Author Topic: Casual dude reviews 3 slider over rubber dome boards  (Read 8926 times)

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Offline L0rdN1k0n

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 15
Casual dude reviews 3 slider over rubber dome boards
« on: Sun, 29 September 2019, 21:03:02 »
Hello gentlemen, casual keyboard liker checking in. I decided to replace my 1994 IBM Model M on my Ubuntu sleeper desktop, and wanted something inexpensive and beige that didn’t suck. Enter what I’ve seen being called “poor man’s Topre”. I watched some Chyrosran22 vids and found three different slider over rubber dome keyboards to order and review. They were all around $22 shipped each. For reference I am currently using a Ducky One 2 Horizon full size with Cherry MX Browns as my main board.

Dell QuietKey RT7D5JTW
https://i.imgur.com/8L6SvNw.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/zSOnbk8.jpg
Origin: Thailand
FCC ID#: AQ6-7DK15
Switch: NMB slider over rubber dome (Blue domes)
Weight: 1,121g excluding cable
Connector: PS/2
Price Paid: $25.51 (eBay, used great/clean)

+Switches feel good and produce a decent thocc
+Clean board aesthetic with beige and gray keys
+Thick cable with options to route left/right/center underneath the board
+Inexpensive and readily available
>Keycaps are ABS with laser-etched characters and are almost smooth, however they feel sturdy and show no character wear
-Slight spacebar rattle
-Slight creak when flexed

Verdict: 6/10 – A great value board which can be had on eBay for around $20 in excellent or new condition. Would’ve given it 7/10 if not for the rattling spacebar which got slightly annoying. The more readily available and inexpensive slider over dome keyboards I try, the more I wonder why I’ve been paying any more. They are fantastic and frankly, I enjoy them more than the heavily recommended IBM Model M, whose keystrokes seem to require finger exercises to feel comfortable (I’ve given the board two different chances). I will be keeping this QuietKey for future use, potentially at work.

Packard Bell 5131C
https://imgur.com/a/UIhIXth
Origin: China
FCC ID#: E5XKBM10510
Switch: BTC slider over rubber dome
Weight: 936g excluding cable
Connector: PS/2
Price Paid: $22.16 (eBay, “new” old stock)

+Conductive domes over a PCB
+Cherry MX compatible stems
+Key presses are tactile and excellent
+Inexpensive and readily available
+Pen holder groove above F row
+Coiled cord looks great
-Keycaps are ABS with laser-etched characters but feel cheaper and lighter than the other two boards
-Rattling body, metal back plate is only held on with two screws and three plastic lips, easily the worst construction of the three
-Rattling feet are cheaply made
-Rattling spacebar ruins typing immersion
-ISO Enter key is a massive nuisance when trying to enter network file paths or specify a domain name in a work environment
-All elongated keys are poorly stabilized
-No cable routing

Verdict: 4/10 – Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this board arrived with a completely bent PS/2 pin so I got a refund before trying to bend it back and breaking it. I never got to power it on and actually type on it. That being said, from what I can tell this board rates just above terrible. When I removed it from the box it immediately felt light and cheaply made. While the switches are actually excellent, the positive traits end there. The longer keys are poorly stabilized. This is unfortunate because if not for that these would be my favorite of the three switches. The normal keys feel great to type on but the spacebar, shift, enter, etc. ruin the experience. The metal backplate and feet rattle when you look at them, and the spacebar is incredibly rattly as well. The ABS keys feel cheaper than the other two boards as well. Lots of wasted potential with this board.

Compaq RT101
https://imgur.com/a/ITY9XT5
Origin: Thailand
FCC ID#: AQ6-CYPRESSC15
Switch: NMB slider over rubber dome (Green domes)
Weight: 1,281g excluding cable
Connector: PS/2
Price Paid: $21.79 (eBay, used great/dirty)

+Solid, hefty feel
+Good tactility, quite crispy rubber domes
+Pleasant key notes with a very low spacebar thocc
+Curved body, clean aesthetic with all beige keys
+Thick cable with options to route left or right behind the board
+Inexpensive
>Keycaps are ABS with laser-etched characters and subtle texture, however they feel sturdy and show no character wear
>Sweet warning label to display your blatant disregard for keyboard-related injury
-Creaky when flexed, but no creak under normal use
-No Windows keys

Verdict: 8/10 – This board needed some TLC when I received it; I washed all the keys, cleaned it with compressed air (most dead bugs I’ve ever seen inside a board) and some rubbing alcohol/q-tips, and put some bike grease on the stabilizer bars. After that it looks and feels excellent. I’ve heard some of these NMB/BTC slider over rubber dome boards be called “poor man’s Topre”. I wish I had experience with Topre switches for comparison sake, but in vacuum, I love this board. It has a great heft, and despite the bad creak when flexed, it feels rock solid. The keys have a slight tactile bump and create a pleasant yet muted note when depressed. I would not hesitate to use this board on a regular basis. It is currently the board of choice for my Ubuntu sleeper desktop build.

Final thoughts: My coworker has a Compaq RT101, so I was able to demo it before embarking on this quest. Therefore I wasn’t very surprised to find how much I actually enjoy typing on the RT101, which is undoubtedly the best of these boards. I love things that are a good value, and the RT101 and QuietKey are incredible in that regard. They’re compact for being full size (Compared to the Model M at least), have lighter keystrokes that don’t strain the fingers, and are significantly less expensive because of how underappreciated they are. These would make an excellent choice for a work board as they are fairly quiet and inexpensive, so no worries regarding theft or damage. They are also classically styled eye-catchers that are sure to strike up a conversation. I am currently using the Compaq RT101 as part of my Ubuntu sleeper build, which matches the beige aesthetic of a Chenbro SR209 tower and a Logitech MX Master mouse.
« Last Edit: Mon, 30 September 2019, 09:13:05 by L0rdN1k0n »
Ducky One 2 Horizon full-size Cherry MX brown /w Tai-Hao Midnight Dawn ABS
Cooler Master CK550 full-size Gateron blue /w Tai-Hao blood red/black PBT and Dota 2 Juggernaut aluminium artisan
Compaq RT101 full-size WKL NMB dome /w slider
Dell QuietKey RT7D5JTW full-size NMB dome /w slider

Offline saint_james

  • Posts: 118
  • Location: Mors valle, Civitates Foederatae Americae
Re: Casual dude reviews 3 slider over rubber dome boards
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 30 September 2019, 01:09:47 »
Thanks for the reviews!  I've been wondering about these dome/slider boards recently, so this couldn't come at a better time.  Appreciate you sharing your experiences  :thumb:
C = Q/V ≈ ε₀ (A/d)
Active: FC980C | FC660C Low-noise | RF 87u 55g | RF 23u
Inactive: WASD v2 | Pok3r | QFR | Aukey KM-G9 | Compaq RT101
Dead and buried: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite

Offline L0rdN1k0n

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 15
Re: Casual dude reviews 3 slider over rubber dome boards
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 30 September 2019, 09:16:44 »
Thanks for the reviews!  I've been wondering about these dome/slider boards recently, so this couldn't come at a better time.  Appreciate you sharing your experiences  :thumb:

You're welcome, and I hope it doesn't sound like I'm knocking the Model M. Legendary board, I just didn't enjoy the heavy switches or massive size as much as others do. I had two and ended up selling both eventually.
Ducky One 2 Horizon full-size Cherry MX brown /w Tai-Hao Midnight Dawn ABS
Cooler Master CK550 full-size Gateron blue /w Tai-Hao blood red/black PBT and Dota 2 Juggernaut aluminium artisan
Compaq RT101 full-size WKL NMB dome /w slider
Dell QuietKey RT7D5JTW full-size NMB dome /w slider

Offline saint_james

  • Posts: 118
  • Location: Mors valle, Civitates Foederatae Americae
Re: Casual dude reviews 3 slider over rubber dome boards
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 18 October 2019, 20:02:02 »
L0rdN1k0n,

Based on your reviews above, I bought a Compaq RT101.  I'm typing this post using the RT101 right now.  Thought I'd add my inputs to your thread, to assist future Geekhackers who might be considering this board. Mine is P/N 120375-001 B.  It was 25 buck PayPal on the Bay, with free shipping.  I bought an active PS2-to-USB adapter on Amazon to connect this to my system... Brand is Perixx.  Works as advertised, no problems connecting it to my system.

Cosmetics:
My particular board appears to be new.  There's no cosmetic damage that I can see, and the board is very clean.  Modifier keys are the same color as the alphanumeric keys, so this is a fully monochrome key layout.  Later versions appear to have grey modifiers.

Basic functionality:
I ran a Switchhitter test, and all keys registered as expected.  The keypresses are very uniform in terms of actuation weight, travel distance and smoothness. When pressing the 8 home row keys simultaneously, Switchhitter shows that 7 keys register.  Pressing more keys reduces registration to as few as two keys.  So no NKRO or anywhere even close.

Noise:
The key presses are neither excessively noisy nor excessively quiet, although much closer to the quiet side of the spectrum.  This is nowhere near as noisy as a Model M or F... sound is a little louder than my Realforce 87U 55 gram, but not by much.  It's a little quieter than MX Blues with o-rings installed.  This level of noise is innocuous in an office setting, but it will be picked up on microphone for teleconferencing or streaming unless you can figure out how to filter that specific frequency range out.  I did notice that the board creaks when I pick it up, and creaks more if you try to flex the case.

Keyfeel:
Definitely not even close to feeling like a Topre.  There is very minor tactility on the RT101, but it's really subtle in comparison to 45 gram Topre.  It is not even remotely as tactile or as satisfying as 55-gram Topre.  That said, it is not "bad".  It's actually much better than other rubber dome or membrane keyboards that I've used previously. Key wobble is less than Cherry, Outemu and Gateron switches I've used.   I'd say I prefer these rubber domes to MX reds or browns; these rubber domes offer more tactility and smoothness than those MX switches.

Overall impressions:
All in all, it's functional, aesthetically pleasing and isn't offensive in any obvious way.  It's much more pleasing to use than many other rubber dome over membrane keyboards and MX keyboards I've used.  Not super rewarding though in comparison to Topre keyfeel; calling this a "poor man's Topre" is not a good description.  But so what?  For 25 buck paypal, this is a no-brainer and excellent value.  This is a top contender if you are looking for the best work keyboard for under $30.

TL;DR:  This is not a "poor man's Topre" in terms of keyfeel, but it is an excellent value nevertheless. 

C = Q/V ≈ ε₀ (A/d)
Active: FC980C | FC660C Low-noise | RF 87u 55g | RF 23u
Inactive: WASD v2 | Pok3r | QFR | Aukey KM-G9 | Compaq RT101
Dead and buried: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite