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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  • Reikon - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I bought one of these with Cherry MX Red switches about 2 weeks ago and some of my keys already look worn out like the ones picture. The space bar also squeaks like crazy, which seems fixable if I take it out and put some grease on it.

    Unfortunately, both issues seem common enough that getting a replacement isn't likely to fix it.
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    The blue switches are indeed reported t be quite poor for gaming use, and as such, most people get the Browns. The MX Browns are tactile but not clicky or if you're a button-masher like me, get the MX Blacks which are non-tactile and non-clicky linear switches and just about perfect for gaming.

    As for the lettering, its far from being a major issue given you can happily swap them out for other keys., I myself have a set of black engraved PBT keycaps instead of the standard painted ABS keycaps. Unlike the ABS keycaps, the PBT ones don't acquire a "shine" to them since they wear out less quickly.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    "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 disagree with this. I play APM heavy games like Starcraft 2 that involve key spamming, and mechanical keyboards are excellent for this type of game. The thing is that key actuation for Cherry switches happen halfway down, not nearly all the way like a membrane or completely bottomed out like a scissor switch, so rapid keypresses are much simpler.

    Blues may not be the best for gaming, but black, brown, and red switches certainly can be. The rest depend on what level of resistance you want. I prefer higher resistance black switches and ended up selling my brown (made too many typing gaming errors because they were so light), but people can prefer the exact opposite. It is a huge advantage of mechanical switches IMO.
  • Khato - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well if taken in the context of the MX blue switches, then that comment does make some amount of sense. The blues are horrible for gaming due to the fact that they have something around a 0.75mm 'dead zone' that you have to clear in order to actuate - it actually ends up being more in practice since you basically end up going through the entire 'clicky' zone for each press which is approximately 2mm.

    However, the other cherry mechanical switches don't suffer from this issue and are simply awesome for rapid keypresses. After all, it's a simple matter of toggling the key right around the actuation area, and it can easily register every discrete event. My preference is also for the blacks - the best analogy is that they're like typing on a cloud. Gone are the annoying repeated impact stresses associated with typing on normal keyboards as there's no need to bottom out. I've also used browns, but the tactile feedback is quite overrated far as I'm concerned. Soon as you're used to using the keyboard muscle memory will ensure that you press hard enough for the keypress to register without going so hard as to bottom out.
  • OOwl - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Great review and literally a great read. Personally, I've been using mechanical keyboards for a while now, even did a small review on my current Razer BlackWidow (it uses the same Cherry MX Blue), however in terms of pricing $99 is still a bargain for a mechanical keyboard. We are talking about a product which has an average life expectancy of up to 100 times more (your run of the mill rubber domes will start giving up at around 500,000-1,000,000 key presses and as cherry mx switches are rated to 50 million...i think it's a solid investment).

    I also write a lot on a daily basis, so this is helping out a lot in terms of keeping my hands still working. I do agree to some extent with the gaming part, but i'd still drop a membrane in a second to use my BlackWidow (or a SteelSeries 6gv2, or a Thermaltake Meka G1 oorr Mionix ZIbal 60 - these are the only ones i've gotten to play around with :( oh, and a Dell AT101W i think... black but that one uses Alps switches). For gaming you can always go for a linear switch, so like, Cherry MX Black or MX Red, so noise is dropped yet you still get the great feel of a mechanical keyboard :)

    But i digress :D Great review, solid product!
  • OOwl - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    ---quick edit--- The BlackWidow goes for $79, so mechanical isn't that expensive :)
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    When membrane keyboards can last more than 15 years I really don't see the increased longevity of mechanical switches as mattering.

    The only reason I retired the one that came with a whitebox 486 my parents bought in the early 90s a few years ago was that the weight of the PS2-AT adapter and AT plug was heavy enough that when jostled it tended to come loose from the back of the case.
  • evilspoons - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I typically wear out a membrane keyboard in 3 years, even faster when I was in university typing up notes and stuff.

    Membrane keyboard keyswitches don't have to completely fail to become useless - they start to become weird to press and bind if you don't press them absolutely straight down, rendering the keyboard annoying as all hell to use properly.
  • Mr_Bird_Man - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Buckling-Spring keyboards are the best for typing. I had a wonderful 84-key AT keyboard that I used until I found a good 101-key some 20+ years ago. Back in the 80's I could reach 120+ wpm on those beauties. A few years ago I started looking up the old IBM model M keyboards and found out that they are still being made, in the USA, in Kentucky! You can get one with a USB connector, standard windows keys, it weighs 4.2lbs! Why go for an imitation when you can have the real thing? Look up Unicomp, Anand, do a comparison! I love the fact that my keyboard is made in the USA, can be used as a weapon in a pinch, and is 100% awesome.
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Haha "used as a weapon in a pinch". Got a "laugh out loud" from me!

    I have an actual weapon for that. A .45. It's also heavy enough to clobber someone with, should I run out of ammo. :D

    Yah I'd love to see an article on the keyboards some of these people are talking about, and the different switch types.


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