Introducing Rosewill's RK-9000 Mechanical Keyboard

As enthusiasts and professionals we spend a lot of time checking out what's under the hood of the computers and devices we use, but thankfully more and more we're paying attention to how we actually interact with hardware, what the user experience is like. User experience has been a major selling point of Apple's products, but there's one place where even Apple has been a bit neglectful: the keyboard. On notebooks your options are limited, but on the desktop you have access to mechanical keyboards. Today we'll take a quick look at Rosewill's RK-9000 mechanical keyboard and see if it's worth the price premium.

Before we get started with breaking down the RK-9000, a brief explanation of what we mean by "mechanical keyboard." There are several different types of switches used in modern keyboards, but the most common is the "membrane" switch. At its most basic, there's a "bubble" under each key, and when you press down the bubble makes contact with a circuit board beneath and registers the keypress. The attraction to this design is simple enough: it's cheap and easy to make. The problem is that as far as tactile response goes, it sucks out loud.

Enter mechanical switches. If you're old enough to remember what keyboards were like in the eighties and prior, you'll remember big, heavy keyboards with loud springs and plenty of feedback. Obviously it's a hell of a lot more expensive to equip a bunch of keys with springs, and that's why mechanical keyboards remain a bit of a niche product. That's a shame, too.

Rosewill offers four different mechanical keyboards, each based on the four different types of Cherry MX mechanical switches available. The Cherry MX Blue is the clickiest, the loudest, and the most tactile of the four; we have Corsair's Vengeance keyboards with the Cherry MX Red switches due in house soon, and we'll be able to compare and contrast then.

Aesthetically, the RK-9000 series isn't much to look at and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking they at least appear cheap. These look like generic black keyboards; no shortcut keys, not even so much as a fancy design. Black keys, black frame, but man is the RK-9000 heavy. With a $99 price tag it's hard not to fault anyone for taking one look at the keyboard and thinking, "Seriously?" Even the package is pretty bare; the keyboard itself has a mini-USB port in the back, and the keyboard comes with two cables, one mini-USB-to-PS2, and one mini-USB-to-USB. That's it.

Of course, once you've actually typed on the RK-9000, your impression will change in a hurry. 

The Rosewill RK-9000 in Action
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I'll give you the "iif" error -- and that was me on a non-mechanical keyboard, editing Dustin's article. The other "mistake" is more a difference of opinion on grammar I'd say.

    If we say "I make fewer typos..." that would be correct; so what adverb do you use to modify fewer? "I make far less typos" sounds odd, because "I make less typos" isn't correct -- you make less sense that way. :-) So, I'd suggest far as an adverb to modify fewer, while perhaps not common, is not incorrect. Unless there's some other error I'm missing?
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I think the first sentence was there to contradict the second, rather than saying the first had a mistake too.
  • justaviking - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    bobbozzo's clarification was correct... To me, the first sentence is what made the second one humorous.

    Thanks again for the many articles.
    AnandTech is one of the few sites I check on a daily basis.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    And here I was staring at that first sentence thinking, "WTF is wrong with that!?" LOL
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I've been looking for a decent replacement for my old Logitech something. Went to Media Markt etc. several times and tried ALL of them.. but none felt really any better than what I already have. I think you guys pointed me into the right direction. No if there only was some place where I could try Cherry MX black, brown, red etc. in person...
  • prophet001 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have a Filco with the Cherry MX Brown switches in it and it really is worth the expense. Very nice to type on.
  • bigboxes - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    As others have eluded, there are other cherry switches that work great for gaming. Personally, I own a Cherry keyboard with the Cherry BlueMX switches. I love them! Why? Because I rarely game. The noise doesn't bother me as it is about half the level of the old buckling spring keyboards. I pound on my keys and just love the confidence that when I press a key I know that I have pressed the correct one. Also, they are the keys are laser-etched and not printed. There is ZERO sign of wear after over 3 years. A buddy spilled a beer over the right side of the keyboard a few months back rendering the effected keys inoperable. A quick trip to the shower followed by a day of drying fixed all issues (and it looked good as new!). My only issue was that I had to use my old rubber dome keyboard for the day. Ugh. :)
  • average buy - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I'm one of the people whom this review claims to target -- someone who uses their computer a lot, and cares about the user experience. Even after reading the review, I still don't understand why some people seem to strongly prefer them, and in general, I can't figure out if this is just some type of nostalgia/purism fad. I keep hearing overtures about the complexity of the "switches", lamentations about the cheap quality of low end keyboards available today, and something about noise and relative depth of keystroke being a *good* thing. So excuse me if I continue to be skeptical about the purported advantages of mechanical keys, especially after reading an article full of vague promises and subjective reasons to switch.

    I've actually gone from full sized keyboards (probably not mechanical ones, but I have no idea) to notebook style keyboards to island style keyboards over the year, and I have a clear preference for good island style keys such as those found on most apple products. My impression that the lower key travel is more comfortable and efficient, and probably makes me faster and more accurate. Sure, there are plenty of mushy and uncomfortable keyboards, both for laptops and desktops, but please don't assume that a specialty mechanical keyboard is the only alternative to the POS Dell decided to throw in with your latest PC.
  • antef - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    These are my thoughts exactly. I don't think you're missing anything. The review was very vague and the only thing it really said about typing on the keyboard was that key travel is good and the noise may or may not be a problem for you. That's it. Not sure why people are praising it saying it was such a great read. Regarding the actual keyboard, there is zero practical reason to desire a loud sound when pressing a key - do you really need more confidence that you pressed the key than you receive from seeing the letter appear on the screen? Increased key travel is also not a good thing...requires more effort from your fingers. Low travel, low resistance keys let you just fly across the keyboard. The longevity argument is also a weak one. This keyboard costs $99...a good MS Comfort Curve costs $12. You could replace it EIGHT TIMES before even breaking even.

    Seems to mostly be nostalgia and geeks getting excited about geek things as you say. The author is incorrect that I should automatically want this keyboard if I "care about my computing experience." I do care, and prefer regular quiet ones.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    It's not nostalgia; it's more a matter of preference. I've used mechanical keyboards in the past and I'm actually quite happy with my Microsoft Natural keyboard with its "mushy" keys. The problem is that keyboard feel is highly subjective; we have heard from many people that absolutely hate island/chiclet keyboards. Does that make your opinion on them wrong? No, because it's just that: your opinion. Dustin really likes the feel of this Rosewill, and he's entitled to that opinion, but we can't just come out and universally recommend something like a keyboard.

    I'd say one thing for certain, though: if you don't type at >50 WPM, the difference between keyboards probably isn't that great. If you do type very quickly (I have a sister-in-law that types at >100 WPM), does that mean you'll automatically like mechanical keyboards? Nope. C'est la vie!

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