When it comes to PC components, I generally tell people that you get what you pay for. If you want to max out some graphics settings, for instance, you might as well shell out the cash for a really nice video card instead of going cheap and trying to upgrade later. The same goes for peripherals; a solid, well-built keyboard will last you long enough to pay for itself. At a certain point, though, don’t you run into a limit to this price/quality ratio? The Cherry MX Board 6.0 Keyboard asks that question, so let’s discuss.
Let’s cut to the chase: this is a keyboard with an MSRP of approximately $220. That’s two hundred and twenty US dollars. Holy crap! You could pick up a new video card for the price of three of ’em; honestly, $220 by itself would get you dozens of fantastic games if you stretched it out. You could even buy several of this keyboard’s lesser cousin, the MX Board 3.0, which is intended for more general use and lacks most of the fancy features seen here. In return for your precious Benjamins, you’re getting a keyboard built in the German style – it’s minimalist, it’s heavy, it’s durable and it’s designed like a precision instrument. The aluminum base gives the MX Board 6.0 some heft and ensures that it won’t go sliding around your desk, while the MX Red switches powering all of the keys click satisfyingly and accurately report your keystrokes. This thing is built to last…but it’s still a $220 keyboard.
On the other hand, the MX Board 6.0 does boast some premium features that may or may not justify the high price. The most obvious and valuable of these for gaming is the keyboard’s anti-ghosting feature; in short, this means that no matter how many keys are pressed simultaneously or in which combination, they’ll all be recognized. Ghosting is a problem that plagues many keyboards, even high-end models, so a directed effort to reduce it is appreciated.
Another unique touch is CHERRY’s RealKey technology, which uses an analog connection from each key’s switch to the keyboard controller to reduce keypress lag as opposed to the periodic digital scan seen in most keyboards. According to CHERRY, this takes the average 20ms input delay and reduces it to 1ms. Frankly, I didn’t really notice a difference on this front, perhaps because my reflexes aren’t finely honed enough. The hardest of the hardcore are likely to appreciate this touch, for what it’s worth, and the increased response and precision would be the biggest selling point of this device for that demographic.
The most obvious point of contention with this keyboard is the fact that is almost entirely “just a keyboard.” In other words, your fancy rolling volume sliders, macro keys and so on are basically nonexistent. There isn’t a fancy software tool to go along with it; you’ve got six media keys, backlighting adjustment, and…that’s pretty much all. It even uses a function-key system like something you’d see on a laptop or tablet keyboard. If you want to adjust volume, for instance, you’ll need to toggle a function key to do so, which is maddening in early use and continually aggravating hours later. It’s a typist’s dream, but if you want other functionality the MX Board 6.0 is simply not going to do it for you. The lack of a USB passthrough is another knock against this keyboard, as it’s a fairly standard feature that makes using wired mice much more feasible for many layouts.
Instead, Cherry would have you believe that your $220 is buying you the BMW of keyboards. The conservative design is clearly intended to draw your attention to the device’s primary use: pressing keys and getting results. It is, admittedly, very pleasant to type on, though I don’t see it making much of a difference when you’re gaming unless you’re in the top 1%, as mentioned above.
The MX Red switches under every key are as tactile and responsive as any I’ve used, and the compact design ensures that it doesn’t take up too much desk space. While there’s some LED lighting, it’s used very conservatively; most keys are red, function keys will become blue when toggled and red otherwise, and there’s onboard controls for adjusting brightness at your discretion; note that you’re going to need two USB slots for this keyboard as a result. Whether or not this is an improvement over the wildly flashing RGB LEDs found on many gaming keyboards is really a personal preference. You’ve also got a wrist rest that attaches magnetically, though I didn’t use this very much during my time with the keyboard.
I tested the MX Board 6.0 with a variety of different games requiring diverse levels of keyboard interaction; I paired the keyboard with the Mionix Castor mouse – this svelte Swedish device is another no-frills option built for craftsmanship, a fine match for this piece of equally fine German engineering. Dirty Bomb, a favorite shooter pastime, was a pleasure on this board, as did Tribes: Ascend. RPGs like Diablo 3: Reaper Of Souls, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Pillars of Eternity were equally easy to play. I don’t think anyone will run into issues playing their favorites with this keyboard; the real question is whether it’ll be an improvement over their current device.
If you’ve got some cash, you’re interested in results over frills and you’re absolutely sure you won’t get hung up on a scrawny feature set, then the Cherry MX Board 6.0 Keyboard should suit you nicely, thus earning an easy recommendation. This is a high-spec device that has a very narrow demographic, but that group should love it. Ironically, it also makes a fantastic keyboard for everyday activities like word processing, and is perhaps at its best when used this way – if only that price point was lower! On the other hand, if you don’t meet all three of those requirements, then you’re better off looking at the many less expensive, more feature-rich options on the market right now.