The Das Keyboard is a well-known keyboard for gamers, particularly in the StarCraft 2 community. Thanks to Steven “Destiny” Bonnell II, the Das has gained quite a bit of recognition. It is impossible to log onto his highly popular stream without hearing the satisfying (or annoying, depending on who you are) clicks of his keyboard. Every once in a while a thread will pop up on Reddit saying how amazing the keyboard is, and how happy people are with their purchase of it. The guys over at Das were nice enough to send me a model for review, so keep reading to find out my thoughts!
The keyboard comes in four models: The Model S Professional, the Model S Ultimate (same as the Professional, but has solid black key caps, meaning there are no letters etched onto the keys; you will have a completely blank keyboard that looks pretty damn cool), the Model S Professional Silent, which features Cherry MX Brown switches, and the Model S Ultimate Silent, which has no letters etched on the keys and features Cherry Brown switches.
The Das Keyboard Model S Professional that I am reviewing utilizes Cherry MX Blue switches. For more information on switch types, check out my overview on mechanical keyboards here. This particular model comes in at around $130.
Specs and First Impressions
When I first opened the box I had a “wow” moment. Sometimes, pieces of technology look so good that you can just tell they are expensive and of high build quality. That happens with the Das Keyboard. Its minimalistic design is exactly what I like to see on a keyboard. No tacky glowing lights. No LCD screen. I want a keyboard that is functional, not one that looks like a glowing toaster oven. The Das is simple and looks completely badass.
As far as size goes, the keyboard isn’t too big. It comes in at 18 inches by 6.5 inches and is one inch tall. With the feet up, it’s 1 ½ inches tall. These dimensions felt pretty average to me. Not too big, not too small. Just right! It also weighs 3 pounds. This may sound heavy, but it only adds to the keyboard’s strong and sturdy build quality.
The Das is really beautiful to look at. Its glossy finish is offset by slightly textured and matted key caps. To be frank, it looks like it would be Darth Vader’s keyboard. Who doesn’t want that?
You have the choice between using USB or using a PS/2 input. Let it be known, however, that N-Key roll over is only usable when plugged into a PS/2 jack. If you are using USB, you will be limited to 6 key roll over. If you have the option, use PS/2.
The keyboard also includes another cable that acts as a USB hub. Should you decide to plug this into one of your PC’s USB ports, then your Das Keyboard will feature two fully functional USB 2.0 slots.
For a more detailed overview of the keyboard’s design, check out the video below.
Before getting my hands on the Das Keyboard, I did quite a bit of research on it. Outside of the gaming community it is touted as one of the best keyboards on the market for typing.
I would have to whole-heartedly agree.
Typing on the keyboard feels incredible. I find myself wanting to chat more with my friends on Skype just because the sound and feel of the keys is so addictive. I mean it. Typing on this keyboard is actually addictive. You are greeted by a loud clicking sound every time you press a key. I have used a few keyboards that feature Cherry MX Blue switches, and I can safely say that the Das takes the cake as far as feel and sound go.
To quote the manufacturer: Whether you’re looking for speed, precision, comfort or just the pleasing sound of world domination at your fingertips, this is the keyboard for you. Its high-end, mechanical keystroke lets you know immediately that you’ve hit your mark, while the addictive crunch sound it gives you spurs you on to greater heights of genius.”
I couldn’t have put it better if I tried.
While tech specs and typing are interesting, I realize that most of you are probably here to see how the thing handles itself in games. I ran the Das Keyboard through a series of tests. Read on to see how it performed.
Real Time Strategy
For the RTS test, I played quite a bit of StarCraft 2. To be totally blunt, this keyboard is amazing for RTS games. It feels like an extension of your hand.
When I am playing StarCraft, I need a keyboard that I can use without really having to think about anything. The Das is just that. I don’t like having to worry about if my key press actuated. Think about it: when you are trying to micro Blink Stalkers back, you can’t afford having that “B” key not register. It could completely change the outcome of an engagement.
I just felt comfortable whenever I played. I relate playing StarCraft to typing. You need to be able to travel the keyboard quickly and easily to be as efficient as possible. Since this keyboard was designed with the typist in mind, it is a natural fit for StarCraft. Your fingers absolutely fly across the board. Everything is smooth and each key is pressed down easily due to the Das Keyboard’s light actuation force.
Not only that, but the Das Keyboard actually makes playing RTS games a little bit more fun. It is a complete joy to play on. As a Zerg player, I found myself hitting my larva inject times perfectly because it was great fun to switch between my bases and Queens. My APM also increased. I found myself spamming a bit more because it was so amusing! This really forced me to be on the ball more with my hot keys and mechanics.
Before you grab the pitch forks, let me just say that I am completely aware that APM is not the sign of a good player, nor am I saying that owning a Das Keyboard will make you better at StarCraft. What I am saying is that I had more fun playing on the Das than I did with a standard membrane-based keyboard.
I am aware of how silly this sounds, but you’ll just have to trust me. Playing RTS with this keyboard is brilliant.
I booted up Counter-Strike: Source for this portion of the review. I was very interested to see how the Das would handle an FPS like Counter-Strike. The game requires a good deal of strafing and quick key presses in order to switch weapons.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of playing FPS on this keyboard. The WASD nature of controlling your movement requires a lot of key presses. This seems to conflict with the use of the MX Blue switches. Since each key clicks before bottoming out, it just feels odd to move around with a click interrupting you as you run around the map.
My fingers fell into this awkward area of floating in between the actuation point of the keys. I don’t lift my fingers entirely when using a WASD set up. Because of this, I found myself stuck in no man’s land of key pressing. I would randomly click down on the MX Blue switches without wanting to. It just felt… weird. Something wasn’t right about it all. You may have a different experience than me though. Maybe it’s just me?
On the bright side, due to the keyboard’s roll-over capabilities, it had no problems letting me move, jump, and switch guns at the same time. I really appreciated this in tight situations. The lag-free experience was awesome.
As an overall package, the Das Keyboard is amazing. Its build quality is really solid and the keyboard is beautiful. If you are a gamer who considers themselves a typist, then I would totally recommend this keyboard. The same goes for any gamer who is an RTS player. It handles itself exceptionally well in those intense micro and macro situations. The only gamer I really wouldn’t recommend this keyboard to are FPS enthusiasts. I just feel like there are better options on the market for FPS gaming.
But at such a steep price point, is the Das really worth it? I would say yes if you are one of the people I recommended it to above. I think if you spend enough time at your computer throughout the day, then you should be happy with your keyboard – plain and simple. If you have the money and are in the market for a new keyboard, I would definitely suggest that you to take the leap into the world of Das. You won’t be disappointed.