Over the last few years we have seen the return of mechanical keyboards which have not only been adopted by pro gamers but casual ones as well. The reason that mechanical keyboards are becoming so popular is due to their incredible performance. Both FPS and RTS PC gamers alike are falling in love with responsiveness and durability these keyboards provide. One barrier for many gamers is the price tag normally associated with these peripherals as even entry level models tend to cost no lower than $80 online. Enter the Monoprice.com, a company that is positioning itself in the gaming market. They have released the Mechanical Gaming Keyboard – Cherry MX Blue that offers all the benefits of an entry level mechanical keyboard, but well below the normal price at under $60 per unit.
If you haven’t read it already and are interested in learning more, our interview with Monoprice’s Gaming Product Manager at E3 is a great preview for what they have in store in the coming months.
Why a Mechanical Keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard uses physical switches for every single key. Although the switches inside have to travel longer, they can register a keystroke without requiring full depression. This allows gamers to easily “double tap” and get in faster keystrokes for playing games or typing. This particular keyboard from Monoprice uses the Cherry MX Blue switches, which require approximately 50-60g actuation force and provide a physical and audible tactile click. Each switch is gold plated to prevent corrosion and have a life cycle of around 50 million keypresses, anywhere from five to ten times the lifespan of a normal keyboard.
Another huge advantage of this type of keyboard is that each switch is individually monitored so that each key press is registered accurately, even if multiple keys are press simultaneously. Typical keyboards support six key rollover (6 keys at once) but this particular mechanical keyboard supports 64-keys.
This is a no frills edition of the mechanical keyboard that Monoprice sells. At this low a price point, it’s doubtful any gamer would disagree with what they would get. Inside the box is the keyboard that is a highly durable, responsive peripheral which plugs into a free USB port. There is no USB hub, backlighting or macro programmable keys. This keyboard, at under $60 is just the basics, which the average gamer will want. More hardcore, advanced users will probably not be satisfied with this model, but Monoprice has a different model just for those folks.
Taking the keyboard out of the box and having it fully installed will take the average gamer approximately 13 seconds to complete. Just take it out of the box, and plug it in. Simple.
Performance – Typing
For those of you that haven’t used a mechanical keyboard before, it’s a world of difference when compared to something like an Apple keyboard. While it might seem bulkier, heavier and monstrous, it behaves wonderfully. Immediately there’ll be a noticeable difference the quality of typing skills because keys aren’t getting confused and it’s much easier for fingers to find the appropriate keys.
Performance – Gaming
This is really where the Monoprice Mechanical Gaming Keyboard shines. For those that can really appreciate the difference, this keyboard will deliver the goods. Hitting multiple keys simultaneously always ended up with the intended response from the game. This was most prevalent in the FPS games played with this keyboard. The difference really is outstanding and will immediately make a slight improvement in a gamer’s performance. Playing three different games in Skyrim, StarCraft II and Battlefield 3 all yielded a wonderful experience. It’s surprising going from an old “non mechanical” keyboard to this unit because the difference is so noticeable. Gamers that are sitting on the fence wondering if a mechanical keyboard actually makes a difference should just man up and buy this unit.
One Thing to Consider
No knock against Monoprice or this keyboard at all, but mechanical keyboards are extremely loud. When typing, it’ll sound like the click and clack of a rainstorm. While this won’t really bother the user, it’ll annoy the heck out of anyone sharing your work or play space. Keep that in mind!
For under $60, gamers are getting a great deal with a “no frills” mechanical keyboard intended for gamers from Monoprice. The quality of the build is excellent, the performance for both typing and gaming was outstanding and overall, represents a great gaming value. Chances are the competition is offering their entry-level keyboards nowhere near the price of this one, so gamers curious about these types of peripherals can dip their toes in the water with this unit. Because it is an entry-level unit, there’s no USB ports or macro keys, which is a little bit of a bummer, and the sound is extremely loud. Monoprice makes no bones about it, if you are gamer and are looking for a low-cost entry-level mechanical keyboard, this is your unit. All in all, they’ve done a solid job delivering a solid product at a very impressive price.