Ultimate keyboard showdown – IBM Model F vs. Model M!

The IBM Model F and Model M literally defined what a PC keyboard is supposed to be. Included with the original IBM PC, the Model F introduced the buckling spring mechanism that made it “the best keyboard in any microcomputer, bar none” according to Byte Magazine. The Model M, introduced shortly after the PC AT’s introduction and available as an option on both the AT and XT 286, set the standard for PC keyboard layouts for decades to come. Many have argued in favor of one or the other as “best keyboard ever” – so which one really is?

In this video, I do a direct comparison between both keyboards to find out which one I think still holds up as the best daily driver today. After all, keyboards are often a series of compromises, and while these two make fewer than most, both still have their pros and cons. Though regardless of whether you agree with my ultimate conclusion, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

One clarification on NKRO, since some commenters seem to be either missing or ignoring the Model M key test in the video – again, 2KRO does not mean a keyboard will only register 2 simultaneous key presses. It means that’s the minimum it can guarantee. Let’s create a “Bags of Mulch” term to continue on with the 6 wheel pickup truck analogy from the video. Let’s further say that the 6 wheel pickup from the video has “NBOM” – or “N Bags of Mulch”. A standard 4 wheel pickup truck with “2BOM”, though, could only guarantee carrying 2, depending on the size of the bags. If they’re REALLY BIG BAGS, big enough to require a forklift to load, it might not be able to do more than that, because its bed is not unlimited in size and it only has 4 wheels. Now let’s say you need to carry 6 standard size bags of mulch home from Home Depot. Do you really need “NBOM” for that? Or would that the “2BOM” pickup truck work? Obviously, a standard pickup truck can carry 6 standard bags of mulch – heck, my Dodge Challenger could do that. Having “NBOM” in this situation is not only unnecessary, it’s not even any kind of advantage. Both trucks will carry that mulch equally well.

In fact, you will likely do better with a good 2KRO keyboard than a cheap keyboard that claims NKRO, since these are usually poor quality non-NKRO keyboards trying to overcome their limitations with driver tricks. NKRO has become a way for cheap keyboard manufacturers to differentiate themselves from other cheap keyboard manufacturers. For the vast majority of people, it’s better to just buy a good keyboard and not worry about KRO at all.

Here’s a quick, specific test I did on the Model M for someone in the comments of a scenario you might encounter in an FPS: https://imgur.com/2JDWKlT

That’s 7 simultaneous keypresses on the Model M. And I had a hard time even reaching them all – that’s certainly not a common number of keypresses you’d need to make at once.

Also, yes, once again, I am a self-taught typist. I’m never not gonna be a self-taught typist, so you may as well get used to how I type!

If you decide to look for one of these on Ebay, I’d love it if you used my links:
Model F: https://ebay.to/2QMOzLK
Model M: https://ebay.to/2xrRDVm

Couple credits not in the video itself:
buckling spring animation: By Shaddim – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30568410
IBM 4704 thread: Ellipse – https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=67080.0
Model F foam thread: https://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/replacement-foam-in-ibm-model-f-t11657.html

7 Replies to “Ultimate keyboard showdown – IBM Model F vs. Model M!”

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