This might be a little early, but I really feel the urge to write this review right now. It's about the Poker II Mechanical Keyboard.

tte challenger pro

Background

For the last few years I have been using a Thermaltake eSport Challenger Pro Keyboard, mainly for the fact that I had it lying around. Everything sounded very awesome, when I made this birthday-wish years ago. It had all the cool features: Backlighting, special programmable hotkeys, it looked awesome, and you could even plug a fan into it !! What more reason did I need to want it.

I have been using it ever since, and while I never liked typing on it this much, it wasn't cheap at all, so I just supposed every good keyboard would be like this. Quite recently I stumbled about mechanical keyboards quite a few times and began to take interest into them. If you're reading this, I suppose you know the difference - if you don't, here's a quick summary:

Mechanical Keyboards

While most of the keyboard you find use so called 'rubber domes' to register keystrokes, mechanical keyboards take another approach and add a small mechanical switch to every key. This allows for very individual typing experiences and a more refined key-pressing progress in general.

So after I got to check out a few mechanical keyboards here and there (one DAS and a cherry produced one) I started reading some background information. A few days ago I jumped into the cold and shelled out 100 bucks for my first mechanical keyboard.

The Review

So what I exactly ordered was a Poker II Bluce Backlight keyboard with MX Brown Cherry switches.

My Poker II

First Impression

I got my package from Amazon. It was very sturdy packed, a little worn, but I don't really care about the package, so this didn't really matter to me. The keyboard itself came packed with a bunch of additional keys (to replace, or for customization), a tool to remove the keys from the board and a standard USB cable to hook the keyboard to your computer.

In the beginning I was very afraid that the ABS keys wouldnm't feel good, or that I'd dislike them, but from what I could test so far, they are awesome. So the keys themself are rather light, but offer a nice texture to the fingers. The overall layout of the keyboard is what got me to buy it in the first place, so that's on the plus side as well.

After unpacking I immediatly panicked, as the left win-key would not light up, but some quick research showed that this was per design, as it was used to indicate other things. The blue backlight looks very solid. Seven different brightnesslevels, no flickering and on the highest setting a very bright lighting - nice !

From Rubberdome to Mechanical

The difference in typing is enormous. Everything feels completely different, and I am quite happy with the Brown Switches. A lot of people seem to dislike them, but up to now I find them very enjoyable. Typing is very different and feels a lot more precise.

What I noticed as well, is that the new keyboard is noticeable louder then my old one. That's not a bad thing though. It's not annoying, but offers a nice feedback to the ear. For the typing experience I can only recommend trying out a mechanical keyboard, but be aware - you will most certainly not want to go back to a regular keyboard afterwards.

From Fullscale to 60%

This was is quite a change for me. With such a small keyboard you lose your arrow keys and all the home/page up and down keys, as well as F1 to F12 and your numpad. I still decided to give it a try, because of two reasons.

  1. Desk Space ! With such a small board, you have lots and lots of space avaliable for other stuff on your desk.
  2. Health ! I've heard quite a few times, that having your arms spread far apart isn't that good. At least not if you're going to be in that stance for a couple of hours every day. So with a smaller keyboard I can move the mouse closer to the board and relax. I immediatly felt the difference.

While this change has a lot of positive effects, everything depends on how well I'll adept. I've remapped the arrow keys, so I can use w a s d to navigate, but I use a whole bunch of other keys which are not avaliable by default a lot too. As this board is pretty programmable I am positive that I'll work something out though !

Community

While doping my background checks I passively got into contact with the community as well, and I have to admit, that this was a game-changer too. Everyone seems really nice and friendly, you get a ton of info, and lots and lots of awesome, nice and funny people who share a hobby.

This is because a mechanical keyboard can be quite more than just a typing device: You get people doing all kinds of modifications, from custom painted keys, to titanium casings or led-lighted acrylic cases.

While some of these changes only offer optical improvement, others improve the writing comfort. One of the first things I did was e.g. turning the space bar by 180 degree. This makes the thumb rest very comfortable and releases some stress from it.

The Future

I am looking forward to do some minor modifications myself. Mainly I want to check out some PBT keys (this is a sturdier variant of the normal ABS keys). I don't think it will take me too long to get a custom painted case as well, but the first priority should be getting a proper casing, so I can go roud-programming again.

Closing words

To sum eeverything up, mechanical keyboards are the way to go for everyone who types a lot. I will see how I will handle the 60% design, but I am quite positive we'll work something out. The Poker II is very well build and sturdy, I love the layout and would recommend it to everyone who's willing to spend 100 bucks on a keyboard.

This is a hell of an hobbie, the community is awesome and there's almost nothing you can't do yourself. Furthermore those beauties will probably last you a lifetime. What would you ever want more ?

The main critique point with the MXBrown switches is that they feel mushy and not very precise, but I can't double that. I really like the feeling and the sound they make - but instead of recommending the switches, I can only recommend testing this yourself, it's 100% taste in the end.

Update

Just check out the imgur album with updates on my Poker II.