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5-Way Mechanical Keyboard Roundup: Top Decks For Gamers And Enthusiasts

Today's system builders have more choices than ever before, beyond just internal hardware component selection. To see just how far things have come, you need look no further than the PC chassis market. There are so many options to chose from that, as a consumer, you can be selective about virtually any aspect of the design, from the type of RGB fans it comes with, to the implementation of tempered glass panels. This wasn't always the case in other segments, like the peripherals market for example, but over the last few years many popular brands have been leading the way and now peripherals, such as keyboards and mice, are as varied in design as the clothes you wear or your taste in music.

Here at Hot Hardware we have covered our fair share of mechanical keyboards, but today we might be covering the most diverse group of keyboards yet. That might be a bit of a stretch, but what we can say is we have five vastly different mechanical keyboards that we are going to dig into, type on for days, and if luck has its way, perhaps we'll be able to recommend one or more of them.

To get a good idea of just how different these products are, only two of the keyboards we are reviewing in this roundup even use the same switch, meaning the boards will have different click types, tactile response, and force required to actuate their key switches. In addition, there are different segments of the market these boards are geared toward. The Corsair, HyperX, AZIO and AUKEY are, to varying degrees, gaming keyboards, while the Cherry MX Board Silent is designed to be a no-nonsense workhorse. Each board also has a different set of features that range from customizable RBG backlighting and macro keys, to one claiming to be a completely silent yet still fully mechanical keyboard. Let's dive in...

Mechanical Gaming Keyboards
Specifications & Features
AUKEY KM-G3 Cherry MX Board Silent
Form Factor Full size Full size Full sizeFull sizeFull size
Switch Type
Cherry MX RGB Red
Cherry MX Brown
Cherry MX Brown Outemu Blue (Kaihi) Cherry MX Silent Black
RGB BacklightIndividually backlit keys
Per key backlit keys Per key backlighting
RGB Backlightnone
LED color
Dedicated Macro Keys
Yes Yes
NoneNone None
Yes Yes Yes YesYes
Disable Windows Key
Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes
Audio Ports
None None None None None
USB Ports
1x USB 2.0 None None None None
Wrist Rest
Removable Removable No No No
Dimensions (WxHxD)
18.6 x 8.3 x 3.3 in
19 x 6.5x 1.2 in 17.4 x 5.1 x 1.5 in 17.2 x 4.69 x 1.42 in 18.5 x7.7 x1.7 in
2.65 pounds 3 pounds 1.9 pounds 2.5 pounds 2.06 pounds
Warranty2 year 2 year 2 years 1 years 2 years
Price$124.99 $100$99.99 $68.99$130.98

In this roundup we are dealing with 4 different types of switches. We have Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Silent Black and the odd man out Outemu Blue. While most of us are familiar with Cherry switches, Outemu are not as well known. That's because Outemu is a Cherry MX Blue clone, so while they aren't the original, they strive to be similar, but at a lower cost. We will be the judge of that, but according to their website they offer similar tactile bump and have a medium actuation force. They also have the same clicky response, which can be quiet loud, even when not fully bottomed out.
Next up we have the Cherry MX Silent Black switches. As the name suggests these switches are designed for anyone that wants the feel of a mechanical keyboard, but doesn't want the noise that comes along with it. To achieve the silent effect, Cherry simply added a rubber pad to dampen the sound. They didn't reinvent the wheel here, but what you do get is a silent linear switch with a heavier actuation force that won't wake up your roommate during an intense late night gaming session.

Both the Cherry MX Red and Brown switches are more common than the two previous switches we just discussed. Cherry MX Red switches were first introduced back in 2008. In the last decade, they have earned quite the following, mainly because they are light weight, non-tactile switches that allow for rapid actuation, making them perfect for gaming. The Cherry MX Brown switches have been on the market much longer and offer tactile feedback with a non-clicky response. Browns have become highly sought after because they offer balanced performance -- they don't require much force to press, aren't clicky, but still offer a light tactile bump. These attributes make Cherry Brown ideal for both typing and gaming for many users.

And, as we noted, three of the above mentioned keyboards have backlighting on board, some of which are RGB capable. Let's take a quick look at them here in a quick video demo, then we'll look at each keyboard more in-depth... 

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Now that we have your attention, let's compare all the keyboards side by side and see if they are worth your interest and more importantly your hard earned cash.

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