SoftwareDev: keyb. suggestions (Mechanical keyboard - major hassle? lube, etc)


as a professional programmer I want to invest in a really good keyboard.
(Thusfar I’m using cheap rubberdome; but want something much better).


  • good typing feeling
  • normal “high” keys (no low profile or notebook-type keys)
  • good quality (no fading of keycaps letters)
  • quiet
  • durable, long life
  • full size keyboard (preference: German Layout - “qwertz”)
  • wired
  • no hassle!

Optional requirements:

  • no LED or backlighting (if I can only get a good keyboard with LED, them I’ll compromise)
  • no fancy stuff (again: willing to compromise, if necessary)

I’ve been eying the Ducky One 3 Matcha with MX brown (tactile) type switches.

But problem: I’m new to this mechanical keyboard stuff. Maybe I’m not ready for this:
Example: I’ve think I might need to lube the switches. That will take ages and is not something I’m planning on doing. Is this really necessary??

I’m beginning to feel like a mechanical keyboard might not be the best match. There seems to be so many unknowns for me:

  • do I need to lube it?
  • damping rings?
  • will it be too loud? (I’m planning on using it in the office with my coworkers, and don’t want to annoy them)

Maybe a high quality rubberdome (or hybrid) keyboard would be better???
I’m thinking of the Steelseries Apex 3: since it seems to be a good quality, quiet rubberdome keyboard.

PS: there’s nice reviews available from rtings website (but I’m not planning on getting that ugly yellow Ducky One 3 that they tested, but the one called Matcha).

Do you have any suggestions for me?
Should I go with the Ducky One 3 Matcha? The Steelseries Apex 3?

Or something else?
Any suggestions and tips will be much appreciated!

Thank you.

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So first, you really won’t need to lube any switches, and yes, having to do so is one of my least favorite parts of the hobby so I don’t, in general, bother with any of that.

If you want to go with out-of-the-box, you might consider some of these:

  1. WASD Keyboards makes a range of options and allows a lot of customization:
  2. One of my previous colleagues, a programmer, loved his Das Keyboard. He got the all-black model without legends: Das keyboard - Mechanical Keyboard

If you go with a Realforce or Leopold Topre keyboard, definitely go for the silent option. Those will cost significantly more, but it will be so worth. For what it’'s worth, between the Realforce and the Leopold, I definitely love the Leopold more. I have an FC660C (45g silent switch) which is smaller than a full-size, but it so thoughtfully laid out it’s very functional.


Hello and welcome!

@Extra_Fox’s advice is all good, and I can personally confirm that Leopold makes very good quality no-fuss keyboards. My dad found a used one with MX Browns at a local electronics resale store for $12, and it’s still one of the best pre-built keyboards I’ve tried.

Topre does sound like a good candidate to consider for you, and Leopold sells both Topre and MX-compatible keyboards. (MX-compatible being what most are probably referring to when they say “mechanical” these days, being the most widely-adopted standard at the moment.)

Based on your requirements (especially the “no hassle” one), I’d echo @dante’s and Extra_Fox’s recommendations of a Topre board from either Topre themselves (Realforce keebs) or Leopold. I do prefer Leopold myself, but I’m not seeing any full-sized or 1800 (almost full-size) form-factor ones in a quertz layout - though I may not know where to look.

It’s certainly possible to hassle with a Topre-type keeb if you feel like it, but I’d say pretty much any stock keyboard built around those switches is going to be a significant upgrade from what you’re accustomed to. If you do find yourself wanting a more tuned experience from there, there are lots of folks out there who offer that as a service.


The Realforce 105 AFAIK is the only German Layout Topre that exists in any form factor. The Keyboard Company in the UK had to special order them.

The Deskthority Wiki shows this model (WE31B0) as variably weighted - but KeyboardCo says 45g uniform. Wouldn’t hurt to double check.

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MX Brown isn’t tactile. If you are getting a keyboard with hotswap or soldering I’d recommend looking at Durock silent T1, they are factory lubricated so no need to open them up.

Thanks for your replies.

Those topre keyboards have a ridiculous pricetag.

After looking around and reading this The Best Silent Tactile Keyboard Is… (mentions Lenovo KBBH21, which seems to be Lenovo Preferred Pro II USB Keyboard)
I’ve decided to seriously look at rubberdome keyboards.

I’m getting the following and going to compare:

  • Cherry G83-6104/6105
    end-of-life but still available (the only remaining “cheap” rubberdome cherry-company keyboard with normal “high” keys, as far I can see.). Product part numbers are G83-6104LUNEU-2 for US dark-black; G83-6104LUNEU-0 for US white-light; G83-6105LUNDE-2 for german black-dark; G83-6105LUNDE-0 for german white-light; etc.
  • Lenovo Preferred Pro II USB Keyboard
    Part numbers
  • Steelseries Apex 3

As a fellow software engineer, my keyboard considerations have been pretty similar to yours. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Flesports FL980: As a 1800 layout, I would say that it’s an overall improvement to the standard full-sized keyboard. It’s also of similar build quality to the venerable Leopold FC980M, with the added advantage of being hotswappable. For a start, the stock Box Whites and Box Browns should be great for your use, but if you desire something even quieter, grabbing some Boba U4s will do you wonders

  2. Niz 108 keyboard: Nice and smooth to type with, alongside a muted sound. The 108 key layout should fit your needs, although it might not have the best build quality. Overall, a great one-and-done keyboard I would say.

  3. Leopold FC980C: This is my personal daily driver, with silencing rings and an aftermarket Hasu controller with many programmed macros for my IDE. It’s an expensive board, but it’s functionally perfect. It might be good to see if you can pick one up from the secondhand market

Specific to QWERTZ layout, the following reddit thread seems useful

Take a look Sol3 if you are willing to spend the time to get used to a split ortholinear keyboard. As a student programmer already find it reducing my wrist strain.

I know… please don’t take this the wrong way. But… have you ever tried going to a restaurant that youve never been in and told the waiter “I’d like something that tastes really good, please.” What kind of dish would he’ve served you?

Das Keyboard is great. Two of collegues who are using them are telling me that. But man. Go with the cheapest 75% or higher hot swap with browns and try them out. After a few weeks try different ones. Clickys or linears. Just try them. It’s really the best way to not throw out money. Look maybe for smooth linears on youtube.


Ok, so I got myself 2 different Lenovo Preferred Pro II USB Keyboard

KBBH21 is a rather obscure descriptor. I bought 2:

  • “Model KBBH21” which is the older (probably no longer available - can be found super-cheap)
  • “Model KU-1619” which is the newer (and seems to be even better: a bit more silent, to be honest)
    (as mentioned, the much more common name is “Lenovo Preferred Pro II USB Keyboard”)

Yes they are good.

Another more expensive keyboard from Lenovo is the Lenovo Enhanced Performance USB Keyboard Gen II (have not yet tried it, unfortunately)

I got myself a Cherry G83-6104/6105:
It seems to have slightly less key-press distance than “Lenovo Preferred Pro II USB Keyboard”, so perhaps I find it even easier to type! Very comfortable!

I got myself the Steelseries Apex 3. Superb feeling when typing. Unfortunately for me, I cannot remap it’s function key (it does not even send out a keycode, but is just used within the keyboard itself): that function key is located next to the right Ctrl key (and positioned where one typically find the socalled menu key or apps key).
For me it’s a major disappointment and makes a otherwise superb keyboard basically unusable (for me), because I always remap the menu/apps key to Ctrl and press it by dropping down the side of my right hand. But on the Apex 3 the key in that position is the Function key, which cannot be remapped.

The Logitech G213 Prodigy would also be an interesting rubberdome to look into.

PS: So my interest in mechanical keyboards has “thankfully” evaporated. I first got sucked into it, when I saw that most “standard” rubberdome keyboards have low keys, which I do not want: All of Cherry’s current rubberdome keyboards seem to have low keys; that Cherry G83-6104/6105 with normal “high” keys, that I mentioned, is end-of-life. Fortunately you can still find rubberdomes with normal high keys!

If you are able to run external software on your machine, I’d highly recommend using AutoHotKey. You can write very powerful scripts to remap keys, run macros etc

It’s nice that you found the keyboard(s) that you are interested in. Most importantly may they bring you lots of productivity and entertainment!