TKL Recommendations

Howdy folks, I don’t often make threads but I’ve come up against a problem/question I figured I’d get a quick response to here. My partner just started a new job and the company keyboard is so bad SHES complaining, lol (she uses a MacBook keyboard at home). I figured I’d put something low cost together for her, likely with silent bobas, dampening, and stab tuning.

Trouble is, I only use and know about weird 40s, the last tkl I used was my first cooler master board back in like 2012. Some cursory searching lead me to find the KT87 and Akko 3087, but I’m not sure whether they’re worth it.

Any suggestions? Sub $100, high profile, I’d imagine everything in this price bracket is plastic but alu would be neat. I’m willing to desolder etc. Thanks keeb friends.

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What about Monstargear’s Ninja87BT. Plastic, but with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect. There’s always Dorp’s CTRL and ENTR, but know what those are all about I reckon.

https://www.monstargears.com/51/?idx=375

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A bit more than $100, but a Filco makes great TKLs at around $130 ea (new).

Alternatively, the Leopold TKLS (FC750R line) is supposed to be pretty decent too at $120 ea (new). A good amount of keycap color options (stock) featuring doubleshot PBT. And their double shot PBT is pretty good quality from what I’ve heard.

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Thanks! Adding that to the list.

Oh yeah, leopold! And Filco (these were really popular on /g/ back in the day). Thanks, maybe I could find one used for a bit less.

Rakk lam ang pro has hotswap and bluetooth for $70 without caps or switches - but if you plan to use other switches anyway, that might work. I can’t personally vouch for the board but have read pretty good things overall. It is plastic but you get a few more color options and is supposed to be better than something like the GMMK barebones TKL

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Maybe she wants to get a modern old school feel…

https://www.pckeyboard.com/page/product/MINI_M

hehe

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I own a Folco TKL and very happy with it, but beware as it comes with Costar stabilizers; not a big deal If you sont plan to change the keycaps though, and Costar are good stabilizers anyway.

Dunno if Leopold uses MX stabilizers, but heard very good things on its overall quality and its double shot PBT keycaps.

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To drive its coworkers crazy :smiley:

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Lmao, she loved my old '93 Model M (sadly sold), but I think that wouldn’t work so well in an open office environment.

I’m still a little jealous my dad found a lightly used Leopold TKL at the local electronics joint for $12

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Leopold FC750R PD with your favorite switches and preffered color is the best.

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This seems likely what I’ll do. All black to keep that “office” vibe as well. Any clue what the stabs are?

It looks like Leopold uses stabilizers similar to the Cherry plate mount. Here is a Geekhack thread where someone documents their process of modding one of their 900-series Leopolds.

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=103412.0

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Yeah, that was my Leopold.

It’s been done twice.

One with Zilents, and one with Ergo Clears.

Leopold is known for being challenging to desolder because of the thickness and quality of the solder - they do a better-than-average solder job. So I sent it to a desoldering service. It’s very doable, but whoever is doing it has to take care.

Three total desolder / resolder operations with the Leopold, 100% success.

Factory keyboards are not the ideal platform for silencing. Their sound levels are inconsistent, and there’s only so much you can do to control the stabs. But it can at least create something quieter than a regular MX keyboard. And Leopold has built-in dampening material, you could probably even substitute your own.

If I was OP, I would strongly consider the Archon AK87:

I have the AK89, and it is great for silencing. It seems to be dampened, way quieter than a Filco, for example. I put a variant of OUTEMU Silent switches in there, and it is the quietest board yet for them. The most ideal easy board for a silent TKL / fullsize.

Problem is the stock stabilizers, which are whack. They know this, and provide you with lube. Also, they are plate-mount so easily replaced. I replaced mine with lubed genuine Cherry stabilizers, and they are much better. Some trouble with the spacebar, so watch out. The stabilizers wanted to bottom-out loud until I messed with them some more. So some danger there.

I also own the Rakk Lam Ang Pro [unbranded version] mentioned in this thread. It is a neat keyboard for bells-and-whistles, but the North-facing LED switches could be a problem for Cherry-profile. Also, it’s thick and unwieldy like a 2x4 because of the built-in bluetooth and battery. Doesn’t always remember LED settings, either. It’s more of an affordable Drop CTRL, similar quality but way cheaper. It doesn’t have the best sound characteristics in stock form, although it can take dampening.

I have seen guides on-line on how to dampen the GMMK TKL, the Rakk Lam Ang Pro, and even the Teamwolf Zhuque, so it’s do-able. But the Archon AK89 has required way less work on my part, so I highly recommend it as an office board, assuming the AK87 is the same as AK89 but smaller.

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Whoops, I forgot to answer that.

The stabilizers on the Leopold are definitely Cherry-style. Not Co-Star.

However, they are not exactly Cherry.

If you read the thread about modifying the Leopold FC900, one reason I had to have it desoldered was because some stabilizer inserts came out. They don’t do so quite as easily on other boards.

Leopold uses a modified form of Cherry stabilizer in that it at least has its own design of inserts. These seem to be worse than Cherry inserts, as I had two of them fly out when removing some tight keycaps [and it was only on MX Browns]. This has not happened since replacing them with genuine Cherry stabilizer inserts.

I was told that desoldering would be necessary to replace those Leopold stabilizers, so I don’t think they are simple plate-mount. At least, not the kind you can change without desoldering.

[Rakk Lam Ang Pro and Archon AK89 use plate-mount that you can remove quickly.]

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Wow man, that Archon is perfect, thank you! What did you do to the cherry stabs when you ‘messed with them some more’? Just more lube/wire balancing?

Well, to be fair, I used a lubing service for them, since there was a free offer. I still have to write a testimonial for them, the keyboard isn’t done yet!

Here’s what I did:

  1. Bought genuine Cherry gold plate-mount stabilizers during a sale

  2. Send them to a lubing service along with the Archon factory lube

  3. Installed them after removing the stock stabilizers and keycap inserts.

  4. Fix the spacebar.

I didn’t do anything fancy with the spacebar. No adjustment to lube.

What I had to do was remove the new stabilizers, because I had really driven them in the first time.

So the next time, I very slowly and carefully eased the spacebar stabilizer in a symmetical fashion, just enough so that it became stable in the groove, but without forcing it in to the max.

It’s a matter of stabilizer fit. I haven’t perfected it, but it’s better than before. An experienced modder probably wouldn’t even encounter the problem in the first place. So yeah, it was wire balancing.

So that’s the only tricky part I encountered with the Archon, and it was only the spacebar. The other stabilizers worked properly the first time, I think.

Another tricky issue with the Archon is configuring lighting. It will be important to hold on to any written materials that come with the keyboard, because you may have difficulty finding information on-line.

It’s a great keyboard, maybe wouldn’t have gotten into customs if I had received this early-on with OUTEMU Silent Sky stems. Great typing angle [for my set-up], works well with all profiles. Looks good with Leopold Blue/Gray keycaps [they function very well with Ergo Clears], as well as GMK Oblivion Mono [GB now] and ‘Light of Science / Sweet Technology’ AliExpress keycaps.

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You can consider getting a Keychron C1 or Tecware Phantom. They should be $50 for the full kit brand new. Then spend the remainder on some nice Boba U4s :slight_smile: the Tecware uses Outemu hotswap sockets, but Boba U4s are able to fit (they’re manufactured from the Outemu factory). You might need to clip the extra plastic legs though

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Thanks everyone, I grabbed the Archon, some bobas from MKU, replacement GMK stabs, and some 25 dollar double shot ABS, OEM, WoB caps from mk.com.

I’ll be sure to show the final product in one of our share threads once it all comes in. :relieved:

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