Vortex RACE 3

The Vortex RACE 3 is almost the perfect size with all the keys I need. Don't get me wrong. I love the size and feel of my Vortex CORE 40% keyboard. I actually feel faster typing on in than any other keyboard...except when I am writing code. This is what led me to getting the Vortex RACE 3. Vortex CORE 40% keyboard, my muscle memory just could not convert to the "chording" and key combinations for characters regularly used when writing code and typing on the command line. I have played piano for many years but simply did not have the patience. The characters giving me the most issues include:

Tab { } [ ] \ | ' " ? / + =

In addition, because I deal with typing IP addresses a lot, it gets to be a little irritating when you need to type a large set of IP addresses, the period (.), colon (:) and forward slash for CIDR notations. I could go through some of the finger gymnastics for the arrow keys, but I could not get passed the special characters. Reprogramming keys also would not have been able to replicate the locations of the special characters to where I expected them simply because of the lack of real estate.

Rather than patiently developing the muscle memory for the 40% keyboard, I sought out a keyboard that had the same look and feel as my beloved 40%. I did not want a number pad but I needed the arrow keys and the special characters to be where I remember them. That led me to the Vortex RACE 3 with Cherry MX Blue switches.

Once I got this keyboard, I was immediately more productive when writing code or typing on the command line. Everything was where it was supposed to be, with only a slight increase in size. I did notice some differences that still made me long for my Vortex CORE 40% keyboard. First, they did not sound the same even though they both had Cherry MX Blue switches. The Vortex CORE 40% keyboard had a crisper click compared to the Vortex RACE 3's lower and more "jumbled" sounds. The likely reason is that the larger size of the case has changed the dynamics of the sound and feel of the switches as they click. The RACE 3 has a distinctively hollower sound. In addition, if feels like the Vortex RACE 3's switches were easier to press down compared to the Vortex CORE 40% keyboard.

Lastly, although this keyboard had all the keys I needed, it did have keys I did not need...namely the function keys (e.g. F1, F2, etc.). Of course, this is personal preference and I continue to seek the best mechanical keyboard that gives me only the keys I personally need while eliminating all the keys I don't so that I can maximize my desk space to have that "clean" look for when people come over :-) . Could it be this keyboard?

Conclusion

The Vortex RACE 3 is almost perfect for me. The sounds it generates is not as satisfying to me (it's just me) and the size is just one row too high. If the next iteration simply removed the function row at the top, I think that would be it. In addition, I should have selected a non-clicky switch such as the Cherry MX Reds. The sound of the click and the lower tone of the case make for an odd sound combination when bottoming out. I use it as a daily for coding but I occasionally go back to my Vortex CORE 40% keyboard when I start to miss that feeling of clean and crisp clicking (kind of like driving a two-seater roadster). But like a mini-van, when you really need to get things done, the extras of the Vortex RACE 3 makes life so much easier. If you need a mechanical keyboard without compromises, this is the one for you.