Author Topic: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?  (Read 1403 times)

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Offline longford

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New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« on: Sat, 21 March 2020, 19:54:55 »
Hey all,

So this morning I woke up thinking bestbuy keyboards, and after what started from 1 innocent video review on TaeKeyboard's channel of the Drop "Shift" keyboard... 6 hours later of research I'm here with so many questions!!

I've already ordered some artisan key caps from KPrepublic this afternoon, and just realized the Shift keyboard that I thought was coming in May, was actually MAY LAST YEAR (2019! So I think this drop model is completely out of stock. I don't even know if it's the best option, but it's 1000 times better than what I had in mind when I started the day.

I'm looking for some advice on getting a really good keyboard that will have these features
- Be as good as the drop shift or better!
- Have a numpad (I think I need this since I often use it, but would take a lot of convincing)
- Hot swap (I just love the idea since I don't want to get into soldering, and want to change individual key caps too)
- Customizable RGB - so that with custom artisan/resin key caps it will look amazing
- As for switches, I like blue.. but that's just because I'm a gamer and have always used this. I don't know if there is better out there, or if I should care.

I have a great idea where I eventually get keyboards for a couple of friends/brother. And perhaps get artisan key caps as gifts. Kind of like the Pandora charm thing but for guys!

Thanks!



Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 21 March 2020, 22:26:39 »
Couple things...

"Shift or better" is fanboying, it may have everything you want, that doesn't make it good. Most people think Cadillac is one of the best car manufacturers and yet they regularly score near the bottom on reliability. Beware perception of quality, just because people like it or it has an aura of quality due to marketing. I'm not saying Drop keyboards are bad (I've heard early models had some problems, I started looking at one but lost interest) but I've never seen anyone who really knows electronics mention them as being one of the best while the people mentioning them and wanting them are people new to custom keyboards or "influencers". I'm not trying to hint at things, just laying it out there. Beware perception of quality, companies spend a lot of money on this for good reason.

Numpad
Are you a righty or lefty, left mouse users have no issues, but the ten keys can put your right hand out which is bad for ergonomics. If you are a righty you may want to consider a separate numpad for those times you need one. Some people care, others don't. I didn't until I tried it, now I do, it's much more comfortable. I had no idea how much difference it could make in day to day comfort. I do have numpad but I really only use it once or twice a year.

Hot Swap...
Start here. We had a big discussion on why people hate it and the reasons. Basically they have limited lifespans (some are extremely limited) and simply pulling a cap can remove the switch reducing that already short lifespan. Also, soldering is not hard or expensive and a good thing to learn how to do.

RGB..
This SEVERELY limits your options for keyboards and caps, especially if you're on a budget. Think really hard about how much you NEED this. It doesn't make typing faster, your aim better, and backlighting in general is mostly a gimmick. I have it on some systems, it's nice don't get me wrong, but I would pick a quality board over it. Don't forget, keycaps can change this effect dramatically. The caps may glow odd colors, not shine through or shine/glow inconsistent...  I don't know what caps you have, but how will they look with different colors? If they only look right with white backlights, buying a lesser board JUST for RGB you won't use is a bit silly. I'm pretty much done with all but thick PBT at this point, regardless of how it looks. It's a keyboard, it's meant to type, don't sacrifice the primary function for a silly feature you may or may not use.

Blue switches
Most FPS gamers reject blues due to hysteresis, the activation point (lower in travel) is not the same as the release point (higher in travel). They're great for typing and RPG games but bad for FPS games when you need to quickly double tap or nudge. Another issue with blues are noise if you use a mic. Most FPS are using linears (reed, black) or tactile such as clears, browns, Zeals, etc.. which don't have hysteresis or a lot of noise to annoy teammates.



Above all, there's nothing wrong with an off-the-shelf keyboard.
They are usually built in a factory that knows what they are doing and gone through rigorous testing (they don't want 100k boards coming back) and they are easy to get and easy to get parts for when they do have a problem. This is quite important if it's your main keyboard. If my Filco dies I can replace almost everything on it with aftermarket parts or cheap used replacements, how hard do you think it will be to source a replacement PCB for the Drop that sold in limited numbers?

Then there is simply cost.
You could buy several Royal Kludge for the price of a Single Drop, it checks pretty much all your boxes, comes with switches, hot swap and caps. If it dies, buy another using Prime, you still have spent half as much and you're down for at most two days... If you want to try and fix it by soldering and you screw up, at least it's cheap. Oh a socket died, solder it, who cares, it's not a $300 screw up. There is even one that fits Filco aftermarket aluminum cases. You would still be cheaper than the Drop chassis and pcb and there is zero chance of not being able to re-use that chassis for something else later should you move on.

Don't buy the hype that the Drop, or any keyboard for that matter is going to be amazing and transform your experience, they all use the same basic components and serve one simple function, which is mostly handled by the same parts everyone else uses, the switches. It always comes back to the switches, everything else is secondary or even less important.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline typo

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 22 March 2020, 03:09:36 »
Cannot be said better myself. Although Drop Alt High barely edges out KBDFANS IMO. These are by no means "custom". Unless you luck out with a used custom quickly, good luck getting one. RGB is a novelty but most boards have it anyways. If you are a touch typist, and you should be looking at these turn it off. I do. I am not entirely sure you need a num pad. 65% is hottest segment now. I do beg to differ on off the shelf though. Something like the Drop is much nicer than say a K70 or Huntsman. I know, different formants but just brand comparison. You can have a Drop from Amazon in 2-3 days. The big gaming brands leave a lot to be desired and do have a lot of problems. We just went from custom to off he shelf?

Royal Kludge, Filco and Red Dragon do not count as "off the shelf" to me. These are niche boards and are of very high quality. Correct 1/3rd the price of Drop and also just fine. Totally your call. My take is if I was up to the Drop I would just go the extra mile for a Korean. Not every Korean is a fortune. Many kits $400-$500. Plus caps and other stuff you are way under a grand. You then have a keyboard for generations. Also correct, no keyboard will make you type better, feel better or anything like that. They are all the same. Just like Toyota goes to work same as Lexus. No different. Just bragging rights. Honestly I would not get it unless you have a lot of friends guaranteed to be impressed but even that wears off in a day. I prefer it but I do not have any financial issues so it hardly matters to me. Unless one is in my position I would say there are much more important things first.

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 22 March 2020, 10:43:06 »
I can't thank you guys enough for the feedback. After giving all the feedback some thought, I think I've settled on the need for 3 types of keyboards.

1)  The custom keyboard (long-term)
     Purpose: When it makes financial sense to do this, and I've learned more about boards in general, this will be the goal, to build my first custom board. Note Keyboard #2 & #3 below come first. 
    - At the time I'll be all over the forums and doing research I'm sure of it.
    - Is KPrepublic a good place to buy Korea kits?
    Budget:  $400-$600 (for the first build)

2)   A pre-built niche quality good value keyboard
      Purpose:
      - To get introduced to important keyboard brands right now. To get a great typing experience for good value.  (i.e. the mentioned Filco, Royal Kludge, Red Dragon etc)
      -To possibly try out a 65% board, I never have tried anything other than full length, and wonder what it's like.
      - I'd also love a couple of board recommendations. I'd be excited to pick one up right now! I wonder if one of the Filco's with a specialized KOBO frame would be a good place to start?
      - I'd also really like a recommendation on switches. The options are overwhelming. In my mind I want the best typing experience. I wonder if Cherry MX brown is a good option to try with this board?
       Budget:  $50-$200

3) The Gamer/Collector "new enthusiast" keyboard
The idea for this keyboard can be summed up in this youtube unboxing therapy video of the Drop Ctrl (1:15 mark and 3:30 mark for rgb) -
      Purpose:
     - A better alternative for gamers, good construction. An aluminum frame is a very tangible improvement that I think gamers would appreciate immediately.
     - A board that would look great with artisan key caps, probably with RGB lighting behind them. I would like to start gift exchanges at holidays, birthdays of artisan key caps. I think they woudl always be thoughtful, personal, and original. I LOVE the idea.
     - Hot swap is nice for this target board, because gamers won't need to be expected to solder, but if you tell them they can buy switches and change them easily. Believe me it will help get gamers more into the community.
     - Budget $100-$250 (Artisan key caps separate)
     - It might be nice to have two options at this category. One on the higher end, and one slightly more budget concious.
     - If anything, this may be more of a keyboard closer to "sentimental/to enjoy having", with personalized added key caps and such. But overall the choice is approved in principle by the community. And a good "entry" point to the community :)

One of the appeals of this board, is that it allows gamers to get the board near a price they're used to, and you can slowly add to the board over time with the artisan key caps. (For example I just picked up a Dota 2 anodized cnc machine key cap, a Dwarf factory resin key caps, and a spinner which I thought was so cool).

The effect of this keyboard is that the owners will gain an appreciation for the better aspects of keyboards. Later they would branch out into non-RGB. They would also have the benefit of taking their artisan key caps and any additional switches with them. Bottom line this board may not have 1000% seal of approval, but it will be able to be "showy", and still have a good aluminum construction with removeable parts.

* About numpads, I'm a lefty. I've always used my right hand for integrated keyboards, which I'm totally used to. I've never tried with my left hand. If I bought a separate numpad, would it have to be compatible with the keyboard? I'm not sure how that works. Where might I find a good separate numpad?

* Understood on hot swaps. I think it's more of an appeal for keyboard #3, or new comers in general willing to try different switches at the early stages

* Understood on RGB. Again, this is all keyboard #3 for me at this point.

* On blue switches - that is really interesting, that makes a lot of sense for FPS gamers to avoid them. My crowd is more casual in gaming, but still like overwatch and apex which may push them more towards the quickly double tap or nudge switches. For me personally, I only care about typing experience. I think there's a time to enjoy clicky sounds (like at home), and a time for quiet typing (like at the office).

Anyway, in general I am very excited to get into keyboards, with keyboard #2 as a starting point. I am also pretty stoked about keyboard #3 style like in the linked video and the concept of getting friends/family into keyboards who already are gamers, gifting personalized artisan key caps :)

Really looking forward to any recommendations to get me started on keyboard 2 & 3. And thanks so much again for the feedback to a newcomer.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 22 March 2020, 21:05:24 »
- To get introduced to important keyboard brands right now. To get a great typing experience for good value.  (i.e. the mentioned Filco, Royal Kludge, Red Dragon)

Anyway, in general I am very excited to get into keyboards, with keyboard #2 as a starting point. I am also pretty stoked about keyboard #3 style like in the linked video and the concept of getting friends/family into keyboards who already are gamers, gifting personalized artisan key caps :)

As a lefty, size is way less important and more an asthetic. If I were a lefty I'd just go straight to a full size, there's really no downside to it unless you want the looks. If you want to try switches and sizes, cheaper Chinese stuff is a good way to go until you figure out exactly what you want. Then go nuts.

Filco is not a good value in terms of "features", in fact it's terrible in that regard. It is however a very good start to building a solid, really long lasting keyboard. It's sort of a Porsche GT3, take a good solid keyboard strip it down to bare essentials then charge more for it. It's stupid, it's crazy but it appeals to some people. Few will say you are stupid for buying one but many will point out "better deals". Kobo case is just a painted stock Filco case best I can tell. If you want a killer Filco look at the Tex case, there is nothing quite like typing on a 5 pound beast of a keyboard that will destroy almost anything it falls on, including your foot.


Switch options are overwhelming these days but there are ways to narrow it down, Browns are a good start since it's sort of a middle ground and makes it easy to figure out where to go from there. Many think they want to leave it only to end up with something very similar. Once you get to the type you want you eliminates a whole lot of them, you can dial into exactly what works best for you. Sorry to say, but only a connoisseur is going to notice the difference between Zeal and Gateron Browns unless they are sitting side by side, so don't get too wrapped up in exact switches. I'm not saying Zeals are not better, only that you would only know if pointed out or side by side. The average person, even keyboard enthusiast would be quite happy with either and not really notice.


Red Dragon, Royal Kludge... I HIGHLY disagree with Typo on them being some special niche board. Red Dragon is a cheap Chinese board (along with 50 other brands all selling the same stuff), good for the price, but it's FAR from what a custom or high end board will be if you have some experience in this hobby. I like my little Magicforce, it's a killer board for the $40 I spent and I like it despite it's shortcomings. Had I gone from a cheap rubber dome to the Magicforce, it would be fantastic, but you could blindfold me and let someone else do the typing and I could still tell it's not my Filco just by the sound of the stabs, The MF is just not as refined, but it works and types just fine. Royal Kludge is pretty much the same other than them adding some bluetooth functions, which I guess kind of makes it niche. RK does have some higher end offerings, but I'm still not convinced I'd put them in the same class as Filco or Leopold or Varmilo.

As far as Lew and Drop, Lew is an influencer, a MASSIVE one. His schtick is unboxing and initial impressions, which is why I wouldn't trust it. Things often look great on paper and just out of the box, it's new, and often sent to him by the manufacturer (which this very much was), of course it works and looks good, they'd look pretty stupid otherwise. When you look at car reviews do you want to hear from the salesman or would you rather hear from the mechanic who services it and knows where all the problems are?  Do a search for any keyboard and "problem forum" or the model and "reddit", then you will see what is really going on with something. Don't trust Amazon, they use shills to game the system (Amazon is one of the absolute worst for this) and buyers are complete morons, even Newegg at least half the buyers are morons but at least the reviews have fewer shills. As for Youtube shills and influencers, unless they can show that they know what the hell they are talking about and are not just a shill, you should stick to groups who specialize in it.


There is a lot of good keyboards out there, and while many will probably argue, not a lot of complete and utter junk. Of course a KMAC is nicer than a Magicforce, you can buy more than a dozen Magicforce for the price, but is it actually a bad keyboard? No. It's a keyboard, they're relatively simple, they've been around a while, and they mostly use similar parts, there's not a lot to really screw up. Don't think a $400 keyboard is going to be magical, better probably, but it's still needs to only do one function and while you may see it as an investment, that's mostly just you trying to justify it. Most people who are into this get bored, so while the keyboard may last 20 years and you expect it to last that long, will you? Or will you use it for a year or two, get bored then want to try something else never to return to it again?


Sorry, this probably just made you rethink everything all over again. Welcome to the hobby.  :))
There is no one size fits all, especially at this level. My advice, worry about your high end later, figure out what you want to try NOW in terms of switches and size and keep learning. When you get to where you know exactly what you want, see what's out there. By then you may find everything you thought you wanted was no longer what you want or something "better" has come along.  Or just roll the dice, many of us do.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline typo

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 04:31:20 »
I never said Red dragon was high end! I said it was okay you can have in 2 days. I think it is better than Corsair, Cooler Master ETC. Otherwise, to me yeah it's junk. What do you want me to say? I was trying not to be a jerk! My key caps cost more than that board.  You have to start somewhere. I would not start at the top. What if you lose interest? Or whatever. Yes, Filco is better but agreed lacks features. So does Topre though. I guess it boils down to budget?

Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 04:50:32 »
I never said Red dragon was high end! I said it was okay you can have in 2 days. I think it is better than Corsair, Cooler Master ETC. Otherwise, to me yeah it's junk. What do you want me to say? I was trying not to be a jerk! My key caps cost more than that board.  You have to start somewhere. I would not start at the top. What if you lose interest? Or whatever. Yes, Filco is better but agreed lacks features. So does Topre though. I guess it boils down to budget?
Sorry, it sounded like you were lumping them together, I've seen a few random posts that seemed to act like RK were something special and thought maybe you were one of them.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline typo

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 10:37:03 »
Nope. Not I. They are junk. I was just trying to be "polite" I see how it looked to you but I did not want to leave the OP with no options either. Same as Corsair, Cooler Master ETC. I think it is Amazon's brand actually? That is why I tell people be careful on Amazon. You can spend $50 well, or flush it. On just about anything. Not limited to our hobby. I think you pretty much covered everything though. Honestly, if I was interested in typing first and foremost on a budget that would be Filco. I guess. Or Leopold. A Korean keyboard will not make one a better typist. If gaming? Get a K70 MKII SE. That particular one is good. Only for gaming. I am talking cheap here.

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 22:30:09 »
Okay First of all, I need to correct myself. I'm a righty for keyboards. I'm left handed as a person but use right-hand for mouse. Sorry that should have been obvious! :)  So in that case the 65% is something that should still be excellent to try I imagine.

That said, after reading everything so far I'm now pretty excited about trying a 65% board (I need the arrow keys).

Here are the main models I'm interested in, let me know what you think (too bad I can't really find them for purchase :( )

Varmilo VA68M V3. I love that it's aluminum (albeit casted). I like this version more than the VA68Mg RGB. As I understand the Mg version is a ighter magnesium case compound and I think I'd like the heavier board personally. Unfortunately I can't find this keyboard to purchase anywhere!

My close second choice is the Leopold FC660M.  Isn't aluminum, but close to half the price? (and probably very enjoyable to try..?) I also don't like micro-usb as much as the varmilo usb-c, but I'm not going to weigh that heavily that's for sure. Unfortunately again sourcing difficulties.  I only saw it on mechanicalkeyboards.com, but they only have the black case or the white case with yellow/blue keycaps. I feel strongly about white case, but not really feeling the yellow/blue,and understand the right shift key is a weird size, so not so easy to change key caps on this one.

I also tried to track down a 3rd option that seems non-existent called the TADA68.

My "second class" backup options are
a) the Ducky One 2 SF. I'm gathering I wouldn't have the same overall quality. The upside is that I think it's easier to buy, and fun RGB. (Though I think when I do settle on an RGB friendly board, it might be full size since I'm liking the idea of artisan keycaps for F keys that shine thru etc)
b) Drop At - similar to ducky, upside is I think it's aluminum. Downside is,I think its more expensive than ducky (in fact pricing is similar to TKL Control version and may force me to go with the Ctrl) and not sure if parts replacement would be an issue
 
Overall issue with going with one of these backup options, is I'd miss out on trying a premium brand like leopold/varmilo, which I think is an important part of what I'm trying to accomplish with this board :)

Is there anywhere to find these varmilo/leopold boards online that isn't easy to google? Do you guys agree those boards would be better than the ducky/alt?

Also, with a 65 board I'd really like to get a separate numpad. I was wondering if you guys had any recomendations. I saw in the next thread over a Filco recommended https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=3660
But there are better options available that may be CNC and stylized?
 
*On the gaming board K70 MK 2 SE. I agree probably my fav gaming board. I didn't know SE had the PBT and so thank you for pointing that out, I'd def go SE if I ever do get that board now. I don't game that much right now, and actualy for now am pretty stoked about trying out and putting my money into these leopolds/varmilo type boards and especially the 65% right now :)

*On the heavy Filco /w Tex Case. That sounds pretty awesome. I'd love to get one of these. I'm assuming I have to buy all the parts separately and build the thing myself? I did a couple of searches for Tex and always saw the case on its own. I've never built a board before, so wanted to clarify if that's how it's done.

*With the 65 board I'll probably try brown switches if possible as understand they may be the best or fastest for typing.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 23:38:15 »
My close second choice
Wow, you really did some homework.   :)

Va68M is discontinued and finding one is hard, I've been looking. They make the plastic models still, just not the aluminum and magnesium. You might find the later RGB model but that's about it. There is a nearly unused one for sale in Canada in the GH makerketplace, I've been tempted a few times, I keep looking and drooling but I'm set on building my own at this point (I want f-keys). As you saw, the nice thing about these is normal keycaps work, there is also aftermarket PCBs (that Canadian one has one) and at one time even an aftermarket aluminum case was at least planned, though I have never seen it.

Note that neither ot or the FC660 are a true 65% (like the Tada), naming is a bit clunky in this industry, some use keys some use a percentage and not always the same as others, some go by key count. You may want to look at Whitefox and Nightfox (?) and KBDfans website, they have the Tada as well as a few other options.


None of your choices are bad, second rate is extremely debatable, some will even say your second choices are actually better (I'd call it a toss-up depending on your needs and wants). Regardless, none are bad, you aren't missing anything, especially at this level. Once you reach a certain quality level it's all personal preference, I don't think you'll go wrong with any of them really.

On the Filco/Tex case combo, you need a keyboard and case, the Filco needs one screw to disassemble if I remember right, and then lift it out set it in the other and tighten 9 screws. Done, pretty simple, takes all of 5 minutes. Where you go from there is up to you, the only stock parts remaining on mine is the base pcb (controller was swapped), 2inches of the cord and some of the stabilizers. I call it the "Almost-a-Filco" because there's almost nothing left of it at this point. If you really want a killer dead reliable keyboard that just works and will last forever, stick a Filco in a Tex, swap the caps (thick PBT!) and type happily ever after.

By the way, only customs are milled from a block of aluminum, mainstream are all going to be cast then milled for cost reasons (including the Tex case). The customs would too if they were selling similar numbers. Nothing wrong with it when done right, it's just a way to cut down milling time on large batches.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline typo

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 23:57:54 »
I would honestly get the Drop Alt High on Amazon delivered in 2-3 days and be done. They are all similar. The Drop is kind of pricey but it is decent. If you get the bare bones you can then get much better key caps but now you are up to $500. At that point you can almost get custom. The Filco I feel is better but you can run that way up too. Milled or Billet is very expensive. A lot is dictated by what you wish to spend.

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 24 March 2020, 12:00:16 »
Thanks for these great info. I know I'll return to it time and time again :)

So I think I'm ready to grab my first 65 board. I'm looking at the Alt High profile on Amazon. Particularly after looking at the pricing, I've come up with one very clear dilemma and was hoping to know what you guys would do in this situation. (But I know it is personal preference, so I suppose objectively speaking)..

I'm shopping on the Canadian amazon site, but have converted the following to USD. Just mentioning this in case pricing is different on the us store.

1) Alt regular profile $200
2) Alt high profile on $300

Seeing this I am willing to spend the extra to get the high profile, as love the "more solid/heavier" case idea. I think this model is a tad pricey, and may need keycap upgrades as was mentioned. But at this point it is the front runner.

Now the issue has quickly become, at this price point, do I stay true to my intent of getting my first 65. Or do you go with the lower price TKL version "drop control". The control is $200 on drop site, plus $25 to change from halo true to brown.

It can even be ordered with upgraded keycap sets (XDA canvas $75, SA pulse $100, SA pulse noire $100). But I don't know if these are "better" or just aesthetic changes.

What would you guys do in my situation all things considered?

In my mind pros are
Alt high profile 65
1) I get to experience my first 65 keyboard, which was the original objective..
1)  Possibly better case, and assume the Control doesn't have a case upgrade option to high profile (i could be wrong)
Drop control TKL
1) Cheaper by $75. I assume keycaps quality are the same as the Drop alt.
2) I get the F keys, which would be great for the artisan resin keycaps I ordered and a nice advantage. But again, this is trading off the 65 size...

It's a bit of a conundrum. What would you guys do in my spot? I can't decide!

*PS also wondering where I would get upgrade keycap sets for the alt. Not really sure where to begin. What good options would be and where to look.
« Last Edit: Tue, 24 March 2020, 12:02:10 by longford »

Offline rxc92

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 24 March 2020, 21:10:09 »
There's this strong feeling in my mind that all these huge expectations you've set for this keyboard without even having owned a mechanical keyboard will result in some disappointment. Without getting into preferences or anything, you haven't even tried one. So all these notions about "preferring" this or that are based only off of what other people online write, and let's be honest here, there are a ton of blowhards who need to make their choice of keyboard seem better than anything else. 
Just go out on a limb and try something normal. If, after owning it for some time, you think your experience would truly be improved by, for instance, having a higher profile or heavier keyboard, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise, it'll be like buying your friend's bespoke suit; maybe a great piece in its own right, but very expensive and not necessarily what's best for you.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 24 March 2020, 21:20:25 »
Thanks for these great info. I know I'll return to it time and time again :)

1) Alt regular profile $200
2) Alt high profile on $300


Now the issue has quickly become, at this price point, do I stay true to my intent of getting my first 65. Or do you go with the lower price TKL version "drop control".

It can even be ordered with upgraded keycap sets (XDA canvas $75, SA pulse $100, SA pulse noire $100). But I don't know if these are "better" or just aesthetic changes.

1) I get to experience my first 65 keyboard, which was the original objective..

1) Cheaper by $75. I assume keycaps quality are the same as the Drop alt.
2) I get the F keys, which would be great for the artisan resin keycaps I ordered and a nice advantage. But again, this is trading off the 65 size...

It's a bit of a conundrum. What would you guys do in my spot? I can't decide!

*PS also wondering where I would get upgrade keycap sets for the alt. Not really sure where to begin. What good options would be and where to look.
You're welcome, just want you to get what you want and need, not just want.

High profile isn't just a looks or weight thing, with backlighting, profile has a different function. If your desk sits really low to your legs and close to you it may not matter, but if it's higher and/or out in front you can get a TON of bleed. I had to to nearly turn it off on my low profile keyboard it was almost blinding. This will be even worse if you have a highly reflective backplate.


Being that you haven't used such a compact keyboard yet, I'd recommend you go TKL or get something cheap to see how you like it. The switch from 10key to TKL isn't a difficult one, especially if you have a cheap numpad you can use if needed, but going from 10key to 65 and 75 or less is a bit more drastic. I found I can't get along with 60%, would prefer F-keys and when I tried 75%, which I loved in theory, I had all sorts of issues. I have two really nice 75% boards which I love but I just get really frustrated using due to the key placement, you may be fine, but it drove me nuts.

Good keysets today seem to come down to 3 options, expensive really nice doubleshot ABS in tons of colors, double shot PBT with less colors (especially shine through), and thick PBT, which has really limited options but actually pretty cheap. Nice ABS looks nice, sounds okay but then they shine, thin PBT is gawd awful they sound really cheap but maintain texture, and thick PBT is the bomb, inexpensive, great sound and the texture lasts a long time (I really like the YMDK ones, really rough texture). Pick your priority.

As far as artisans,
It's a keyboard meant to be typed on, many artisan caps aren't really usable for their primary function, typing. If it's just for looks and you don't care about the fkeys, that's fair, but you are losing desk space and paying extra for keys you aren't even using. I'm not saying your keyboard can't be dressed up and look nice, but keep in mind the primary function is to type, it makes little sense to spend a lot of money on making the best typing keyboard you can, then gimp it with keys you can't use.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 25 March 2020, 20:52:04 »
You're welcome, just want you to get what you want and need, not just want.
Leslieann thanks for adopting me! :D <3 Also shout out to typo, very appreciate.

*rxc92, I've had many mechanical keyboards, but all gaming brands so I guess that doesn't qualify. But I feel what you're saying. Even I was sensing that from my post hah. Thanks for pointing it out! (I'll get there)

OK - so final verdict, I'm starting with a TKL as recommended. I took a few to look at the filco ninja majestouch 2 for awhile, but in the end.. there is a pre-order production run with 2 days left on a "high profile" Drop Control TKL on Drop.

What made me lean this way is:

a) The recommendation to start with TKL
b) I love the idea of a heavier, high profile case version of this model
c)  the price seems pretty reasonable, $250 + $25 for the browns (I know I'm new, but value sounds decent?)
d) seems a bit like fate since there's only 2 days left on the pre-order
Plus at least I'll get something moving!!

Do you guys approve of this decision in principle?
I'd love to know. I won't pull the trigger until tomorrow night.

Doesn't look like you can pre-order with different keycaps, but you have a choice of case between space grey and black. WOW! My initial reaction was to go the grey industrial metallic look. But the black looks bomb. What do yall think color wise on this one? https://drop.com/buy/drop-ctrl-high-profile-mechanical-keyboard

Excited to know what yall think and if it gets the seal of approval to get me headed in the right direction! :)

*Soon I will also pick up a 65.. hunting for a leopold or longshot varmilo. I may get one before the TKL since the production run is expected to ship July 31st :)
« Last Edit: Wed, 25 March 2020, 21:49:35 by longford »

Offline Leslieann

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 25 March 2020, 23:17:12 »
Leslieann thanks for adopting me! :D <3 Also shout out to typo, very appreciate.

Do you guys approve of this decision in principle?
I'd love to know. I won't pull the trigger until tomorrow night.

Excited to know what yall think and if it gets the seal of approval to get me headed in the right direction! :)
You're welcome.

You're better informed about what you're buying, so yes, right direction.
« Last Edit: Wed, 25 March 2020, 23:24:34 by Leslieann »
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/Vortex case, hand milled case, custom feet, custom paint, Klaxxon key caps, lubed and o-ringed Jailhouse Blues made from vintage Cherry MX Blues, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, removable cord, sound dampened. Winkey blockoff plate | Magicforce 68 w/Outemu Blues |KBT Race S L.E. w/Ergo-Clears, custom WASD keyset | Das Pro w/browns (Costar model) | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 26 March 2020, 16:24:16 »
Pre-ordered the Control High Profile in black with Kaihua speed silver switches.

Also pre-ordered Holy Panda switches pack of 110!

Both are pre-order events on Drop ending tomorrow.

Can't wait!!!

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #17 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 11:06:06 »
Also ordered Tada68 ISO Aluminum gray High Profile with gateron rgb yellows from KBDFans.. they had 1 in stock!
Will let you know how this all turns out at some point :)

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 12:08:45 »
Uh,you pulled some triggers. I wanted to throw in a curveball and ask how your used market looks like.
I've bought and sold quite a few keyboards recently and have made some valuable experiences along the way.
I bought more than one keyboards with the sole intention of trying them out for maybe two weeks and then selling them off again.

IMO it's a great help - especially in these murky waters - to get some first hand experience with different switches, keycaps and layouts.


Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #19 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 17:10:12 »
Good advice, I checked out a popular used site here in Canada (not specific to keyboards or anything) and did see decent price on a ninja majeforce and a plastic version Tada68.

What I'm kind of wrestling with now is OK I ordered a Tada68 this Morning. It was $160 on kbdfans plus $13 for yellows. Up to about $200 with shipping. I didn't realize it's ISO layout. It's preassembled.  I saw on laserboost you can get ANSI Tada68 plates for like 35 euros. Would that even work?

 Initially tried rationalizing having an ISO board around would be a nice novelty. But I'm starting to think that might wear off after a few days and I'll want to convert it. Now the problem also is, since I've already got $180 board I'm also wrestling with wondering if I should have just got the more modern Alt. But then I would have the Ctrl and Alt and that doesn't seem very diverse.... Arrrrgh, what to do....???! What would you guys do in my shoes?
« Last Edit: Sat, 28 March 2020, 17:16:01 by longford »

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #20 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 18:05:36 »
I'm thinking to cancel the TADA68 ISO and try instead a DIY kit Tofu 65 case https://kbdfans.com/collections/diy-kit/products/dz68rgb-customize-keyboard-diy-kit
The DIY kit is $185

- Keycaps $20 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01IBM8YZ6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1-
- Stabiizers $18 https://www.1upkeyboards.com/shop/parts-and-tools/parts/gmk-screw-in-stabilizers/
- Switches Zealios V2 (67g?) $70 - https://kbdfans.com/collections/zealios-switches/products/zealios-tealios-zilents?variant=28744897265712

Basically this is form a video on youtube of someone that did this build instead of buying the alt anyway: 

I realize I'm moving a little fast here, but this would probably be a good decision overall? I mean in terms if a budget of around $300 for a 65..?
This DIY kit is also hot swappable.

I think it might be good?
« Last Edit: Sat, 28 March 2020, 18:07:32 by longford »

Offline typo

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #21 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 19:56:33 »
The Alt "can" be a good board. It will not be with $20 keycaps and $18 stabs! You can do a lot to it. Laser cut the bottom of the entire case and fit about a .35mm brass weight flush. Now it weighs 25+ pounds. I would highly suggest Halo True switches with it. I feel with some mods it is better than KBDFANS. I am speaking solely of the Alt high though I do not like open keys. The SMD LED's re highly unlikely to fail but I would not crank them. Honestly it is 80% of what my Rama is for 1/10th the money. Diminishing returns kick in quickly on 65% boards after about $350 IMO. It would be my recommendation. Heck, if you are "sane", it could be your end game. Of note, The Hot Swap is rather tight on it so I would not worry about that. Although do not swap more than 3 times for the life of the board. I do not have one but know severl people tht do. They are pleased with it and I give it a thumbs up as well. It is made in China just so you are aware. You are not getting Korea for this price :)

Offline longford

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Re: New to Premium/Custom Keyboards - Recommendation?
« Reply #22 on: Sat, 28 March 2020, 22:49:13 »
Typo,

Do you think there's any advantage to ordering a new production run on Drop? If I did that I'd only get the Alt in the summer. But if it's just the same as Amazon, I can get it this week with halo trues: https://www.amazon.ca/Drop-ALT-High-Profile-Mechanical-Keyboard/dp/B083TJ1ZFF

Also really curious, what is your Rama??? I quickly went to their site and saw something for like $360. So I'm curious what you have :)