Cherry MX Board 6.0 Review

Cherry MX Board 6.0 – First Impressions from CES 2015

Cherry just
announced RealKey, a new innovation in gaming keyboards that looks to cut the
response time of key presses from around 20ms to just 1ms. In
something of a first for the company, it’ll be bringing the technology to
market with its own keyboard, the Cherry MX Board 6.0. We got our hands on one at CES 2015 to see what all the fuss was about.

Cherry MX Board 6.0 – The Technology

The technology at the heart of the Cherry MX Board 6.0
is a new controller that takes a different approach to how key presses
are registered. Normal keyboard controllers include what’s called a
debounce time after each key press. This is the time allocated to allow
for the physical bouncing of the contacts in the switch to stop, and so
avoid accidentally registering more than one key press.

Cherry MX Board 6.0

conventional digital controllers this debounce time is around 20ms.
However, RealKey instead uses an analogue controller to more accurately
measure the voltage and predict a key press. This allows it to cut the
response time to just 1ms, giving you one less excuse for not winning!

Cherry MX Board 6.0

20ms may not sound like a lot, just as with input lag on monitors
or slow response from a mouse, it all adds up. It’s generally considered
that a delay in response of around 100ms is what becomes perceptible,
and about half of that is taken up by the sheer processing of whatever
game it is you’re playing. This leaves around 50-60ms to play with
before you might detect a problem. That’s why we always look for input
lag of less than 40ms on monitors and TVs, and it’s why that 20ms of
debounce could make all the difference.

Another advantage of
this analogue system is that each key and combination of keys creates a
unique analogue signal such that ghosting simply doesn’t exist, so you
can press any number of keys at once safe in the knowledge it’ll
register them correctly.

Cherry MX Board 6.0

Cherry MX Board 6.0 – The keyboard

showcase its RealKey technology, Cherry has created the MX Board 6.0,
which for now will be the only keyboard that uses the technology.

the most part it’s a fairly typical mechanical keyboard, but there are a
couple of neat additions. It features the usual choice of Cherry MX
switches, and adds red backlighting across the board, with the Windows
keys and Lock keys also lighting up blue when activated.

layout is totally standard, with no extra keys for macros or such like – multimedia functions are instead assigned to the F keys.

Cherry MX Board 6.0

extras, then, consist of an aluminium housing, which has been raised
slightly so the keys are sunken into it. This both looks better and
provides a bit of protection from knocks – the proud-standing keys of
Corsair’s range are prone to getting snagged.

It also include a
magnetically attached wrist rest that’s not only impressively long but
also features a rubber top surface. It still won’t match a dedicated
squishy wrist rest, but it’s better than the token little hard plastic
affairs that come with most keyboards.

Cherry MX Board 6.0 – Performance

the one thing we weren’t really able to discern form the short time we
had with the MX Board 6.0 is just how much of a difference the lower
response time makes. To really judge this we’ll have to wait until we
can spend several hours gaming on it. When it does finally go on sale in
spring it’s set to cost $219.

Cherry MX Board 6.0

Early Verdict

we’ve yet to judge whether there’s really an advantage in Cherry’s
RealKey technology, we can certainly see the potential. What’s more, the
company has done a good job of packaging the tech into a keyboard that
looks and feels the part. All told, it’s definitely one to look out for
when we post our full review later this year.

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