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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  • Greg512 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have an old IBM M, and I love using it, though it is too loud for office work. Mechanical keyboards do make a great investment, especially if they aren't too loud. They may be expensive upfront, but they last forever and never need upgrading. Certainly the second most underrated computer component, after the monitor.
  • adrien - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Agreed. I scavenged my model m keyboards and I've been enjoying them. There are a few things I like in these in particular:

    1- no windows key*s* ; and seriously, who need two of them?

    2- the tilt and curvature of the keyboard which makes it possible to access functions keys without touching the other keys

    3- the space at the top of the keyboard, especially to put pens/pencils; it might sound stupid but when create/debug code with paper-and-pen, it's actually nice

    4- I wash them in the shower (takes a few days for them to dry up)

    Btw, for gaming, I gave up on mechanical keyboards and I actually switch to another keyboard when I play usually. I also had troubles and couldn't explain them at first but when you're playing a car game with the arrow keys, you want to make small and maybe very short presses; that's simply not how you can play on mechanical keyboards.
  • Goi - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I have a Model M too, I wasn't aware you could throw it in the shower...
  • adrien - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I can't "guarantee" the results but so far, it has been tried on half a dozen of keyboards by myself or friends.

    I made a mistake once however: used a mop on it with the space key removed: it caught the spring with it and now the spring is 4 times too long. Besides that, no issue.
  • Googer - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    The Model M was designed to handle a spill when lying on a table. The electronics and key springs are shielded from such a mess. However tilt it on it's side and water will creep in to every crevice imaginable and the metal springs which give it that signature sound and feel, will quickly rust. It is not advisable to submerge these keyboards as they were not designed for it; they will fail over time.

    Proper cleaning should involve disassembly and use a mild rapid drying cleaner/solvent like alcohol.
  • dananski - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - link

    "1- no windows key*s* ; and seriously, who need two of them?"

    I use both several times a day. Win+E/D and Win+L are very handy to be able to do one-handed. You could say exactly the same (and be equally wrong) about alt, shift and control, unless you're on Linux that is.
  • Sufo - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Scavenged DELL AT102W here. It uses Black Alps switches which are just great for those of you who want a satisfying click, but not a very heavy key press. Be prepared to bottom out on every key press, but they keys are light enough that I wouldn't think it was an issue. It's a very fast board - not hugely loud, but loud enough. It's my work board, so one might think the noise could be an issue, but everyone seemed to get used to it pretty quickly :)

    For gaming I use my Logitech illuminated KB. Still convinced it's better than any mechanical for that purpose.
  • Googer - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Those DELL Keyboards were just rebrands of a particular IBM design.
  • _rob_ - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    > Those DELL Keyboards were just rebrands of a particular IBM design.

    Except they weren't. The AT102W is not a rebranded Model M. In addition to looking rather different, Model Ms use buckling springs and AT102Ws use ALPS switches.

    Dell did ship some Model Ms, as did some other brands, but the AT102W is one of their own.
  • bs57 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    I also managed to salvage a few old IBM 'm' keyboards before they were thrown out at work. The one I'm using now was built in 1984 and still works perfectly.

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