Introduction

To set up a more ergonomic workspace, I have recently tried out using the short, Logitech MX Mechanical Mini Keyboard and wrote about it. The idea there was that the shorter keyboard should reduce strain as the arm does not have to travel as far to reach the mouse.

This was my first mechanical-like keyboard in ages, since the 90s, at least, and I quite liked the feeling, so I asked myself how it would feel to work on a full-size, clicker, mechanical keyboard. So I decided to get the “big brother” and write about it.

Straight to the Point

The Logitech MX Mechanical is a high-quality mechanical keyboard which does not demand a deep knowledge or appreciation of the mechanical keyboard philosophy to enjoy.

Advanced users of the mechanical keyboards however will be turned off by the impossibility to change every single keycap, as the spacebar is not of a standard size. The inability to change the switches for different ones will also not appeal to the power users.

Pros

  • Very crisp and tactile feeling
  • Low-profile, for a mechanical keyboard
  • High-quality premium build
  • Multiple devices supported
  • Ambient-sensitive Backlighting
  • Backlighting is sensor-activated

Cons

  • Using more force is necessary than on laptop-like keyboards
  • Not all keycaps can be customized as the spacebar is non-standard.
  • Switches cannot be changed.
  • Keycap plastic is not touch-shine-resistant.

Detailed Review

Design

MX Mechanical features a premium look and feel in a two-tone grey colour scheme

Unlike many other mechanical keyboards, this Keyboard gives off more of an “office vibe” than a “gamer vibe” – and that is exactly what we are looking for in a developer’s keyboard. Well, not all of us, but this is my review. What does this mean in real life? It means that the keyboard features an elegant design that includes a two-tone key grey colour scheme with an aluminium plate beneath the keys, subtly adding another shade of grey to the design which, as this is a full-size keyboard, is very visible, especially around the navigation keys. Suffice it to say, all this combined makes the keyboard look very premium and high quality.

The layout is very close to standard, with the same size numeric and function keys, which double as special keys. The function (special) keys being the same size and the same distance from other keys, is in my opinion, the best solution as in my experience the function and media keys are often smaller in size and/or at a greater distance from the numeric and symbol keys.

Device switch buttons are above the positional keys,
with additional keys above the number pad

Above the positional navigation keys, are the keys for device selection, which means there’s more space for the special keys above the numeric and symbols keys as on the mini version of this keyboard. Here the full-size version added the Previous Track, Play/Pause and Next Track keys.

There are also extra buttons above the numeric keys and by default, they are mapped to: Calculator, Show Desktop, Search and Lock.

The charging port is USB-C and is located on the right, next to the on/off switch. The keycaps have both Windows and Mac symbols where applicable, and I certainly prefer this approach over having to physically change the keycaps. So, even if you only use a Mac, I would recommend the “universal” version as it is more flexible. That is unless you are set on getting the pale grey version.

When it comes to the backlighting, the keyboard is equipped with it, albeit only in white. As I said, this keyboard has more of an ”office vibe” – and that is good. However, the keyboard does support a few different backlighting effects which you can set either by using a key combination or using the software. The sensors are there to ensure that the backlighting is only turned on automatically when needed – meaning when your hands approach the keyboard. This is an elegant solution to battery saving, considering that this is a wireless keyboard.

View from the Left side of the MX Mechanical

The backlighting is also intelligently adapted to the ambient conditions, meaning it is automatically set to a higher level in the lower lighting conditions. However, you can override this using manual brightness buttons. You can even turn backlighting completely off using the software.

Switches

I do not know much about mechanical keyboards, but I do know that when buying this model you can select between three different types of switches:

  • Linear – in the mechanical keyboard community they are also known as “Red” switches. They are the quietest and the least force is needed to activate them, hence they offer a smoothest typing experience.
  • Tactile – or “Brown” – are in the middle, as they do provide some tactile feedback when a key is pressed, but have no additional mechanism to ensure there is a sound when the key is pressed. As I haven’t yet tried using the Red switches for a longer time, Browns would be my choice for working in an office environment
  • Clicky – or “Blue” – The clicky switches are the loudest, and while they generally require the same amount of force to actuate as the tactile switches, they can sometimes feel “heavier” than the browns. What sets them apart is that they have an added mechanism that produces a clicky sound when they are pressed. I prefer to use them, but they are only suitable for use when you are alone and not in an office environment.

I prefer to have feedback when I press the key, and I was getting this keyboard for my home office, as I have decent noise-suppression headphones, I decided to go with the clicky switches for this keyboard. Here’s how they sound:

However, what the pro-users will not like is the inability to change the switches as they are spödered-in. Normal users will probably not mind or even notice and as far as I can gather, this is the target audience anyway.

That being said, the worst is yet to come for the mechanical keyboard enthusiasts – all keycaps except the spacebar, can be changed. According to the internet, this is because Logitech uses a non-standard position of the stabilizers for the spacebar.

Regarding the previous two points, in my book, this is completely irrelevant to me, as mechanical keyboards are not my hobby and I don’t care about replacing keycaps or switches but I realise some people consider this stuff important, so it’s up to you to decide if it is important to you.

Typing and Development

Let us start with the bad – the keys are not shine-resistant and after a while, you will begin to see the shine under certain viewing angles and soon you will be reaching for a wipe. My feeling is that is not very nice for such an expensive product which leaves an excellent impression in every other regard. That being said, there are certainly (much) more expensive mechanical keyboards out there and there are also keyboards out there which do not have keys where the backlighting can shine through the letters, so these might be a compromise in the sense that they are not as expensive as they could be but the backlighting shines through the letters.

When it comes to typing, the feeling is excellent, with the keys providing just enough “resistance” to be felt and a distinct, satisfying sound. You get the feedback you need to be sure you have pressed a key and a sound to indicate that you are indeed hard at work.

There might be nothing to it, really, but I believe some people prefer the mechanical keyboard, its tactile feedback and the clicking sounds simply because they feel more productive pushing the buttons further and enjoying the symphony of the typing sounds, as words flash on the screen. This is not me judging, the experience is indeed quite thrilling.

However, there is a price you pay for the feeling and the experience, especially if you’re used to laptop-like (scissor) switches. The laptop-like keys are much softer than the mechanical switches and I feel like a spoiled child while writing this, but the more force needed to use the mechanical, clicky keyboard does kind of accumulate over the long hours and you might feel a bit more tired than you would be than when using a keyboard with scissor-switches. That however might not be your experience. With this in mind, it might be best to try before you buy to make sure that you prefer the mechanical switches and the feeling over the laptop-like switches.

Keycaps feature both macOS and Windows Symbols, which is really the best approach to the subject for most people.

Regarding the programming on this keyboard, as it is full-size, I did not notice any difference from developing on other full-size keyboards, other than the typing feeling, of course. But as you know, the developers often use auto-complete and Intellisense, so you’re a bit more likely to experience the full benefits of a mechanical keyboard when writing documentation as opposed to when developing.

However, coming from the 65% keyboard, this was much better for me, especially because the home, end Page Up/Down keys are in a more familiar place and as someone who uses these keys more than a mouse to navigate through documents and code – I can say that the 65% keyboards are not for me. With this keyboard, however, I find no flaws.

What I would highlight is that on the right side of the space key, you get the Command/Alt, Fn, Opt/Start and Ctrl buttons which is a better solution than on Logitech MX Keys S, for example, where you only get Cmd/Alt, Fn and Opt/Ctrl.

In short, the development and typing experience on this keyboard is top-notch, especially if you enjoy the tactile and crispier feeling than on a non-mechanical keyboard and are willing to sacrifice the softness.

Batteries and Connectivity

USB-C port is used only for charging

The battery is rechargeable and can be charged over USB-C, which is no surprise, considering that the keyboard has backlighting. The battery, along with the intelligent backlighting, ensures a comfortable experience. Backlighting provides up to 15 days of usage, and with backlighting completely off, up to 10 months of usage.

Connectivity, as is typically the case with Logitech, is particularly good. As usual, you can connect the keyboard to up to three devices and switch between them with the press of a button. This has always been one of Logitech’s best features.

I have read that some manufacturers deliver their keyboards with extra keycaps for each OS and that you are supposed to switch the keycaps depending on the OS. There’s often an extra switch to tell the keyboard which layout you’re using. Well, thankfully, this is not the case with Logitech. The keyboard just detects by itself which OS it’s connected to and the buttons just work as they’re supposed to for that OS. I have tested this on macOS and Windows and can confirm it works great. The keycaps have both symbols printed on them, which is for me a much more elegant solution.

Gamers and some people with restrictive office IT policies won’t like that connecting the keyboard with a USB-C cable to the computer does not mean that the connection used to transfer data is now wired. The connection to the computer will still be using Bluetooth or the USB Logitech Bolt receiver and the USB-C connection will only serve to charge the keyboard. That is a pity, considering that having a wired keyboard connection is required by the IT departments in some companies.

Software

You should download the Logitech Options+ software as it enables you to reprogram almost all the function buttons.

The Logitech Options+ Software enables you to reprogram certain buttons in general, and per app.

Yes, you might say, but the other manufacturers offer similar functionality with their software. In the app, one standout feature is the ability to reprogram all function buttons for a lot of different apps. This means that depending on which app is currently active, different buttons can have distinct functions. If you’re a power user, I highly recommend trying out this feature, as it has the potential to boost your productivity.

However, be aware that you might miss this functionality greatly when working on a different machine, maybe where you’re forbidden or lack sufficient privileges to install it.

Conclusion

While this keyboard does very little to none when it comes to ergonomics – its only ergonomic feature would possibly be that it is low profile when compared to other mechanical keyboards – ergonomics would in my opinion not necessarily be the main reason why you would buy a mechanical keyboard.

You would buy a mechanical keyboard for the feeling of accomplishment while typing and this keyboard will, generally speaking, provide that, while not demanding too much knowledge about mechanical keyboards or that you sacrifice flexibility to appease the gods of the mechanical keyboards.

However, you should be warned that there is a potential price when switching from laptop-style keyboards to mechanical ones. The price is a bit higher profile which can lead to the loss of ergonomics and the need to use more force when pressing each key which can accumulate over long hours and lead lead to fatigue quicker than when using a soft-touch keyboard with scissor switches.

Whether the typing experience is worth it, it’s up to you.