We’ve looked at a wide array of mechanical keyboards in the past, but today we have something you may not have experienced before: an electrostatic capacitive keyboard in the form of the Topre Realforce RGB TKL. EC keyboards are still rare in the United States and, indeed, it was only recently that they became easy to find thanks to a new distribution partnership with Fujitsu. Topre keyboards are divisive. Fans claim they’re the best premium keyboards money can buy while detractors claim the opposite. Let’s discover the truth together, shall we? This is our review of the Topre Realforce RGB TKL.
- MSRP: $299.99
- Number of Keys: 108 Layout
- Length of cable: 1.5 m / 5 feet
- Switch: Electrostatic Capacitive & Non Contact Switch
- Key Lifetime: 50 million clicks
- Key Weight: 45g (+/- 15 g)
- Key Shapes: Ergonomic Step Sculpture
- N-Key Rollover: Full N key rollover
- Keycaps: Double Shot ABS Keycaps
- Interface: USB
- Warranty: 3 year limited warranty
Take a moment and let that sticker shock sink in. That’s not a typo. This mid-sized keyboard is actually $299.99 and that seems to be an indicator of the relative rarity Topre boards maintained for so long. Until this last year, if you wanted one, you were likely to have to import one from overseas yourself. Around the world, Topre is an esteemed brand and incredibly popular. Here, I have doubts about how many people will be willing to take the jump at the current price point, yet there’s more to the price than reputation and rarity. Electro-static capacitive keyswitches are more complex than your average mechanical switch and harder to produce. Topre boards also have a feeling and sound all their own thanks to their design and fans absolutely swear by it.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t exactly a mechanical keyboard. When people think of mechanical switches, they think of Cherry slider switches: plastic sliders with metal contacts, color-coded to indicate tactility and actuation force. Topres are entirely different.
Topre’s Electrostatic Capacitive switches don’t require the same contact or friction. They work by depressing a rubber dome (hold your judgment), under which is a spring. Under the spring is a sensor that triggers the key press without contact actually needing to be made. Though Topre’s do use a rubber dome, they are not rubber dome keyboards in the traditional sense. Where the latter uses a cheap rubber sheet covered spongy bubbles, Topres use single, meticulously weighted switches under each key.
The typing experience is quite different from either a traditional mechanical keyboard or a rubber dome. Fans say it combines the best of both worlds. Detractors call them glorified rubber domes, which is reductive at best. Even though they do use the rubber dome design and are weighted at a fairly common 45g weight, they’re firmer with more pop and spring-back. Under the finger, they feel slightly pillowed and resound with a “thunk” rather than a “clack.”
Having used several Topre boards at this point, I knew what to expect going in. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my first experience a bit more than a year ago where I was honestly a bit off-put. If you’re considering this keyboard, it’s probably because you’ve heard fellow enthusiasts gush about them on the internet. It’s easy to become a bit hyped, which I had. The reality is less than the keyboard nirvana you might be expecting but is still quite nice, especially if you’re working in an office setting where noise is a factor. There’s a lightness to the Topre Realforce RGB that just feels very nice to type on and is quite distinct from your average mechanical keyboard.
One neat thing that I have noticed about Topre boards compared to MX-style mechanicals is that I make less typos while using them. It’s strange, but true, and has to do with the tactility of each key. Every key has a tactile bump as the dome collapses and the increasing pressure, while not enough to tire out my fingers, definitely acts as a natural cue that you can move on to the next key. My WPM increase isn’t massive in typing tests but when I “get in the zone” writing a review such as this one, it definitely makes me a more efficient writer.
For gaming, WPM doesn’t much matter, but accuracy certainly does. Compared to something like Cherry MX Speed switches popularized by Corsair, you won’t find yourself accidentally creeping forward or leaving cover simply by resting your fingers on the board.
One of the unique features of the REALFORCE RGB, made possible by the EC switches, is the ability to set your actuation point. Using a dedicated button you can select from 1.5, 2.2, or a 3mm activation distance, all conveniently color coded with red, green, and blue LEDs so you know your current setting. This is a great feature that allows you to tailor the board to your taste based on what you’re actually doing. I might use a higher actuation point for writing and lower it for gaming. Since the actuation force is the same, your rate of typos doesn’t increase but your responsiveness does.
The other big selling point is, of course, the RGB lighting. You can select from a handful of popular presets – your standard breathing, spectrum, starfall, etc. – as well as a set a number of static presets, as well. The software also makes it easy to select your own static layout, which is what I typically prefer to do. The effects are nicely animated, but I do wish there was an option to layer effects to allow for more advanced customizations.
In an interesting twist, Topre has avoided the “floating key” design and gone with a normal top plate. You can’t see the switch housings here but since it’s a whole different design, that makes sense. It honestly feels a bit novel to see a keyboard with a top plate these days.
The build quality is fairly solid. It’s a heavy keyboard thanks to its nice steel plate and doesn’t flex much at all. The cable isn’t braided, but is a nice thick rubberized finish. I was surprised that Topre opted for ABS keycaps at this price point but they did opt for a double-shot design and a nice textured finish to stave off the usual ABS shine and wear down.
The Topre REALFORCE RGB TKL is a keyboard for enthusiast that also happen to be gamers. It offers a top-notch typing experience that’s quiet enough to not disturb those around you. The 45g weighting makes them feel light to the touch but resilient to typos. It’s also beautiful to look at. At $299, though, it’s an incredibly expensive keyboard. If you already love Topre and want th
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.