As an architect, you must spend a lot of time designing layouts of different structures on CAD software. Hence anything that could allow you to perform your tasks efficiently would be considered essential.
As such, good peripherals that have dedicated functionality to support your work are vital for any architect. In this article, we will look at one such category of peripherals, the best keyboards for architects.
Before continuing on, you must realize that there isn’t a dedicated set of keyboards designed specifically for Architects. In others, unlike gaming keyboards, or typing keyboards, there isn’t a separate segment for architecture or CAD-based keyboards.
In fact, there is literally only ONE popular keyboard out there that is tailor-made for CAD software, the 3D Connexion Keyboard Pro – I’ll discuss this below.
But instead of looking for a tailor-made keyboard for you, you should rather understand the important attributes or features a keyboard for architects should have – The most important of which is the programmable buttons feature.
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3D Connexion Keyboard Pro – Bespoke Keyboard for Architects
As alluded to earlier, there is literally only one keyboard out there that is tailor-made for professional CAD users and architects.
The hallmark feature that makes this a bespoke keyboard for architects is the 12+4 (12 on the keyboard 4 on the numpad) adaptable/programmable buttons on top that change their function depending upon the software you use.
They essentially provide you with a quick access bar for the most common tools and commands for the popular CAD software out there. You can check the supported CAD software here.
Low Profile | Chiclet/Scissor | Dished Keys
Wired Keyboard | Wireless/Wired Numpad
Programmable Keys- The Key to Best Keyboards for Architects (Pun Intended)
There are two main characteristics of keyboards that would determine your overall experience as an architect are:
- Comfort of Use
- Dedicated Programmable Keys
I will talk about the comfort of use below, but in reality, this isn’t as important of a metric as it is for typists and transcriptionists.
What is of paramount importance for architects is the fact that the keyboard SHOULD have a set of dedicated programmable keys.
Programmable keys, basically, allow you to assign tools, commands, and functions for ease of access.
For instance, you can assign a line tool to one of the buttons, explode function to another key or a very simple command like copy command to another.
The majority of the keyboards with programmable keys also have built-in memory which means that you can actually set different profiles and switch them on the go.
So you can have one profile for AutoCad, another for Sketchup, etc.
Or you can even have multiple profiles for the same software. For instance, if a keyboard has 5 programmable keys with 5 profiles, you could essentially have 25 programmable commands, tools, or functions at your disposal.
For having a plethora of programmable keys, you can actually take two routes:
- Full QWERTY Keyboard with a few Programmable Keys
- A separate Hotkey pad with a lot of programmable Keys
A Hotkey pad essentially complements your full QWERTY keyboard by giving you a lot of programmable keys you can set up for dedicated commands for your CAD program.
Mechanical Keyboard | Cherry MX Speed Switches | 6 Dedicated Macro Keys
Operating force = 42 gf (Very Light)
Pre/Total travel = 1.1 – 3.4 mm (Short / Responsive)
Onboard Memory – For setting different profiles
It has a rating of 9.6/10 overall on Rtings.com
Note: actuation force and travel distance specs taken from Rtings.com.
The Comfort Factor
I talked about the comfort factor earlier as one of the primary characteristics that would determine your overall experience as an architect.
Comfort, as a whole, is determined by two critical factors:
- Actuation Distance of the Keys
- Actuation Force required for the Keys
These terms are quite self-explanatory. Actuation Distance refers to the distance the key has to travel before it is registered. Shallow Keys means a faster experience but at the cost of accuracy. For deep keys, it is vice versa.
Actuation Force is the physical strength required to press the key. THIS IS THE MOST VITAL component for determining the overall comfort of the keyboard.
Lower actuation force means ease of use (but at the loss of accuracy), and heavy actuation force means higher accuracy but it can cause fatigue.
Rtings.com rates the actuation force as follows:
- < 45 gf – Very Light key presses
- 45 to 65 gf – Light key presses
- > 65 gf – Heavy key presses
For Comfort AIM for the Lightest Keys Possible
Since architects are neither typists, nor transcriptionists, speed, and accuracy aren’t as important a factor as comfort.
A low actuation force can hinder the accuracy ONLY if you are a professional typist who types 65 or more words per minute. For architects, not so much.
This brings me to the next important point: for comfort, mechanical keyboards are a no-brainer.
Mechanical vs Membrane
Mechanical Keyboards are an experience to behold. Mechanical keyboards essentially give you the option to CHOOSE the type of keys you want i.e heavy, light, high actuation distance, low actuation distance, loud, quiet, tactile, clicky, linear, etc.
The ones I recommend are keyboards that require the least amount of force. The Corsair K100 recommended above has one of the lightest keys with an actuation force of only 42 gf.
The other type of keyboard is your average membrane keyboard. These can be found either featuring the large rubber dome switches or the low-profile scissor switches.
Low-profile scissor switches are quite popular. Their hallmark feature is that they offer the LOWEST actuation distance. However, they are often heavy and require quite a bit of force as compared to mechanical keyboards.
Take for instance the popular Split-Design Ergonomic Logitech Ergo K860. It offers low-profile scissor switches, but its keys have an actuation force requirement of a whopping 69 gf!
In fact, even the most important scissor-switch keyboard, the Apple Magic Keyboard has an actuation force of 64 gf!
In other words, Low-Profile DOES NOT equate to Comfort. The following table explains this more.
It compares the popular raised vs popular low-profile keyboards.
|Apple Magic||Low Profile
|64 gf||1.3 mm|
|Logitech MX Keys||Low Profile
|Logitech ERGO K860||Low Profile
|SteelSeries Apex Pro||Raised
|Corsair K100 RGB||Raised
You can see that the mechanical keyboards, despite being raised, are far more comfortable as compared to low-profile keyboards.
You can read more on Rtings.com
Is Logitech Craft the Right Keyboard for Architects?
You will find many out there recommending Logitech Craft as the best keyboard for architects but is it really so?
Unfortunately, while this is an excellent keyboard for designers, it does not YET feature support for Autodesk or other CAD software.
The dial feature on this keyboard is currently enhanced for Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Suite.
Hence, we do not recommend this keyboard at least until the functionality is added for the most used professional engineering and architecture software.
Also Read: Best Keyboards for Long Nails
Architecture can be a challenging profession and demands that you have an efficient computer along with its accessories for performing your tasks productively.
If you feel like you can improve your efficiency for processes such as drafting, it’s time that you ditch your old regular keyboard and get a more appropriate one.
Again, there aren’t a whole lot of dedicated keyboards for CAD. But the beauty is that with the right keyboards – a keyboard with programmable buttons – you can make your customized keyboard for any CAD software as an architect.