Cherry MX Board 6.0 review: a stylish, satisfying package

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Out of the blue, a very nice gentleman from Cherry Corp UK asked me if I’d like to review their latest mechanical keyboard: the MX Board 6.0. It’s quite shiny, with 100 levels of red backlighting, Red Cherry MX switches, and full layout and slightly low-profile keycaps.

So of course I agreed, the keyboard arrived and I got down to work. I used it for a lot of things — gaming, writing tech articles—but I forgot to actually use it to write a review of the keyboard itself. Today, that ends: here’s my review.

 

Features and Specifications

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  • The world’s fastest keyboard: MX switches and RealKey technology
  • Full N-Key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting
  • Aluminium top housing with sanded finish and grease-resistant coating
  • 100-level red backlighting and bi-colour status LEDs
  • 13 double-function keys (e.g media controls) and win-key deactivation
  • Rubber palm rest with magnetic connector
  • 200 centimetre cable with textile covering
 

Design

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The MX Board 6.0 is positioned as a flagship device at £166 on Amazon, and for that price I expect a keyboard that both looks good and is well constructed. The 6.0 satisfies on both counts, with its aluminium frame providing hearty helpings of both strength and style. The red backlit keys are bright and colourful during the day, but can be turned down to a comfortable glow during the day. The spacing of the keys, the modern font of the legends and the neat iconography all work well to present a clean and ordered look. It feels good in your hands too, thanks to the gently sanded finish.

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The switches used are of course genuine Cherry switches, which somehow feel better than Kailh or Razer clones. I’m not sure if this is a placebo or not, but it’s comforting regardless. The ABS keycaps are slick beneath my fingers, and their low profile makes the experience closer to a laptop keyboard—although of course almost no laptops use mechanical switches.

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The layout is sensible too, although I personally would have swapped the dedicated play/pause, skip forward and skip back keys with volume up, volume down and mute. Still, all are easily accessible with the option to use these controls as the default instead of F1, F2, etc.

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Cherry have also thrown in some nice extras, including a rubber wrist rest which attaches magnetically, a slim shroud and a nicely braided two metre cable. (It looks like it might be removable, but sadly it isn’t.)

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The MX Board 6.0 is certainly a nice looking board that will draw comments on the desks of gamers and workers alike, but how does it actually perform?

 

Testing

I used the MX Board 6.0 for a period of three weeks, including thousands of words of typing, 90 hours in Fallout 4, and many more in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Of course, it was also used to write this review.

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I really enjoyed my time with the MX Board 6.0. I normally prefer the clicker or more tactile switches—Brown or Blue—but the Board 6.0 made me a believer in soft, subtle MX Red switches. These switches don’t provide as much of a clatter and report during rapid typing, but they still provide much better feedback than a non-mechanical keyboard. The combination of the light keycaps and these switches was heavenly, proving both comfortable and satisfying.

For gaming, the MX Board 6.0 also acquitted itself nicely. The keyboard was quieter than my usual fare, which made it easier for my teammates to hear me while playing in Counter-Strike. It was also no doubt a relief for my good-natured housemates, who frequently have to put up with play sessions stretching long into the night.

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The LEDs were also great for playing or writing in low light; I only wish they could adjust themselves automatically to ambient light conditions. Unfortunately, the bi-colour blue / red status LEDs don’t seem to dim themselves to match their counterparts, which was a pain for low-light use. Too many times, I glanced down at my keyboard and was rewarded by a blue Windows logo seared into my eyes for a few seconds. Cherry, please fix.

The unique feature of the keyboard is Cherry’s RealKey technology, which purports to minimise delay between a key being pressed by the user and recognised by the computer. Cherry are claiming a reduction from around 20ms to 1ms, which is fine and great, but I can’t actually tell the difference. It would be great to have a toggle somewhere so you could do a proper trial, but switching between different keyboards didn’t make things any clearer. The jury’s still out then, but at worst it’s a lack of an advantage, not an actual detriment.

 

Conclusion

The MX Board 6.0 is a well-designed keyboard, mixing style and practicality to produce a premium product. Its clean look, low profile keys and relatively quiet switches make it much more suitable than the average gaming keyboard for use in the workplace, and it’ll certainly appeal to anyone with more restrained, elegant tastes.

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The only major issue I have with the keyboard is the price; at £166 it’s more expensive than most flagship models from Razer, Corsair or Logitech, and yet it provides fewer features. There is no customisable RGB backlighting, no passthroughs for USB or headphones, no software or keys to facilitate macros. With these inclusions, the MX Board 6.0 would be an amazing proposition, but without them, the keyboard becomes a harder sell for price-savvy gamers.

I’m happy with the MX Board 6.0, and I’ll use it for a long time to come. But what I’m really hoping for is an MX Board 7.0, which ideally would add these missing features without sacrificing the clean style of this keyboard. Now that would be the ultimate keyboard, and one truly worthy of the Cherry name.

Pros

  • Light and crisp MX Red switches never disappoint
  • Premium materials and design throughout
  • Layout is space-efficient, without sacrificing usability
  • 100 levels of backlighting control is nice (if overkill)

Cons

  • Expensive for a keyboard without RGB backlighting
  • Blue-backlit status LEDs can’t be dimmed or disabled
  • RealKey signal processing feels like a placebo

Score

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Links

About William Judd

Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.

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