Typing on a mechanical keyboard is like driving a car with a manual transmission. It’s unwieldy at first and not for everyone, but there is no substitute for the immediacy and control. Sure, most people get by with the squishiness of those membrane keyboards Apple and Dell throw in the box, but those sheep live in a blissful state of unawareness. Mechanical keyboard people are woke.
Yes, they are noisy. That only makes typing more fun. Sentences flow like music. Rhythmic lines blast by in quick succession. Tempos ebb and flow, each percussive phrase punctuated by the sharp thwack of the Enter key–which, on a quality keyboard, sounds like a gunshot. Passages express the range of human emotion, from the crack of an angry email to the pitter-patter of a gossipy Slack.
Das Keyboard is among the premiere manufacturers of mechanical keyboards. Its latest, the Prime 13, is priced near the middle of the range at $149, but the Cherry MX Brown switches help it perform like a higher-priced model. These are quality German key mechanisms–the good shit. Under the keys, lies a soft backlight system powered by pure white LEDs. The black keycaps sport glowing white letters in a chunky typeface, and they’re nestled within a plate of matte-black anodized aluminum. In a product category that tends to skew garish and geeky, it’s refreshing to see something so austere. Just black and glowing white. So smooth. Even the 6-foot black braided cable looks the business.
The Cherry Browns are renowned for a tactile “bump” at the point where the keystroke registers. The keys provide just the right amount of friction under the fingertips, and just enough clack-clack-clack to stimulate the brain’s pleasure center. This choice of switch makes the Prime 13 eminently approachable. If you’re looking for a place to start with mechanicals, you won’t find a better point of entry.
A comfortable and smartly designed mechanical keyboard that’s a joy to type on; one of the best I’ve tried. Fast typists will love that tactile Cherry brown action. Key clicks are quiet enough not to totally annoy cubemates, but can get satisfyingly loud if strokes are delivered with authority or emotion. Rugged build–the entire top of the shell is a nice, thick aluminum plate. USB pass-through cable for connecting a mouse or another peripheral.
It’s heavy (nearly three pounds) and not at all compact. Mechanicals are always on the larger side anyway, but the girth here clashes with the minimal aesthetic of the black-on-black, backlit design. Desktop ergonomics are mostly good, but there’s no getting around the bulk. Properly mapping the function keys and media keys on macOS took some trial and error.
8/10 – Excellent. Your fingers deserve better than whatever you’re using right now, and this is a great upgrade.