Den-Fi's Tech-ish Blog


I wanted to do something nice for my GK64. I’ve grown to like it a lot more since it now houses $64 worth of Zealio V2 78Gs. The one thing I didn’t like from the start was the reddish blue tint on the set I bought. You’ve never seen the extent of it, because I always correct it in photos, but I hated it. Secondly, the caps were exxxxtra thin and hollowish, so I’d always hear a very jarring clink. Especially in the spacebar. The last straw was seeing someone’s new build with the exact same cap set. I know that that’s bound to happen, but it was enough to push me to replace it since I was ordering parts anyway. This new new set is thinner in profile (still cherry) while being a much more substantial cap. It also has really nice side printed legend specific to the GK64’s Fn keys. A nice bonus I didn’t realize when ordering.


Rubber domes?! I thought we evolved from these?!

Heh. This is a case of really bad examples ruining the really good ones. A lot of people consider rubber domes to be inferior, but the Leopold FC980C as well as other Topre/Electro Capacitive variants from HHKB, Topre/Realforce prove this can be a delightful experience. The typing sound is often referred to as “thock.” The feel (at least w/ these 45G domes) is lighter than I usually like, but twice as tactile as my 85G Zealio V2s. It’s an interesting feel that makes me want to type a lot more than I normally would. Strange, yet addictive. I’ll note that the vastly different feel from MX style switches came off as unlikable to me for the first hour I used this board, but now… can’t get enough of it.


Actually I’d look at that and first thought would be hall switch or foam and foil.

I actually have a Wooting Two Lekker Edition coming.


ooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo pretty

I get asked A LOT if I think smartphone cameras have gotten to the level of dSLR cameras and that’s a question I quickly answer NO to.

Sure, for your average consumer™, you get results that can look absolutely fantastic, but the use case is limited.

You’re probably not going to print it. It’ll get posted on social media and someone will glance at it and understand what was going on. Job done.

For me though, there are things I need to capture for my own gratification. I like complete control and having too much information.

These things are not granted when you’re using a smartphone. Smartphones make a lot of guesses and decisions to compensate for its sensor.

Sure, you can get programs like Camera+ to shoot “RAW” but it is far from the same.

Smoothing is probably the greatest sin a smartphone camera commits. Sharpening falls into second place. This is not something you mind too much with general photos, but macro is my bread and butter. A combination of over-smoothed and over-sharpened when it comes to macro is just plain painful to look at.

In the example I posted below, I used the iPhone 11 Max’s camera on full auto. (Both are editing in my usual style with Lightroom). It was given plenty of light to avoid over-smoothing from noise, but you can tell it still did it anyway. It also detrimentally sharpened the photo. This results in seeing the rough texture of the case in some spots (way rougher than it actually looks due to over-sharpening), but weirdly smooth for most of it. It looks “fine” but that is never what I’m after. At the end of the day I take photos for myself first, and everyone else later.

Smartphone cameras have come a LONG way. They really have. To do what they can do with limited space for both a sensor and a lens is amazing. They’ve brought a level of accessibility to photography that has opened the door for many. I appreciate that more people than ever eventually get dSLRs after seeing what is possible with their smartphone. It’s just like someone building their first custom PC after experiencing a pre-built. I love watching the technology grow and do think that dSLR tech can learn from smartphone tech. I am genuinely impressed with my phone in some instances, just not most. For me, I will always reach for my clunky dSLR. It feels better in the hand, I have the control I need, I have the detail I need, and I have access to ALL of the information from the sensor. I should also mention that I have the ability to light the photo the way I want to. I used a strobe for the dSLR photo bounced from the ceiling. For the iPhone photo I used LED light bounced from the ceiling.

That’s my stance. Smartphones are great, but they cannot replace dSLRs for my needs. Much in the same way some photographers don’t even think dSLRs can replace film.


iPhone 11 Pro Max, full auto, LED light bounced from the ceiling. Light is diffused again with a large 60" diffuser.


Canon EOS R w/ 50mm f/1.2 L (1/160, f.2.2, ISO 400), Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT @ 1/8 power bounced from the ceiling. Light was not diffused a second time.


My Realforce is a dream to type on.

I’m glad it’s becoming easier to get Leopold and Plum electrocapacitive keyboards.

If it was a little more compact I’d probably be willing to pay too much money for the FC980C :slight_smile:

A few weeks with Topre keebs as my main boards has taught me a few things.

I prefer the tactility of Topre to the audible feedback of clicky switches.

This was perhaps the largest revelation, especially considering that I hated the feel of Topre when I first got my FC980C. It took me about a day or so to adjust from heavy and clicky to light and tactile. Switch weight was another thing I’m surprised about. The Topre domes in both of my boards are 45G. This was disgustingly light at first, but the tactility started taking over and it became evident that this feeling was enjoyable. One thing Topre does for me is bring together the speed of clickly switches and the awesome feel of tactile. I say speed because personally, I can type REALLY fast when I have proper feedback.

The Topre board is by no means silent out of the box. They do have versions with silencing rings pre-installed, but the thought of a silent typing experience sickens me. The click is replaced with a deeper, “thock” sound. It’s inherently quieter than a click as well as being such a low tone that is does not travel very far. My assistant has already told me she doesn’t notice it anymore.

Here’s a brief explanation of how Topre (Topre is a company and the proper term is Electrostatic Capactive, but I will just keep saying Topre for ease of both typing and understanding) works from

Topre switches are the namesake product of Topre Corporation, a Japanese company. They work based on the principle of capacitance, which means that keypresses are sensed electrically, without any physical circuit closure. This design helps eliminate key bounce and is often considered more reliable than other mechanical switch designs from an engineering standpoint. (In addition to consumer keyboards, Topre switches are used in military and commercial applications where failure would be catastrophic.)

Physically, a Topre switch contains a spring that sits atop the keyboard’s PCB, enclosed by a rubber cup. The rubber provides the vast majority of the resistance in the switch; the spring is very light and serves mainly to trigger the capacitive event. This design is why some people say Topre is really a rubber dome keyboard — a rubber dome is, in fact, responsible for the keys’ response.

Topre keyboards are produced by a handful of companies, including Topre itself under the Realforce brand, Leopold, and PFU (the maker of the Happy Hacking Keyboard).

Due to the nature of Topre boards, they have some limitations. The first of these is board cost. Topre Realforce, Leopold, and HHKB boards are north of $230. That’s after the price has come down over the years. This is a tough pill to swallow when you’re spending this much for a stock board. Any customization at all and you’re easily adding hundreds of dollars to the cost.

You couldn’t go and build your dream board as easily as you can with MX switch style boards. As the years have gone on, you have a few more makers out there, but your choices are limited. After you get your board of choice, there are VERY few aftermarket cases, and those that exist are expensive. My Norbauer case was $400. For me this was fine because the craftsmanship and artistry is out of this world. You do have MX cases that run this high or higher, but not many options like my KBD 5 Degree case that is crafted from a solid billet of aluminum for $88. You also have $30 options. This is just not the case for Topre for now. This comes form the high cost of the boards and the relatively small market.

Along these same lines, Topre boards use Topre keycaps. There’s a very limited selection of keycaps in this style. Most are for HHKB boards, so you’re stuck if you’re like me and have a Leopold. They have a different number of keys and the modifier keys are different shapes. To that end, you could install Topre to MX sliders, but even this presents a challenge. Most of the aftermarket slider have compromises. You have JTK sliders which have a reputation for poor quality, you have Niz sliders which were known for poor quality, but have gotten better in 2019… but they’re too small for other brands and require modification to prevent movement. Novatouch sliders are many people’s ideal sliders, but these come from a Cooler Master (yes, that Cooler Master) board that went extinct a few years ago. If you can find a complete set of these sliders, be prepared to pay $100+ for them. Lastly you have KBDFans to the rescue. These seems to be okay in quality from what I’ve read, but still require me to drill out my 2U housings to allow proper fitment of the keycaps. I went with the KBDfans sliders and I’ll know later today whether or not this was the right move. I was tired of waiting for Novatouch sliders that were either missing the 2U sliders, or just a complete rip off in general. You’d think OH! You’re done then! Buuuuuuuut you would be wrong. The spacebar is 6U (standard is 6.25U), so I need to find someone to make me a custom SA profile spacebar to match the keycap set I chose.

Was all this worth it?! - Well… depends on the who. If you had asked me a year and a half ago what my keyboard budget was, you’d get $150 tops. That’s changed drastically when you look at what I’ve done recently with Cherry Killer. That board was $391.80 in parts alone. But along with that I’ve got tons of new friends and a hobby that I love. My Leopold FC660C and Heavy-6 were considerably more at $820 with the parts I’ve chosen thus far. It’s been fun and frustrating, but I still like it and don’t have an ounce of regret.

What does the future hold? - I just ordered an ABKO K935P V2 for $128.94. It has excellent reviews AND comes standard with Topre>MX sliders. The ABKO uses the new Niz sliders that have gotten a lot of positive feedback, so it sound like this could be the way forward. A new challenger to the Topre crown is good for everyone. The makers at the top can’t ignore a board that runs half the cost of theirs. I’m hoping this board catches on and we start to get custom cases and lots of attention. That board will be in later this week, so we shall see.

Related Keebtography:



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Really enjoyed the read! Thank you for posting your take on Topre. Now I understand what it is :slight_smile:

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Unless you get the Realforce RGB, which comes with MX stems stock :wink:

Yeah, but I didn’t want to confuse people with minor exceptions.


Preparing to swap out the sliders in my FC660C to KBD. Just waiting for lube since it’s considerably easier than lubing switches.

With this I’ll be able to use MX keycaps. Still need to have a custom 6U spacebar made, but that’s something I am working on.

For now, I’m just doing to use a gray HHBK spacebar and will probably print this 6U spacebar and add clay.

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A bittersweet moment. Final shots of Zen Clarity + before it’s torn down and parts of it reused for my first ever custom loop!

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t o p r e i s j u s t a m e m b r a n e k e y b o a r d


This PETG cutter was the real MVP of my first custom loop. I started with it so I didn’t really know what I was missing til I tried to cut a tube with a hacksaw specifically made for plastics like PETG. Whew. It’s definitely a keeper!

Also, is SO MUCH better for logging watercooling builds.
PCPP has a hard stance against custom loops because of their compatibility checker. You can list everything on Builds and they are super open to features you want added.

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Continuing my Norbauer Heavy-6 project finally.


This is what makes Topre so different. These rubber domes sit on top of bare springs.


These are the springs. Extremely lightweight, springy, and delicate. They do not share the same responsibility as springs in an MX switch. More on that via Deskthority as I am not an expert in the slightest.


The dome on the left is the factory dome. The dome on the right is an aftermarket BKE Redux dome. This is how a Topre gets its weight as opposed to an MX switch which would get it from the spring. You also get your tactility from the dome. These are both 45G, but the BKE Redux dome is much stiffer and has a much sharper tactile bump. These are the light variant, but still much more tactile than stock.



The rest of the work is taken care of by the sliders and housings. These sit atop the rubber domes. I’ll be swapping the sliders out to MX compatible sliders so I can use a relatively standard keycap set. I’ll also be lubing the sliders and adding silencing rings to reduce some of the plastic on plastic clacking noise. The true joy of Topre is hearing only the rich, deep thock sound.


This keyboard porn is inappropriate for work.

Please continue.



Juuuuuuuuuust about done! Just need to wait for my 3D printed spacebar.

Also have an MX 6U spacebar coming w/ a 6U CoStar stab.


The 3970X is nothing short of amazing. I knew this on paper, but seeing what it can do in person has been a blast. I’ve got a while before I start the actual build, so I’ve been using it with a refilled Enermax cooler test bench style and just playing around. Think I settled on using openSUSE Tumbleweed, then Windows in a VFIO setup for Adobe.

It’s funny how using AMD w/ Adobe was such a mess in previous years, but now they’ve (Adobe) done a few things to correct multi-core usage. Mostly though, AMD just brute forced its way to chart topping performance. I setup an empty Lightroom catalog and imported 1608 photos from an SD card. Lightroom was able to use all this power in generating previews, then mass applying presets also got the threads moving. Finally, exporting (which a lot of times I need to do a ton in a hurry) had the 3970X completely pegged. It spat out rendered images in a lot less time than my 2950X. I didn’t time any of it as I was just trying to get a natural feel for the improvements, but it’s come a long way.

A lot of my workflow is massive multitasking, so not having to slow down when editing, working with VMs, and all the other stuff I do… this CPU is going to be a game changer. It certainly is overkill for most of my work, but even just the time saved in mass exports is fantastic. This is one time I went the enthusiast route and have not once felt like I was making a compromise in performance.

I don’t game much, but benchmarking has always been fun. I fired up TimeSpy and was expecting it to absolutely choke on all of these threads. It did exactly that lol. Once SMT is disabled though, it actually churns out some nice results. Gaming is NOT part of what I’ll be using this machine for though. so I’m not concerned.

Now I just need to get custom loop parts and a case figured out. The opportunity to grab a 3970X literally popped up unexpectedly, so I had almost nothing planned.

Likely going the soft tubing route w/ quick disconnects since this will be a workhorse and I will probably swap stuff out over time.