Das Keyboard

I’ve been using the Das Keyboard Professional Model S for the last two years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed typing on this mechanical keyboard. If you do any sort of long form typing on a regular basis, then having a mechanical keyboard can make a huge difference in your life.

After typing on my MacBook’s chiclet keyboard for years, I began to develop problems with severe wrist pain. Although it was never officially diagnosed, I’m pretty sure that I suffered from some sort of repetitive stress injury, which made it excruciatingly painful to type for extended periods of time. Needless to say, having a mechanical keyboard has alleviated 99% of these issues, and I can never see myself going back to using the MacBook’s chiclet keyboard full time.

Earlier this month, Das Keyboard released an updated keyboard for Mac with new features and functionality. The Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac, as it is called, brings a similar typing experience to the table. Is it something you should consider if you’re in the market for a new keyboard? Should previous Das Keyboard owners upgrade? Have a look at our video review and walkthrough for the answer.

Notable features

The new Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac brings several improvements and new features, including:

  • A dedicated tactile volume dial
  • Dedicated media controls
  • Anodized aluminum top panel
  • USB 3.0 hub that only requires a single connection

Professional versus Model S

For me, the dedicated volume dial is a big deal. To be able to quickly adjust the volume of my Mac’s speakers via a huge tactile dial is so much more convenient than buttons or keys.

Awesome, too, is the new anodized aluminum top panel. If you’ve used the Model S, then you know how its shiny black plastic can attract fingerprints and scratches. The new keyboard definitely  earns its “pro” moniker, as it feels like a grown up version of the Model S.

Das Professional vs Model S

Having a USB 3.0 hub speaks for itself, but the fact that hub has been relocated to the top of the keyboard is what really stands out to me. I’ve always been hesitant about using the hub on the Model S, because of the awkwardness that resulted from having a USB key sticking out of the side of the keyboard.

I also disliked the fact that the Model S required two USB ports to be connected to your computer—one for the keyboard, and one for the hub. The Professional version streamlines things into a single plug, making it much more likely that you’ll actually use the hub if you’re short on ports.

Why use a mechanical keyboard?

Besides the fact that the MacBook’s chiclet keyboard caused me to have RSI, the experience of typing on a mechanical switch keyboard is far more satisfying. The Professional is available with two different mechanical switch types: Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Brown.

My Model S featured MX Blue switches, which lend that extra loud and extremely tactile clicky feel. When you think about clicky keyboards, you’re likely thinking about Cherry MX Blue Switches.

When Das opted to send me a review unit with the quieter Cherry MX Brown switches, I jumped at the chance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of the Blue switches, but the quieter Brown switches are much better for podcasting (less noise) and my wife certainly appreciates the quieter keystrokes.

As much as I like the clicky feeling of the Blue switches, I think I might like the feeling of the Brown switches even better. They still provide enough tactile feedback to make for satisfying keystrokes, but they’re softer and noticeably quieter (watch the video for a comparison). There’s nothing scientific about my tests, but I seem to type faster and more accurately with the Professional mated with Cherry MX Brown switches.

Things I don’t like

I have only one complaint about the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac, and it’s a fairly minor one. Instead of opting to include adjustable feet on the bottom of the unit, like the Model S, a magnetically attached ruler is included as a footbar instead. The footbar raises the keyboard to a 4 degree angle, which is ideal, but I feel that the flip out feet of the Model S provided more stability and less potential for movement while on a desk.

Should you buy it?

If you do any decent amount of typing in a desk environment, then I hands-down recommend going with a mechanical keyboard. Even if it’s not a Das Keyboard, a mechanical keyboard will do wonders for your wrists and hands. Not only that, but I find that it significantly improves my typing accuracy, while being more enjoyable to type on.

I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t tried every mechanical keyboard that’s available for the Mac, but it’s hard to imagine a keyboard that tops the combined feature set and typing experience brought of the Das Keyboard 4 Professional.

If you already own a Model S, then it’s a more difficult decision to make. But I certainly think that I would have no feelings of buyers remorse, because the Professional 4 is better than the Model S in just about every way that really counts. If you buy the Professional 4, you can be sure that you’re getting one of the best typing experiences that money can buy.

Some may balk at the prices of these keyboards, but consider something for a moment. If you type for a living, doesn’t it makes sense to invest in a quality keyboard that will make your day-to-day workload more enjoyable and satisfying? It would be like a professional runner who refused to buy quality shoes because of the price. You’re going to pay, one way or the other. Either up front, or on the back end with doctor bills for broken down feet. The same principal applies here.

You can buy the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac (w/ Cherry MX Brown switches) on Amazon for $161.99. If you’re looking for a more cost conscious solution, the Model S (w/ Cherry MX Blue switches) ($133 and below on Amazon) is still a good keyboard that will improve the typing experience, it’s just not as good as the Professional 4.

What type of keyboard do you use? Would you consider opting for a mechanical keyboard?

  • hdofu

    I got a model s several months ago, Its very satisfying to type on, I use it in conjunction with a roller mouse free to avoid having to move my hands while typing, about my only two gripes with it are volume as you mentioned and occasionally I have to unplug it to restore full responsiveness as it will occasionally get laggy to button response

    • Never had the laggy response issue, odd. But yeah, the volume knob is infinitely better than using fn+F10/F11 🙂

      • Ryan Bartsch

        I use a wasd v2 with cherry blues and its amazing.

  • Jay Phillips

    I use the old style Microsoft split keyboard at work. I am a software developer and the split keyboard is much easier on the wrists and I need the full keyboard for quick editing. At home I use the full Mac keyboard. I can’t type at all well on the MacBook keyboard. I need the missing keys.

    • Ah, I remember using the split keyboard. That’s a really good keyboard. Put it this way, pretty much any external keyboard sans chiclet keys is better than the MacBook keyboard for long form typing.

  • Elias

    I’d love to use this keyboard since I attend to high school and type essays essentially every day. It seems fantastic especially the one with brown switches

  • Cern

    Not sure what the hell has happened but I got MB in Jan and i can no longer type on keyboards that aren’t chiclet style. Like I’m straight clumsy on them now. :/

    • Same here, and I can’t use a mouse proper anymore either (MBP for past 5 years)

  • Luiz Claudio Eudes Corrêa

    Only missed the “illustrations” of keys: command, alt / option and control #OldSchool

  • Darthque

    Love the article. Love u for writing it. But I’m sorry, nothing beats a razer black widow. That is all. #hailrazer

    • Martynet

      razer black widow is not a mac keyboard… so it’s kind of useless 🙂

  • Jacobs

    Nice article to make some referral commission Benjamin (bnjm-20) 🙂

    • That’s not the point of the post, but yes, I am using an affiliate link, and proudly 🙂 But it’s not like I just cherry pick things to review for “commission”. This is something I use each and every day, arguably more than any thing else, hence I’m writing about it.

  • Thor Mengkheang

    Jeff give me your old keyboard please I can’t afford 100$+ keyboard 😀

  • port87

    dat 80’s music doe.

  • Kay Dee

    I’m actually looking at mechanical keyboard for Mac, preferrably with Cherry brown switches, but other silent options (like silent ALPS) would do as well. The problem is that I can’t find the one for Mac AND with nordic layout. Typical situation is – yeah, we have all possible layouts for PC, yes, we have the one for Mac as well … US layout only. Any recommendations?

  • I use a razer blackwidow 🙂 Has media keys with “fn”. Works perfectly 🙂

  • countertarget

    HI, Jeff. Can you tell me whats this app is from your menubar?

  • AngryDingo

    Buckling spring. There is no substitute.

  • IE Compat

    🙂

  • IE Compat

    🙁

  • mickeymammoth

    I just got my Daskeyboard 4 pro for Mac, and I love it, for the most part. It came slightly warped so there was a wobble and the rubberized foot at the front left didn’t make contact. Putting that hard plastic ruler/footbar at the back made it slide all over. I was advised to just bend the keyboard until it was flat, and surprisingly, that worked. The volume knob is really nice, as are the media keys. The sleep button doesn’t seem to do anything for me. I would also prefer the caps lock light to be on the key itself, but maybe that’s reserved for non-mechanical keyboards. I miss the Apple symbol on the command key. And it would be nice to have more angle with the footbar? I initially found the space key to be very stiff; it still is, but I’m getting used to it and it’s not worth returning IMO. Who’s to say some other brand wouldn’t have the same stiff space key?Way back, I used my old Apple Mac II mechanical keyboard with an adapter for as long as I could. I think the space bar became unresponsive eventually, and I’ve been using the crap new apple keyboards for years. I finally just had it, and ordered this beauty! I got the brown keys for noise reasons, and they feel great. I would get the brown switches again. Note that the link to Amazon above is for the PC version as far as I can tell; the Mac version doesn’t seem to be on Amazon yet.