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a keyboard with long life span?

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Alex_J godlike master sticky

I bought a RedDragon mechanical keyboard about 1 year ago and already some keys are dying.

I'd read that mechanical keyboards are meant to live for ~10 years.

Anybody using some keyboards that lasted for a long time? Is it worth it to get a mechanical keyboard like a Steel Series in the 100+ price range?

This Red Dragon may have been a fluke, or maybe I could assume they will typically last this long. If so, that's about $40 a year.

Is there any high quality keyboards that have a number pad but dont necessarily have all the lights and customization stuff?

anybody use a unicomp keyboard?

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  • poopipe
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    poopipe veteran polycounter

    old keyboards lasted a long time but they were expensive - like hundreds of dollars without adjusting for inflation.

    The main practical benefit to mechanical boards is that you can fix them with cheap off the shelf parts. anything with cherry compatible switches is immediately maintainable for a few dollars (you can spend hundreds obvs)

    That example reviewed quite well among enthusiasts of the older model M. I collect keyboards so I want one but I wouldn't use it as a daily due to the fact you can't get replacement parts easily and cheaply (switches and keycaps are not readily available and you'd need to break out a soldering iron to fix anything)


    I absolutely wouldn't buy one of the gamer brand mech boards (razer, logitech, steelseries etc) - you pay a lot of money for what is basically the same shit you can get off ali-express for $40-$60.


    Keychron are getting a lot of love from the reviewers at the moment. I'd do a bit of research on the Q6 or Q5 - if they seem a bit steeply priced the K10 might be a good shout. Their older models are not as nice by any stretch but they're a world apart from the $40 red dragons - I have a k2v2 that i got 3 years or so ago which still works fine even after the kids have beaten crap out of it.

    Akko do some quite nice looking boards as well- no personal experience but they're priced quite well and ive not heard any horror stories from people i know who have them

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    @poopipe thanks I'll look into these

  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter

    "Mechanical keyboards" as commonly referred to on reddit by so-called enthusiasts use very cheap plastic parts. The variety of available switches (clicky, tactile, linear ... and everything in-between) is definitely interesting, but these have pretty much nothing in common with the rock solid mechanical action of keyboards that last 10 years. The "mechanical keyboard" moniker as used today is really just a semantics sleight of hand.

    Speaking of which ... I do use this exact Unicomp buckling spring model M clone daily (except for the two-tones keys, as they initially didn't have that). My order date was Aug 25 2011. It's delightfully heavy, and LOUD.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe veteran polycounter

    If yours has lasted that long I'm sold - I wish they did them in beige though.


    You wont get a modern mechanical board that solid for the same money so if you're not bothered about tuning the sound it makes, nitpicking over feel, programming it or generally interfering with it I'd go with the unicomp.

  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter

    Yeah, it does feel pretty damn good - although I am not doing a lot of typing or programming, so me the main use for me is LOUD keyboard shortcuts.

    I did briefly own a genuine original IBM model M and it felt just a tiiiiny bit superior to the Unicomp clone - probably something to do with the type of plastics, or perhaps the internals. But the connectivity was an issue as it requires a special adapter (not as straightforward as PS2 to USB), so in the end I settled for the Unicomp since USB just makes tings so much easier. If I were still owning both today I would probably be attempting a swap of the electronics, or keeping the Unicomp untouched and replacing the board of the model M with a generic USB board.

    Lastly the Unicomp support team is very responsive, at least in my experience. I contacted them just last year to possibly order some custom keys, and even though I didn't follow-through with the order I can confirm that they were pleasant and accommodating.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe veteran polycounter

    I suspect its a lot to do with price - unscientific google work suggests the original IBM (pre lexmark) model M cost $339.68 when adjusted for inflation.

    the unicomp being anywhere close makes it a bargain..

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    i ordered the newer unicomp model M. A lot of the others poopipe linked look fine too - i just went with unicomp cause manufacturing is nearby so, +1 for team 'murica.

    Glad to hear somebody else here that I can trust is using one and happy.

  • kanga
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    kanga ngon master

    I also don't type buckets of code, but got myself a lit, mechanical gamming keyboard about 2 years ago. I hoped it would be more rugged than an average board and so far it has been perfect. Well its not beige and the keys are illuminated but so far its been perfect. It has seven light colors and a lights off cycle button. The price is also reasonable.

    Oh yeah, its a cooler master devastator 3 (what's in a name?).

  • sacboi
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    sacboi insane polycounter

    "I'd read that mechanical keyboards are meant to live for ~10 years."


    I've a cheap circa 2011/12 Logitech M series wireless backlit board (mostly these days just used for scripting stuff whilst in bed) so that's an affirm.


    Damn thing's practically bulletproof - spilt coffee, sat/trod on it etc.


    ....who'd thunk it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • carvuliero
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    carvuliero quad damage

    If you are heavy handed buy few cheap logitech [compact one for laptops ] one of them is 10 year+er guarantee , mine is 12 year old and only "S" is warned out

  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter

    BTW, one redeeming quality for the modern (cherry-based) mechanical keyboards is that the parts are very easy to source. And given that the target demographic is that of computer enthusiasts/tinkerers, there is a lot to chose from in terms of DIY solutions from simple kits all the way to full on scratch builds. Meaning infinite amount of customization, and easy repairs if the frame of the kb was designed with that in mind.

  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 10

    I have used for many years just very cheap rubber dome keyboards. It took always around a year until they became unuseable. Now i have fallen in love with mechanical keyboards. And they lasts two years. It's not automatically that mechanical keyboards lasts longer. It simply depends what you pay for it. Cheaper means cheaper.

    The biggest benefit from a mechanical keyboard is the writing feeling. A rubberdome feels compeltely different when writing. It has no exact click point. Well, a mechanical is louder. But i would for no money go back to a rubberdome keyboard. Since that's what you pay and like at a mechanical keyboard, not a longer life cycle. I would also buy it again when it would have the same life cycle.

  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    that's awesome. I love long-lasting, high-quality gear.

    I think it was the dog hair and my aggressive typing that's done this current keyboard in. Or maybe it is just junk, hard to know unless I bought a lot of them.

    I had been doing that for awhile - just grabbing whatever the cheapest stuff I could find is. Is it more cost-effective in the long run than buying an expensive keyboard? I am not sure, but I seem to run through the cheap keyboards pretty fast.

    These days I am doing more coding than art too, so the ergonomics of the keyboard is becoming more important. Well, I'll just put this Unicomp board to the test and see if it pays off or not.


    @Tiles , yeah I hope the feeling of it is going to be nice. This RedDragon keyboard was an improvement over the stuff I'd been using before that for sure.

  • carvuliero
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    carvuliero quad damage

    In my experience regular long keyboard die pretty fast so look for something short and compact My guess is this type is optimize and everything is close together so its more sturdy less empty space inside which make it hard to break .Outside plastic is hard and buttons are soft just like a samurai sword lol its small perfect if you have to travel a lot This is logitech ultra flat look for something similar its a beast of a keyboard as I already said


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J godlike master sticky

    just got the Unicomp Model M today and it's a big difference in how typing feels.

    As mentioned, the thing is a big and heavy- like a piece of furniture. The feedback on keystrokes is fantastic. Feels very precise - less typos and I am typing faster as well because I can use light strokes and not need to pound to get the same assurance from a keystroke.

    well, time will tell how long it last for me, but it certainly seems well built.

  • rexo12
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    rexo12 greentooth

    I've had mine for about 3 (nearly 4) years now. I did have a key get stuck a few months ago after I moved place but it resolved itself on its own. I think you'll get a good run out of it.

  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter

    Hell yeah ! Glad to hear it shipped so quickly. I could only suggest to get familiar with the way the key are assembled early on (caps + cover, if they are still made that way that is) as to not feel intimidated later if you need to do any maintenance.

    Also, since the mechanism is so easily accessible you could already attempt a simple mod consisting of putting a tiny bit of string (or any other flexible material really) inside the spring of a key, ever so slightly affecting the physical feel of it.

    Fun stuff. And yeah the weight is great, as one never ever needs to subconsciously prevent oneself from pushing the kb around when typing. It just stays there :)

  • Ghogiel
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    Ghogiel greentooth

    I've one of those aformentioned chinese GMMK pro 75% knockoff clones that everyone sells these days. Hard to recommend it, it sounds and feels good but thats a lot to do with the switches, caps, plate and stabs I use.

    my 2p: The gamer branded keyboards are historically terrible. I've tried many of them, corsair, all kinds of razers, cooler master. None are what I would call good. They are better nowdays, but any of the ones worth owning are quite expensive.

    Im going to go back to ISO for my next board, so less options, probably getting a Q something from keychron.

  • poopipe
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    poopipe veteran polycounter

    @pior The newer unicomps have single piece keycaps afaik. On the plus side they retooled a few years ago so general fit&finish should be a bit better than the tail end of the older ones (can you tell I've been researching?)

    I'll convert mine from a fixed to detachable cable when I get it.


    @Ghogiel I have a real gmmk pro and it's nothing to write home about - at least you saved a bunch of cash .

  • pior
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    pior grand marshal polycounter

    I see ! Well, it's all cross-compatible anyways, so it's all good. If anything the only small thing I am not a huge fan of is the very plain label area (with the numlock indicator and the ugly Unicomp logo) which doesn't capture the aesthetics of the original at all. I need to look into modding the three little sections back in ... but of course none of that really matters.

    And now all this made me want to go back to the idea of custom ordering keys again :D Or perhaps just 3D-printing some colorful accent keycaps ...

  • Larry
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    Larry interpolator

    I had a 10$ microsoft keyboard for more than 10 years and I bought a new one for another 10$ just because it's cheaper than cleaning my old one.🤣 I'm a disaster for the planet

  • poopipe
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    poopipe veteran polycounter

    Is that worse than me having ten boards and three more in shopping baskets I'm trying hard not to buy though?

  • Lamont
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    Lamont polycounter lvl 13

    I use a Keychron. I don't care much for the RGB stuff, but the keys are replaceable like other models as Pior mentioned. Had it for about 2 years and no issues so far. I made the mistake of buying Filco, well it was good and heavy, I could not replace the switches when the "3" started going bad. So not all mechanical keyboards are the same.

    https://www.keychron.com/

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