Quality and Per-Key Actuation Force Testing

In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users. It is worth noting that there is typically variance among keyboards, although most keyboard companies will try and maintain consistency - as with other reviews, we're testing our sample only.

The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduces the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typical sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.

The Cougar Attack X3 exhibited textbook performance, according to Cherry's specifications of their MX Blue switches. The average actuation force for the main keys is 49.6 cN and the disparity of just ±3.18% is both excellent and expected on a keyboard with Cherry switches. Larger keys do require less force to reach the actuation point, but only the Space Bar key can be actually felt to have a lower actuation force.

The Cougar 450M Optical Gaming Mouse Cougar UIX System Software
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  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    Cougar Attack X3...heh, someone in the marketing department has a warped sense of humor...a very, very warped sense of humor. I'm surprised that wasn't caught by someone before their products went on sale. Reply
  • Murloc - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    I don't get what they should have caught, is it something about "X3"?

    Because regardless of other references, a cougar is a predatory animal that attacks, so it's a coherent naming scheme.
    Reply
  • xchaotic - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    A very quick google search on these dangerous animals got me: "Three Dangerous Cougars Snack On Some Sausage" You must be from another planet Murloc. Reply
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - link

    Your results must just be influenced by your web history then. No combination of this product's name gives me anything other than what I'd expect.

    "Cougar" and "Cougar attack" both bring up results related to the actual animal, and any combination of the two with "X3" show only results related to this product, and nothing else.
    Reply
  • Kepe - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    Does someone really use the mouse with their left hand? Especially someone who plays games? I'm as left-handed as a person can be, but I've always used the mouse with my right hand. I tried using my left for that when I was a kid and I never could get used to it, thankfully. Using the mouse with the left hand would also cause all kinds of difficulties with gaming. You'd basically have to re-map every single game's keyboard controls to fit you. Some games don't allow that (crappy console ports). Also, almost all proper (gaming) mice are designed to fit the contours of the right hand, so your mouse selection would be quite thin.. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    I do. I can use a mouse right handed just well enough to use a computer with desktop applications without screwing around with the layout; but don't have the speed or fine control needed to play any game much more complicated than Angry Birds well.

    I rarely remap keys though; moving the keyboard to the right so that I can comfortably use the left half with my right hand is generally the path of least resistance. The general exception is games that use WASD for movement + surrounding keys for stuff. I rarely play that sort of game; but when I do generally end up with arrows for movement and all the stuff keys either mapped to ctrl-alt-shift-enter or some of the 12 extra buttons on my Razer Naga mouse.
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    A couple of guys I used to work with uses mouse with their left hand. They are all right handed.

    I don't really know the reason. I guessed they are trained to do so in the past company. They used to work with a Bank, which required people to key a lot of numbers.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    I was thinking that the only reason a right handed person used a mouse with their left hand is because they are keying (ten key) in numbers. Reply
  • Ukyo - Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - link

    Yes that's the reason for most including me. I'm in finance so that should explain it... lol Reply
  • nikon133 - Monday, April 4, 2016 - link

    I'm left-handed and always game with left hand on mouse... but I do use right hand for office work. I think I'm doing my left hand a favor - resting it a bit from the same position/grip. I'm guessing your lefties ex-colleagues might be doing the same?

    With that being said... my right hand did get quite better with mouse control, originally I'd still swap mouse when working in Corel/Photoshop as I was missing accuracy... but not anymore. So I could probably try gaming with right hand as well. At this stage, I do re-map everything, and such a pain in the... lower back it is. I usually use numeric 4568 keys for movement, and then remap other commands around that. I have created some "standards" that work fairly good for me - Num 0 is always reload, for example... right and down arrow keys are jump/jetpac and crouch/prone... Num Enter is Use/Open door... etc.
    Reply

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