, if you want a good tkl just get a decent tkl kit depends on you budget, i heard frog tkl is nice but that's 300$, i think akko and keychton also have some nice kits, just look into keyboard kits and choose whatever is best for you try switches other than cherry, cherrys nowadays tend to be scratchy and kinda boring, the biggest difference is in the tactile market, with switches way more tactile than browns, but linears also have some new better stuff. yeah quality prebuilts use cherry but only prebuilts. ppl who want cherry nowadays are stuck in 2013 imo. but idk if for 200$ you could get alu and quality switches and also quality keycaps. but for linears there are new gateron oil kings, the new duck switches seem nice, just do your research.
propably sent from my amazon kindle 10th gen

Offline Leslieann

  • * Elevated Elder
  • Posts: 4276
Re: Considering new TKL buy.
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 06 August 2022, 14:18:45 »
Filco is a good board and if it still works you really won't do much better, not without spending quite a bit more time or money.

Of your items though,
Wobble is based on the switch, not the board, Cherry is okay, not great not terrible. Noise however is a problem and that tends to come from 2 things, bottom out and stabs. Filco uses Costar stabs and those are either easy to fix or nearly impossible to fix. Get you some dielectric grease, pop off your stabilized caps and fill the stab slots with that grease. Dab a bit on the end of the stab wires as well.  That should quiet things down if done right, however results will vary. It may feel a bit sluggish at first but settle in fast. Regarding caps, if you know anyone with a sand blaster, turn the pressure WAY, WAY down and blast the top, it will restore texture. However, too much air pressure or holding it too close will destroy them so it's a bit fickle, start with spares and be prepared to do all of them so they match.


If you really want to replace it, stop trying to replace the Filco with off-the-shelf, if can't be done to the extent you want, but it can be done with some work.
Getting something with Cherry stabs (Leopold maybe) *could* fix the stabs but you will have limited ability to lube without desoldering (one advantage to Costar stabs), and you still couldn't lube the switches. Sometimes you can get lucky about the stabs by just cramming some grease down into them but most need more work than that. Because of this, my recommendation is find a hot swap TKL of modest quality, I personally like the GMMK barebones for bang for the buck (and price will be an issue by the time you get everything). Admittedly the styling is meh (I hate low profile boards) and there is better (you can always just disable the RGB backlights). Quality for the base keyboard isn't such a big deal though you just need "good enough" so look around. Be sure to put foam under the pcb, GMMK has some it but it's not very good. From there buy better stabs and lube them (authentic GMMK/Cherry should be the absolute bare minimum), since it's a hot swap you can easily remove them to lube them properly. Now get some nice switches and lube those. This setup will absolutely destroy anything off-the-shelf and if you ever do buy a high end aluminum, all your parts swap over.

Yes, I know the GMMK barebones is cheap but it punches way above it's price and the other parts you need are going to add up VERY fast (which is why the barebones is cheap!). You're going to spend $20-$40 on lube, another $10-$40 on stabs, $5 on foam, a bit for some brushes, and don't forget shipping. You also still need switches and maybe caps. At this point you could easily have spent $100 or more and you still need a base. So don't go expecting to spend $150 on a base and still get the rest for under $200. And again, you can always transfer all of this later if you want.
Novelkeys NK65AE w/62g Zilents/39g springs
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| GMMK TKL
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Definitive Omron Guide.

Offline atarione

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 158
Re: Considering new TKL buy.
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 06 August 2022, 23:33:13 »
cherry =\= quality, if you want a good tkl just get a decent tkl kit depends on you budget, i heard frog tkl is nice but that's 300$, i think akko and keychton also have some nice kits, just look into keyboard kits and choose whatever is best for you try switches other than cherry, cherrys nowadays tend to be scratchy and kinda boring, the biggest difference is in the tactile market, with switches way more tactile than browns, but linears also have some new better stuff. yeah quality prebuilts use cherry but only prebuilts. ppl who want cherry nowadays are stuck in 2013 imo. but idk if for 200$ you could get alu and quality switches and also quality keycaps. but for linears there are new gateron oil kings, the new duck switches seem nice, just do your research.



Filco is a good board and if it still works you really won't do much better, not without spending quite a bit more time or money.

Of your items though,
Wobble is based on the switch, not the board, Cherry is okay, not great not terrible. Noise however is a problem and that tends to come from 2 things, bottom out and stabs. Filco uses Costar stabs and those are either easy to fix or nearly impossible to fix. Get you some dielectric grease, pop off your stabilized caps and fill the stab slots with that grease. Dab a bit on the end of the stab wires as well.  That should quiet things down if done right, however results will vary. It may feel a bit sluggish at first but settle in fast. Regarding caps, if you know anyone with a sand blaster, turn the pressure WAY, WAY down and blast the top, it will restore texture. However, too much air pressure or holding it too close will destroy them so it's a bit fickle, start with spares and be prepared to do all of them so they match.


If you really want to replace it, stop trying to replace the Filco with off-the-shelf, if can't be done to the extent you want, but it can be done with some work.
Getting something with Cherry stabs (Leopold maybe) *could* fix the stabs but you will have limited ability to lube without desoldering (one advantage to Costar stabs), and you still couldn't lube the switches. Sometimes you can get lucky about the stabs by just cramming some grease down into them but most need more work than that. Because of this, my recommendation is find a hot swap TKL of modest quality, I personally like the GMMK barebones for bang for the buck (and price will be an issue by the time you get everything). Admittedly the styling is meh (I hate low profile boards) and there is better (you can always just disable the RGB backlights). Quality for the base keyboard isn't such a big deal though you just need "good enough" so look around. Be sure to put foam under the pcb, GMMK has some it but it's not very good. From there buy better stabs and lube them (authentic GMMK/Cherry should be the absolute bare minimum), since it's a hot swap you can easily remove them to lube them properly. Now get some nice switches and lube those. This setup will absolutely destroy anything off-the-shelf and if you ever do buy a high end aluminum, all your parts swap over.

Yes, I know the GMMK barebones is cheap but it punches way above it's price and the other parts you need are going to add up VERY fast (which is why the barebones is cheap!). You're going to spend $20-$40 on lube, another $10-$40 on stabs, $5 on foam, a bit for some brushes, and don't forget shipping. You also still need switches and maybe caps. At this point you could easily have spent $100 or more and you still need a base. So don't go expecting to spend $150 on a base and still get the rest for under $200. And again, you can always transfer all of this later if you want.



thanks for the replies / info...   I'm probably just going to keep my Filco, I like it very much.. I may buy new keycaps for it, if I can find something I like /make up my mind on which set to buy...     I bought the filco because I wanted something reliable and good, back in 2014 .... I may have done too good a job at finding something as here 8yrs later other than the shine on the aftermarket Vortex keycaps I really can't complain about this keyboard...   wasn't that cheap back when I bought it $150~ and another $30 (drop) on the vortex keycaps, but it has been a very reliable and pleasant (to me) keyboard to use..     I may certainly just lack exposure to all the new switches out there, but I really find the mx-reds on this thing fine...  I will keep an eye out perhaps for a project / something new..but if this died I might just buy another filco (maybe with the KOBO frame this time?)   As the classic non gamer looks and Solid no nonsense experience of the filco is great for me. 

(I am going to have a go at lubing the stabalizers I think?  (I am also thinking about adding some foam to the bottom of the case?)
« Last Edit: Sat, 06 August 2022, 23:35:46 by atarione »