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November 10, 2015

Unboxing & Review: Cherry MX Board 6.0 Mechanical Keyboard


When it comes to MX keyswitches, you’d be hard-pressed to find any other groundbreaking brand but Cherry—although the same can’t be said about their keyboards. But now, the Big Daddy in manufacturing key switches (that has been tested by millions) has added another member to the family:A Cherry MX switch-based mechanical keyboard.


Trivia: Cherry has different kinds of key switches and the Cherry MX is one of them, widely used by keyboard aficionados.

Announced early this year (Q1, at CES), this board has features that no other keyboard has. With an aluminum body (die casted, top half) and Cherry Real Key Technology, this keyboard exudes a premium design.

So without further ado, let’s dive in and take a closer look at this keyboard!

Unboxing
I like the minimal design that Cherry has adopted for the packaging of this keyboard (as compared to previous keyboard packagings). Pretty neat, huh? Please excuse the poor condition of the outer packaging as I’ve treated it badly :(


Two main features that have been highlighted on the front side of the box: MX (switch type) and RK (Real Key, which is their new keyboard technology)


The unit that I’ve received (thank you, ZF!) uses Cherry MX Red switches.


(Again, sorry for the poor condition of the packaging)
More features of this keyboard can be found on the back of the box.


And yes, they weren’t joking when they mentioned that you need sensitive fingers, I’ll get there in a bit

More detailed summary on what MX and RK are


Now that's a very sweet cherry red box topped with Cherry logo.


Seriously, the packaging from outside to the inside has a very premium feel! The black cloth doubles as a dust cover for the keyboard, which is pretty neat.


What will you get? For starters, the keyboard itself! Additionally, you’ll be getting a magnetically-operated wrist rest and a user manual.


The Keyboard
The branding and logo isn’t that obvious. The engraved Cherry font and logo can be found at the front side of the keyboard.


Sporting an aluminum top housing and also a better design compared to older Cherry MX boards, this keyboard definitely looks more premium than any (if not all) other keyboards that you can find out there.


It’s nice to see Cherry still chose to use the standard bottom row layout and didn’t fall prey to the general trend of most gaming keyboards out there that don’t use the standard bottom row. What’s nicer to see is that the Caps Lock placement is centered as well! This means that any third party Caps Lock keycaps will definitely fit on this board!


The keycaps that can be found with this board are also ABS, laser engraved. Sad to see a Cherry board without the original Cherry profile keycaps

Given that this board is from Cherry, it’s natural of them to use Cherry stabilizers as well. For those of you wondering, they’re plate mounted Cherry stabilizers.


Another point to add to the whole minimalist-designed keyboard is that they’ve used icon-based modifiers. And above the UDLR (Up Down Left Right) keys, the aluminum is slightly caved in towards the keys.


The unit that I’ve received is a 108 key ANSI layout. The extra 4 keys can be found on the top of the numpad section. One Cherry key and other 3 keys for multimedia control. The Cherry key is used when you would want to disable your Windows Key.


There’s also other keys as well, to control your volume:


and to control your keyboard’s brightness as well.


All of the functions I’ve gone through earlier can be activated with the FN key. You can also lock your FN key by pressing your FN + Ctrl key so that you only need to press the respective function key to activate the particular function. E.G. just the F1 key to mute your controls

The overall design of the keyboard adds to the luxurious look.


The side profile kinda looks like OTD’s 360c. If you’re a Korean keyboard enthusiast, then you know what I’m talking about ;)

The USB cable this time, however, isn’t detachable. You can route the cable to exit from the sides instead of the front at the center.


The USB is gold plated (to prevent from any corrosion) and the cable is braided as well.


Very nice and soft wrist rest, with a pretty large surface area for people with big hands like me to stay comfortable during a long typing session.


MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX MX

Afraid of not being able to look at any branding after using the wrist rest? You shouldn’t be.


Even with the wrist rest attached, the keyboard looks pretty neat!


At the bottom of the keyboard, you’ll find the feet and rubber pads to provide grip on the surface of your workspace or the desk you’re using this keyboard on. I strongly recommend that you use the keyboard feet as they provide a comfortable angle to type on with the wrist rest.


Some info like the serial number and product number can be found here as well.


The two magnets are used for latching the wrist rest in place

The USB however, kinda tricked me the first time as it looks detachable when it’s actually not.


Features
This Cherry board is their first MX keyboard (G80 series, if you want to go down to the specifics) to have fully backlit LEDs. So is this their first board to cater to the gaming-bling-bling-enthusiasts?

You can control the brightness for this board, or completely shut it off. This is however, probably the first keyboard that I’ve encountered to have two different speeds when it comes to brightness adjustment. You can fine tune the (red) LED’s brightness to your liking.

The indicator LEDs for Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, Num Lock and also the Win Lock are blue, within the same LED. This means that if you’ve activated Caps Lock, your Red LED will turn blue for Caps Lock (and the other keys I’ve mentioned above)


Here comes the weird part: Personally, I feel that the Win Key should turn blue when it’s locked, meaning that you can’t use your Win Key if it turns blue. This is not the case for this keyboard. When it’s Win-Locked, the Windows key turns Red. This can confuse some, if not everyone when it comes to the status of your Win Lock.

You can use your Win key when it’s blue

The Red LEDs gives a nice even glow to the backlit caps.


I’ve been using this keyboard for months prior to this review, and there’s something that I still can wrap my head around. Remember how their packaging mentioned sensitive fingers? Here’s why: Mine aren’t sensitive enough to test out the true potential of this keyboard :(

The Cherry Real Key is definitely a step above the mechanical keyboard game. Instead of going the route of having the key switches be detected digitally, which in turn might cause ghosting, they have every key switch connected to the analog controller. That in turn will provide no delay, full-N-key rollover, and 100% anti-ghosting.

Cherry also mentioned that in standard keyboard technology, the controller (which is the chip that processes all your key input of your keyboard) digitally scans for switching points. This means that Real Key’s analog transfer technology detects key presses faster.

Although I can’t personally feel the difference (most probably due to the difference in speed is in terms of milliseconds), I can testify to the part where it says 100% anti-ghosting and full-N-key rollover.


It’s kinda hard to test all of the keys. However, I got most of the keys pressed. Even then, it’s hard to keep pressing those keys when you have to take a screenshot :(

I’ve been traveling with this keyboard between my workplace and home for months to test this keyboard in both a professional setting and when I’m gaming at home.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Personally, I’m a fan of black switches (modded black switches to be exact) and even though this keyboard comes in red switches, I find it comfortable to type on.

It is definitely one of the most solid-feeling (factory produced) keyboard that I’ve tried so far. The aluminum top part definitely plays an important role. The keyboard feels sturdy with the metal plate and bottoming out doesn’t really produce any pinging as compared to any other plastic-cased keyboard.

I also found that the wrist rest can easily attract dust along the way so you might have to clean it regularly if you own one.

The multimedia keys come in handy as well when you need to stop playing your trash metal after receiving complaints from your neighbor *true story*

However, I would prefer if the volume control keys can be relocated to Page Up and Page Down. There are some keyboards out there that have the volume and multimedia controls on the nav cluster (Page Up, Down, etc). This makes it easy to access as you would need only one hand to press the (for example) FN key + Page Up key for volume up and etc.

There are also no macro keys or any software for you to configure anything. It’s fine by me since I don’t really use macros for any of my gaming or programming work but for those who heavily rely on macro, sorry to say that this keyboard will want you to use the AutoHotKey.


Teardown
You’ll need a special screwdriver for this as it doesn’t use the typical Philips screw


There’s also a safety screw which can be found on the warranty sticker. So, doing a teardown will void your warranty.


Okay, this is one of the board with the cleanest soldering work I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Cherry for that! Good quality control right here.


The main controller is soldered to a smaller PCB in which is soldered to the keyboard PCB as well.


You would have to desolder the whole thing in order to take a closer look into the keyboard controller


Here you can see just how thick the aluminum top part is and it’s not just one thin layer of aluminum with plastic underneath.

Verdict
All these premium-looking aesthetic, Real Key technology, will cost you about $219. Not only do you pay for looks, you pay for the performance and the solidity of the keyboard as well. You can even equate this board to a Mercedes Benz.

I’ve been using it for long and this is one of the few keyboards that will be my daily driver. I’ll set this keyboard up in my office :D

What I’ve liked about this keyboard:
  • Minimal, premium looking aesthetics.
  • Detachable, comfortable wrist rest.
  • Superior typing feel as it feels solid.
  • You’re able to fine tune your LED brightness.
  • Caps Lock uses center stem as compared to older off centered stem

What I’ve disliked about this keyboard:
  • Non detachable USB cable might be a turn off for other people.
  • Wrist rest picks up dust pretty fast.Weird Win Lock indication. 
  • Perhaps a firmware update in the future might fix this.
  • It’s hard to test out the Real Key technology. 
  • The speed difference in terms of milliseconds might not appear to be very different to the naked eye.
 

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