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Das Keyboard 4 Professional Mechanical Keyboard Review

Das Keyboard is now one with the fourth generation, and has delivered the Das Keyboard 4 Professional to get our opinion on it. Let's take a close look.

@chad_sebring
Published Thu, Jun 12 2014 9:04 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:00 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Das Keyboard

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

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Das Keyboard has been in the mechanical keyboard game as long as I have been aware of non-IBM solutions, and has always seemed to have an aura of prestige surrounding not only their products, but the company as a whole. This is due to their ability to deliver products that are solid, sturdy, and well thought out. Additionally, once you have your hands-on their products, you can see that there is much more time and effort put into the design than other companies are willing to devote. This allows Das Keyboard to set themselves away from the masses of other companies offering more mundane solutions with fancy lights and "gaming" features to compensate for their lack of style and grace.

We have had the pleasure of trying out Das Keyboard when we took a look at the Model S Professional keyboard some time ago. Even then we were impressed with what Das Keyboard brought to the table. It was just a shame we had to return that keyboard, as we really thought it would spend a few years under our fingers typing out these reviews. Ever since that keyboard was sent back, there have been thoughts of someday getting back to their keyboards, and enjoying what they have to offer someone who has went from a full time gamer, into someone who now spends much less time on the WASD keys, and much more time on all the other keys.

The time has finally arrived for Das Keyboard to seek us out for our opinion on one of the two latest keyboards to hit the market. Both designs are ninety-nine percent identical, and that one percent left is a major change in appearance. The keyboard we will be looking at today is the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, which features an all black appearance, and laser etched key caps with a new font. The second version of the Das Keyboard 4 is named the "Ultimate," and this solution offers blanked out keycaps and black painting on the multimedia keys rather than the white used on the Professional.

Now that introductions are over, let's get down to the cold, hard facts of why this Das Keyboard 4 Professional should be your next choice; especially for the typists out there.

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Das Keyboard also provides a very thorough set of three "charts," as we usually call them, but in reality these are listings of "Features," "Information," and "Even More Information," as they are titled. The main product information listed in the first box covers six main inclusions to this design. These are built around either brown, or as in our sample, blue Cherry MX gold plated switches. It then goes on to mention the multimedia keys, and oversized volume knob. The keyboard is not only USB 3.0, but it also offers a pair of ports on the back for speedy 5 GB/s transfers, without having to reach for the PC. This is a first to us, and it is quite impressive.

Along with laser etched keys, and bumps present on the home keys, Das also offers an instant sleep button near the multimedia keys; they say this button is to save energy, but it is a great way to hide anything "questionable" when a coworker walks in the office as well.

The second box dives a bit deeper into the features of the 4 Professional. Here they cover the 104-key layout of the keyboard (which we will be seeing in the U.S. layout), and they also mention a key addition for UK, NO, and DE layouts. They also add something called a "footbar" rather than adjustable feet in the back. This is red, magnetically attaches, and offers a SAE and Metric ruler on each edge. Das also lets us know that they extended the cable longer than most, if not all, other solutions we have seen, to over 200mm in length. The last bits here cover the physical dimensions of the keyboard, along with its weight of 2.9 pounds.

The last section explains that this keyboard supports full NKRO, but it must be turned on, otherwise it offers six-key instead. It then goes on to tell us of the anodized, textured aluminum top panel of this design that goes along well with the brushed aluminum volume knob and its red trim ring. It also says that this keyboard is firmware updateable, if updates should become available. Lastly, it covers the PC requirements to getting the Das Keyboard 4 Professional up and running on your desktop.

You will find that the cost of the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is a bit on the high side, but you do get what you pay for with a keyboard such as this. Keep in mind though, it's not all fancy with LEDs, splashes of odd angles, and odd design elements to distract from the fact that they used just enough to get by. Also keep in mind that this keyboard is more for those with typing in mind, rather than gaming and surfing the net.

Both the Ultimate and the Professional are going to be found with pricing at, or slightly above the $150 U.S. dollar mark. While there are solutions at half the price, the components used, the thought in the detail, and the overall design are something that most other keyboards just cannot offer. As we said earlier, for the office environment, you will be hard pressed to find something quite like what you are about to see (or not see in the instance of the key caps on the Ultimate version).

PRICING: You can find the DAS KEYBOARD 4 PROFESSIONAL for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The DAS KEYBOARD 4 PROFESSIONAL retails for $169.00 at Amazon.

Packaging, Accessories and Documentation

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Considering the name of this product is the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, it is no surprise that the packaging is simply done, without a mess of features and random garbage mucking it up. Remember this is for typists and professionals, and is not intended to give gamers what they are after.

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On the smaller end of the package we find a blue panel with just the name of the product inside, along with a thin box showing this contains a blue switch version, and that these switches are "clicky," and will be heard.

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Even on the longer side they keep things simple; only the colors have changed as we are once again presented the naming, and switch type.

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On this end, the naming has been cut short so that the bar codes could be applied. This is also one of the two places that the model number and serial number are presented.

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The back is where they chose to offer everything up to their potential customers. Down the left, backed in blue, is a list of features, along with the system requirements. To the right there is a side view of the keyboard, and below it there are eight feature lists presented in multiple languages to cover their markets.

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Inside the box you will find the 4 Professional wrapped in a foam sleeve to protect the keyboard from any vibrations that might wear any of the surfaces. Just behind the keyboard is where the USB cable is stored, and on top of that is the red footbar.

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Using a bit of "l337" speak, Das hides this message, "7h3 f007b4r rul35," or "the footbar rules." This is a double entendre; in one way a magnetically attached system for the feet is really cool, but the footbar does actually rule as well, meaning it can measure with rulers on both of its edges.

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All that comes in the box other than the keyboard and the footbar is this single sheet of paper. This sheet explains the installation, how to turn on NKRO, as well as support information, social media information, and a "thank you" from Das Keyboard.

Das Keyboard 4 Professional Mechanical Keyboard

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Looking from the left side of the keyboard, we see that the top plate is larger than the base frame, and it will make this much easier to grip and move. We can also see that while the keyboard is flat on the table, the key caps are definitely leaning away from the user.

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The seventy-four key layout is given to us with a U.S. layout, and with a new font used on the keys for easier readability. Pretty standard stuff here, aside from the fact both of the Windows keys have Das Keyboard logos on them.

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The caps are cylindrical in shape, and are textured to offer finger tips a bit of grip and resistance with each key press. The legends are not painted, they are laser etched, and there are home key bumps on both the "F" and the "J" keys.

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Off to the right, we are given the other thirty keys for commands, and the number pad. A few of the keys on the number pad do double duty, but these keys are easy to read, and with the brightness of the legends against the black, they will be easy to find even in low light.

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As a little extra bonus, we also get multimedia keys offering play or pause, and reversing or forwarding. Above those keys there is a mute button, and a large dial to easily adjust the sound. Lastly, to the left of the lock LEDs, there is an instant sleep button easily within range.

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As we look at the right edge of the keyboard, with the footbar now installed, we find the keys are elevated enough at the back to have all the caps slightly leaning forward now. This makes the keyboard easier to use.

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As we start to move around to the back of the keyboard, we run right into the dual USB 3.0 ports. Of course, this is all reverse compatible, but having USB 3.0 for a thumb drive right at the keyboard will be very handy to have.

Das Keyboard 4 Professional Continued

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The six and a half foot of cable comes out of the middle of the back. The cabling is rubberized, and it terminates in a USB 3.0 connection that has also been gold plated.

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Under the keyboard, we find a virtually flat panel with four rubber pads applied. The two at the front are straight, and at the corners for the best support and grip, but at the back they are boxed off. This makes the footbar much easier to just slap into place.

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Just proving that no detail is too small, even when it came down to the choice of the product sticker under the board, Das Keyboard still kept it all classy, and offers this information on a brushed aluminum plaque, rather than going cheap on a paper sticker that will wear off.

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To add the footbar to the base of the keyboard, all you need to do is nestle one end into the boxed off rear pad, and just lower it until the magnets take over and grab ahold of it.

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At each end of the footbar you will find these small, yet strong, magnets that keep the footbar hooked onto the bottom of the keyboard; they do a great job, as ours has not yet fallen off.

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Looking at the obverse from the last image, we can see that the footbar is imprinted with the Das Keyboard naming. If you look at the front edge, there is also a metric ruler offered. The trailing edge, or the one to the back now, offers the same thing, but in inches rather than millimeters.

Inside the 4 Professional

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Grabbing one of our many key pullers (since one is not offered with this keyboard), we do in fact find the tactile Cherry MX blue switches. These will offer fair resistance when pressed, and will give an audible click at the activation point, as well as a clack when the caps bottom out on the steel plate.

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Each cap is color molded in black, so there are no paints or coatings to wear off like many other caps out there. As we mentioned, rather than printing the logos with paint, these are laser etched deeply, are easy to feel, and will last for a long time to come.

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Disassembly is very simple, and only requires a few screws to be removed; none of which are hidden. This allowed us to separate the aluminum top panel from the plastic base, and as the orange arrow points to, we can see the magnets applied in the base that grab onto that footbar.

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When we first got inside, we found that to remove the main PCB, and get this PCB out of the base, we had to remove some screws. These PCBs were both screwed down to solidify this design as much as possible. This PCB is where all the magic happens though; all of the controllers are here, and communication to the keys is carried over through the ribbon cable.

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We removed that paper sticker from the IC that was way to the left in the last image; we found it was hiding the Nuvoton NU0123 naming of the 32-bit Cortex MCU, which is used to handle all of the traffic from the keyboard to the PC.

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Flipping that PCB over, right near the volume control knob, we also find the VLI VL012-Q7 IC. This VIA chip is new to us, and rightly so, considering that this is the USB 3.0 hub controller used in this design.

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Finally, we get down to the main PCB and the workmanship inside. We see very clean solder points, and no remains of flux anywhere. This can be said for both PCBs; they are some of the cleanest to date actually. Also, this and the steel plate are screwed into the chassis to help eliminate any vibrations from key clicks.

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At this point we have the Das Keyboard 4 Professional all back together, and powered up for our initial testing. We can see that once the locks are activated, they are denoted with blue LEDs up by the media keys.

Final Thoughts

After much time, and quite a few reviews typed up with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional, we are very impressed. Just on the basic levels, there is so much in this design to enjoy. There is the obvious: the use of Cherry MX blue, or brown switches. With these, users can either enjoy more resistance and noise from their typing with the blues, or do it a bit softer, and in near silence with the browns. The 32-bit ARM Cortex MCU chosen is a powerhouse for a design such as this, and it allows for full NKRO support via USB. On that note as well –offering a keyboard with native USB 3.0 connectivity is not only a first for us, but it's something anyone at their desk can appreciate. Plugging in extra USB devices can't get much easier than reaching for the back edge of the keyboard, unless someone designs a way for them to plug themselves in. Even with a new USB hub controller from VIA for us to test, we were pleased with our near 5 GB/s transfers we were getting through it.

There is all that good stuff we have talked about, and we haven't even gotten into aesthetics, bells and whistles, or the feel of the 4 Professional yet. The Aesthetics are right on point for the office, or for someone who works from home and wants something outside of the realm of the usual suspects. With the textured aluminum top, the black on black layout, and touches of white and red (mainly in the top right corner where that large, but yet somehow pleasing looking volume knob is located) are all very pleasing.

Then, of course, there is the feel of the product, and here Das Keyboard does not disappoint either. Taking the time to screw down the steel plate eliminates vibrations that will, and have in other samples, leave fingertips a bit numb from the resonance. Here it is just smooth sailing across the Cherry MX blue switches. On that note as well, while greens are still my favorite, it does not take long to get used to both the noise, and the force required to hit that activation point. For those with heavy fingers, you will bottom out the caps as well, making even more audible noise, but o-ring sets will help eliminate that if you wish to just hear the click of the keys, rather than the clack of them hitting the plate.

We know there are a few of our readers out there that would look at a keyboard like this and scoff at how it's missing LEDs, Macros, and all the things that make a "gaming" product these days. Once the pricing gets put into the equation, these readers will soon walk away saying we are all crazy to recommend such a product. For this reason, we have two points to cover. First, with a name like Das Keyboard 4 Professional, we don't expect it to appeal to gaming enthusiasts; it was not designed with that market in mind.

Also, there is a feel and presence that is just hard to explain. It is much like a professional grade tool; it may say so on the box, but once it is in your hands, you know in seconds that you have gotten a hold of something that stands above the rest. Even with what is considered a relatively high price for a keyboard, if you have never tried a DAS keyboard, the 4 Professional is a great keyboard to start with. Also, don't forget about the Ultimate version that offers blanked out key caps. It will amaze your friends and coworkers, and also raise your "l337n355" level.

PRICING: You can find the DAS KEYBOARD 4 PROFESSIONAL for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The DAS KEYBOARD 4 PROFESSIONAL retails for $169.00 at Amazon.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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