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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

My (current) keyboard: Vortex Race 3

If you read this site regularly you know I have an, er, enthusiasm for mechanical keyboards. It wasn’t always this way, but about three years ago I (re)discovered the delights of typing on a keyboard with mechanical switches and a pleasing clicky noise and now I’m kind of ruined.

Anyway, I’ve tried a lot of keyboards over the last few years, but I realized that I haven’t yet described my current choice for writing when I’m at my desk. It’s the Vortex Race 3. (The switches are my preferred Cherry Brown style, but other keyswitches are also available.)

This is the rare mechanical keyboard that’s civilized to come with a set of alternate keycaps for Mac users (Command and Option rather than Win and Alt), as well as a few variant color keycaps for modifier keys and the arrow keys. (It’s also got a Mac keyboard mode, so all the keys work properly without any remapping required.) The keycaps feature very pleasant capital letters dead center, and come in shades of gray. I’ve swapped in a red Esc key, yellow arrow keys, and a blue Enter key.

The Race 3 is a “75% keyboard”, which means it doesn’t have a number pad, but it does have dedicated arrow keys and a function-key row. (My previous desktop mechanical keyboard, the Leopold FC660M, lacked the function row.) It’s got an anodized aluminum base that doesn’t wrap around the bottom of the keys, so they “float” above the board. It’s a nice effect and sure makes it easy to extract crumbs and other detritus from the keyboard from time to time.

My only real complaint about the Race 3 is that it fits so many small keys around the arrow keys that I find it hard to orient properly. I’m hoping to solve this problem by installing some switch blockers, which will replace keys I don’t need with blank spaces that my fingers can use to orient my hands properly.

Meanwhile, I’ve repurposed my Leopold keyboard and have been using it when I work on my iPad at the bar top in my kitchen. I still miss that upper row of function keys, but it’s an enjoyably clicky keyboard that is powered just fine by the new iPad Pro (via a USB-C to USB-A adapter, of course).

Who knows what next year will bring? Probably more keyboards. It’s a good bet. But for now I’m really enjoying the Vortex Race 3.

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