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Value / Build Quality - Making a Decision

Poll Results: Which is the best value?

 
  • 16% (6)
    FILCO / $160
  • 29% (11)
    LEOPOLD / $109
  • 32% (12)
    WASD / $120-140
  • 21% (8)
    DAS / $120
37 Total Votes  
post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
UPDATED 11/6/2011- THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS- CHECK BELOW

I wish this post could be a detailed review and comparison, but I have yet to drop $500 on keyboards and can offer nothing but repetitive questions.

As a computer enthusiast, I am naturally drawn to mechanical keyboards. Frankly, dropping $100 on a keyboard seemed ridiculous at first- but the same could have been said for a DSLR lens or anything of practical quality. I've spent a good deal of time reading the threads on this forum trying to get a good grasp of manufacturers and vendors and I think I've got a reasonable stance:

[[B]FILCO[/B]]
+ Great build quality
+ Very high customer satisfaction
- Overpriced
- Low availability (USA)
= OVERALL: An excellent board that is pricey and takes some work to get, but will not disappoint.

[[B]LEOPOLD[/B]]
+ Good build quality
+ Much cheaper than Filco
- Inferior build quality to Filco [IN QUESTION]
= OVERALL: A solid choice that is a great alternative to Filco, whether for economical reasons or availability.

[[B]WASD[/B]]
+ Highly customizable
+ High customer satisfaction
- Inferior build quality to Filco [IN QUESTION]
- Can be expensive
= OVERALL: An attractive option, with a completely customizable layout at a reasonable price.

[[B]DAS[/B]]
+ Good availability
+ Reasonable price
- Inferior build quality to Filco [IN QUESTION]
= OVERALL: A good fallback option, with many available options from different vendors.

[[B]ROSEWILL[/B]]
+ A bargain- great price / performance ratio
+ Available immediately, in many different forms.
- Appearance, while subjective, may be the least desirable of all options
= OVERALL: Another solid option with a quality build, mindful pricetag, and available options. Try to score one for under $100!

NOTE- For the other brands, it seems like overall Ducky is not as popular and Deck is more expensive than the rest of these options. Please correct me if I am wrong and I will add them here.

I'm looking at a 104-key keyboard with blank keycaps and Brown switches. All of the major competitors all have similar offerings so I'm not worried about that.

I can go with:

FILCO Ninja Majestouch-2, NKR, Tactile, NKR, USA, FKBN104M/EFB2
$160 from [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Z0XR2O/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A104717BI2VJF7"]Amazon[/ame]

LEOPOLD Tactile Touch Otaku , FC500RT/ABN
$99 (+ $12.50 shipping USA) from EliteKeyboards

WASD Semi-Custom V1
$120 from WASDKeyboards ($140 with dampeners- worth it?)

DAS Model S Ultimate Silent, FKBN104M/EFB2
$123 from [ame="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003M4XGI4/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=A2YLYLTN75J8LR"]Amazon[/ame]

ROSEWILL RK-9000BR
$110 (+ $7.80 shipping) from Newegg

I am really torn between these choices, I know I'd be happy with any one that I got since I have nothing to really compare to [other than my current keyboard the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard- which is a great keyboard @ $35].

From what I gather:

BUILD QUALITY
  1. Filco
  2. Leopold
  3. WASD
  4. Das
From reader feedback it seems that build quality should not be a major differentiator between the boards.

PRICE
  1. Rosewill [free shipping!]
  2. Leopold
  3. WASD [without dampeners]
  4. Das
  5. WASD [with dampeners]
  6. Filco
It would seem Leopold would be the best pick- that is if my assumptions are correct. I would greatly appreciate any feedback- anyone is welcome, but the owners with multiple boards would be invaluable. Thanks in advance and I hope this thread can help other prospective buyers who are in a similar situation as I am.


UPDATE- 10/20/2011

\\ Added Rosewill RK-9000 information

\\ Brian (of EliteKeyboard)'s take on Filco vs Leopold. He claims that Leopold is oftentimes superior in build quality and that Filco's high reputation came from product filtering on the vendor's side.

\\ He also had this to say about the Rosewill RK-9000
Quote:
Coincidentally and *completely* unrelated, the RK-9000 is a nice board...(Oh well, water under the bridge.)


UPDATE- 10/27/2011

\\ I found an interview with Carl Matsu (designer of Filco and Leopold). I found this to be particularly interesting:
Quote:
6. Do you feel that the Leopold is better designed than the Filco? Why or why not?
"Yes, of course! I cannot tell you. Because I cannot tell the FILCO weak point."
Of course it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but hey- there it is.

\\ Been trying to learn more about the stabilizers- word has it that the Costar (Filcos, others?) are less squeaky than the Cherry (Leopold, others?) and also the Costar keycaps are more difficult (at least initially) to remove.

\\ Some price changes- notably the Leopolds are at $99 (before shipping), and RK-9000 has a $10 coupon (NEWCUSTOMER10) and a $20 Newegg gift card (at least until October 31st) [[/B][I]NOTE- This deal is only for the [URL="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823201040"]Cherry Blues[/URL].[/I][B]]


I purchased a WASD Semi-Custom (Browns, No O-Rings).

Why not Leopold?
With $12.50 shipping, there was a ~$10 difference in Leopold's favor. However the given keypuller and keycap customization made me feel the $10 was worth it. After reading reviews that the build quality was similar- I did not hesitate. I am concerned about the cord length (4' vs "standard" 6'), but it comes with a 3' extension. I'm not sure if I like the hardwired cord (WASD) or the detachable (Leopld) more, the keyboard isn't going to move so whatever lasts longer is fine with me.

Why not Rosewill?
The Browns did not get the same treatment as the Blues ($99 with $20 gift card) and I am put off by the logo. After shipping it cost nearly the same as a WASD ($117)- I felt the customization and other goodies with the WASD trump it.

Why not Filco?
Price. I expected it to have much better build quality- but since the general consensus is that they do not- the Costar stabilizers aren't worth the customization, goodies, and $40 premium for me.

Why not Das?
Glossy. It was $123, and again didn't come with the customization + goodies. I am aware of the student discount, and maybe I should have checked redface.gif- also the USB hub, while nice, isn't terribly useful to me.

I will continue to keep up with this thread and I value all the opinions. I really hope this will help others!


UPDATE- 11/6/2011

I've had my WASD for 4 days now, and I got some thoughts. It is my first mechanical keyboard and is replacing my scissor-switched Logitech Illuminated (or the LIK) which replaced my rubber-dome Saitek Eclipse III.

First some pictures:

IMG_7109.jpg
IMG_7110.jpg

The look is rather plain for forum standards, but turned out much more attractive than I initially expected. I'm only a casual FPS player, but I figured 'hell why not have the WASD in dark grey'. Overall the board is attractive, with a subtle logo on the top right and blue Num/Caps/Scroll lock LEDs with the perfect brightness. The board has some heft to it- not as heavy as I expected (it weighs a little more than the Logitech Illuminated- a solid feeling board), and has a different feeling plastic casing (listed as ABS- same as the keycaps).

My first reaction to typing on it was surprise- never have I typed on anything like this before. Contrary to what I expected, bottoming out sounds really nice and its psychologically satisfying to hear it clank (not sure if I would feel the same way about Blues though). Pushing it to the actuation point feels a little... stiff? It feels like something is grinding a little, but its not that big of a deal- not sure what I expected to begin with. The hardwired cable is a little loose and strange looking- but the braided cord is nice (if a bit short).

I plugged it in via PS/2 with the included adapter and the 3' extension cable. Confirmed with AquaKeyTest that the keyboard is NKRO. Moreover, the slight delay of using my keyboard over USB during startup (I have nearly every USB port connnected) has been eliminated since its using PS/2- very nice.

Typing is great on this keyboard- every press feels solid and you can type feverishly with confidence. My LIK had nice key travel, but it felt a little squeaky at times, making me type cautiously (even if the switches were rated for millions of presses). I played a match of DoTA and I noticed I was getting more fatigue when compared to the LIK- maybe I need to practice not bottoming out.

Overall its a great board- the more I think about it the triple digit price tag makes more sense to me. I fully expect to use this board until I go blind- but knowing me I might have 5 or more boards by then.

On shipping: WASD had it shipped in less than a day, but since I ordered it on a Thursday, I had to brave the weekend and ended up getting it on Wednesday. It was shipped from California and I live in Illinois.

\\ I also ordered a Rosewill RK-9000 (MX Blues) for $79.99 after a 20% off coupon on Newegg on 11/3/2011. It should arrive on the 8th- I will update with my thoughts on that board. For 1/3 cheaper, I'm confident that the Rosewill will not dissappoint!
Edited by DarK_MischieF - 11/6/11 at 12:31am
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post #2 of 45
I was in your position about a month ago. I ended up going for WASD because of the black switches and good price compared to the filco.

It all depends on what switches you want. The build quality, at least for me, were all the same, they would all last for a while, since i don't abuse my keyboard.

If you want other types of switches, like blues/browns, the leopold would be my first choice, since they are the lowest cost out of those 4, and are probably the closest to a filco you will get.

Do you have a preference with 10keyless? That is also a major deciding factor
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post #3 of 45
WASD's OEM is Costar, which is also who builds Filco's boards, so their quality should be very similar, if not the same. You may also want to consider Rosewill, Ducky, and Noppoo(they make a fullsize board in addition to the Choc Mini).
Quote:
Originally Posted by podunk;15381717 
Do you have a preference with 10keyless? That is also a major deciding factor
He said he was looking to get a full size boaard.


Personally, I would get a WASD out of the ones you listed. They have great customer service, great quality, and you can get it exactly how you want.
Edited by HWI - 10/20/11 at 11:03am
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post #4 of 45
I would say to not let build quality of any of those brands sway you; all 4 are solidly built mechanical keyboards, and whether one is "inferior" to another is highly subjective. I think they are all on a level playing field in that regard.

Like HWI, I would recommend looking into Rosewill from Newegg. It's pretty much a rebranded Filco at a much lower price.

I would pick up a WASD keyboard if I were in your shoes. They have a great choice of boards, the added value of many customization options (which none of the other boards have), solidly built keyboards, and great customer service from what I can tell. They recently released a great video of switch comparisons, a nice touch to help potential customers.
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post #5 of 45
Well personally build quality should not seriously be of concern out of the choices you've listed. They're all very good quality and short of using them as a bludgeon, they'll serve you for a while.

Of the choices you've listed, I'll list my own personal opinions.

Filco...probably just too expensive, nice looking board, but compared to the other three, it's not THAT attractive, certainly not $30 - $60 better.

WASD's customization makes them really attractive, and they're pretty much the same quality as Filco, but if you want to fully take advantage of the vendor, go full custom and go crazy (even if it's $140)

Leopold is the value option here really...but like commented above me, I'd also suggest looking at Rosewill (I read somewhere they're being sold for $100 post sale)

Das is unique in their glossy (read high maintenance) case and weird font. However, if you're a student, Das actually becomes the value option because of a generous discount, also two USB ports on the side.

So in the end, it comes down to what you value. In terms of pure value, go with Leopold or Rosewill, or if you're a student, Das. If you want a keyboard to call your own, then WASD keyboards are where you should go.

Disclaimer - My current board is a Das Professional S Silent, though I'll be installing white keycaps...probably from WASD...save yourself the pain if you want to make a keyboard your own = ).

OH! If you're getting Cherry MX Brown's, you should probably be learning touch typing to take full advantage of the key, and it's not that noisy in the first place...so don't bother
Edited by Shatterist - 10/20/11 at 12:18pm
post #6 of 45
Leopold is not necessarily of lower build quality than Filcos. Some cool information:

The designer of Filco and Leopold said himself that Leopold has the better design and that the Filcos design has a flaw which was unmentioned.

Brian from elitekeyboards, the person who brought Filco to America is the person who tested every single board he distributed to his customers, as a result giving Filco a very good name. EK stopped selling Filcos because of qc issues from the factory and started carrying Leopold, which Brian reports to have much better quality control from the factory, a testament to a better design.

AFAIK, Filco, DAS, and WASD are all made by the same OEM costar, as others have pointed out in this thread, so you can basically expect the same standards in terms of build quality. Base your choice of purchase on which keyboard you think looks the best.
post #7 of 45
Yeah calling them inferior to filcos is rather harsh. I'd say they are the same quality. Leopold at least mounts their arrow cluster straight!

Both boards are great IMO.
post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 
Great stuff guys, keep it coming.

I have updated parts of the OP with new, important information. I did remember reading Brian's post about Filco vs Leopold- but wasn't sure if he was trying to promote his own business and/or justify ending relations with Diatec (Filco's home company).

The Rosewill must have increased in price lately, and the Brown switch version costs the same as the equivalent Leopold.

Lots of love for WASD, I see- not entirely unexpected: although I was surprised at the lack of Filco.
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post #9 of 45
It's not that there's lack of Filco love - plenty of people love their Filcos - it's just there are better options for the money. The Rosewill is an especially nice option, simply because it's essentially a Filco, just with a different logo (some may argue that the logo is the sole reason why they won't get it) and much more reasonable price point.

I think the RK-9000 has been $100 and the RK-9000BR was only recently introduced at $110. The blue switch version recently had a promotion with a $20 gift card, and the red version currently has a promotion with a $30 gift card. Maybe the brown version is next?
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post #10 of 45
Quote:
The designer of Filco and Leopold said himself that Leopold has the better design and that the Filcos design has a flaw which was unmentioned.


Lol. What a surprise now that he left Filco.
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