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One of My Favourite Gaming Keyboards, Only Smaller

By Mike Fahey on at

A couple of years ago, Japanese keyboard-maker Topre brought its fancy hybrid rubber dome technology to the gaming scene with the Realforce RGB. Between its amazing feel and sound and its configuration options, it’s one of the most satisfying gaming keyboards I’ve used. The only problem: I am not a fan of the number pad. Now the Realforce RGB R2 is here, and those extra keys are now optional, so it’s that much better.

Some people love their number pads and prefer their keyboards full-size. Something about having an extra set of numbers off to the side just does it for them. Maybe they are accountants—I don’t know.

The big board.

I prefer to get rid of those redundant keys in favour of a smaller footprint. I do a lot of my writing from a hospital bed these days. My desk is a table that goes partway across that bed. There is not a lot of real estate. I need a keyboard that can fit nicely over my laptop’s own disabled keyboard. So I go tenkeyless—that’s the technical term for a keyboard without those extra bits. That’s now an option with the Realforce RGB R2, and it fits perfectly.

Propped atop the Razer Blade Pro.

Topre Magic

The Realforce RGB R2, like its larger predecessor, is an electrostatic capacitive keyboard. Unlike a mechanical keyboard, which uses individual switches with moving parts, Topre keyboards have a sheet of rubber domes beneath the keys. Beneath each dome is a spring. Depressing the spring completes an electrical circuit, registering a keystroke. The key doesn’t have to fully depress the dome, as is the case with more traditional non-mechanical boards. The hardware measures the electrical capacitance that builds as the metal spring approaches the contact.

What’s cool about Topre’s implementation of its electro-capacitive technology is that users can adjust the capacitance at which the keys actuate. A lower actuation point can mean a faster response from movement or weapon firing, while a lower point requires a heavier touch. Typists can select a 1.5 mm, 2.2 mm or 3.0 mm actuation point, raising or lowering the sensitivity of the keys as they please.

This chunky profile is good stuff.

Topre’s Realforce software makes adjusting all of this incredibly easy. Users can “paint” their preferences across the board, changing capacitance on the fly. And when that’s done, they can go into lighting and do the same thing.

The Realforce RGB R2 tenkeyless model has everything that makes the original version great: configurable key pressure, easy RGB adjusting, the super-ergonomic side profile. It’s even got that lovely Topre switch thocking noise that makes people drool.

It sounds like this, only shorter.

The difference is the tenkeyless version is smaller, which in my situation is always better. The only downside I can see is that for some odd reason it’s priced exactly the same as the full-size version at $299 (£228). One would assume that slightly less keyboard would be slightly less money. Then again, I guess if it’s the same as the bigger model, only more convenient to me, that makes it better and therefore the same price is a bargain?

Yeah, I’m rambling now—it’s just a lovely thing to type on, and I don’t want to stop.

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