Hello keyboards friends, they say the Model F’s capacitative switches are better than the Mode M’s but is the Model F’s typing experience better than Apple Extended Keyboard II’s (AEK) switches, if they are which Apple Extended Keyboard II’s switches are the best : salmon vs. orange vs. M0312?
If you know someone who has all keyboards with all the switches and have tested, kindly post the link.
God bless, Rev. 21:4
I have experience with all the boards mentioned & there really is no right answer to what you’re asking cause it all comes down to personally preference. So the first thing I would ask is which do you prefer more, clicky or tactile switches. If it’s clicky then you’d want to give the Model F & Ms a try. Between the two the F is considered superior, not only in feel & sound but also build quality. Here is a good GH thread discussing the differences. The TDLR is long thinner springs on the F make for a lighter feel, the wider paddle on the F make the keystrokes sound deeper & fuller, the overall build quality of the F compared to M makes for a better overall typing experience. At least that the closest objective description I can give there, cause I know people who prefer the M over the F. Like I said before it all really comes down to personal preference.
Then if you prefer tactile I would point you in the direction of the AEKs. I would say to try to get an original AEK as those come with mostly SKCM orange switches & I think a few models of the OG AEK came with SKCM salmon switches. The switches in the AEKII are a different animal, while they are tactile SKCM ALPS switches, both types are damped (what we would call silent switches today). The AEKII comes with either damped creams or damped whites. As far as the switches themselves go most people would tier them like this (from best to worst),
SKCM Damped Cream
SKCM Damped White
The only one out of the four I’d say is objectively worse would be the damped whites. As those were one of the last complicated ALPS keyboard switches made & used different, thinner plastic for the housings which makes for objectively worse feel & sound. The orange & salmon are very close to each other feel wise but oranges are generally consider the better switch. The damped cream isn’t a bad switch, but if you dislike silenced switches you’ll dislike the damped ALPS. They’re not really all that quiet unless you’re comparing them to a non damped tactile ALPS switch, but they do have a softer feel thanks to the bottoming & topping out on rubber dampeners attached to the slider.
That’s about all I can really say for the objective things about these boards, I’m not gonna get into the subjective here. Really testing them out yourself is the only way to know for sure which switches & boards you’ll prefer. I’d look into if there is any meetups coming up soon around your way. That would be the best way to try them out without having to buy anything first.
One thing to really consider with old boards is how much work you’re willing to put in. Buckling spring keyboards are much lower maintenance than Alps, plus you can buy them new from Unicomp and Model F Labs and not have to deal with converters and cleaning 40 year old coffee spills off a pcb. Old IBM boards still have their pitfalls, like having to bolt mod Model Ms or dealing with Model F spacebars, but after that they’re very dependable.
For orange vs salmon alps, to me salmons in immaculate condition feel just as good, but the lack of factory lube means they degrade quickly and feel awful if they’ve had significant use. You can make them feel almost new again with dry lube, but taking apart a fullsize board of Alps switches is a project.
Another thing with tactile Alps is that they can seemingly randomly start clicking, which means taking the switch apart and either paper modding or carefully bending the tactile leaf, and then doing it again if it didn’t take the first time. It’s kind of maddening because I’ve had bad condition Alps that never developed clicking, and pristine ones that started clicking after sitting in a closet for a year.
I’d love to tackle lubing the Alps (each switch) someday but there’d be a 93%+ chance coz’ of the other mods and projects that are part of the multi-hobbies, I’ll open it up, open the switches and not be able to finish it (parts will be lost overtime). Come time I get a Salmon &/or Orange switch AEKII what brand & model of lube would be the best for it?
What could be the closest (or exact) experience with a modern switch (Razer, Logitech’s laser-based switches and topre included, Gateron, Kaihl, Akko, etc.) that’s exactly like a lubed Salmon switch (including inside the switches) today in your opinion?
By the way are Apple Keyboard Extended II PBT keycaps and Model M/F keycaps the best keycap materials? If yes, what modern keycap today is the equivalent?
Thank you. God bless you.
I don’t own any old keyboards, only modern versions/recreations, but maybe it can be somehow useful. So on the Alps side my collection includes Matias clicky, Matias silent linear and white clicky Fukka. On the buckling spring side I have an Unicomp and a Model F recreation. Out of all, the best typing feel for me is Model F by far, even compared to Unicomp because of all the reasons mentioned by @Rob27shred. I could also add that keycaps design contribute to Model F’s crisp feel: the separation between keycap legs is longer on Model F than the Unicomp (and Model M) keycaps. I tried Unicomp keycaps on the Model F and the feel was mushier/less crisp, similar to Unicomp.