Since I started working from home, I've become obsessed with improving every aspect of my personal office space. I threw out my dilapidated gaming chair and opted for a sturdier and more comfortable Herman Miller. I graduated from using an old kitchen table and picked up a standing desk.
In my constant research to make the work-from-home experience better, I stumbled upon the growing niche of customizable mechanical keyboards. It's a space where one finds numerous videos on switches, key caps and the fanaticism in finding the perfect keyboard sound, which aficionados call "thock."
It's an area that the larger gaming-peripheral companies such as Corsair have begun exploring. The latest to enter the fray is Cooler Master with its CK720 model. It's a 65% keyboard with a knob. In common parlance, it's a peripheral that eschews features found on a full keyboard. It lacks a number pad, the physical Function keys are missing and it forgoes some vestigial keys such as Print Screen and Scroll Lock.
SAVING DESK SPACE
These smaller layouts have become more attractive because they save desk space and improve the workplace aesthetic. Why have a hulking keyboard with redundant or less-used keys when users can concentrate on the ones that they use 90% of the time? Different layouts remove the physical keys or add them in.
With the CK720, users have a full QWERTY keyboard and a Delete, Page Up and Page Down keys along with arrows. For the other missing physical keys, users can hold a Function button and hit the numbers to activate the Function keys. That same method is used for other vestigial keys if you really need them.
Before using the CK720, I preferred the 75% layout, which is essentially a keyboard without a number pad and compressed in a smaller form factor. I found that I didn't miss those rarely used keys, and if I did need to hit them, holding down the Function button wasn't a huge hassle that slowed the work down.
Keyboard enthusiasts talk about switches in the same way sommeliers discuss wine. They have their favorites and focus on traits they adore. The CK720 comes with Kailh Box V2 browns, which are good, especially if you like the clicky-style switches. They offer audible and tactile feedback for every keypress. Cooler Master also threw in a handful of Cherry MX Green switches, which are even clickier switches that require more force to push down. It's catered toward gamers.
Personally, I prefer the smoothness of linear switches. I like the effortless feel of pressing down on the key and having it spring back up. Because I just had a baby and my wife complained about the loudness of my typing, I bought a set of Haimu Heartbeats, which is a silent linear switch without the mushiness that plagues this category.
REPLACING THE SWITCHES