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Max Keyboard Nighthawk X8 review

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heres my little informal (english isn't quite proper) review: so i just unboxed the x8 and am using it right now to type this. i've used blues, reds, and blacks. blues felt great but were too loud. blacks were too stiff for normal typing and reds just felt weird, soft and lack of tactile bump just didn't feel quite right for some reason. to add to the fact, i was using a corsair k60 when i used the reds, so those keys were raised from the base of the keyboard, which made the keys feel really tall (profile wise). i feel these browns are a good compromise among these four switches but are still rather loud compared to the logitech scissor switched ultrathin illuminated kb i was coming from. (that was an excellent kb btw, excellent backlighting as well and whisper quiet) while i loved the logitech ultrathin, it was not meant for any sort of FPS gaming because you couldnt even hold down shift, w, and spacebar at the same time to perform a jump in FPS games. i may consider the o-ring mod in the future to see if i could reduce the noise a little bit. as for the overall feel of this kb, it feels rather solid. i've used/felt the DAS, corsair vengeance k60/k90, and mionix. this keyboard feels as solid as any of those (except the mionix, which was a tank). nice weight to it, like other mechanical keyboards. the blue backlighting is quite bright and even, just like the logitech ultrathin (cept the logitech was white, which i do prefer over these blues). one gripe i do have is the rubber feet. i can't recall if the other mech kb's i tried slid around but this x8 definitely slides around with the rubber feet and in raised position. the logitech which i still have with me does not slide around even though it is much lighter (and in raised position) i see this as a slight issue as the kb will likely slide a bit out of place during gaming sessions. the included wrist rest feels great. very comfortable but rather stinky. smells like...a weird plastic or something. this smell will transfer to your wrists inevitably. i hope this smell goes away. it is supposed to be constructed of memory foam but i've felt memory foam beds/pillows and such before and this is much stiffer that what i've felt before. almost feels like a gel rather than memory foam. the keys have a little wobble to them but nothing out of the ordinary. they also do not appear to be laser etched. the x8 didnt come with a keypuller so i cant pull one off to look. i've never had issues with my keys wearing off even on kb models where lots of people complained that their keys did wear off. regardless, max keyboard has been pretty excellent thus far in customer service and shipping, so this shouldnt be a problem even if there is an issue in the future. another gripe i do have though is the function/media key placement. i use those fairly often and with the function key being on the right side while the media keys are on the left side, makes it so you have to use two hands to use them. this will likely make it so i'll never end up using these, so they may as well be non existent. i already knew this at the time of ordering though, just thought i'd point it out to those who are interested in this function though. if they switched the placement of the media keys with the macro keys, this the keyboard layout would be perfect IMO. (or even better, dedicated media keys but i wont beat a dead horse) to conclude, this is a pretty excellent keyboard overall thus far minus the few issues i've mentioned above. the feel of it feels great. the matte coating is classy. the leds are bright and evenly lit. it has usb/audio in a convenient location. typing on it for this "review" has been excellent. however, i want to note that i DID have an issue while the typing of this. at one point, the backspace key got stuck! it erased the whole thing and i was like [email protected]#! but thankfully there is this wonderful function in windows called undo (ctrl + Z) which saved the day. i want to mention that this has never happpened to me, not on any of the other mech keyboards. hopefully this does not happen again or i might have to rma, which would be a pita. good luck and have fun with your unit when it arrives! i've yet to try a gaming session yet so maybe i'll follow up with a gaming experience. enjoy!

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Excellent review! I definitely agree with everything here. Lighting on the keyboard can be customized to full white if you'd like. It will cost a couple extra $$, but it can be done. The smell of the wrist rest will go away after a week or two. I'd really have to move it up to my nose in order to smell it now. One thing I haven't figured out yet is a good way to wash this thing. There are two distinct white spots on the wrist rest now due to sweat. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to clean it cause it doesn't look pretty. The keyboard doesn't come with a keypuller, but you can pull the keys off manually. It doesn't take much effort. I've had the keyboard for a while now and haven't experienced any fading or anything yet. Lighting is still bright and even. No change from the day I received it. It does suck having the media keys as a fn+f1, f2, etc. I came from a K60 as well which had excellent multimedia keys that I used quite often. This just isn't the same. Anyway, great review! Would love to hear what you think of it after a couple gaming sessions. :)

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good to hear that the smell goes away after awhile! what a relief as it is starting to bother me a bit lol. as for the sweat, i don't sweat much when i game but i'm starting to see the two spots from the wrist just from using the keyboard. i think it is inevitable and washing/wiping will probably not help the issue. not a huge deal since i suppose this accessory is replaceable if you care later on about the aesthetics. unless it gets really bad though, and only time will tell, it's not a big deal for me since not many people (no one) uses my computer but me. a quick search at staples and amazon shows that they have replacements available. an average rated one goes for about 10 bucks or a highly rated one goes for 15-18 bucks. im sure there will be deals/sales somewhere along the line too for these types wrist rests since they've been around forever and there are no "compatibility" issues obviously. as for gaming, i've done some starcraft II and alan wake so far and i'm pretty impressed. zero complains after adjusting to the new keys. i can also finally run AND jump at the same time! my APM in sc2 is not any faster nor slower though after the adjusting process. also, i mentioned earlier, i was afraid the keyboard sliding around might be an issue and it actually is not an issue at all if you use the included the wrist rest. using the wrist rest puts the weight of your hand on top of the wrist wrest rather than pushing against the bottom of the keyboard if you did not have a wrist rest. when my focus is out of the game though, i do notice the keyboard's extra noise from the bottoming out of the keys when i use them though. i think i'll definitely follow through with the o-ring mod. for those who are interested, this is what i am talking about: Cherry MX Rubber O-Ring Switch Dampeners (125pcs) excellent video showing the noise differences between three different types of switches at the bottom of that page.

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you can also order the Orings from your local auto parts store I found it cheaper to order them Local to do all my keys it was like 10.00 , I liked the Black A50 over the A40s, It made a huge difference in the noise for me and takes less effort to bottom out the keys. the 1st few days with no o rings was about to Drive me nuts and very easy to install and well worth the few $$ the size I used is 3/16 ID-5/16 OD the name on the Pk was O TITE #64008

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cool, you're capable of being an adult too. :biggrin: thanks for the tip but a quick search based on the info you gave me yields me with one auto store that has it locally but for $2.39/pk which has a quantity of 9 per pack. it would cost me over 30 dollars to do the entire keyboard :( ( http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/detail/DOR1/64008.oap?ck=Search_N0243_-1_-1&pt=N0243&ppt=C0142 ) i actually did some searching before i placed an order at wasd and found that they simply buy in bulk from and resell. they use the exact same ones available at mcmastercarr for their 50a and a different supplier for their 40a, which is why it is more expensive for the 40a. i've already placed an order at mcmaster. it was $9.17 for a pack of 125 (shipping cost unknown till it actually ships, but mcmaster is fair when it comes to shipping). for those interested, go to mcmaster and put 2418T114 in the search field and you should be able to find it.

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Nice review! I'm still hesitant on buying a mechanical keyboard, one for it's price and two for the noise. I can't say my cheap rubber dome keyboard is that quiet, but if you tap the keys softly I'm still able to type without waking my roommates. I'm also curious to see how it performs when gaming. The tactile feedback should be brilliant when typing, but it might be annoying during gaming. Would appreciate your 2 cents in that. :) ps. Good to hear the customer service is excellent for this keyboard, cause I fear that your shift-key isn't working... :p

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cool, you're capable of being an adult too. :biggrin: thanks for the tip but a quick search based on the info you gave me yields me with one auto store that has it locally but for $2.39/pk which has a quantity of 9 per pack. it would cost me over 30 dollars to do the entire keyboard :( ( Dorman AutoGrade 64008 - O-Rings | O'Reilly Auto Parts ) i actually did some searching before i placed an order at wasd and found that they simply buy in bulk from and resell. they use the exact same ones available at mcmastercarr for their 50a and a different supplier for their 40a, which is why it is more expensive for the 40a. i've already placed an order at mcmaster. it was $9.17 for a pack of 125 (shipping cost unknown till it actually ships, but mcmaster is fair when it comes to shipping). for those interested, go to mcmaster and put 2418T114 in the search field and you should be able to find it.
the local oreilly auto when asked was almost .40 cents each O ring but they was sold (single) I got mine from a Locally owned (mom & pop) autoparts store came in a pks of 9 with the O tite brand on the package and was sold the package for a little over 1.00 for 9 pcs ordered 10 packs for 10$ and some change but I did not do my Shift/ CTRL / space bar /alt keys ... etc I was going to order Mc master but I wanted the fix now due to it was driving my crazy to the point I almost put the keyboard back in the box.

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Nice review! I'm still hesitant on buying a mechanical keyboard, one for it's price and two for the noise. I can't say my cheap rubber dome keyboard is that quiet, but if you tap the keys softly I'm still able to type without waking my roommates. I'm also curious to see how it performs when gaming. The tactile feedback should be brilliant when typing, but it might be annoying during gaming. Would appreciate your 2 cents in that. :) ps. Good to hear the customer service is excellent for this keyboard, cause I fear that your shift-key isn't working... :p
Thanks Ger0ne! The keyboard has been excellent thus far. I'm getting more and more used to it and therefore quicker movements and such during gaming. It took a bit of adjusting coming from a low profile keyboard but now that I'm fairly adjusted, I do feel this keyboard is more accurate. The accuracy is not necessarily because of the tactile feedback but moreso the noise and the sensitivity. You audibly feel/hear each "click" from bottoming out and while you're not really paying attention, your brain sort of is "aware". Honestly the tactile feedback is barely noticeable while typing/gaming, unless you're trying to focus on it. This might be cuz I type fairly fast, I'm not sure. But it definitely makes the keyboard feel more "normal" as opposed to the Cherry Reds I've used before on the Corsair Vengeance series. A pure linear keyboard just felt weird because all your life before mechanical keyboards, you've always had a "bump" from membrane keyboards. One other issue that has arisen though from this keyboard is that the spacebar key started to squeak a bit. I contacted Max Keyboard on what I should do and they linked me to a video made by Das Keyboards showing how to remove the keys and dab it with grease yourself. I assume they will replace it if I'm somehow retarded and screw something up during the process. Luckily for them (and me) I'm not retarded and removing the keys were easier than I expected. I was able to swirl some excess grease already on the hinges of the stabilizer bar on the spacebar key and all is well again.

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i think i'll definitely follow through with the o-ring mod. for those who are interested, this is what i am talking about: Cherry MX Rubber O-Ring Switch Dampeners (125pcs) excellent video showing the noise differences between three different types of switches at the bottom of that page.
I'm very interested in the o-ring mod, but wouldn't the o-rings block some of the light from the LEDs and reduce the great backlit effect of the Nighthawk 'boards?

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i actually just completed this mod just now and was going to type an update when i saw your question. no it does not affect the lighting at all. still super bright. the noise and feel though...EXCELLAANT. probably half as loud as before! this mod is a must do if you care about your ears or your neighbors lulz. the shorter travel also makes it feel a bit better too. it's not mushy or anything. it feels very natural and will probably make you type wee bit faster because shorter travel = less time spent on that key. of course that is just a conjecture and has no scientific backing. changing all the keys out took me a good 2-3 hours, so set aside that much time for yourself if you're planning to do it. also have some cleaning alcohol handy because you'll likely get grease all over the keys when doing the larger keys that have the stabilizer bars. the keys with the stabilizer bars will require complete removal, so be sure you're ready for that. not very hard at all though. difficulty - 2/5 time - 4/5 my ears no longer bleed = 5/5 total cost - 3 hours of labor and 13.88 shipped with 23 o-rings to spare

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i actually just completed this mod just now and was going to type an update when i saw your question. no it does not affect the lighting at all. still super bright. the noise and feel though...EXCELLAANT. probably half as loud as before! this mod is a must do if you care about your ears or your neighbors lulz. the shorter travel also makes it feel a bit better too. it's not mushy or anything. it feels very natural and will probably make you type wee bit faster because shorter travel = less time spent on that key. of course that is just a conjecture and has no scientific backing. changing all the keys out took me a good 2-3 hours, so set aside that much time for yourself if you're planning to do it. also have some cleaning alcohol handy because you'll likely get grease all over the keys when doing the larger keys that have the stabilizer bars. the keys with the stabilizer bars will require complete removal, so be sure you're ready for that. not very hard at all though. difficulty - 2/5 time - 4/5 my ears no longer bleed = 5/5 total cost - 3 hours of labor and 13.88 shipped with 23 o-rings to spare
Hint: Use LATEX glove to wipe the grease or oily keys area is much easier and quicker. Please see below photo for reference. (Avoid using alcohol, it might stain the key cap) Before-After-1.jpg

post-250-142450056279_thumb.jpg

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i actually just completed this mod just now and was going to type an update when i saw your question. no it does not affect the lighting at all. still super bright. the noise and feel though...EXCELLAANT. probably half as loud as before! this mod is a must do if you care about your ears or your neighbors lulz. the shorter travel also makes it feel a bit better too. it's not mushy or anything. it feels very natural and will probably make you type wee bit faster because shorter travel = less time spent on that key. of course that is just a conjecture and has no scientific backing. changing all the keys out took me a good 2-3 hours, so set aside that much time for yourself if you're planning to do it. also have some cleaning alcohol handy because you'll likely get grease all over the keys when doing the larger keys that have the stabilizer bars. the keys with the stabilizer bars will require complete removal, so be sure you're ready for that. not very hard at all though. difficulty - 2/5 time - 4/5 my ears no longer bleed = 5/5 total cost - 3 hours of labor and 13.88 shipped with 23 o-rings to spare
Nice! What o-rings did you end up buying? 50A or 40A? I think I might get some. I actually like the mech keyboard sound, but I hear a lot of complaints from people hearing the sound of my typing through the mic when I'm chatting on Skype. =(

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@maxkb, thanks for the pro-tip! i'll be sure to do that next time. didn't have any gloves handy (pun) anyways but i have alcohol. you got me worried so i just checked with a bright light and it looks like no stains at all. whew! @sam, i got the 50a from mcmaster. it was 9.xx plus about 4 bucks shipped but it comes quick. pretty much within a day or two after you order. you'll get taxed because you're in CA though. also not worth paying extra for the 40a because when you're typing, you don't/won't exert enough pressure on the o-rings to notice a difference. its definitely a must have mod though. the hollow plastic bottoming out noise is an earsore in retrospect. with the mod, you still have all the mechkb sound but none of the bottoming out hollow plastic thuds. i'll upload a sound clip i took with my iphone later tonight or tomorrow.

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@maxkb, thanks for the pro-tip! i'll be sure to do that next time. didn't have any gloves handy (pun) anyways but i have alcohol. you got me worried so i just checked with a bright light and it looks like no stains at all. whew! @sam, i got the 50a from mcmaster. it was 9.xx plus about 4 bucks shipped but it comes quick. pretty much within a day or two after you order. you'll get taxed because you're in CA though. also not worth paying extra for the 40a because when you're typing, you don't/won't exert enough pressure on the o-rings to notice a difference. its definitely a must have mod though. the hollow plastic bottoming out noise is an earsore in retrospect. with the mod, you still have all the mechkb sound but none of the bottoming out hollow plastic thuds. i'll upload a sound clip i took with my iphone later tonight or tomorrow.
What do you think of these o-rings? I have no idea what size I need to order, but that 125 pack for $10 looks pretty slick to me. Shipping is free for me since I've got prime. Amazon.com: Buna O-Ring, 50A Durometer, Round, Black: Industrial & Scientific

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I did the same mod, got them from wasd.com cost me under $25 shipped international with a key puller. You're right it does take a lot of time to do so i just do a few every now and then, gotta work out how to remove the bigger keys without damage and ill do those too. Went with the 40A black o rings, really nice feel, sound is much quieter but still can tell its a mechanical big time

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Just ordered an MX 8 based on the latest group buy thread, and ordered some O-rings based on the info in this thread. Thanks to everyone for providing such helpful info. I'll try to remember to take a few pics during the O-ring install (and maybe a before/after sound comparison video as well) and post them in this thread. :)

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So here's an update (no pics yet I will add those later)... I received the Nighthawk X8 via UPS last night. 12 hours in, it is an absolute dream. I won't bother rehashing all the features, but I'll run down the list of the pros and cons. Pros: *Backlighting is very well done. There are LEDs on every key, and the four brightness levels are adjustable on the fly. I use the middle brightness. It's great. *Key feel is unbelievably amazing. I had only had a chance to try out Cherry Reds and Blacks so far, so I was taking a little bit of a chance on the Browns based on what I read online, and so far it's like Goldilox: Blacks were too resistant, Reds were not tactile enough, but the Browns are just right. *It's relatively quiet for a mech keyboard after I added the dampeners. No squeaks! *Key sensitivity is very good. You can bottom out the keys if you want to, but the lightest touch is very effective and much easier on your fingers. I am going to have to train myself to type with less force... it's not needed on this keyboard. *This isn't revolutionary or anything, but I like having the extra USB ports on the top right of the board for mouse access. If I had a typical headset with 1/8 connectors I would probably use theirs too (mine is USB). All the connectors are gold plated and the cables are braided. It's a nice touch. Cons: *There's no LED for scroll lock? Instead it is replaced by a "Gamer" LED that indicates the Windows key is off (and maybe something about macros?) *Some people probably won't like the media and macro key placement. Personally I don't mind, as I am unlikely to use them all that much, but there aren't separate keys - you have to combine use of the "Fn" key with the F1-F12 keys, kind of like a laptop. I knew about this going in so it doesn't bother me, but it's a legit gripe. Other stuff: To go with the keyboard I ordered a wire key puller and a set of 50A dampeners from WASD. I thought this would be painful and time consuming to do, but applying the dampeners turned out to be trivial once I learned the trick to deal with the larger keys (the ones with stabilizer bars like backspace, shift, spacebar, etc). I probably spent out 1-1.5 hours pulling all the keys, and it has made a pronounced difference in both noise level and key feel. I spent about $20 including shipping on the parts from WASD and it was well worth the effort. It comes with a non-crappy wrist rest. They claim it is memory foam but I don't know about that - it's pretty firm. I tried it for a while and went back to my old one so I couldn't really list it as a pro or con. It's just kinda there. I imagine some folks would be grateful for it. I haven't tried out the macro software yet. I'll report back when I've had a chance. I think I'll mainly use it for admin commands in TF2, if I actually use it at all. All in all, I should have made this upgrade much sooner. I will use this keyboard for 10 years easily. Thumbs up to Max Keyboard on a pretty damn fine product. I AM NOT A SHILL I PROMISE UPDATE: Just across on the twitters, Max Keyboard is having a Memorial Day sale (20% off!) this weekend if you are feeling enabled. That puts the cost of the keyboard at about $125 shipped. (Cross posted at my home on the interwebs: www.gamerswithjobs.com)

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I'd just to thank everybody who took part in this helpful thread. I am a sound engineer who was looking for something to use in the studio while the lights are off. As a result I ordered a NightHawk (20% off memorial sale) x8 as well as the O-Rings from Mc Master (2418T114 Soft Buna-N O-Ring AS568A Dash Number 008, packs of 125). Hopefully this mod will make the keyboard feel more like the KeyTronic that I've been using for the last 10yrs... I love that thing & was hoping I could find an illuminated version of it, but hopefully the NightHawk x8 will be even better!

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Oh yeah 1 question.. It's regarding the key that is supposed to be the windows key... Is it the same size as the F-row and Number Row? When I ordered the x8, it's coming with an additional keycap set (Keyboard Parts :: R4 1x1 Cherry MX Keycap Set - Max keyboard Nighthawk X8 and X9 Backlit Programmable Mechanical Keyboard) and I wanted to see if I could switch out the 'windows' key with the skull & crossbones lol.

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