Maximum PC magazine is dangerous. To paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes, I saw a bunch of products in a magazine that I didn’t know existed, but now desperately need. That need for me was mechanical computer keyboards.
A luxury product if there ever was one, mechanical keyboards use switches rather than the smooshy membrane things that 99% of traditional keyboards use. There are different kinds of mechanical keyboards, but all the good ones use switches from Cherry Corp. Cherry red switches are used for gaming, and provide super fast, super smooth keys. On the other side of the spectrum are Cherry Blue switches, which are super clicky and feel (and sound) like typing on a typewriter from the late 19th century. In between are a variety of other switches, including Cherry Brown and Cherry Clear.
Well as soon as I heard that these things existed, I knew I wanted one. Specifically a clicky Cherry MX Blue switch board. My trusty, soda-soaked old Logitech keyboard wasn’t cutting it anymore. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. It typed letters just fine and was comfortable to use. I had never actually touched a mechanical keyboard in real life. My desire for a new keyboard was born of madness. But it wouldn’t go away.
So that’s how I found myself inside a dimly lit Micro Center Mall in Chicago nosing around the keyboard section. After pestering the staff, they let me open a few boxes to see what these mysterious boards actually felt like. A few were okay, but they weren’t grabbing me. Then, like some sort of glass slipper, I touched one. It was magic. It was the (poorly named) Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid. It was mine.
The whole way home I chided myself for making such a stupid purchase. I have made some bad impulse buys in the past, and this was already feeling like one. However, the second I unboxed it at home all doubt melted away.
The Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid is a premium product. The non-key surfaces are soft touch plastic, and the lettering on every key is etched so you can feel letters out like some sort of primitive braille. Even the USB cable included in the box is literally the nicest USB cable I’ve ever encountered, coated in a slick black metal mesh through the whole length of the wire.
And the typing. Oh the typing. So clicky. So gloriously clicky. Typing on this thing reminds (and sounds) like the typewriter I used growing up. I never thought I’d say this, but typing on this Cooler Master Cherry blue board makes me feel like a badass. A badass writer. Months after I’ve purchased this thing, I still just press keys because it’s fun.
I think that’s the ultimate lesson I took away from this thing. When one can take a rather mundane element of life and make it awesome, it can elevate everything around it. When I’m typing up a script on a computer, the last thing I’m thinking about is my keyboard. It was just kind of there. At best, it got out of the way. Now my mechanical keyboard actually compels me to work. I might feel like slacking off, but then I look at my keyboard and think about how much fun it’s going to be to click away at it. And I write. That alone makes it worth the price of admission.
So if you have a writer in your life that you’re looking to get a gift, get them a Cherry Blue keyboard. They don’t know it exists, but they desperately need it.
(After doing a little internet research while writing this, I found out that the Cherry corp doesn’t just make switches for keyboards. Their switches are all over the place, including soda fountains. That little thing you push your cup on, yup, that’s the same switch that’s inside my keyboard. I don’t know why, but this blew my mind a little bit.)