You use your keyboard such as Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520 Keyboard every day, but most people just use what they have and seldom upgrade one of the most used items. There are dozens of keyboard types out there for all sorts of users, but one type has withstood the test of time and that would be mechanical-switch keyboards. PC enthusiasts will tell you that a mechanical keyboard is a must have accessory for any system. Keyboards with mechanical switches have been around for many decades, but were phased out over the past decade mainly due to cost cutting measures. The most popular type of keyboard in recent years used rubber domes and those types of switches just don't have the feel of a real switch. The nice thing about mechanical switches is that there are many types, so often you can pick out a keyboard style that you like from a company and get the model with the switches that you want.
After waiting two months for a review sample, we finally got our hands on a Rosewill RK-9100-series keyboard! This keyboard uses the Cherry MX switch design, has individually backlit keys, three different lighting modes, four illumination brightness levels, anti-ghosting technology and more. This is not your plain Jane mechanical keyboard with some backlit keys like the Dell Vostro V131 (Backlight) Keyboard keys !
- Individually backlit keys with 3 illuminated modes and 4 brightness levels like the Dell Vostro V131 (Backlight) Keyboard
- Equipped with 8 multimedia shortcut keys
- 2-Port USB 2.0 hub
- 6-Key rollover: 6 keys could press at the same time
- Cherry MX Switches with 50 million click life cycle
- Gold plated USB connector to ensure low latency
- Durable metal inner chassis
- High quality braided cable
The retail packaging lists all the key features of the board and on the reverse it shows the three modes of the keyboard that we will get into a bit later. This keyboard features 6-Key rollover, so six keys can be pressed and registered at once. This should greatly reduce ghosting, but all keyboards have key combinations that ghost. You can find out more about ghosting here if you haven't heard that term used before.
Opening up the retail box you'll find the keyboard in a plastic bag and below that you'll find a small paper user guide. We were shocked to see that a driver disc was not included, but this this keyboard is entirely Plug and Play (PnP) for Windows XP/Vista/7/8. No drivers are available for this keyboard, so that makes installation and setup a breeze.
The Rosewill RK-9100 illuminated mechanical keyboard uses a black plastic frame with a set of 104 conventionally assorted keys. It measures in at 17.56 X 5.51" X 1.42" (LxWxH), so it is a full sized keyboard with a key arrangement that should feel familiar to everyone. It is also fairly heavy at 2 pounds 7 ounces, which gives it a nice weight to it. This keyboard feels solid and well built. Part of the weight is due to the inner metal frame, which helps eliminate keyboard warp. If you press down firmly below the space bar you can get the keyboard to bend, but we weren't seeing any flex during normal typing use or while gaming.
This keyboard also has 8 multimedia hotkeys and three illuminated modes that each have four brightness levels like the Samsung Q Series Q330 Keyboard with Touchpad and C Shell . There are plenty of mechanical keyboards on the market these days, but this one is not your average 'cookie cutter' model by any means as you should be finding out.
On the back of the keyboard you have a pair four thick rubber pads to keep the keyboard from moving around on your desk and a pair of flip up feet that also have rubber bottoms. Good ergonomics and personal preferences usually determine if you use the feet or not.
The Rosewill RK-9100 has keys that are just slightly concaved, so they kind of cradle your finger and prevent slipping. They also are non-slip in the sense that they aren't slick and have a nice texture to them. They keys almost have a rubberized soft-touch surface feel to them. Each key has had the function laser etched in it, so there is nothing to wear off or fade over years of use.
Rosewill currently offers the RK-9100-series of keyboards with Cherry MX key switches in your choice of two different types - Cherry MX Blue (RK-9100) or Cherry MX Brown (RK-9100BR). Keyboard connoisseurs already know the differences, but just in case you don't we'll fill you in. The Cherry MX blue switches have an audible click and a tactile feeling when the switch is activated. The Cherry MX brown switches don't make the loud click and have a much softer tactile feeling. Both key switches have a switch life of 50 million uses, so they should last the same amount of time. If you'd like to know more about the Cherry MX key switches you can head on over to Cherry's website and get all sorts of information.
With one key removed you can see the Cherry MX Blue switch that we have been talking about this entire time. You can also see the blue LED directly above the switch, so each key is most certainly backlit, which is very nice.