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


View All Comments

  • inighthawki - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    I'd have to agree with others who say that a keyboard without a numpad is basically worthless. Literally any application on a computer requiring number entry with more than one digit benefits from a numpad. Everything from programming and data entry to doing your taxes. Reply
  • gurok - Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - link

    10/10. Would buy to play text adventures. Reply
  • top1234 - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    Download Games Free Full Version: http://th3gamesfull.blogspot.com/ Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, February 4, 2016 - link

    @Reviewer: after reading until the end of the introduction I'd like to know the targeted price and the switches offered in a keyboard. This way I could quickly judge if the product is of any interest to me. For other products there's a spec sheet on the 1st page, which I like to glance over to see what we're talking about - to decide whether it's worth to read the article or not. Reply
  • Hixbot - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Does a USB to PS2 adapter bring the same performance of using a native PS2 keyboard? I'm guessing the USB interface brings with it some of the disadvantages of USB keyboards, and the adapter does not remove all of those disadvantages. Reply
  • lyeoh - Saturday, February 13, 2016 - link

    We're talking about gaming keyboards right? So what's the latency? e.g. how many milliseconds between pressing a key and the computer/OS realizing the key has been pressed. And how does its latency compare with the other gaming keyboards? Reply

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