Author Topic: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK  (Read 1165 times)

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Offline SackOHammers

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Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« on: Tue, 06 October 2020, 23:40:58 »
Need advice on selecting the next keyboard for me.  New to the hobby.
Have used Model M in the past.  Have a K70 with Cherry Browns now.  Looking for better.  Willing to put in money and time. 

Usage:
Typing only. Work from home.  This is separate from my gaming keyboard.

Parameters:
Need full size 104 key or 108 key.  Got to have that 10 Key with the wide zero key right under the one key. I do too much spreadsheet work, IP addresses, calc, etc.
No RGB wanted / needed. If it comes with it, I can always turn it to soft white, or remove the LEDs from PCB.
Need something quiet, with good stabilizers.  Quiet is the highest priority in the build (bottom out noise, return noise, stabs, etc).
Need numlock and capslock indicator lights.
I prefer the look of floating switch cases.  They're also easier to clean and look less chunky.  But if they're louder, then I am happy with a more enclosed bezel. Quiet trumps aesthetics for this build.
Prefer USB-C.  Varmilo uses a very old USB standard with the Mini cable.  Very much outdated and were replaced 13 years ago.  But if Varmilo is the right board, I'll overlook it and choose that one as USB-C is only a preference.

Considerations:
I am happy to do a DIY kit.
I am happy to solder on the specific switches I want (leaning toward Zilent 76g). I've got much experience soldering and I have a desoldering gun.
 I already have the keycaps I want for now.
I don't mind lubing switches (if I don't go Zilent), bandaid mod, putting in dampening foam on a prebuilt. It will be on a desk mat.
I am willing to do whatever, within reason.
I am willing to put in money, time, and energy to get a quality and quiet result.

Full size pre-builts I've considered are below.  I have yet to stumble upon a FS kit that has the layout I want that is available.  My google-fu isn't all-seeing.  Maybe you know of a DIY I should look at?  Another pre-built I should consider?
Varmilo 108 key (fully customizable) (capslock/numlock indicator is based on switch LED and I don't like that.  It won't work with the keycaps I had in mind)
Leopold FC900R (no capslock/numlock indicator / fugly prominant branding instead of media keys)
Durgod K310 (switch plate not metal, can be louder)
iKBC MF108 V.2
WASD V3 104-Key Custom Mechanical Keyboard

Which of these are better and which of these are worse?  I'm already thinking maybe the Durgod isn't right for me.

I would love to leverage your expertise.  Your hands on experience.  Your eye for detail in helping me order/make a great keyboard.

Offline hvontres

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  • Location: Oceanside, CA
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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 06 October 2020, 23:54:45 »
I would look at a barebones GMMK as a base and then build up from there. I was going to do that, but I ended up getting a great deal on a Reddragon K556. It is an OK base, but the Otemu sockets make it a bit more of a pain to put in other brands of switches. I did a short writeup here : https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=108433.msg2955688#msg2955688

I too was looking for a work alternative to a model M and so far I am liking the Hako True and MT3 keycap combination.

I don't know what your switch preferences are, but I have been very happy with Hako True switches. They are a bit heavier than most people seem to like, but I find that they help slow your fingers down at the end to the stroke and it keeps you from bottoming out the keys very hard, which to my mind is actually a bit part of the noise coming from a keyboard. In fact, one of the more annoying sounds in our open office environment is somebody else banging down on their rubber dome space bar as they type out a long email.

I definitely love my /dev/tty keys and I think for my next build I might get a set of MT3 susuwatari. The high profile and deep dish definitely look a little retro, but they feel very comfortable on my (large) fingers and sound absolutely divine. :)

If you are looking for something a little more out of the ordinary, I think this project is getting close to the first Group buy:

In fact, the Reddragon is kind of a test mule to try out the switches and keycaps before I try to build one of these. The only thing is that finding a full set of keycaps will be a bit more challenging, especially the second row of function keys. Good luck on your journey.
Henry von Tresckow

               
1986 Model M 1390131, 1987 Model M 1391401 , 1993 Model M2 Modded Reddragon k556(work keyboard)

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 07 October 2020, 00:29:08 »
I'll second the GMMK.
Get some nicer stabs then lube and bandaid mod them, it will be more quite than anything off-the-shelf by a long shot, bonus, it also already has foam in the base. Combined with silent switches and this will be spooky quiet. I have some Zilent v2s for testing on a few switches on it, I have laptop keyboards that make more noise.

Yes it has LEDs, turn them off, it has onboard memory and will retain any settings so you don't need the software once it's setup (I did mine on Windows then moved it to Linux).
The programming system on it is not only good but the same way, I have several keys disabled.
It does use USB micro B but get a magnetic USB cable, problem solved.

Had mine for a bit and I have to say it's really, really darn good and that isn't even considering the price which makes it even better. Better still you can buy it without switches or caps making it an even better bargain.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 07 October 2020, 00:44:44 »
Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply.

I don't think the GMMK is right for what I want.  Looking for something a bit more premium.  I've got some switch testers en route.  I've also got some 10 pkg samples of the zilent 67g and 78g.  I'll likely go with one of those.  I'm a heavy typist.   On my Cherry MX Browns, most of the noise I get is from bottoming out or from the sound of the return.  But really, that slappy space bar and enter key are the real noisemakers.  It's why I want to get something higher quality.  My team complains in teleconference meetings.  My wife complains.

I really liked the Austin.  I can't find the thread, but I swear there was a variant on that by someone named Edge or something like that I also liked.   The Austin is an "interesting" layout.  It scrunches a lot of stuff to save a column or two.  I'm sure that's valuable to some, it's not valuable for me.  So the keyboard ends up looking scrunched for no reason.  That being said, I could live with it.  I also live here in Austin.

The Boston you linked is compelling because it has a similar layout to FS, and is being released soon.  But that thing looks meme to me.  I don't need that extra row of buttons at the top.  The weird knob. The LEDs.  The Austin does all this work to scrunch and compact the right side of the keyboard, then this one just adds a bunch of useless buttons (to me) to it in an additional top row.  I don't want to harsh on someone else's vision.  We all have personal preferences and needs.  It's just not a great fit for me.

I'd probably jump on an Austin in a heartbeat.

Offline hvontres

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  • Location: Oceanside, CA
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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 07 October 2020, 00:51:26 »
I think the second round of Austin GB is shipping now and there may be some extras up for grab next month.
Henry von Tresckow

               
1986 Model M 1390131, 1987 Model M 1391401 , 1993 Model M2 Modded Reddragon k556(work keyboard)

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 07 October 2020, 01:27:42 »
I clicked the "watch" and "notify" buttons on the Austin R2 thread.  But no idea how extras work and if I'd be lucky enough to get one.
The GB sold out in less than a minute.  And the only people that successfully got on it, were people that were savvy with preparing their payment, shipping, contact details ahead of time.

It would be nice to have one, but I won't hold my breath.

Offline esimonis

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 07 October 2020, 02:42:10 »
The Pantograph keyboard is combined with an X-shaped mechanical link for typing with less force and less fatigue. Mechanical keyboard: exceptional durability but big typing sound. About non-contact capacitive keyboard: durable, no noise, the non-contact capacitive mechanism has the advantage of not creating physical collision when you press the key, so the components inside the key will not be affected. Impact force causes damage. Because of the above mechanism, this keyboard is usually very durable and makes almost no noise when typing.
I suggest that you can choose among these: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum, HyperX Alloy Origins, Corsair K70 RGB MK.2, Das Keyboard 4Q, Logitech G513 Carbon

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 09 October 2020, 01:10:04 »
Well, I went for a iKBC MF108 V.3 with MX Red Silents.  I plan to replace with Zilents, but figured I might as well try some linears for a bit as well.
Looks like a beast of a board.  Steel switch plate, etc.  Don't really go in for the RGB, but easy enough to tone that down to a really low white backlight.

Offline Riverman

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  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 09 October 2020, 12:29:06 »
I had the original MF108 for a while.  It definitely is a beast of a keyboard.  I've shied away from keyboards with LEDs if I wanted to replace the switches, just because that doubles the number of solder joints to undo.  If I do ever tackle a switch replacement on a backlit board, I might do it on a Cherry MX Board 6.0.  I'm curious how you end up liking the silent reds.  I've only ever tried those on a PCB-mounted Cherry G80, and thought they were pretty good, but a little on the light side.  A plate can make them feel much different, though.

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 09 October 2020, 12:43:46 »
It looks like the LEDs are mounted under each switch through the PCB.  So it looks like one of those boards where you do not have to touch the LEDs at all when doing a switch replacement.  This was definitely a consideration I weighed before buying.  I was fully willing to just leave the RGB LEDs off the board after a switch replacement.  As it turns out, based on the two posts I read, it isn't an issue.  I seems like, and I hope it is true, that it is as easy to replace the switches on this as it would be on a board with no LEDS.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 09 October 2020, 15:19:34 »
I've been down this road.

Leopold is the most rugged of the pre-builts, and stands up well to modification.

It can also be quieted somewhat, or at least given a relatively deep and consistent sound profile.


I had a stock [MX Brown] Leopold FC900R PD modified into a keyboard with 62 G Aqua Zilents:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=103412.0

The 'surgery' worked, and I was able to get the LED colour changed to one of my preference.

You don't notice the prominent branding so much, if you have good keycaps.

Sound-wise, the keyboard is not what I would call "mute." The Zilents still make a (muted) impact noise. The switches themselves are not perfectly silent.

In stock form, the board had an inconsistent sound profile. Some parts of the board were deep and thocky, others were just plain clacky or loud. The spacebar was mondo loud.

With careful lubing of the stabs, some lube applied near some noisier switches, adjustment of the stock dampening material, the board sound profile became more consistent. It's possible to quiet the spacebar on Leopolds, it was done with 2 of mine.

I'm right-now thinking of having the board resoldered with Boba switches. Here's why:

The U4 Boba switches are quieter than Zilents [and cheaper], and have a less-steep tactility. If you already tried and like Zilents, go ahead and build them. But the U4 Bobas are more like Holy Pandas in tactility, with a slightly mushy bottom-out.

They are intended for modders / customizers, and friendly to a wide variety of spring weights. They also don't need much lube. You can buy them in pieces, for easier lubing and assembly.

If it's more of an MX Brown / Clear tactility that you're looking for, just put Silent Sky stems in the Boba housings. You can dial the weight back to 55 G, and have a quiet, light switch.

If I were in your position, I would build a Boston or similar keyboard with Boba switches. A modded factory board probably isn't going to be as easy to quiet as a custom. You can add dampening materials to your heart's content.

So here's some points:

-Leopold most rugged pre-built. Takes well to modding. Hard to desolder because they don't go cheap on the soldering. Kind of noisy from factory, but can be quieted a bit. Zilents will work fine in them, but Zilents aren't the quietest tactile.

-Varmilo makes great keyboards. You can even order it with Zilents from the custom store [in some sizes]. The full-size isn't low-profile, only the TKL. I find that the spacebar stabilizers don't hold up over time as well as the Leopold's. Varmilos are also probably harder to desolder and resolder because of internal layout issues, from what I've heard. Leopold might be better for modding, Varmilo probably nicer in stock form.

-A large custom kit will give you the best options for switches and silencing.

-Have you considered the KBD8x mkii? It's a TKL, but you can also buy the numpad separately. KBD8x mkii can be silenced very well, from the videos I've seen. Look them up with Silent Alpacas or other silenced builds on Youtube. You can use a variety of dampening materials, including a stock one that you can order with it.

BTW You WILL have to lube your switches for best results, and that includes Zilents. I don't see many people going to the trouble / expense of  building a Zilent keyboard, and not lubing those switches.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 09 October 2020, 21:55:16 »
BTW You WILL have to lube your switches for best results, and that includes Zilents. I don't see many people going to the trouble / expense of  building a Zilent keyboard, and not lubing those switches.
Do they NEED to lube V2s or are they just doing it out of habit and precaution before soldering. Some switches absolutely need lube, some certainly iomprove but I'm not convinced all of them do.

I have v2 Zilents and I doubt most people could tell a different pre and post lube.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 10 October 2020, 08:50:06 »
It's just what I see. Most people who spend that much on switches [you're talking north of $70 for a small board, north of $120 for a 104/108] will want to ensure that every component of that board is at its best.

The real reason is that people seem to think there is a difference with Zilents. Zilents tend to have some spring ping, and you can hear the shuffling of the dampening material. Some people think that lube reduces these noises. Certainly it would with the spring, and you might want to replace the springs entirely.

Also, Zilents have a very strong, very steep tactile bump. Once you've amassed enough force to overcome the tactile resistance, you basically commit to bottoming-out. That's the experience of a lot of people. So lube can help with this process. Some find the tactility too harsh, and want to reduce it by a certain amount.

There's been a lot of experience amassed lubing Zilents, with different specific combinations and spring lubes recommended, and people swear by it. FWIW, my 104-key board with Zilents is unlubed. Functioning is fine, but springs were a little pingy at first, and they aren't as quiet as they could be. There's a view out there that Zilents can be lubed to make them quieter.

What OP should probably do is pay a lubing service to lube a small, sample quantity of Zilents to see if it is worthwhile. Unlubed Zilents will work fine, but there are many who think that is not the optimal experience.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 10 October 2020, 16:36:36 »
BTW, I recently learned about the Archon AK89.

Look it up, it's a hotswap full-size.




Offline typo

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 10 October 2020, 21:34:37 »
The MF 108 V3 is what you want. I would honestly get blues.

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 11 October 2020, 19:25:39 »
Think you may have missed the post, I already ordered a MF108 V3
The Leopold would be a second choice.  But that steel keyplate on the MF108 may give it an advantage over the inconsistency you describe with the Leopold.  The MF108 is just going to be more all-around solid.
The Boston, no way.  The Austin would be perfect.  But unless I get miracle-lucky on extra's, it won't be an option.
I've got forty Zilents in 67g and ten 78g in the mail.
I won't pay for a lubing service.
I had planned on only lubing the springs on first install.  If I think the cases and stems need more lube then I'll go hit them again.  I'll bag lube the springs with TriboSys 3203, which is pretty light.  If I don't like, I can always strip the springs and try with Krytox 205
I'll be lubing the stabilizers and bandaid mod.  If any of them seem particularly loose or chatty, I'll either tune them or replace them.
I'm also prepared to see about the dampening foam in the bottom of the case, but I'm going to give what comes with the board a fair shake before messing with it.

The Archon AK89 looks like an interesting inexpensive hotswap.  But hard to get in the United States. The GMMK looks about the same price.

Offline typo

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #16 on: Sun, 11 October 2020, 23:07:14 »
Congratulations! You got the right setup. You really want to do the solder job? It will be worth it. You do not have enough switches though? The reds or blues are very nice honestly. the reds are blues without the click. the silent reds even nicer. It is a great board. you made the right choice. there is no better factory full size cherry board made now IMO. You should get better keycaps though. Probably O-rings instead of lube. I am sure you will like the board. It is solid. It is an example of quality Chinese. They say Taiwan which is china.  Does not matter. It is great. I do not use one but I would without any issues. I just do not understand your shortage of switches.  Bandaid mod is stupid. Get good stabilizers. I don't know a brand name but someone does. Anyways, good luck with your purchase. You did the right thing.

Offline SackOHammers

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 12 October 2020, 16:22:13 »
I ordered the board with silent reds, because of the options available, it seemed the most interesting to try.  I figured I'd ride them for a little bit and see if I like them.  I do not anticipate that I will.  I didn't order it with Browns because I know what those are all about, I've using them now.
I only got forty of the 67g zilents because that's all they had in stock.  And most places seem out of stock.  It's enough to cover the commonly used keys and get a feel for it, anyway.
So once I get done playing with the silent reds, I'll put in the forty 67g zilents and the ten heavier silents I got for testing.  And see how they feel.
I don't think I'll mind doing the solder job.  I can just do it at the table in front of the t.v. while the wife and I watch netflix.  I've got a quality desoldering setup and I've been soldering for decades.  I've heard the stabilizers that come with this board are decent.  If not, I've got a set of Durox ones on hand.  I don't anticipate doing a full swap, just any of them that are particularly chatty.
I've got a couple keycap options.  I'm going to see how I like those Frozen Llama ones for now.  Just for grins.  Those are easy enough.
O-rings.  I'm a hard typer and bottom out.  So I have mixed feelings about O rings.  I put them on my browns to quiet them down.  It did.  But I now bottom out sooner.  And its a touch mushier.  I'll keep the O rings option in my back pocket with these zilents, but I'm not going to think in that direction right out of the gate.   I'll just start with lubed switch springs and lubed stabilizers and adjust from there.   And if I've got to pull off all the switches and adjust, so be it.

Offline typo

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Re: Build it or buy it, quiet Full Size MK
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 12 October 2020, 23:24:40 »
I would put the stabs. I don't like the stabs on that board. I feel Zilents are not the end all people think. Try them. I would hate to solder a board to find out. I would do a hot swap first. Maybe you love them. I would prefer some type of panda. If you solder very competent and have a regulated rig it hardly matters. Overall you can't beat that case for the money. The PCB/plate is solid too. Enjoy it!