We’re no strangers to expensive mechanical keyboards around here, but a popular Twitch streamer just showed all his subscribers how deep the keyboard rabbit hole can go. Turner “Tfue” Tenney just got his hands on his new custom keyboard, which is a one-of-its-kind creation that cost him about $3,500.
The project came to be when Tfue met Tae Ha Kim, who builds fully custom keyboards under the name Taeha Types. Kim doesn’t consider himself a designer but rather a middleman who can find and assemble the necessary components. Sometimes that means getting his hands on hard-to-find components like Norbauer cases, but other times he works with a manufacturer to make a new component from scratch.
For Tfue’s keyboard, Kim worked with a custom manufacturer called Keycult to get the case and PCB. Keycult makes keyboards in very small batches, but it also accepts commissions that start around $2,000. This case was somewhat more because it’s fully custom, featuring Tfue’s handle milled into the bezel and a fancy purple-blue anodizing job. Having seen a lot of custom keyboards in my time, I can say I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Most custom mechanical keyboards come from suppliers that manufacture them in small batches. A “group buy” lets enthusiasts band together to reach the necessary minimum order quantity (MOQ) — it’s like a pre-order except the buyers accept all the risk instead of a retailer. The keyboard commissioned by Tfue is not necessarily better than those keyboards, but it is much more rare. Therefore, it’s astronomically more expensive.
The board has many of the features you’d see in other custom keyboards. It uses the popular 60 percent form factor, which means no dedicated arrows, f-row, and function keys. It also has NovelKeys Cream switches, which are a medium-weight linear switch that’s become quite popular among enthusiasts. The entire housing is POM plastic, which is a “self-lubricating” material that allows for smoother movement. These switches are expensive ($6.50 for 10), and they’re often out of stock. On top of the switches, Kim used a keyset called GMK Striker, which was only available in a limited run last year for about $150.
Put that all together, and you have a $3,500 keyboard. Clearly, the most spendy part was the custom housing. That’s the cost of having something truly custom — so many of the things we buy are affordable only because they’re manufactured on a large scale. No one else has Tfue’s keyboard, though.
- How to Build a Star Trek: The Next Generation Mechanical Keyboard
- Building a Compact, Powerful Mechanical Keyboard for Travel
- Cherry Unveils New ‘Viola’ Mechanical Keyboard Switch