WorthyD’s Great Keyboard Test

Everyone I work with knows I’m a mechanical keyboard nutcase. I’ve owned 4 mechanical keyboards and I’ve been tempted to invest and build the great and legendary ErgoDox keyboard. I originally purchased a mechanical keyboard because I kept breaking keyboards at work from heavy use and because of hand fatigue. I take credit for converting 3 people at my work for switching to mechanical keyboards. It’s not 100% true, but I have an ego to feed.

So what makes a mechanical keyboard better than an average keyboard? The standard keyboard nowadays operates with a rubber membrane that require a decent amount of force to press. Mechanical keyboards have (you guessed it) a mechanical switch behind every key. These mechanical switches require less force to press than membranes and last up to 50 million operations. WASD keyboards has a great guide page on mechanical keyboards. Check it out if you want to learn more about mechanical keyboards.

So what’s the big deal? Why aren’t all keyboards mechanical if the benefits great? Well it boils down to cost. A mechanical keyboard will run you between $80 and $200 depending on brand and features. Most people I’ve talked to freak out over the price. Think about it, you spend 8 hours a day typing if you are a developer. You’d drop $200 on a pair of Beats By Dre that you wear most of the day. Don’t you think you should put good money into the piece of equipment you interact with the most?

I’ve really been curious how much faster my typing speed is with a mechanical compared to other keyboards. I came up with a big super scientific test to see what keyboards I could type fastest on. I took a five one minute tests with each keyboard I could get my hands one. The tests were from typingtest.com and the same test was taken each time. There was a one day break between each keyboard.

The Contenders

Logitech G15 – $60-ish original retail – I really liked this keyboard. It’s non-mechanical, but has a lot of nifty features to make up for it.
Apple’s Keyboard – $50 – I really like the keys on this keyboard, but I don’t like the windows and alt keys being flipped. This keyboard actually uses a scissor switch membrane. It allows for a very thin key with a short travel distance.
Microsoft Comfort Curve 3000 – $15 – There are ton of these around now. I really don’t like them…..
Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 – $20 4 years ago – There were a ton of these around several years ago… now they are going for 50 bucks on Amazon? You couldn’t give these away 4 years ago. It’s a great basic cheap (at one point in time) keyboard.
Razer BlackWidow – $80 my version – I have a very early run that has Cherry MX Blue switches. The new ones use a different, but still great switch. This was my first mechanical keyboard and I’ve gotten a lot of good use out of it. I currently loan it out to friends to try out. It’s clicky and really loud, but I feel like I can type really fast on it.
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth -$150 – I have a Cherry MX Brown version. The backlit keys are awesome. Cherry Browns are much quieter than Blues. They have a bump instead of a click. They require less actuation force, but I feel like I don’t type as fast on it.
CM Storm QuickFire Stealth – $80 – I picked up two tenkeyless versions of this keyboard a couple of years ago and it’s my absolute favorite. The smaller travel distance from keyboard to mouse is very comfy and cuts down on a decent amount of work space.

It’s worth noting that there is actually a Cherry MX Switch shortage right now. Mechanical keyboard popularity has gone through the roof recently. Manufacturers have started using different switches and retailers are jacking prices up pretty bad on keyboards still using Cherry switches.

The Results
Keyboard Average WPM Average MPM Highest WPM
G15 69 5.4 76
Apple Keyboard 70 1.4 78
Microsoft 3000 69 8.4 75
Microsoft 2000 77.4 7.6 83
BlackWidow w/ Blues 82.4 6.4 86
BlackWidow w/ Browns 81.4 7.3 82
CMStorm w/ Blues 84 6.2 88

wpm – words per minute. mpm – mistakes per minute

I wasn’t really surprised by the results. I was happy to see that my current keyboard had the highest average WPM. Lets put this in perspective. There is 480 minutes in a work day. Lets say you’re actually typing for 75% of that (360 minutes). I would average about 25,200 words in a day with the Apple Keyboard. I would average 30,240 with my CMStorm with Blues. That’s a pretty large different when you are looking at productivity of typing in general. Coding involves a lot of numbers and special characters. WPM isn’t very accurate in measuring productivity in coding, but I still feel like it’s a decent base to test off of.

I originally picked up a mechanical keyboard for the durability and comfort, but I now know that I can get more work done while using one. My purchases have been fully justified! Now the real question, when are you going to switch?

I’m a Technology Architect for Rockfish Digital. I’ve been there since 2007. I love coding and spend most of my time in C# and JavaScript. I’m a firm believer in the Full Stack Developer.

Essential Development Equipment: The Mouse Pad

A while ago I did a post about mech keyboards and how it’s important to make a good investment into one. I got motivated to do some articles over all the random equipment that I would have a hard time developing without. One of my most recent purchases was a new mouse mat. I needed to replace one I had been heavily using for two years.

Your mouse pad is a piece of equipment that I bet you don’t think about very much. Your mouse pad is just as important as the tires on your car. You can go cheap and get some tires that will wear out fast and require frequent replacement, or you can get a good set that will last a while and provide a smooth ride. A lot of things have changed over the years with mice and monitors that justify a good mouse mat.

When looking for a new mouse pad, you will want to pay close attention to the size of the pad, what material the pad is made out of, and the surface or texture of the top of the pad.
Continue reading “Essential Development Equipment: The Mouse Pad”

I’m a Technology Architect for Rockfish Digital. I’ve been there since 2007. I love coding and spend most of my time in C# and JavaScript. I’m a firm believer in the Full Stack Developer.

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Hanging onto my childhood toys was a good idea.

I’m a Technology Architect for Rockfish Digital. I’ve been there since 2007. I love coding and spend most of my time in C# and JavaScript. I’m a firm believer in the Full Stack Developer.

Go old school with a mechanical keyboard!

I use to go through keyboards like candy. I’ve owned just about every kind. Ergonomic ones hurt my fingers, but helped my wrist. Plain flat ones worked ok, but hurt my fingers got tired after a while because of the weight of the keys. I preferred a back lit one because I work in a darker environment…. and I occasionally have to look at my keyboard for special characters. I’m big fan of standard layout keyboards, built in USB ports, and built in media keys/volume control. I’m a big fan of this article and this article. They helped me come to some great realizations about keyboards.

A little over a year ago, I “took the plunge” and spent close to a hundred bucks on a mechanical keyboard. It’s been worth every penny. The key presses are extremely light with a tactile response. I’ve been able to pull 12+ hour days typing with minimal hand fatigue. It has also shown minimal wear over all the heavy use.

If you really think about it, your keyboard is the most critical piece of your PC setup. You shouldn’t hesitate to invest good money into one. If you are a hiker, you can get by with cheap equipment, but you have to have good boots or you will have a miserable day. A high quality pair of boots will keep you comfortable and last you a long time. A $150 mechanical keyboard should last you multiple computers. I’d highly encourage anyone who works all day on a computer all day to invest in one.

I’m a Technology Architect for Rockfish Digital. I’ve been there since 2007. I love coding and spend most of my time in C# and JavaScript. I’m a firm believer in the Full Stack Developer.