List of mainstream metal keyboards

Hey folks. I wonder If you could help me with a project. I’m trying to come up with a list of keyboards you can buy with metal or partially metal cases. I’ve had good luck finding pretty great quality metal keyboards on eBay for between $60 and $150. These make for great desolder and modding projects and are a great alternitive to $500+ GB boards. Anyway, here’s a few off the top of my head. If you know of any, please add to the list. Thanks!

Metal Case
Cherry MX Board 6.0
Roswill RK-9009 V2
iKBC MF108
Varmilo VA68MR
Ducky Mecha Mini

Partially metal
Das Keybaord X40 - Metal Top
Ducky Shine 7 - Metal Top

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the vortex pok3r has a metal case and is similar to rhe ducky mecha mini.

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Here’s a few more. Availability will vary :unamused:

iKBC MF87 v2 = 2.04 kg / 4.5 lbs
Kira Stealth = 2.36 kg / 5.2 lbs
Heavy Shell Barix 87 = 1.77 kg / 3.9 lbs

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Yes! I’ve been waiting sooo long for my Kira

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WASD V3 is available with a full aluminum case when not out of stock.
Durgod Hades 68 comes stock with an aluminum tray mount case.
Massdrop / Drop CTRL & Alt have aluminum shells / cases.

This might not count but there are several cases out there, both full-enclosure and top-shell, that are designed for the Filco MJ2 (and by extension some other boards that use the same dimensions).

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WRT the Filco, there are some serious options for customization if certain projects go through.

There’s already a number of aftermarket metal cases for the TKL-sized Filcos [very little in the way of full-size]. But there are also aftermarket PCBs and maybe plates that people have been trying to get through GB, which means you could basically build a custom metal Filco from the customization parts that are aimed towards that market.

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Indeed. Truth be told I have two unfinished builds of that nature; one in a YMD full enclosure, and another with a Xikii top shell - needed a translator / liaison for that one.

One of them is actually a Turtle Beach pcb; basically a cheaper MJ2 that only comes with second-choice Cherry blues - but it’s only $50 and fits into those cases. Some of my earliest keeb purchases…

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Drop alt & ctrl

Glorious GMMK has a metal top/integrated plate.

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Interesting. I’ve heard Filcos are excellent keyboards but I’ve always been scared off by the garish logo and the bright lock lights. What is Filco’s top model? Are there ones that come with metal cases stock or is it aftermarket only? Do you have links to the aftermarket projects? Thanks!

From my point definitively mainstream in the sense that they’re practically permanently available, ready-to-run and cost IIRC all less than $200 USD—most are even available for less than $150 USD:

  • Vortex Tab90M (not Tab90 without “M”, assuming “M” is for “metal” and not for “minus Bluetooth” :wink:)
  • Vortex Race 3 (75%)
  • Vortex Core (40%)
  • Sharkoon Skiller Mech (at least the TKL-variant SGK2 I have has a metal top plate/case, but probably all variants do)
  • Tex Yoda II (60%, not sure if they’re really still available in masses, but there seem to be new batches then and when)

Don’t have one, but likely fits into that category, too:

  • Vortex ViBE

Some more 40% keyboards which I know are available outside group buys, but maybe are still only produced in smaller batches, hence might not count as mainstream — their layout surely doesn’t. :wink: Also, they’re usually sold as kit or maybe even as separate parts:

  • BM43a
  • JD40/JD45
  • Daisy (several metal case designs available at KPRepublic)
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MechanicalKeyboards.com usually has multiple of them. (Edit: They all still have price labels attached, but seem out of stock.)

One example:

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Filco aftermarket is one of the oldest for factory boards, IIRC.

One of the most common Filco’s is the Majestouch 2, which primarily comes in full-size and TKL models. I have the full-size, and it’s what many vendors seemed to use until recently to showcase their keycap sets.

Here’s EnjoyPBT 9009 R4 on mine, it looks like what AliExpress vendors do:

Anyway, it seems that 90% of the available mods are for the TKL version, and they go back several years. Available on AliExpress, MechanicalKeyboards.com, and elsewhere. That’s primarily a previous generation of aftermarket parts that we’re talking about, though.

Since 2019 or so, there have been a number of efforts on GH to produce aftermarket modding parts for the TKL Majestouch [which probably doesn’t have that garish logo].

This guy designed a PCB for the Filco, and might be getting somewhere with it, and his useful post helpfully details some of the other ongoing efforts to produce aftermarket parts:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=104219.0

So it looks like new PCB and FR4 plates are items being worked on in 2020. That’s probably where to go if you don’t want to search around for years-old parts.

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Small thread hijack—at least not completely off-topic because I first misread the above quoted keyboard model for being Varmilo’s TKL line of keyboards and not their 65%. probably due to transposed digits. :wink:

So my side-quest for the Keebtalkers is: Does anyone know of (available) aftermarket aluminium/metal cases for the Varmilo VA87M line of keyboards? I know there once was a GB on Massdrop, but I was unable to find the actual manufacturer or another vendor.

Would love to have a black or dark grey metal case for my VA87M “Panda”.

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I don’t know of any Filcos that ship with a metal case, but at least one seller (mechanicalkeyboards) has the option for some higher end finishes for the stock ones. That I know of, this is the easiest case to find for Filcos and the like; it restocks periodically:

I’ve got one of these; IIRC it’s top-mount. It’s a brick of aluminum - looks quite good but the big thing to keep in mind is that it changes both the height and typing angle; higher up, and the angle is less steep than stock with the feet in use.

This is the top shell I have, which I personally prefer because it retains the original angle and height:

It’s a great looking, super rigid, heavy shell. (The only thing I don’t like is the labeling for the lock lights.) One thing to keep in mind is the very close tolerances around the keycaps - you might be better off removing the top shell first if you want to change the caps.

Speaking of Filco lock lights - they are indeed insanely bright. Eyeball-piercing PlayStation blue. Activate the photonic cannon! When I’m able to visit my dad, we have plans to replace them with much more dim amber ones. He recently put together a small circuit that will adjust the voltage to accommodate different LEDs and brightness levels.

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This is awesome. Thanks!
Great VOY ref. ECH FTW!

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Varmilo ran a drop for something called the ‘Varmilo Sword’ TKL about a year ago.

I don’t know if the GB got very far. There were pricing tier errors at first, although they cleared that up.

But then it was reported that Varmilo has having CNC or some kind of manufacturing problems with the metal case, it being a new thing. I’m not sure Drop accepted or fulfilled that many orders. There are only 2 reviews, and they lack any detail.

I was considering the buy, but didn’t go in on it because of the numerous problems, and then the report that they hadn’t sorted out their metal case.

But last time I was in their custom store, there was a whole lineup of metal case options that resembled what they had been previously offering on Drop. So I think you may be able to build a metal custom TKL in the Varmilo custom shop.

They used to offer a metal VA68M. There’s a great photo of one using GMK Dolch with Honeywell accents.

[photos] Dolch / Honeywell / Varmilo / RAMA / 90N1NE

But it’s my understanding that an employee “broke the mold” for the VA68, literally. So they only offer it in synthetic now.

So TKL is your best bet for a factory metal Varmilo.

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Follow-up: here’s an unboxing of the Varmilo Sword TKL:

However, around the same time they were selling this on Drop, this very model had to be recalled in Korea. According to a post on the Drop,

Um… I’m in Korea, and our country’s official Varmilo seller recalled every Sword keyboard because of its CNC Issues and I don’t get why MD has this product.
funkeys.co.kr/bbs/board.php?bo_table=notice&wr_id=301

So hopefully they solved the manufacturing problems before offering it on their custom store [if it is still offered there.]

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TL;DR: I figured out who’s that “MKC” behind those aftermarket Varmilo cases which were on Massdrop about 10 months ago: It’s the person behind Geekkeys.com.

Here’s how I came to that conclusion:

Right, I remember having had an eye on that. IIRC I also took part in that pricing issue discussion. But in the end, there was also no dark case available and the case looked different than the plastic one’s from Varmilo.

Ok, will have a look, thanks!

Oops. I remember, the VA68M initially had a metal case.

The cheaper keyboard with the same layout was their cooperation with Ducky, the MIYA Pro. Have one of these in panda-themed, but replaced it with the VA87M as I was neither happy with that layout (dedicated Home and End keys were missing) and the firmware (you couldn’t replace Ins/Del with Home/End, and it IIRC wasn’t the most reliable firmware). Didn’t manage to sell it yet due to the pandemic despite I had an offer. But I wasn’t keen on visiting the post office.

Ouch. Thanks for that detail.

BTW, the Varmilo MA68T (electro capacitive switches) also had an aluminium case:

This is the aftermarket case on Massdrop I had in mind:

Interesting fact here: To showcase the color options, Clueboard/Leopold FC660-style cases are shown. So we probably can assume that the manufacturer made either OEM or aftermarket cases for Leopold FC660, the Clueboard or similar keyboards.

It was said the be manufactured by “MKC Geekkeys”, but I’ve never heard ever about that company nor did I find it on the internet. There’s though http://geekkeys.com/, but they only sell key caps. But they indeed do have some metal key caps which are named something with “MKC”. Sounds as if I’m on the right track.

I also found this interesting product description on Blinq, Two facts are interesting there:

  1. Blinq is a reseller “of returned and overstock products” and the product description is exactly the one from Massdrop. So we can assume that this is how Massdrop get rid of probably remaining or returned cases—instead of putting them into Yanbo’s closet, their own leftovers shop. (Where I would have happily bought one.)
  2. Blinq claims the brand is “NPKC”, a way more well-known name with regards to keyboard cases (mostly for cheaper keycaps though). I though mostly remember wooden cases from them.

If I search for NPKC case, I mostly find hits on AliExpress, so I searched there, but I only found 60% cases, wooden and plastic ones, but also metal ones.

I think that’s also about how far I got about half a year ago when I initially tried to figure out who made these Varmilo aftermarket cases after being angry on myself not having joined that GB. :wink:


But this time I found or at least recognized some more things:

I found this posting on Reddit where someone claims that…

MKC won’t do TKL cases anymore, at least for Filco. (I read it somewhere on geekhack, probably posted by feng)

Searching for MKC and Filco on Geekhack, I mostly found this wiki user page, but it mostly links to pictures of MKC cases the user would like to have. Fiddling with the URL, I managed to get to this thread from 2012 about a GB of MKC TKL cases for Filco run by feng who was also mentioned in that Reddit posting.

At some point I wondered if “MKC” is short for “Mechanical Keyboards dot Com” as they offered a lot of Filco aftermarket cases, but in that posting, feng wrote of “MKC” as “him”, so it seems a person, not a company (or a one-man company). And that person seems to do CNC in China.

In that Geekhack posting there’s also an e-mail address to where you should send the money to (probably via PayPal). And by chance the user part (before the @) in this e-mail address is the same name as can be found in historical whois lookups for the domain Geekkeys.com.

So yes, “MKC Geekkeys” is correct (and this is indeed Geekkeys.com) when it comes to the manufacturer of these aftermarket cases. And Blinq’s “NPKC” is incorrect.

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Good work.

Well, I guess I got lucky then. I basically stumbled across this last year on eBay and snatched it up for $67. I put tealios in it. It is a real dream to type on.

image

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Good detective work.

I sympathize with the dislike for the VA68 layout. It’s just too annoying to be missing those two nav cluster keys when they already give you 4 / 6.

I kind of wish they would offer a VA68 that has a compact bottom-row, with a nav cluster and arrow keys that are shifted to the left. It would be smaller than a TKL, but still offer those vital keys.

Nonetheless, getting a VA68 to work on for $67 is a steal.

With the Varmilo Sword, that was an example of a relatively mainstream company offering a metal TKL. And I just checked the custom store, it seems no longer to be on offer. Maybe mass-producing a metal keyboard is just more challenging.

I went back and found some of the designs I made on the Varmilo custom store. These are the Sword-type keyboards.

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