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Cherry-brand switches and compact design top mechanical keyboard must-have list

Whenever anyone builds a compact keyboard, the numpad is always the first part to go — and with good reason, it turns out. In survey of mechanical keyboard users, those without, known as tenkeyless designs, were the most popular of all, with only 25 percent of respondents preferring a full-size board.

The old numpad does have some practical use, of course. It lets you make one handed calculations and tap out numbers in a more constricted space. But apparently that’s not something that many mechanical users were interested in.

It turns out that the numpad isn’t the only feature that a good number mechanical users consider redundant. Although contemporary manufacturers’ releases might make you think otherwise, the least necessary feature, according to those quizzed, is RGB backlighting. 59 percent of respondents said it’s nice to have, but not required, and 25 percent called it “useless.” Only 4 percent called it a must-have.

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All of this data comes from GoMechanicalKeyboard, which quizzed some 950 mechanical keyboard users to see where their preferences lie. While they might shy away from numpads and lighting, the results suggest they love tactile switches, with the Cherry MX Blue and MX Brown getting a lot of love.

Blue was given the top award for typing comfort, while brown had a more general purpose and gaming orientation – surprisingly, to some extent – more so than reds, which are often marketed as the gaming switch.

Cherry MX continues to dominate the switch preference lists, despite having not changed the designs much in the past 30+ years. While companies like Logitech, Razer, and Steelseries are coming out with their own switches, none of them even get a mention in the survey.

Perhaps that’s because none of them made the top 10 most popular overall and compact manufacturers. Those lists were topped by the likes of Ducky, Vortex and Cooler Master, though Razer did take the 7th spot on the gaming keyboard list.

That may be indicative of the survey’s audience. Since it focused on fans of mechanical keyboards, rather than general users, the favored brands and features are those most loved by people who care about typing feel above all else. The results may have been different if the survey was conducted by a PC gaming website, for example.

What are your preferences for a mechanical keyboard? We’re big fans of compact, brown switch designs ourselves – though judging by these survey results, that’s hardly surprising.