Author Topic: How long do keyboards really last?  (Read 10180 times)

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Offline roaming pear

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How long do keyboards really last?
« on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:15:55 »
So I often read how mechanical keyboards can last 10 years or so while normal keyboards have to be changed every couple of years...
But then I also started reading that even mechanical keyboards have good ones and bad ones and how you have to get one over 100 if you want it to last a long time...\

I already have a mehanical keyboard (Poker II), but I think that the idea that mechanical keyboards last a long time and Rubber dome keyboards don't seems more like a marketing campaign by mechanical keyboard companies... I mean I had my rubber dome keyboard for close to 10 years if nor more than 10 years... and it always worked fine...

Of course mechanical keyboards feel wonderful and I can't ever go back to the rubber dome keyboards, but it seems to bug me that it seems that mechanical keyboard users sometimes feel like they have to defend their choice to buy an expensive mehcanical keyboard with "well this keyboard lasts 10+ years and the rubber dome ones don't" and then you might see the same user get a new keyboard in a couple years.... I might be getting multiple keyboards too in the future, but mainly to put around the house with different computers so I don't have to feel rubber domes anymore... but I don't think I want to use the "it lasts 10 years" reason as my reason....

Now maybe I have had a lot more luck with rubber dome keyboards than other people.... but I have used multiple (on different computers) and all have lasted a long time... I can't stand them anymore after using mechanical, but they do still work fine for what they were designed to do...


Anyway, I have been thinking about that for a while and I thought I would post this... Let me know what you think...

Thanks

Does anyone have any accessories or key caps or other poker 2 related things lying around that they are not using?  I don't mind taking it off your hands if you no longer want it...

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:22:01 »
I have multiple IBM keyboards that are 30 years old, a Maltron keyboard that is at least a dozen years, had various IBM keyboards that are 20-30 years old, I had some Apple keyboards with Alps switches or Alps clones that were over 25 years old.

As for Cherry switch keyboards, I cannot speak for their durability.
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Offline Computer-Lab in Basement

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:27:20 »
The unfortunate truth here is that rubber domes CAN "function" much longer than mechanicals (less moving parts = less can break over time). HOWEVER, after a few years of daily use it's like typing on a wet sponge... not to mention the pad-printed keys wear down to the point where half the letters are missing and they shine more than a bald man's head.

So there's that...

I have multiple IBM keyboards that are 30 years old

IBM boards = tanks.
« Last Edit: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:29:51 by Computer-Lab in Basement »
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Offline fohat.digs

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:32:50 »
I'm just saying ....

"I never understood wind. I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?" - Donald Trump - Turning Point USA speech - 2019-12-22

Offline ShawnMeg

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:45:11 »
I recently donated some piece of **** rubber domes to Goodwill.  One was 15 yrs old and still worked.  However, I don't do a lot of writing.  Mostly internet searching.  I've picked up a few other rubber domes that were discarded at work, and I used them as test boxes for Linux.  They were quite old, and certainly usable.

My Apple Pro Keyboards are at least 12 years old, and to me, they have a good feel.

After using my Model M for the last few weeks, it's my favorite.  Nowadays, I don't do any large amounts of document typing.  I post on forums, fill in search boxes, fire off some email, and that's about it.


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Offline AKmalamute

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 13:46:36 »
My phantom is built with MX-blacks from a WYSE keyboard whose PCB was marked 1985. I killed about four switches extracting them (it was my first time ever to handle a solder iron, or anything related to it) but I have no issues with the resulting keyboard. I know the board it came from, too -- used daily by teeming masses at the public library. The keyboards could go out, but they had a much lower failure rate than the terminal itself.

But membrane keyboards, again at the public library, die occasionally. Yes about every 3-5 years. Its not just that typing is like kneading tapioca pudding; they miss keys, they start sending false keystrokes. Maybe it's just the cheap manufacture and not the design per-se (I used my hhkb-lite for more than a decade; it's a membrane but was fairly crisp until the day it got replaced) but the end result is, mechanicals still work, where membranes have given up the ghost three times over.

And yes, Fohat. Seen that in person a time or two. Cigarette ash is just plain nasty. Lungs, fans, keyboards. I think my smoker friend replaces his every year because hot ash is melting his PCBs or somesuch.

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Offline abdulmuhsee

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 14:41:13 »
but I don't think I want to use the "it lasts 10 years" reason as my reason....
At 50 million keypresses, it should last 100 years, but in practice, it probably won't last any longer than a rubber dome.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 14:48:51 »
My SSK was born in 1987, years before me. I like to say that you'll be sick of the keyboard hobby before your board fails you.
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 15:13:39 »
My SSK was born in 1987, years before me. I like to say that you'll be sick of the keyboard hobby before your board fails you.
My 3178 was born in 1977, years before that.

the "mechanical" part of the keyboard only describes the switches, which are rated for significantly more actuations than a rubber dome. The rest of the keyboard quality may vary. A rosewill may fail prematurely with a broken USB port, etc etc.

One thing that's good about them is that with regular maintenance, they will last a lot longer. If you are willing to pay a bit more for keycaps (or replace the keycaps when they wear out, or replace a broken switch every once-in-a-while, they'll keep working for quite some time. It's  one good advantage of the discrete mechanical keyboard.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 15:16:34 »
Wasn't there a member here years ago who claimed to have worn out a Model M?

His descriptions made it seem like a legit claim, and nothing really does last forever.
"I never understood wind. I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?" - Donald Trump - Turning Point USA speech - 2019-12-22

Offline dorkvader

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 15:23:00 »
Wasn't there a member here years ago who claimed to have worn out a Model M?

His descriptions made it seem like a legit claim, and nothing really does last forever.

rootwyrm says it took about 2 billion keystrokes across the whole board. He also says he wears out keycaps every 6 months and had bolt-modded it.

He also said another M failed prematurely at just a few million due to the controller breaking.

Offline mouse.the.lucky.dog

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 15:26:27 »
I bought an Rk-9000,  after 2 1/2 years it broke. The same story of Rk-9000's miniusb. I thought it would be a ***** to repair, since the solder pads were millimeters apart.
Turned out not to be so bad, just hold your breath and don't use solder in case you have to. Any other possible repair will be a breeze compared to this.

So the first reason is that it is almost infinitely repairable.

BTW this happened because I thought the braided cable was cool and decided not to use an extension cable to not mess up the looks, despite the fact that the cable just barely reached.  . Later I rearranged my desk and the keyboard was a bit further from the computer, putting a lot of strain on that cord.

That's the second reason, these keyboards take a lot more punishment.

I don't pour my drinks into my keyboard but on occasion my drink does slosh and fall on the table. Maybe a half an ounce. My keyboard is safe from that.


Offline False_Dmitry_II

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 01 July 2014, 15:48:48 »
Firstly a poker is nowhere near as solid as any buckling spring, or even a dell at101. Also, I agree that generally mech boards are much more repairable if there even is a problem.

Any of mine could probably (and some had been, before I got them) be used exclusively for decades with no problems. I just rotate through mine merely because I like the different switches - and don't have a main favorite.
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Offline rowdy

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Offline davkol

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 04:47:17 »
First, certain materials (usually the cheap ones) age much faster than others. This affects rubber domes (even in Topre with otherwise capacitive switches) and ABS (yellowing, poor resistence to sweat and other abuse) for the most part. Besides, the keyboard may still work after years, but what about comfort/feel?

Second, it always depends on the assembly quality. You can have a mechanical keyboard with ****ty soldering on the PCB or a loose cable connection (like the rosewill mentioned above). The good thing is that some mechanical keyboards are kinda modular and it's quite easy to find replacement parts.

At last but not least, use case, environment and user's behavior are a big deal. A clumsy, messy idiot can destroy any keyboard in no time. Dust, pets, rage, spills, using the keyboard as an ashtray, you name it.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 06:52:24 »
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=40501.msg1378644#msg1378644
This doesn't really tell the whole story.

Where does cherry come up with their 50,000,000 actuations number? Well it's probably completely made up, but what they are supposed to do is get a bunch of switches and actuate them until they start to fail. Then based on the sample size, and some other statistical magic, they figure out how long each is expected to last.

So, the 50 million number is just the center of a distribution. Or rather, you can expect your average cherry switch under the spacebar (or whatever the most used key for you is, maybe it's backspace) to last that long.

But if you get a switch that's a few standard deviations away form average (and they don't tell you how "wide" their actuations-to-failure distribution is) then it can last for a much shorter period of time.

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 08:49:13 »
It's important to note that Cherry's 50 million actuations number is only for the linear switches.  I think the tactile and clicky switches are more like 20 million.
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Offline davkol

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 09:29:53 »
Originally, it was 20M for MX Blue, but they adjusted the estimate to 50M eventually. It's for actuations, not feel (or click) though.

Offline Puddsy

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 09:47:36 »
Originally, it was 20M for MX Blue, but they adjusted the estimate to 50M eventually. It's for actuations, not feel (or click) though.

they changed the plastic so it was more durable a few years ago

so newer mx blues will last longer
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Offline davkol

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 10:22:49 »
Now, the question is... did Topre change anything, when they adjusted the same number for their switches a while ago?

Offline sacratoy

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 11:48:22 »
My grandfather is a mechanical engineer. He's been using the same Omnikey 102 since 1989. Still feels and operates like the day he bought it.
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Offline rowdy

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 02 July 2014, 17:27:52 »
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=40501.msg1378644#msg1378644
This doesn't really tell the whole story.

Where does cherry come up with their 50,000,000 actuations number? Well it's probably completely made up, but what they are supposed to do is get a bunch of switches and actuate them until they start to fail. Then based on the sample size, and some other statistical magic, they figure out how long each is expected to last.

So, the 50 million number is just the center of a distribution. Or rather, you can expect your average cherry switch under the spacebar (or whatever the most used key for you is, maybe it's backspace) to last that long.

But if you get a switch that's a few standard deviations away form average (and they don't tell you how "wide" their actuations-to-failure distribution is) then it can last for a much shorter period of time.

Probably, yes.  But much of the discussion is just speculation, so at least that is a best case scenario.
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Offline False_Dmitry_II

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 02:01:41 »
My grandfather is a mechanical engineer. He's been using the same Omnikey 102 since 1989. Still feels and operates like the day he bought it.

And the keys aren't crazy shiny? That I would have expected to happen since that's probably ABS doubleshots. It certainly wouldn't stop it from working, however.
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Offline chuckading

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #23 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 02:18:35 »
All keyboards can degrade over time. Rubber, metal, and plastic are all affected by friction and wear. The obvious secret to having a keyboard last forever, is ensuring you buy something that has easily purchaseable, and replaceable parts. My 2 first gen filco ten-keyless boards are my fav. Completely modular, I can change switches which are widely available, and MX keys, which can be had anywhere.

Old ALPS, and buckling springs, I'm not aware of how to fix with new parts within a week, maybe it can be done. Either way, I already have two boards I anticipate lasting a lifetime. Both have a different style of keys, and are dif colors, and switches. Love the customization allowed with MX boards.

Offline Lammie

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #24 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 12:49:57 »
Think that the good rubberdomes can last for a decade. Have a Dell Sk 8115 here, still works fine. But they do get a bit mushy over time. And the keycaps shine like a star.

How durable are Topre's actually?
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Offline Lain1911

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #25 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 13:01:22 »
Keyboards haven't been around long enough to answer this question properly ;)

Offline dorkvader

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 13:15:29 »
All keyboards can degrade over time. Rubber, metal, and plastic are all affected by friction and wear. The obvious secret to having a keyboard last forever, is ensuring you buy something that has easily purchaseable, and replaceable parts. My 2 first gen filco ten-keyless boards are my fav. Completely modular, I can change switches which are widely available, and MX keys, which can be had anywhere.

Old ALPS, and buckling springs, I'm not aware of how to fix with new parts within a week, maybe it can be done. Either way, I already have two boards I anticipate lasting a lifetime. Both have a different style of keys, and are dif colors, and switches. Love the customization allowed with MX boards.
Sadly the majestouch 1 had a 1-layer PCB that's a lot easier to break when you repair it.
Keyboards haven't been around long enough to answer this question properly ;)

I think they have. We just dont use them for long enough. Everyone wants to get a new computer that comes with a new keyboard. Or the protocol it uses becomes outdated.

There's people who bough Ms in the 1990 and have been using them daily for the last 20-25 years. If someone had a use for a uniscope or other computer that old, then they could have been using their univac KB for that long, or their beam spring, etc.

Its just that we replaced the computer systems that these are attached to long ago, making the keyboards obsolete, and then threw them away. I think it's a testament to the longevity of these keyboards that they were rendered obsolete before they broke.

Offline ferociousfingerings

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #27 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 13:22:30 »
All keyboards can degrade over time. Rubber, metal, and plastic are all affected by friction and wear. The obvious secret to having a keyboard last forever, is ensuring you buy something that has easily purchaseable, and replaceable parts. My 2 first gen filco ten-keyless boards are my fav. Completely modular, I can change switches which are widely available, and MX keys, which can be had anywhere.

Old ALPS, and buckling springs, I'm not aware of how to fix with new parts within a week, maybe it can be done. Either way, I already have two boards I anticipate lasting a lifetime. Both have a different style of keys, and are dif colors, and switches. Love the customization allowed with MX boards.
Sadly the majestouch 1 had a 1-layer PCB that's a lot easier to break when you repair it.
Keyboards haven't been around long enough to answer this question properly ;)

I think they have. We just dont use them for long enough. Everyone wants to get a new computer that comes with a new keyboard. Or the protocol it uses becomes outdated.

There's people who bough Ms in the 1990 and have been using them daily for the last 20-25 years. If someone had a use for a uniscope or other computer that old, then they could have been using their univac KB for that long, or their beam spring, etc.

Its just that we replaced the computer systems that these are attached to long ago, making the keyboards obsolete, and then threw them away. I think it's a testament to the longevity of these keyboards that they were rendered obsolete before they broke.

That, or, people wear out before the keyboard does (e.g. RSI).
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #28 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 13:22:38 »
Pretty much until after a few drops...

Otherwise.. if you're really hard on it.. heavy handed, you MIGHT crack the pcb on unplated boards which could cause intermittent key-response..


This is assuming there's no defect in soldering..




Offline fohat.digs

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Re: How long do keyboards really last?
« Reply #29 on: Thu, 03 July 2014, 13:41:33 »
Sometimes 3 days on the road does more damage than 3 decades on the desk .....
"I never understood wind. I know windmills very much, I have studied it better than anybody. I know it is very expensive. They are made in China and Germany mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they are manufactured, tremendous — if you are into this — tremendous fumes and gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint, fumes are spewing into the air, right spewing, whether it is China or Germany, is going into the air. A windmill will kill many bald eagles. After a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off, that is true. By the way, they make you turn it off. And yet, if you killed one, they put you in jail. That is OK. But why is it OK for windmills to destroy the bird population?" - Donald Trump - Turning Point USA speech - 2019-12-22