Realforce vs Leopold similarities / differences

I am debating whether to try a Realforce TKL but would like some feedback/opinion on the differences/experience of typing on Realforce vs. Leopold’s Topre boards. I currently own both a stock and a lubed 660C 45g silenced. Am curious if I will notice a difference typing on a 55g Realforce TKL–is it heavier than my 660s? Other than the layout difference, will it be more potentially tiring to go up in dome weight?

Idk if this helps, but I’m daily driving Topre 45g silenced (personal) and MX Silent Reds for work.

Would appreciate any feedback and observations regarding the builds of both brands, long term use, and overall satisfaction, etc.

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They’re both metal plates, so it’s going to more or less about the same IF they were the same domes. IMO 55g domes are the best, but the difference in weight is definitely noticeable. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they’re fatiguing. If you like the 45g but you’re looking for a little more weight and tactility, the 55g domes are perfect. They provide a little more oompf.

For reference, I’ve had a couple Realforce boards (RGB and 87u R1 & R2) and Leopold (660c & 980c). The 45g domes feel just about the same to me, it just really comes down to the layout you like. The 660c is probably my favorite Topre layout so far.

I know you didn’t really ask about the HHKB, but the HHKB’s typing experience is much different compared to Realforce and Leopold Topre boards. It has an integrated plastic (ABS) plate, which provides a much softer typing feel. I find that the board itself is much louder than the ones with metal plates but it’s quite unique and is my favorite topre typing experience.

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oof. I’m pretty satisfied at the 45g weight, I think after reading what you said I should probably stick to 45g or even try 30g…which isn’t available for the 660 but is for the 980C. I want to say there’s a 30g Realforce TKL…but I don’t commonly see it sold aftermarket. Hope you or someone can comment on that weight.

i’m curious about HHKB layout; pls go on re: the plate/sound difference. Is the noise discernible over voice chat or just louder compared to stock silenced boards?

There is a 30g variant of the R2 TKL. However, you’ll have to play the aftermarket game (either through eBay, r/mm, amazon jp, or somewhere else) to get your hands on it.

I have a 30g 980c, just try its weight. The 30g’s tactility is very subdued. I want to say it’s practically linear. Although I really like the feeling of them, they’re far too light. It feels like if I looked at them, they’d actuate.

I can get you a sound comparison sometime tonight between an HHKB type-s with 55g domes and a fc660c (factory silenced) with 45g domes.

The layout takes some getting used to. The control key is where the Caps lock is supposed to be (on an ANSI layout) and the backspace (or delete key) is one row closer to the home row. Before I got my hands on one, I thought it was going to be difficult to navigate, but I adjusted pretty quickly and I actually prefer the placement of the backspace key more than the regular ANSI layout.

I also play games pretty often and usually have my control bound to something that I used pretty frequently. For typing emails, coding, and general productivity tasks, the new control location was easy for me to work with but when playing games, I find myself sometimes hitting the shell of the case, expecting the control key to be there.

As for the sound of the board, because of the lack of a metal plate, the sound resonates less in the higher frequencies and creates a bassier and “thockier” bottoming out sound. It very much sounds like heavy raindrops hitting the window of your car.


I wonder how the 30 G Topre compares to 35 G Niz. Those are back in stock in Canada.

I’ve always found both stock 45 G Topre and Niz to be more tactile than I need. I meant to try the 35 G Niz as it seems as if it would be just about perfect.

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I found that the Niz Domes (I call them Nopre) are less tactile compared to the stock Topre domes. I like the 55g dome sheets that they offer.


Yes, it’s true. At first I thought it was going to be bad, but it was actually good. Niz is more MX-like. 45 G Niz is kind of like typing on U4 Bobas. So I could go a step below that.

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@Goguma @HungerMechanic for any of the Topre/Nopre boards discussed above: are the MX/Topre sliders safe for MX caps? do any brands of sliders have a reputation for cracking stems, or is this mostly with Box stems?

I haven’t had any problems with cracked stems. I tried GMK, Maxkey SA Hydro, and currently has this set. I do believe that there was a problem with the stems cracking but as far as I know it has been a few years since then.

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I don’t recall ever reading about Topre/Nopre boards of any sort cracking stems.

That was mostly caused by BOX switches and a run of Banana Splits.

The ABKO [Niz] I have is pretty easy to use MX keycaps with, except on stabilizer keys, which I never tried. Someone else who did says that they really had to fight with the stabilizers. I think it’s because they are Co-Star, and tuned to the unorthodox ABKO keycap profile. The stems themselves are fine with MX.

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What about aftermarket domes like BKE Lights? I’ve seen this discussed lately because I guess the supplier is back in action after a long period of inactivity/no contact. oop, just saw your post on this on a related thread:

are Ultra Lights similar to 30g Leopold Topre? is weight a different category different from tactility?

Ultra lights are different from 30g Topre. BKE’s tactility is sharp, which is uncharacteristic of the original Topre tactility. Topre domes are rounded in tactility. BKE’s also have a faster upstroke, which adds a little bit more sound as well.

Des-Domes are new to the market. I haven’t tried them yet but I have a set coming in (Pinks 42g and Purples 49g). I’ve heard these are an in-betweener, they’re not as sharp as Keyclack’s BKE Domes and has a more pronounced tactile bump. They offer more weight options as well, which is great.


Typing Comparison

In Order

  • Realforce RGB (55g + Deskeys RGB Silencing Rings + Lubed w/ 205g0) in Norbauer (Ghost of Future) Polycarbonate Housing. Keycaps are GMK Bento
  • Realforce RGB (45g + Deskeys RGB Silencing Rings + Lubed w/ 205g0) in Norbauer Palm Desert Housing. Keycaps are Infinikey PBT Islander
  • Novatouch (45g + Deskeys 2mm + Lubed w/ 205g0) in Norbauer Polycarbonate Housing. Keycaps are GMK Noel
  • Fc660c Silent Version (45g + Factory Silenced + Lubed w/ 205g0) in Norbauer Polycarbonate Housing. Keycaps are KBDFans x Biip EC Extended 2048.
  • HHKB (55g + Realforce Purple Sliders + Lubed w/ 205g0) Stock Housing. Keycaps are Idea23 marbeled Hi-Pro.
  • Fc980c (BKE Ultralights + Deskeys 2mm + Lubed w/ 205g0) Stock Housing. Keycaps are KBDFans x Biip EC Extended 2048.

Is it just me or was there significant play/flex when you were typing? Is it that HHKB ABS plate vs. steel Leo/RF plate difference you were talking about? The sound IRL to me sounds like a mix of Topre+SA caps (the only high profile cap I have reference to rn). Do the Idea23 caps have decent thickness/heft?

I definitely preferred most of the Norbauer-housed boards, especially the PC cases, for overall sound. The FC660C silent in Heavy-6 PC was my favorite, followed by the Novatouch in PC. The 980C definitely sounds crispier on the strokes; is that the BKE at play? I think it will retain a good snappiness once it’s in a Heavy-9, but it’s probably pretty loud in just the stock plastic housing alone.

TY for sharing the quick sound comparison, and what a lovely collection of Norbauer/RF/Leopolds you have! One day me too lol…!

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Regarding the BKE Ultra Lights, I’ve never used them. But everything I’ve ever read about them suggests that they are sharper and more tactile than their equivalent weight in stock Topre.

It’s not a bad mod - quite feasable on many Topre boards. With ABKO/Niz it’s a problem. Because they’re designed a little different, and so alignment of the domes becomes very difficult during installation. So I don’t recommend putting BKE domes on a Niz, as it is too much effort to get right. Just put them on a Topre.

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There’s definitely more flex than the other boards that I have. That’s because of the ABS plastic as well as the top part of the case and the plate being one piece. In all of the other Topre boards that I own, the plate + PCB rest on the bottom of the board. The Idea23 caps are thick but they’re not very hefty. They don’t have that much weight. OG Topre hi-pros have a little more substance.

Yup! They’re really snappy!

TY friend. Looking to add another HHKB and 980c to the collection soon!

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I should clarify, since it’s been a while since I looked into it.

The BKE light and other domes tend to be sharper / more tactile.

However, the Ultra-Light may actually be lighter and less tactile than 45 G Topre. It’s distinctly made for that kind of experience. Otherwise, the BKE domes tend to be stronger.


I can’t find a quick way to check on the Realforce website, but which models come with MX/Topre sliders? or do all of them need slider replacing if I wanted to mount MX caps? furthermore, is changing the sliders a destructive mod (read: do I need to drill?)


The Realforce RGB & Novatouch are the only two official Topre boards that feature MX sliders AFAIK. I believe if you get one of those the housings of the stabilized keys have holes in them for the extra stems on MX keycaps. So you’ll need to swap the housings & sliders there. If you only get sliders then yes you will have to drill out the 2u stabilized key housings to accommodate MX caps.

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thank you, I have a ton of questions (see Norbauer announcing leftover Norbaforce MKIIs) and…gosh I’d really like a VHS one :smiley:
does the RGB model have 30 or 45g weight? if i understand correctly that model is “variable weight” (no idea what this means) and or 55g only.

so when the housing is drilled out, the extraneous MX stems can move freely when the key is pressed, but it wouldn’t theoretically hit the bottom…of the plate? hmm. is having just the one stem/attachment point enough to keep those longer caps mounted securely (they don’t tend to fly off do they?)

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