Jun 24, 2022
Rotary encoder switches are ridiculously costly to anybody who isn't the most dedicated of keyboard fans, so you either adore them or you've probably never even tried them. Either way, you're probably in one of two camps.
The Realforce RGB does not have the appearance of a keyboard that costs $300, and maybe this is because it follows in the long history of high-end gear that prioritises functionality above form and proclaims, "we're so amazing we don't need to dazzle you." You're probably familiar with things like Klipsch speakers and the Mac Pro that looks like a trash can. The Realforce RGB keyboard appears the one you could discover at a yard sale, complete with the logo of a technology company founded in the 1990s. Further, the F1 key provides an additional command labelled "web."
It is about as uncool as possible, coming as close as it does to the Google Image results for the term "keyboard." And I'll be the first to confess that after years of using flashy gaming keyboards, pounding away on the Realforce RGB feels like a breath of fresh air. This kind of equipment screams, "I'm for work first, play afterwards," and it's kind of like a mullet for your keyboard. The only thing that sets it apart from the typical $20 rubber dome keyboard at a glance is a small patch of glittery plastic in the top right corner. It's almost as if the designer was about to go to production when they suddenly changed their heart and decided that "we have to do something unique."
It is simple to spend more money on fewer goods. The Happy Hacking Keyboard, for example, is popular among programmers despite having perhaps half the keys and not even having a backlight, much alone RGB illumination. Topre is a switch that's a hybrid for those unfamiliar and has long been the subject of discussion. I'm not going to dive too further into that gap. Still, I will say this: the primary mechanism for a Topre's key resistance is a rubber dome, which is the core of most inexpensive membrane keyboards but is often derided for its design. However, the activation and feel are comparable to those of a mechanical keyboard; consequently, the switch is one of a kind. Devoted enthusiasts vouch for its superiority.
Me? I have no problem using Topre switches, but I struggle to find reasons to justify their high price tag. They operate without any jerkiness and are satisfyingly clunky, producing a pleasant thock when the key is depressed to its lowest point. Although it may seem like an unusual pick for a typing game, it's rather enjoyable.
Adjustable actuation is the one card that Topre has left in its deck in this situation. The moment the computer acknowledges a keystroke is known as the "actuation." Regarding gaming, a shorter actuation is preferable because of its increased speed. In contrast, when typing, a longer or deeper actuation is preferable due to its reduced likelihood of mistakes, at least from a theoretical standpoint.
They are variations of only a few millimetres and milliseconds, respectively. Because Topre switches have a resistance profile that is initially stiff and then quickly collapses, the difference between a 1.5mm and 3.0mm actuation is much less significant than it would otherwise be. It is doubtful that you can avoid bottoming out the switches in any case, particularly with a relatively modest resistance of 45 grammes, which is the same as Cherry MX Reds.
To begin, it utilises Doubleshot ABS keycaps rather than the more popular (and more expensive) PBT keycaps. The vast majority of gaming keyboards also make use of ABS. However, most gaming keyboards are not priced at $300. On the other hand, the vast majority of Topre keyboards use PBT since the company is aware that their target audience desires a product with that degree of quality.
This is one of the few Topre keyboards that incorporates a "stem" design similar to the Cherry MX keyboards, which is a definite plus. Because of this, it is compatible with any custom keycap sets you may own, assuming you own any custom keycap sets. If not, it shouldn't be too difficult to track down keycaps compatible with Cherry MX. It is an additional expense, and there is a possibility that you will lose your backlight in the process, but at the very least, you will be able to give the Realforce RGB a bit more character. And to tell you the truth, the backlighting isn't that good. It performs just as described; however, even when turned up to its maximum brightness in a dimly lit environment, it still has a dreary appearance. I can't help but feel a little let down when I consider the cost.