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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  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    If you are happy with your $12 keyboard, that's absolutely fine and it would be silly for you to pay more.

    However, not everyone is YOU; I've never met a cheap keyboard that didn't feel cheap, and I won't put up with one. I'm going to use a keyboard I LIKE.

    Considering a decent quality keyboard, regardless of types of switches, can last a decade or two, or longer, $100 or even twice that seems like a pretty low cost over its lifetime. (Considering what $100 is worth these days, it doesn't seem like it's all that much money in any case.)

    The thing that puzzles me is why people refuse to understand that not everything has to do with them. If it's not good for them, it's either a waste or they can't understand it.

  • Pylon757 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I guess if you try it, you'll notice the difference. It's simply...a lot better to type on. Precisely why tends to be vague. The difference is sort of hard to describe.

    E.g. take for example, notebook trackpads. I've used atrocious trackpads, and I've used some very good ones (e.g. Apple's Macbook ones for example). What's the difference between Apple's trackpad and say, a Dell one from 2003? Other than size the specifics are really vague, but the Apple one just feels better to use.
  • average buy - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Size, amount of friction, responsiveness, configurable (with the help of third party software) multi-gestures, build quality are the major reasons why I'm a bit proponent of Apple's trackpads.

    What about mechanical keyboards though? I'll try one the next time I'm at Microcenter (as long as they have any on display), but up to this point all I keep hearing is essentially "I really like them, so should you".
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    > What about mechanical keyboards though? I'll try one the next time I'm at Microcenter (as long as they have any on display), but up to this point all I keep hearing is essentially "I really like them, so should you".

    It's hard to describe something like how it feels to type on a keyboard. A lot of people find the experience more enjoyable and find that they can be more accurate with a good mechanical keyboard. More still find that once they've spent some time using a good mechanical keyboard that they like it's hard to go back to a rubber dome one that might have been "OK" before.

    But you know what? That may not be the case for you. Hence why folks recommend you try one. Type on a couple different types of mechanical boards for a while and see if you like them. If you do, and if you think that $100 for a keyboard that you can use for the better part of a decade is a decent investment for the feel that you get, then go for it. If not, or if you don't like the various mechanical keyboards out there, then they're not a good choice for you.

    It's not that "we like them, so should you". It's that we like them and think that you should at least try them before deciding they're not for you. :D
  • Midwayman - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    You could easily say the same thing about people who like mechanical watches. Digital watches are cheaper and keep better one. However there is something about owning something that just well crafted and mechanical that is appealing sometimes.
  • Johnmcl7 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I also prefer the short travel keys rather than deep mechanical ones although there's frustratingly few about for desktop PCs. I did try the Apple keyboard but found it to a bit too flat and unfeeling compared to the Vaio keyboards so currently using a Microsoft Arc Touch which aside from a bizarrely reduced keyboard layout has a great feel and I find gives me a much better typing speed than the deeper keyboards.

    There was someone in our office that persisted with an old mechanical keyboard but eventually gave it in as the noise it made was irritating everyone in the office.

  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    In my experience it is where the cord meets the keyboard that it always tends to break, especially if you move the keyboard at all.
  • koshling - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I switched to a DAS Keyboard (the non-hardcore one that DOES have markngs on the keys!) a little over a year ago. I'd never go back, but I'd love to see a comparative review.
  • fishbits - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    On my second Cherry Blue keyboards (neither Rosewill) and love it. After the first died I really missed the feel of the keys and their precision. There are a few subjective statements in the article that could give some the wrong idea. Just because you can have long key travel if you bottom out when typing / gaming doesn't mean you have to. The point of tactile feedback is that you know when the key activated by the feel (and sound in Blues) without having to bottom out. Can make you use lighter, shorter and crisper inputs after being accustomed.

    These *rock* for games like Starcraft. I haven't had any real detriment when playing other genres, though the sound and feel might not be what a person is looking for in MMO, FPS, etc. Point is that they're still fine for gaming, and wonderful for RTS and typing.

    I've heard reviewers overstate the noise of the Blues. They're clicky. By definition, they'll be much louder than a silent keyboard, but it's not like there are gunshots going off with every keypress. Still, quieter versions exist. If these items interest you, I'd recommend getting your hands on one to give it a try, or even take the plunge if this is affordable to you and something you're likely to enjoy.
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Well, not this model, but a Mechanical Keyboard made by Matias (The Tactile Pro). Its the best keyboard I have ever used. Unfortunately my Wife gets extremely aggravated if I use it due to how loud it is. Which is unfortunate because I can type so fast on it.

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