This is going to be a really short writeup on what mechanical keyboards are and then we'll get to the options available to us right now in India, mid 2020.
You can go all the way down to the buying options and skip the other info if needed.
What are we talking about again?
Mechanical keyboards are the much more robust version of your day to day keyboard. The keyboards you normally see around are membrane keyboards which are cheaper to produce and use digitial contacts to figure out what key was pressed.
On, the other side we have the Mechanical Feel keyboards which are basically the same membrane keyboard but with clicky keys trying to imitate Mechanical keyboards and these are also available at a decent price range, you can invest in these if you don't really want to spend much on mechanical keyboards but then we do have a few budget options right around the same price.
Finally, Mechanical Keyboards. I'm just going to go over the important components that'll get you enough knowledge to get started.
We've got 4 components
- The box / case
- PCB - Circuit board
- Switches - Key Mechanism
- Key Caps
It's the casing for the actual keyboard, there's nothing much to tell here other than the various varieties out there. You can get 3d printed cases, metal cases, plastic cases, wooden cases, there's a whole bunch and each has it's own cost and when going the budget route, the obvious choice is the plastic case. Don't worry, there's a few cases that are really sturdy even if plastic
Now this is what the cable/bluetooth/wireless receiver addon is on and your system connects to this to detect the passed signals or in even simpler words, this circuit board takes care of actually passing the required digital signals for the system to detect what is being typed.
Hot Swappable vs Soldering
There's 2 types of PCB's , or circuit boards. One which allows you to directly plug in the switches and one which needs you to solder the connection points to the board. The one's you can plug into are called Hot Swappable boards and the others are called solder boards.
Now part 1 of the fancy stuff, the keyboard tech has improved over time and you've got a lot of options for the switches you'd like to use. You've got really clicky switches to really silent switches. Unfortunately, there's not much you can get directly in India and are limited to a few brands but you can import a lot of the other ones from various places online but the options in this post will be limited to stuff you can buy from Amazon and/or online local mechanical keyboard resellers like PCStudio and Meckeys.
Short explanation of the switches,
Clicky - Keys that make a nice loud click sound, just like a typewriter.
Tactile - Need lesser pressure to activate and is normally good for games where the action needs to be instant
Linear - You'll have to press the key all the way down like membrane keys to activate it
- Blue - Tactile and Very Clicky
- Brown - Tactile (mostly found in gaming keyboards)
- Red - Linear
- Red Speed - Linear but needs lesser force to activate the key
There's obviously more types of switches, you've got blacks, silvers, jades , but these are the most common ones and most prebuilt keyboards will come with one of these.
Now, the most heard thing in the Mech Keyboard community is the Cherry MX Switches, now while the german engineered switches are a great choice overall,Gaterons are another set which can be your first choice when spending a good amount of money while building a custom mech. They might be a little harder to obtain in India but as always we've got alternatives.
On the contrary, you can find all of these on various international markets online, since it's a little hard to obtain them right now without paying huge amounts of customs, we'll stick to the below options.
Now each of them have the same colors available and each have their own level of tactility and force to activation but they try to replicate the original color pattern I mentioned above so you should be fine. Now these are available at different rates online and you can obtains most of them form Meckeys and Amazon. These are all good switches anything else is probably a clone (ironically outemu is actually a clone, i'll let you do the research on that).
And Part 2 of the fancy stuff , the keycaps. The switches are basically you're medium to connect the keycaps to the PCB and once they are in place all you have left is adding the keycaps. Now keycaps have a wide range and are just a search away on Amazon and Meckeys.
There's so many out there that I didn't even want to add them in the options below but I guess I'll just add the ones I like and you guys can get ahead and get others if you want too.
Yes, you can buy a cheap mechanical keyboard and replace the keycaps to make it look better than the cheap legend/font it comes with.
What Can I Buy?
These are based on the date of the post and the prices have been fluctuating on amazon for a while now so they may get out of the price brackets but the point of this post is to list out valid buying options.
You can also go through Keychrons which are available at different price ranges and can be found from their website keychron.in , these keyboards mostly come with Mac support so is preferred by Mac Users but you can use almost any keyboard mentioned below by just switching the modifier keys in the macOS keyboard preferences.
2000 - 4000 INR
The tightest bracket but you've got a few options.
Set your Expectations
- Plastic builds
- Cheap keycaps (Not all of them but most of them)
- Blue and Brown switches ( Outemu / Kailhs )
- Static Backlighting (might be multicolored but rarely full rgb)
- Ant Esports MK1000 Link 1 Link 2
- Zebronics Nitro Link
- Zebronics Max Pro Link
- Reddragon Usas Link
- GK61 && GK64 Link 1 Link 2
6000 - 10000 INR
You've find a good amount of prebuilt options at this range and also build a custom one if you'd like too.
Set your Expectations
- Plastic builds (but known brands)
- Good Keycaps
- You can get options for red
- Most of them will have RGB but expect static lightings in certain options as well
- Ducky One 2 TKL Link
- Ducky One 2 Full Sized Link
- DUCKY ONE 2 MINI Link Link
- You can find more options in terms of case and keycaps on Meckeys.com
- Hyper X Alloy Pro TKL Link 1 Red Blue
- Has stock at the time of posting, but about 10, so might change by the time you read this
At this price you can go for most options on Meckeys.com and Amazon but the recommend brand to go for would be Varmilo in and if you can, build a custom one.
Yeah, you can build a custom one, you can find various videos online to get you through this but the simplest one would be with the options below.
GLORIOUS GMMK CUSTOMIZABLE TKL RGB - Link Comes with the pcb and the case already, don't have to mess with that when starting out.
Kailh Box Switches - Link Comes in packs of 10 so you'll need 90 keys , round it to 100 for extra switches for use later
ABS BACKLIT DOUBLE SHOT KEYCAP – WHITE - Link
I like the off white tone of these, so I chose these, you can find a lot of options over at meckeys and amazon.
Now this should cost you anywhere around 10k to 14k based on what you choose and that sums up our post.