VOGONS


Keyboard Suggestion?

Topic actions

First post, by mothergoose729

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I am looking for a keyboard with modern features, legacy connectors, and a retro aesthetic 😜. I was hoping to get some help here.

  • nkey rollover ideally, but 6+ keys should be fine
  • PS2 connector
  • Beige Gray color scheme
  • Reasonably modern layout suitable for windows and DOS
  • ~ 100$

I am not too picky on key feel . Mechanical or classic springs would be nice but membrane keyboards are fine.

I am looking at the later era IBM membrane keyboards and it checks a lot of boxes, but I can't find much information on key rollover. I have read all IBM keyboards after the model F are n key, but I don't feel super confident that information is correct.

For example, the KB-8923 is cheap, readily available, and looks perfect. Is it nkey rollover? Is there a better choice?

Reply 1 of 20, by cyclone3d

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Unicomp took over making model m keyboards.

Might want to check them out.

https://www.pckeyboard.com/page/product/NEW_M

Personally, I like Cherry MX based keyboards. Tons of different options.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 3 of 20, by cyclone3d

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Well, I wouldn't bother with any other membrane keyboard. They all really suck and newer ones that aren't specifically meant to last a really long time have a way of dying... I've thrown away probably 100 or more membrane keyboards over the past 10 years at the office I was working at.

Look at cherry mx based keyboards. Find a key you really like the feel of and go with that.

Keycaps can be replaced with whatever color you want.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 4 of 20, by Cyberdyne

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Cherry G80-3000 series still has PS/2 functionality with a passive adapter. Good quality, timeless look, different versions of switches. And you can get them in beige.

PS. I have many membrane keyboards, and some of they are totally good! Keytronic, IBM(Membrane) and Dell are usually good examples.

Really do not understand that Membrane 5euros Mechanical 200euros chraze. Like we all write novels and stuff.

Last edited by Cyberdyne on 2021-02-23, 06:55. Edited 1 time in total.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.

Reply 5 of 20, by dr_st

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I think I have a KB-8923 at my parents' place. If I'm lucky, I might be able to test it. I suppose it is not n-key. I do not know of any IBM keyboard that's actually fully n-key, and I'm not even sure it is possible for a membrane keyboard (KB-8923 is membrane as is KB-7953 and the later variants - Preferred Pro / Enhanced, etc.)

However, do you really need n-key? Not all 2-key rollover keyboards are created equal. I have been using IBM/Lenovo Enhanced USB keyboards and while they are technically 2-key (some 3-key combos jam), all the important ones work and I never encountered problems with games on any of them (which happened to me on some cheap crap keyboards where even two arrow keys + action key can jam).

You can view the models I've had a chance to test here, but I think it's not quite the direction you are heading for (most of them are USB, for starts).

I think since your budget is reasonably high, your best best is to look for a semi-modern mechanical keyboard with PS/2 and the color scheme you like.

https://cloakedthargoid.wordpress.com/ - Random content on hardware, software, games and toys

Reply 6 of 20, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-02-23, 05:13:
I am looking for a keyboard with modern features, legacy connectors, and a retro aesthetic :P. I was hoping to get some help her […]
Show full quote

I am looking for a keyboard with modern features, legacy connectors, and a retro aesthetic 😜. I was hoping to get some help here.

  • nkey rollover ideally, but 6+ keys should be fine
  • PS2 connector
  • Beige Gray color scheme
  • Reasonably modern layout suitable for windows and DOS
  • ~ 100$

I am not too picky on key feel . Mechanical or classic springs would be nice but membrane keyboards are fine.

I am looking at the later era IBM membrane keyboards and it checks a lot of boxes, but I can't find much information on key rollover. I have read all IBM keyboards after the model F are n key, but I don't feel super confident that information is correct.

Definitely not correct. The F itself is NKRO, but the legendary Model M is a very awkward 2KRO. Great for typing, awful for any kind of action gaming. And yes, that's from experience - my parents' first PC was a PS/2 with 2nd generation M.

Not up to speed on later plastic fantastic stuff. But...

For example, the KB-8923 is cheap, readily available, and looks perfect. Is it nkey rollover? Is there a better choice?

That's just an IBM-rebranded Chicony. Supposedly one of the best-feeling rubber domes out there. Not NKRO as far as I can see though. Getting data on NKRO-status of boards not aimed at (or obsessed over by) enthousiasts isn't easy though. As a rule, membrane boards tend to be 2KRO, unless someone added diodes (same as with Cherry-style switches) - which raises the price of the boards, so is unlikely unless explicitly marketed at gamers (and even there, never assume marketing = engineering). Inductive/capacitive switches are inherently NKRO, but that generally means either cheap very, very nasty foam&foil (look for BTC boards), or model F weight & price (& generally awkward layout, unless you go for massive F-122 or the uncommon F AT)

Reply 7 of 20, by mothergoose729

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
dionb wrote on 2021-02-23, 07:23:
Definitely not correct. The F itself is NKRO, but the legendary Model M is a very awkward 2KRO. Great for typing, awful for any […]
Show full quote
mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-02-23, 05:13:
I am looking for a keyboard with modern features, legacy connectors, and a retro aesthetic :P. I was hoping to get some help her […]
Show full quote

I am looking for a keyboard with modern features, legacy connectors, and a retro aesthetic 😜. I was hoping to get some help here.

  • nkey rollover ideally, but 6+ keys should be fine
  • PS2 connector
  • Beige Gray color scheme
  • Reasonably modern layout suitable for windows and DOS
  • ~ 100$

I am not too picky on key feel . Mechanical or classic springs would be nice but membrane keyboards are fine.

I am looking at the later era IBM membrane keyboards and it checks a lot of boxes, but I can't find much information on key rollover. I have read all IBM keyboards after the model F are n key, but I don't feel super confident that information is correct.

Definitely not correct. The F itself is NKRO, but the legendary Model M is a very awkward 2KRO. Great for typing, awful for any kind of action gaming. And yes, that's from experience - my parents' first PC was a PS/2 with 2nd generation M.

Not up to speed on later plastic fantastic stuff. But...

For example, the KB-8923 is cheap, readily available, and looks perfect. Is it nkey rollover? Is there a better choice?

That's just an IBM-rebranded Chicony. Supposedly one of the best-feeling rubber domes out there. Not NKRO as far as I can see though. Getting data on NKRO-status of boards not aimed at (or obsessed over by) enthousiasts isn't easy though. As a rule, membrane boards tend to be 2KRO, unless someone added diodes (same as with Cherry-style switches) - which raises the price of the boards, so is unlikely unless explicitly marketed at gamers (and even there, never assume marketing = engineering). Inductive/capacitive switches are inherently NKRO, but that generally means either cheap very, very nasty foam&foil (look for BTC boards), or model F weight & price (& generally awkward layout, unless you go for massive F-122 or the uncommon F AT)

Thanks that technical bit is great to know. It looks like I will have to either get exactly the model F, or probably a modern mechanical keyboard to be sure that it will perform. Too bad, I really like the look (and price) of that KB-8923. Authentic IBM or not.

dr_st I don't need true nkey rollover, nobody does, and I have never owned a gaming quality keyboard in my life. More than anything I just don't want to have to worry about it.

I have found some Cherry MX boards in light gray. They are more "timeless" in a way than retro, but they will do still look good with my setup. I can buy retro themed keycaps but they are all dramatically over priced. Maybe I'll drop some hints to my wife for next christmas, heh 😁.

Reply 8 of 20, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-02-23, 07:34:

[...]

Thanks that technical bit is great to know. It looks like I will have to either get exactly the model F, or probably a modern mechanical keyboard to be sure that it will perform. Too bad, I really like the look (and price) of that KB-8923. Authentic IBM or not.

dr_st I don't need true nkey rollover, nobody does, and I have never owned a gaming quality keyboard in my life. More than anything I just don't want to have to worry about it.

If you've never noticed, I'd say it's a bit excessive to go for a huge hunk of model F steel. Note that "Model F" isn't a single model, it's a range of models sharing the same technology. The commonest is the XT keyboard, with a quite different layout to modern boards. As stated, the F-122 'Battleship' and F AT come closest to a modern board, but the one is insanely huge and heavy (I have one 😉 ) and the other rare and even by F standards pricey. Talking of which, a bunch of enthousiasts have re-started production of Model F with modern layouts (but beige still very much an option). Prices are similar to when they were new, which is extremely high compared to most modern boards, USD 389 for a complete board with keycaps. If not scared off by price, take a look here

I have found some Cherry MX boards in light gray. They are more "timeless" in a way than retro, but they will do still look good with my setup. I can buy retro themed keycaps but they are all dramatically over priced. Maybe I'll drop some hints to my wife for next christmas, heh 😁.

Cherry's own boards vary between decent to rather bad. Avoid the ubiquitous G80-3000 (bendy weak plastic case) and aim for the G80-1000 (older, with metal backplate). Steer well clear of any G81 boards, they have Cherry MY switches, whose type feel has been variously described as "prodding a corpse" or "typing on a wet newspaper". Some Cherry G80-1000 boards have NKRO, some don't, it's a bit of a mixed bag and you need to look at the specific model number. Take a look here. G80-3000 boards generally don't.

Commonest MX switch on old keyboards is the MX Black, a moderately heavy linear switch. Good retro feel, but I'm not a huge fan as it's not tactile. MX Blue (light clicky) is the alternative on older boards (now-common tactile silend MX Brown weren't really a thing back then). They feel OK-ish, but I don't like the sound - high-pitched and somewhere between metallic and cheap plastic. I prefer sound&feel of Alps White from same period, and IBM buckling spring is vastly superior in terms of sound & feel. But I'm a) spoilt (I have a *LOT* of keyboards, both vintage and modern) and b) pretty opinionated. Compared to a generic rubber dome, both MX Black and MX Blue will generally feel a lot better, and as for sound, that's highly personal, and also influenced by casing and keycaps (MX Blue on G80-1000 sound a lot better than on G80-3000).

Reply 9 of 20, by Oetker

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

You could try to find a beige Dell AT101W, it's got Alps switches, a Windows key, and is PS/2. Limited key rollover, though.

dionb wrote on 2021-02-23, 08:19:

Have you tried the Action gaming keyboard? N-key rollover and ~25 eur. For anything but typing long texts I prefer it to my Unicomp, which, apart from the sublime key feel, is a shoddily constructed overpriced POS.

Reply 11 of 20, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 08:57:

You could try to find a beige Dell AT101W, it's got Alps switches, a Windows key, and is PS/2. Limited key rollover, though.

I have the SGI Bigfoot, which is a granite-coloured version of the same board. Not bad, but Alps switches get very scratchy with age and I haven't found time/energy to thoroughly clean/lube the beasts. I do have a NOS Matias TactilePro (1st gen), with Matias' evolution of Alps white. That is seriously the noisiest keyboard I have ever had, with a highly resonant polycarbonate (?) case. Does type very nicely though 😀

[...]

Have you tried the Action gaming keyboard? N-key rollover and ~25 eur. For anything but typing long texts I prefer it to my Unicomp, which, apart from the sublime key feel, is a shoddily constructed overpriced POS.

I hate flashy RGB-stuff with a passion, so no, I haven't. However it looks suspiciously like the generic "MeToo" boards you can get on AliExpress for a similar price. I bought one of those with Cherry MX Blue clones (and understated white-only LEDs instead of the RGB option). The board is utterly minimal, just a flat plastic plate holding the switch PCB - but if you replace the wafer-thin ABS keycaps with something decent. I had an XDA Granite set whose quality I really liked, but I couldn't get used to the lack of sculpting in the profile, so I've given my youngest son the keyboard. He's happy and hasn't managed to destroy it yet, so durability is more than decent 😉

Reply 12 of 20, by Oetker

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
dionb wrote on 2021-02-23, 10:29:
I have the SGI Bigfoot, which is a granite-coloured version of the same board. Not bad, but Alps switches get very scratchy with […]
Show full quote
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 08:57:

You could try to find a beige Dell AT101W, it's got Alps switches, a Windows key, and is PS/2. Limited key rollover, though.

I have the SGI Bigfoot, which is a granite-coloured version of the same board. Not bad, but Alps switches get very scratchy with age and I haven't found time/energy to thoroughly clean/lube the beasts. I do have a NOS Matias TactilePro (1st gen), with Matias' evolution of Alps white. That is seriously the noisiest keyboard I have ever had, with a highly resonant polycarbonate (?) case. Does type very nicely though 😀

[...]

Have you tried the Action gaming keyboard? N-key rollover and ~25 eur. For anything but typing long texts I prefer it to my Unicomp, which, apart from the sublime key feel, is a shoddily constructed overpriced POS.

I hate flashy RGB-stuff with a passion, so no, I haven't. However it looks suspiciously like the generic "MeToo" boards you can get on AliExpress for a similar price. I bought one of those with Cherry MX Blue clones (and understated white-only LEDs instead of the RGB option). The board is utterly minimal, just a flat plastic plate holding the switch PCB - but if you replace the wafer-thin ABS keycaps with something decent. I had an XDA Granite set whose quality I really liked, but I couldn't get used to the lack of sculpting in the profile, so I've given my youngest son the keyboard. He's happy and hasn't managed to destroy it yet, so durability is more than decent 😉

I've kept my eyes open for the SGI version of the AT101 but have never been able to find one; it would be cool to have an SGI keyboard. No meta/Windows keys though. I've also used Sun keyboards on PC (stabilized membrane), they weren't that special to type on but very cool looking.

Reply 13 of 20, by Doornkaat

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 08:57:

Have you tried the Action gaming keyboard? N-key rollover and ~25 eur. For anything but typing long texts I prefer it to my Unicomp, which, apart from the sublime key feel, is a shoddily constructed overpriced POS.

Are you referring to this?
Is the board actually N-key rollover? It only says "Anti Ghosting" on the box as far as I can tell.
Seeing as the lights can be turned off I would consider getting one for an XP setup is you can confirm full N-key rollover.
Thanks for the tip regardless. 😀

Reply 14 of 20, by Oetker

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Doornkaat wrote on 2021-02-23, 11:50:
Are you referring to this? Is the board actually N-key rollover? It only says "Anti Ghosting" on the box as far as I can tell. […]
Show full quote
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 08:57:

Have you tried the Action gaming keyboard? N-key rollover and ~25 eur. For anything but typing long texts I prefer it to my Unicomp, which, apart from the sublime key feel, is a shoddily constructed overpriced POS.

Are you referring to this?
Is the board actually N-key rollover? It only says "Anti Ghosting" on the box as far as I can tell.
Seeing as the lights can be turned off I would consider getting one for an XP setup is you can confirm full N-key rollover.
Thanks for the tip regardless. 😀

That's the one. I'll test for nkro when I get home. The lights can be turned off however I've also had them turn on again after restarting the computer.
The build quality of the board itself is good, however my return key has slightly crooked text printed on.

Also there are at least two versions, my friend has the one in the picture, mine has round, labeled LEDs instead of the unlabeled elongated ones, and my 'Battletron' logo is printed on instead of a sticker. On the linked board, the 4th LED is Windows key enable/disable status.

Reply 15 of 20, by Doornkaat

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 11:53:

That's the one. I'll test for nkro when I get home. The lights can be turned off however I've also had them turn on again after restarting the computer.
The build quality of the board itself is good, however my return key has slightly crooked text printed on.

Also there are at least two versions, my friend has the one in the picture, mine has round, labeled LEDs instead of the unlabeled elongated ones, and my 'Battletron' logo is printed on instead of a sticker. On the linked board, the 4th LED is Windows key enable/disable status.

A quick test would be greatly appreciated! I guess at that price one has to expect some variation within the series, so maybe the one I'll get will be slightly different anyway.
It's only 20€ and I'm not going to use it every day. I guess I can do with a sensible gaming layout instead of true N-key. 😄

Reply 16 of 20, by mothergoose729

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Do you guys know of any good mechanical keyboards with curved decks? As it turns out, you can buy model M keycap replacements for very cheap and they aren't that difficult to fit on a modern switches.

Reply 17 of 20, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 10:37:

[...]

I've kept my eyes open for the SGI version of the AT101 but have never been able to find one; it would be cool to have an SGI keyboard. No meta/Windows keys though.

Don't miss those keys 😉

I was lucky, a former SGI collector in Hilversum got his wife pregnant and needed the spare room for the baby, so was dumping all but his most precious stuff. I was there for an SGI Multilink adapter (needed to hook up a 1600SW TFT screen to a normal DVI interface) and turned out he had a keyboard too.

I've also used Sun keyboards on PC (stabilized membrane), they weren't that special to type on but very cool looking.

Sun Type 5 boards are things of absolute beauty, but awfully squishy to type on, with an alarming tendency to lose keycaps all over the place. Still, I treasure mine and am still looking for the matching optical mouse (for less than the price of a second mortgage).

Now, if someone were to make replica Sun keycaps for MX mounts - and better, a PCB that would fit in the original casing, I could truly be happy 😉

Reply 18 of 20, by Oetker

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
dionb wrote on 2021-02-23, 18:48:

Sun Type 5 boards are things of absolute beauty, but awfully squishy to type on, with an alarming tendency to lose keycaps all over the place. Still, I treasure mine and am still looking for the matching optical mouse (for less than the price of a second mortgage).

I sold my Type 5 boards and my home made USB converter last year, I think I threw in the mouse for free...

Reply 19 of 20, by Oetker

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Doornkaat wrote on 2021-02-23, 11:59:
Oetker wrote on 2021-02-23, 11:53:

That's the one. I'll test for nkro when I get home. The lights can be turned off however I've also had them turn on again after restarting the computer.
The build quality of the board itself is good, however my return key has slightly crooked text printed on.

Also there are at least two versions, my friend has the one in the picture, mine has round, labeled LEDs instead of the unlabeled elongated ones, and my 'Battletron' logo is printed on instead of a sticker. On the linked board, the 4th LED is Windows key enable/disable status.

A quick test would be greatly appreciated! I guess at that price one has to expect some variation within the series, so maybe the one I'll get will be slightly different anyway.
It's only 20€ and I'm not going to use it every day. I guess I can do with a sensible gaming layout instead of true N-key. 😄

I just tested it using some website, apparently I can press 23 keys by mashing both my hands on the board.