Quality Testing

In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users.

The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduces the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typical sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.

The quality testing of the Zalman ZM-K700M gave us the expected results for a keyboard based on Cherry's MX switches. The actuation force is very consistent, with a disparity of just ±3.77%, which is imperceptible by touch. Furthermore, the actuation force of the larger keys, and especially that of the Space Bar key, is not much lower than that of the main keys, despite their size. Cherry's cross stabilizers balance the actuation force of the larger keys, bringing it closer to that of the main keys, enhancing the overall feeling of the keyboard.

The Zalman Z-Machine ZM-K700M Mechanical Keyboard Final Words & Conclusion
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  • tarqsharq - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    Yeah, it might be nice if you're playing one of those third party "Vanilla WOW" servers that run old old old pre-command queue builds. Reply
  • blahsaysblah - Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - link

    GET RID OF NUMPAD.

    Why wont it die.

    Im pretty sure the dedicated data entry person probably has their own custom numpad device anyway.
    Reply
  • Kepe - Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - link

    Umm, I use the numpad every day. And I don't do any data entry on excel or something. It is so much better to use the numpad if you need to enter more than one or two numbers somewhere. I would never buy a tenkeyless keyboard. Reply
  • Margalus - Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - link

    If a keyboard doesn't have a numpad it's not worth a plug nickel. Numpad is probably the most used feature when I game. Reply
  • Miau Frito - Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - link

    I use the numpad for movement since it allows my thumb to have easy access to a lot of keys.
    w = /
    a = 7
    s = 8
    d = 9
    Reply
  • Murloc - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    and how do you use the mouse Reply
  • inighthawki - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    I presume he's either left handed or simply moves the keyboard to the left so that the numpad is at a comfortable position with respect to his hand. I'm not sure what would cause an issue with using the mouse. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    There are plenty of boards without the numpad. I kind of like the numpad. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    I have a 10keyless and honestly yes, sometimes I miss the numberpad too. Reply
  • Murloc - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    game trainers and flight simulators make use of it as well.

    Anyway just get a Cooler Master Quickfire Rapid, or even better the Rapid TK which has the right part which can transform in a numberpad should you ever need it, but has the arrow and delete etc. key functions on the same keys too.
    Reply

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