The Rosewill RK-9000 in Action

While the Rosewill RK-9000 may not be much to look at, in practice it's something else entirely. We can break down the usage patterns a keyboard will see into two primary categories: gaming and word processing.

Before we get to that, though, there's an issue that bears mentioning. I've been using the RK-9000 for a touch over a month as my primary keyboard, and while it's a fantastic piece of kit that has made me enjoy working on these reviews for you that much more, I ran into one problem with it: the lettering fading.

It doesn't show quite as well as I would like in the photo, but take a look at the E, S, D, F, and C keys and you can see they're not as bright as the other keys. This isn't dirt, this is actual wear. And while I do beat my keyboards like they owe me money, this is a bit of a quality issue. Our rep assures me this shouldn't be happening with these keyboards and is sending me a replacement along with getting back to Rosewill's QC, but there's just no way to know if my sample has a problem or if this is going to be pervasive. I'd err on the side of pervasive, honestly, but this is a minor complaint. As long as the keyboard still works (and there's no reason not to think it won't for a long time), the lettering is an aesthetic issue as opposed to a practical one.

Gaming on the Rosewill RK-9000

The Rosewill RK-9000 uses Cherry MX Blue switches, and these switches are incredibly loud and incredibly tactile. Part of the experience is the sheer travel the keys have; if you have a tendency to royally beat up on your keyboard while typing, these switches are going to be fantastic. Unfortunately, during gaming I've found the RK-9000 to be less desirable than a high-end membrane-based keyboard.

The problem with the Cherry MX Blue switches is that everything that makes them fantastic for doing any kind of real writing with makes them poor for gaming. Key travel is pretty deep, making the RK-9000's base model a bad choice for any kind of game that requires multiple rapid keypresses, which is pretty much all of them. I've played many different kinds of games on the RK-9000, and while it hasn't had a drastically negative impact on the experience, it's definitely a step backward from the beat up Microsoft Reclusa I was using beforehand.

Typing noise can be an issue with these switches, too. While I personally love the sound of a good, clicky keyboard, it definitely detracts from the gaming experience. At certain points it may actually be difficult to hear the things you need to hear in a given game over the sound of the keyboard. This isn't a major issue, but it's noticeable.

Typing on the Rosewill RK-9000

While the RK-9000's Cherry MX Blue switches may be far from ideal for gaming, for regular typing they're the best experience I've had in a very long time. Since using the RK-9000, I've found I make far fewer typos than I did on my old Reclusa, and I suspect this is at least partly due to the increased key travel. You have to press the keys a little bit harder to register them than you would with a typical keyboard, which is fine if, like me, you brutalize your keyboards. Yet because of this travel, it's also much harder to fat finger the wrong keys. Spacing between the keycaps is generous yet the keys themselves never feel too small.

As for noise feedback, that's going to be a matter of taste, but personally I feel like I'm actually accomplishing things when I'm using the RK-9000. The clicking switches in the keys sound like work being done to me, in addition to just reminding me when keyboards used to be thick and heavy enough to be used as murder weapons and all the fun I had on my old computer when I was still just learning to be a geek.

Until I've tried the other mechanical switch types, I can say I'd very easily recommend the RK-9000 for anyone who's using their computer primarily or even almost exclusively for heavy duty typing. You might need to consider others near your work space as the clicky noise might be a distraction/annoyance, and there are bound to be some typists that prefer a lighter touch, but if you get a chance to try out a mechanical keyboard the majority of typists will like the experience.

Introducing Rosewill's RK-9000 Mechanical Keyboard Conclusion: Worth the Upgrade
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  • kepstin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Your keyboard probably wasn't manufactured in 1984 - that's a mistake a lot of people make. The design was copyright 1984, and that date is printed on the bottom of all the keyboards - but there's another date (usually dot-matrix printed on the label) which corresponds to the manufacturing date. Mine's from Feb. 17, 1990; still nearly 21 years old :) Reply
  • kepstin - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I’ve got an IBM Model M as well, and I love it, despite the noise. The Model M actually has an advantage over the Cherry switches that some people don’t know about:

    On a Model M, you get a click on key press, and another click on key release. At the same time as the click, there's actually a pressure change that you can feel. And the 'click' exactly corresponds with when the key press or release is registered by the computer.

    The Cherry switches have a similar click sound and pressure change, but unlike the Model M the click does /not/ correspond with the point where the key press is registered - I find this really annoying.

    Would be cool if Anandtech would review one of these old-fashioned “buckling spring” keyboards, you can pick up new ones from Unicomp at http://pckeyboard.com/
    Reply
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Seconded! I have my eye on the EnduraPro PS2 and I would love it if you would give us your opinion on it. Reply
  • Metaluna - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If you don't like the sound the Cherry blues make, you might find a Model M or Unicomp preferable. The Cherrys have a very high pitched click, followed by a second loud noise when the key bottoms out (at least on my DAS). I find that constant clickCLACK clickCLACK very annoying. With my Unicomps, the sound is lower frequency and the two noises kind of blend together, though since they are coil springs, you do get occasional ringing sounds which is a little wierd.

    As for Unicomp vs Model M:
    - My 2 Unicomps feel slightly more plasticky, but also a bit more crisp and clicky than my refurbed Model M. The Model M is more solid and substantial. Feels more refined overall.
    - Unicomps have Windows keys (they may have a Mac model also, and a few other layouts), and are available in USB or PS/2
    - Buying a Unicomp vs a used Model M means you are supporting the only company that still manufactures buckling spring switches (they literally bought the machines and tooling from Lexmark), and they almost went out of business a few years ago so we're not talking about some huge faceless company. That's the problem with making stuff that lasts virtually forever I guess.

    If you want a board that is both really quiet *and* tactile, Topre is pretty much the only choice.
    Reply
  • halfflat - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I splurged on a Topre Realforce 87U SE170S last year while in Tokyo. It is by far the best keyboard I have ever used.

    Key advantages:
    - Great tactile response, without being hard work or jarring like the clicky Model Ms
    - Quiet. The Realforce is fairly quiet to begin with, but the SE170S variant is quieter still.
    - N-key roll over. I have a mechanical keyboard at home which is not too bad (though it is noisy and more jarring), but less than 4-key roll over makes for many missing characters in words, lots of back editing, and general frustration.
    - Configurable control/caps lock with swappable keys. I can place control near my left pinky, have it look like a control key, and have the operating system be none the wiser.

    It definitely was expensive, yet it is a true pleasure to type on. I would claim that the keyboard and monitor are the most important part of any desktop PC — these are the components whose strengths and weaknesses will be with you every time you use the machine, and if they are of any decent quality, will long outlast the usefulness of the PC itself.
    Reply
  • Jaybus - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    Being old, my first keyboard was a IBM 3278 model 4 terminal, a couple of years prior to the launch of the IBM PC. Back then, everyone, (by "everyone" I mean far less than 1% of the population), was used to that type of mechanical switch keyboard. The keyboard on the 3278 series terminals was VERY good. Had IBM come out with a cheapo keyboard for the first PC, "everyone" would have thought it a joke. It is no surprise to me that they used a very high quality keyboard for the first PC.

    Years ago, I managed to acquired an entire IBM model 5150 PC built, complete with CGA video adapter, and IBM 5153 RGB color monitor. The 5150 PC used the 83 key model F keyboard, which was almost identical to the System/38 5253 Display Station terminals. IMO, this was the best keyboard ever made. The model M's were a redesign of the model F to reduce cost. Not that the model M was not an excellent and nearly as good keyboard. As it stands, the model M is more useful, since the model F cannot be made to work with a modern PC AFAIK.
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well written, the important aspects of using mechanical keyboards are explained well.

    Regarding lettering, there are 3 common choices for a manufacturer:
    (1) Printed lettering. Flat layer on the keys that's cheap to do. Wears off rather quickly and unevenly.
    (2) Lasered. The letters are lasered into the plastic keys, then filled in with.. filler paint. This will last much longer than printed, but will dirty and wear out over time, but not nearly as quickly as printed.
    (3) Double-Shot: The letters are cut out of the top key plastic. inside the top key is a smaller key with the same letter but raised. The keys mold together such that you end up with one thick key cap, but the raised plastic lettering raises into the cut-out of the top layer. This lasts (essentially) forever but is very expensive.

    It would have been nice to mention what Rosewill says their lettering is; laser or print. It is not double-shot for sure.
    Also would be nice to mention that keycaps are exchangeable. You could potentially buy a set of double-shot key caps and replace the print/laser ones.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Rosewill claims the lettering is lasered, but the wear and tear after a month... :| Reply
  • hansmuff - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If they don't use enough filler, dirt will set in quickly and look ugly. However, the filler underneath will not disappear for a good long time.

    I have a Leopold Cherry keyboard with similar symptoms. Lasered keys are not optimal, but the next best (double-shot) is very expensive.
    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Why even care about lettering when you're going to be touch-typing anyway? Reply

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