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Keyboard Glossary

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Ever heard a term used in the keyboard section and you weren't sure what it meant? Here is a resource for all the terms that are used.

Is there a term you think should be added? Feel free to send a PM and suggest it.

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
  • ABS - Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a plastic used for keycaps and keyboard cases, cheaper than PBT with less wear-resistance.
  • Actuation - The point at which a switch sends a signal, triggering the key press.
  • ALPS - A family of mechanical switches like Cherry MX or Topre.
  • ANSI - American National Standards Institute, a physical keyboard layout used throughout North America. Uses the long Left Shift and wide, single row Enter.
  • AT - A keyboard interface used in older keyboards. Followed the XT interface.



  • Backplate - A (usually) metal plate used in plate-mounted boards to help keep the board rigid and to add some weight.
  • Buckling Spring - A type of switch technology which utilizes the action of a collapsing spring to produce a sharp tactile feedback. Arguably most well-known for being the switch found in the legendary IBM Model M keyboards. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • Cherry - Manufacturer of the very popular Cherry MX (among other) key switches and mechanical keyboards)
  • Cherry (Profile) - A keycap profile like DSA, DCS or OEM. Lower profile than OEM keycaps.
  • Cherry MX - The most popular family of switches currently used in mechanical keyboards.
  • Colemak - An alternative keyboard layout to QWERTY. Some consider it to be easier to transition to than some other layouts such as Dvorak.
  • Costar - A well-known keyboard OEM. Recognisable products include the Filco Majestouch-2 and Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Rapid.



  • DCS - A keycap profile used by Signature Plastics. Similar height to Cherry, but with a few differences in slope on some rows.
  • DIP Switch - A switch (or several) found on some higher-end keyboards which allow you to change functionality of the board permanently without having to use the system OS. Examples of things these can change are swapping Ctrl and Caps Lock, changing the layout to Dvorak, disable the Windows key etc. The difference with using these is that even if you use the keyboard on a different computer, the settings will be kept, whereas changing something like the keyboard layout in the OS will obviously not.
  • Doubleshot - A type of keycap comprising two separate parts ensuring the print will never wear down. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).
  • DSA - A keycap profile used by Signature Plastics with a lower profile than DCS.
  • Dvorak - An alternative keyboard layout to QWERTY, claimed to reduce average finger motion, increase typing speed and reduce typing errors.
  • Dyesub - Dye Sublimation, a type of keycap where dye is seeped in to the plastic in the shape of the character to provide a longer lasting character than some other methods such as pad printing. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • Ergo-Clear - A non-standard Cherry MX switch formed by using the spring from an MX Blue/ MX Red or MX Brown with the slider of an MX Clear switch to create a lighter, more tactile switch than the MX Brown.



  • Function layer - A layer of keyboard commands which are only accessible while pressing the function key (usually marked Fn). Common on smaller form factor boards.



  • GB - Group Buy, a collective purchase of a product direct from the manufacturer. Often used to obtain products that aren't readily available or to obtain readily available products for lower than retail pricing.
  • Ghosting - an undesirable feature of keyboards where due to faults in the keyboards design, pressing certain key combinations can result in unpressed keys appearing. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).
  • GH - GeekHack, a popular keyboard enthusiast forum. A good place to join keyboard-related groupbuys.



  • HHKB - Happy Hacking Keyboard - A popular small form factor topre keyboard.
  • Hysteresis - A property of certain switches where the actuation and reset points are at different points in the switch travel.



  • iOne - A well-known keyboard OEM like Costar. Recognisable products include the Cooler Master Storm QuickFire Pro and some Razer Blackwidow models.
  • ISO - International Organization for Standardization, A physical keyboard layout used extensively in Europe with a large, tall Enter key and shorter Left Shift.



  • J - No current entries, feel free to suggest some!



  • Key-puller - A device used to remove keycaps from the keyboard in a safe manner that won't damage the switch itself.
  • Khail - A switch manufacturer. Known for producing clones of Cherry switches. Recently produced altered versions of well-known Cherry MX switches for Razer.
  • KRO - Key rollover, the maximum number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously without any keys failing to trigger or unpressed keys triggering.



  • Linear - A switch with no tactile feedback. One example is the Cherry MX Red.
  • Legends - The characters that are added to keycaps.



  • Macro keys - keys on the keyboard which allow you to register strings of keys to be bound to a single key.



  • NKRO - N-Key Rollover, see KRO, allows any combination of keys to be pressed. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • O-rings - Small rubber rings that can be fitted to keycaps to reduce the sound and harsh feel of bottoming out switches.
  • OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer, The company who produce a keyboard, which then may go on to be rebranded e.g. Costar produces keyboards which are then rebranded as Filco keyboards.
  • OEM (Profile) - A popular keycap profile found on boards such as Filco. Higher profile than Cherry profile keycaps.



  • Pad Printing - Arguably the lowest end of all the keycap printing methods. Something akin to a sticker is pressed on to the keycap. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).
  • PBT - Polybutylene terephthalate, a plastic used for keycaps. PBT keycaps are often favoured over ABS as they provide superior resistance to corrosion from long term use.
  • PCB - Printed Circuit Board, The circuit board which the switches connect to, which then connects to the controller.
  • PCB-mount - A mounting option for mechanical switches where the switches are just soldered straight to the PCB, and then placed in the casing. This allows switches to be removed or opened easily, but can leave the board feeling less sturdy than a plate-mounted equivalent.
  • Plate-mount - A mounting option for mechanical switches where the switches are pressed into place in a metal plate, then soldered to the PCB. Provides a heavier, tougher feeling keyboard compared to PCB-mounted boards at the cost of being harder to modify.
  • PS/2 - An older alternative input to USB. Favoured by some for keyboards as it offers native NKRO. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • Q - No current entries, feel free to suggest some!



  • Rubber dome - The most popular form of discrete keyboard available at the moment. These boards use a rubber sheet with domes to provide feedback for the keys. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • Slider - The part of a switch (not exclusively mechanical) that moves down when the key is pressed to actuate the switch.
  • SSK - Space Saving Keyboard, A TKL version of the popular IBM Model M.
  • Switch - The part of a keyboard that makes it mechanical, a self contained unit that when activated, registers a keypress.



  • TKL - A keyboard form factor without a numpad. Favoured by some as it reduces the distance between the user's arms and saves desk space.
  • Topre - An often revered "high-end" switch comprising a conical spring and rubber cup. Some call them the "rubber dome perfected".
  • Tsangan - A bottom row layout with 1.5x Ctrl, Alt and 1x Windows/ Fn keys



  • USB - Universal Serial Bus, the most popular connection interface for modern keyboards. (More detailed info can be found in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide).



  • V - No current entries, feel free to suggest some!



  • Windows lock key - Allows the Windows key to be disabled. Useful for gaming so you don't accidentally bring up the start menu and minimize the game.
  • Winkeyless - A keyboard missing the Windows keys. Favoured by some as it gives the keyboard an interesting look.



  • XT - A keyboard interface used in older keyboards. Followed by the AT interface.



  • Y - No current entries, feel free to suggest some!



  • Z - No current entries, feel free to suggest some!

Edited by Paradigm84 - 6/16/14 at 11:38am
post #3 of 8
Great post - I do think it is missing a few things:
1. Companies that sell mechanical keyboards (ie well-know brands would be helpful -> CM, Logitech, IBM etc) -> I realise this might be hard to do, but it would be helpful for users
2. Razer switch -> which should be referenced next to Khail - as most people (including myself) wouldn't know it
3. As simple as it sounds: there's no mention of backlight - which is uselually from LED backlight - furthermore RGB baclight
4. Key-puller should be added
5. O-Rings explained
6. I know it isn't great to reference other forums, but it is widely acknowledged that GeekHack is the place to check for keyboard accessories.

find this a great resource for newbies smile.gif
Best be added to the mech keyboard club OP too!
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Totally Dubbed View Post

Great post - I do think it is missing a few things:
1. Companies that sell mechanical keyboards (ie well-know brands would be helpful -> CM, Logitech, IBM etc) -> I realise this might be hard to do, but it would be helpful for users
2. Razer switch -> which should be referenced next to Khail - as most people (including myself) wouldn't know it
3. As simple as it sounds: there's no mention of backlight - which is uselually from LED backlight - furthermore RGB baclight
4. Key-puller should be added
5. O-Rings explained
6. I know it isn't great to reference other forums, but it is widely acknowledged that GeekHack is the place to check for keyboard accessories.

find this a great resource for newbies smile.gif
Best be added to the mech keyboard club OP too!

This thread is meant as a glossary to explain possible non-obvious terms, as such some of your list won't be added here.

1. Isn't relevant to this thread, also it seems kind of redundant to just name companies, especially considering all the little known companies that may not even sell boards in Europe or North America. We have the Recommended Mechanical Keyboard Guide to suggest boards.
2. I can add a mention of the Razer switch.
3. I'm debating whether backlight is too obvious to be added.
4. I can add an entry for key-puller
5. I can add an entry for O-rings.
6. I can add an entry for GeekHack.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm84 View Post

This thread is meant as a glossary to explain possible non-obvious terms, as such some of your list won't be added here.

1. Isn't relevant to this thread, also it seems kind of redundant to just name companies, especially considering all the little known companies that may not even sell boards in Europe or North America. We have the Recommended Mechanical Keyboard Guide to suggest boards.
2. I can add a mention of the Razer switch.
3. I'm debating whether backlight is too obvious to be added.
4. I can add an entry for key-puller
5. I can add an entry for O-rings.
6. I can add an entry for GeekHack.

A thank you, for pointing those out would have been nice, but alright thumb.gif
post #6 of 8
Oh very nice, thanks for adding !
    
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Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
c300 128GB SSD 2TB FireCuda 7mm 2TB Firecuda 7mm 1TB 5400rpm 
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post #7 of 8
Q. Qwerty. Most common layout?
Ol' faithful
(17 items)
 
   
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KINGSTON SH103S3240G WDC WD10EACS-00D6B0 Can't remember - never use it. Prolimatech Megahalems 
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Corsair HX620 Coolermaster Praetorian Logitech 6500 yes 
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Ol' faithful
(17 items)
 
   
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 Foxconn Blackops AMD Radeon R9 280x Corsair  
RAMRAMRAMHard Drive
Corsair  Corsair  Corsair  INTEL SSDSA2MH080G1GC 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
KINGSTON SH103S3240G WDC WD10EACS-00D6B0 Can't remember - never use it. Prolimatech Megahalems 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair HX620 Coolermaster Praetorian Logitech 6500 yes 
Audio
Soundblaster 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i& 4790k ASUS Maximus VII Ranger MSI 1070 Armor G.Skill Ripjaws Z F3-2400C10D-8GZH 8GB (2x4GB) ... 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB Big cheap SSD WD HDD (spinning runs) Cheap Samsung external drive. 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Phanteks PH-TC14PE W10 64 Home Premium QNIX 1440 / 32" CM Storm Rapid-i, Cherry blue/white BL. 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
EVGA G2 850 Phanteks Enthoo Pro (white) Logitech G502 yes 
AudioAudioAudio
Grace M9XX SS DAC/Amp Feliks Elise, with a bunch of aftermarket tubes STAX SRM-1 MK 2 Pro 
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spork13 View Post

Q. Qwerty. Most common layout?

For a lot of the world (particularly English-speaking parts), yes, but obviously there will be variations for different non-Latin-script languages, and some variations such as AZERTY and QWERTZ that are used in France and Germany respectively, among others.

Then on top of those location or language based 'standard' layouts, there are variations that have been devised that are arguably more 'optimal', the most popular of those likely being Dvorak.
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