Since we’re all stuck in the house and working from home these days, I’ve had to make some changes to my home office. One change in particular was requested by my wife, who now shares our rather small home office space with me: after a week or so of calls with me clattering away on my old Das Keyboard 3 Professional in the background, she asked if I could get something that was maybe a little bit quieter.

I didn’t really need much of a push: I have a Cooler Master MasterKeys S at $work with Cherry MX brown switches that I like a lot, and I would have just bought that one but Cooler Master has stopped manufacturing it. I thought about buying a new Das Keyboard, but their support is awful: while my Das Keyboard 3 Professional has worked fine for many years, I also owned a 4C that stopped working after about a year, and they wanted to charge me $80 just to look at it. You’re better off putting that money towards a nicer keyboard from somewhere else.

I’ve been interested in the QMK project – an open source keyboard firmware with all sorts of nifty features – for a while, but it turns out that there aren’t many “off the shelf” mechanical keyboards with standard layouts that can be used with QMK firmware. The folks at Drop market a few models that do support QMK, so I gave the Drop CTRL a shot. TL;DR: It’s a fine keyboard, but it turns out I really have no need for RGB lighting. The translucent key labels just mean I can’t see them well in bright light, and mostly the lights were just distracting. I also found that with the low profile case I was constantly hitting the “windows” key with my palm, which was annoying. Playing with QMK was fun, but I ended up sending the CTRL back.

I’m now using a Durgod K320 Taurus, also with Cherry MX brown switches. I’m much happier with this keyboard: it is as expected very similar to the Masterkeys S I’ve been using. It feels very solid and it has a detachable cable, which seems trivial until your cats gnaws on it and your keyboard stops working. While the keyboard does support some customization, the software to take advantage of that tragically only runs under Windows, so I’m using it without any bells and whistles right now. It’s been great so far, and the price is very reasonable (especially compared to the CTRL).