Hardcore PC gamers take their keyboard seriously. When milliseconds are the difference between winning and losing a responsive mech can give you that slight edge over your opponent. For years the original RK-9000 was the benchmark for Rosewill mechanical gaming keyboards. That said, the previous version had it’s flaws; primarily a mini USB port that was prone to failure if presented with too much pressure from external forces. Fixing that problem while implementing a few other small changes was Rosewill’s goal with the updated version, model RK-9000V2.
The keyboard comes in multiple switch variants, making use of all the mainstream Cherry MX switches (Black, Blue, Red and Brown). Today I’ll be analyzing the Rosewill RK-9000V2 BR, which features genuine Cherry MX Browns.
Keyboard Layout, Features, and Aesthetics
The RK-9000V2 is a full sized keyboard with standard 104-key layout. A very functionally sound and user-friendly form factor. It has a full number pad to make data entry less of a chore. N-key rollover (over PS/2) and 6-key rollover (USB) insure a perfect gaming experience with no chance of a key press going unregistered, even during long combos. The F1 through F8 keys also function as media keys.
One easily noticeable area of improvement over the original RK-9000 is the inclusion of a rubber coating over the rear extendable feet. A welcome addition that does a much better job of holding the board securely in place.
Another feature I’m happy to see is the Windows Key Lock (a secondary function of the F12 key), which allows you to disable the Window keys from being accidently pressed during frantic gaming sessions. A blue LED located on the F12 indicates whether the lock is enabled or disabled.
The keyboard looks elegant yet simple. It’s mostly monochrome with a tease of red from the back plate peaking through the key gaps. Turns out that light hint of backdrop color is a sexy look for a keyboard. Despite being a “gaming” keyboard it wouldn’t feel out of place in a office environment. That’s a huge plus considering how gaudy looking some products targeted towards the gamer market turn out.
However, it doesn’t have backlit keys, which could be a potential deal breaker at this price point considering the target audience. Though it does have four blue LED indication lights that are quite stylish if you prefer a more understated, minimalistic appearance (but they may prove to be a bit too bright in a dark room).
As already stated the keyboard comes in different variants with many of the most popular Cherry MX switches. The MX Black and Red switches have a “linear” keystroke which means that when a key is pressed its downward path or action feels smooth and straight to your fingertips. However, the MX Black requires a bit more effort compared to the Reds.
The MX Brown (version currently being reviewed) gives you feedback in the form of a tactile bump, providing a non-linear action, but no click upon actuation. MX Blue is the switch that provides the unmistakable audible “clicky” sound, making sure you know the instant a keystroke is registered. The Cherry MX Brown stiffness is on the lighter side, similar to Red MX switches, but with a light bump that you can just barely notice at the point of actuation.
Keep in mind that clicky keyswitches are more audible compared to their linear and tactile bump counterparts, with the MX Green and Blue being the most audible of the Cherry MX line of switches. The Blue switch requires 50g of actuation force for your key presses to register, falling in-between the MX Black at 60g and the Red/Brown 45g respectively.
The MX Browns featured in this model of the RK-9000V2 are a nice hybrid switch. They provide good all-around performance, whether you’re typing or gaming, without making much noise and still give a satisfying tactile feedback.
One aspect of note is the spacebar and other larger sized keys use Costar stabilizers. This pleases me. A Costar stabilizer is simply a metal bar held in place with plastic clips that secures the keycap to the switch and prevents wobble. This gives them a very crisp and uniform feel similar to the smaller keys without stabilizers. I personally prefer this method over the standard Cherry stabilizer that makes use of the same cross-shaped stem as the switches. They can feel somewhat “squishy” in comparison with Costar style stabs.
The keyboard has a matte plastic shell and the the Cherry MX Brown switches are affixed to a steel (not aluminum) mount plate. This metallic backplate gives the board some heft and extra rigidity. I wouldn’t say the RK-9000V2 is built like a tank, but it’s plenty sturdy enough. The steel backplate underneath the keys holds up very well even when I was intentionally being forceful to test for flexing.
The keycaps are ABS with large, laser printed legends so you might have problems with wear and fading down the road. They have a slightly rough, high traction texture that I’m really fond of. I’m also glad this keyboard follows the standards with a normal size bottom row, meaning it will be much easier to replace the entire keycap set with one of higher quality should you choose.
The RK-9000V2 has a mini USB port located on the back right of the keyboard which allows the user two connectivity options – PS/2 and USB, which are both very high quality and gold plated. The cables are 58-inches long and braided with L-shaped connector on the end that connects to the board, which is also detachable.
Accessories – What’s In The Box?
The RK-9000V2 comes in a laminated cardboard box with a semi-gloss black exterior. Inside you’ll find the keyboard, a velcro strap for cable management, manual and two cables (USB and PS/2).
A little something extra as far as accessories would have been nice. For example, many keyboards in this price range will include a keycap puller tool, wrist rest or additional/alternate colored keycaps. A fairly barebones package overall.
Software and Customization Options
The Rosewill RK-9000V2 BR doesn’t have key backlighting, includes no software and isn’t programmable, so consider this before buying. There is basically nothing here in the form of personalization, unless you plan to mod it yourself. That being said, this keyboard would be a modders delight as you have such a blank slate to work with.
At $89.99 I feel this no-frills mech is fairly priced. The rock-solid construction, elegant design, ergonomic form factor and genuine Cherry MX Brown switches overshadows its main shortcomings (lack of a backlighting, programmable keys and extra features in general), but that’s just my opinion. The Rosewill RK-9000V2 BR is one of the best full size mechanical keyboards with real Cherry switches you’ll find on the market for under $100.
- Actual Cherry MX Brown switches, not one of the many lesser quality clone MX switches.
- Gorgeous red metal mount plate.
- The braided cables feel premium, a detail you don’t commonly see at this price point.
- The keyboard is very solidly built with rigid construction and a heavy steel backplate. This is a big selling point.
- Practical and well-placed media keys.
- Responsive and ergonomic.
- The lack of a backlighting option.
- Not programmable, no macro keys.
- Barebones. Few extra features mean it’s right on the border of being overpriced; slightly more expensive keyboards than the Rosewill RK-9000V2 often include backlighting, programmable keys, additional accessories or other special functions.
- The LED indicator lights are a tad too bright when viewed head on and might be unpleasant for use in a dark room.
At the time of writing this review the Rosewill RK-9000 V2 mechanical gaming keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches is available from Amazon.