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Keychron Was THIS CLOSE 🤏 To Demolishing Logitech’s Best Ergonomic Mouse For Half The Price

All I wanted was an ergonomic mouse that performed like a gaming mouse, and at $49.99 the Keychron M6 comes so close and whiffs it.

A hand holding up the Keychron K6 in front of some shadees.

You were the chosen one!

There is an endless sea of gaming mice out there – hundreds of perfectly boring, ultralight pointing devices, many perforated like swiss cheese or lotus root. Ergonomic mice, on the other hand, are a much more locked down market. If you want the best one, you’re likely gonna have to pony up some cash to big daddy Logitech. And that’s why I am monumentally bummed by the KeyChron M6, which tries to beat Logitech at their own game and almost succeeds.

“Ergonomic mouse” as a term can be broad. But for me personally, it means a mouse that contours to fit the shape of your hand and reduce excess strain. In the keyboard world, this is done by staggering the columns to reduce hand strain, and splitting the keyboard in half to allow your hands to rest naturally apart from each other. A truly ergonomic keyboard will also feature some degree of tenting – tilting each of the sides of a split keyboard at an angle to more accurately follow where the wrists naturally fall. Ergonomic mice will often (but not always) do this too, with the thumb wrapped around the mouse instead of resting at the side, tilted slightly sideways. Some mice are fully vertical. And there is a strong case to be made that the most ergonomic pointing device is a trackball, since your arm doesn’t move at all, and I agree with adherents to this view on principle.

Logitech has done a good job dominating the ergonomic mouse lane for a very long time (outside of Razer’s Basilisk line, which are really fucking ugly mice) but as we have established in a previous blog, I despise mouse software just on general principle. The crown jewels of Logitech’s ergonomic mouse lineup remain their productivity line, in particular the MX Ergo trackball, the sideways MX Vertical and Lift, and most importantly the MX Master. There are others (the pricy and garish G502 X Plus for example), but I have yet to be impressed with any of them.

The MX Master S3, The MX Vertical and Lift.
(From left to right) The MX Master 3S, MX Vertical, and Lift are all aimed at professionals, look good, and have a great feel to them. The Darkfield sensor in the MX Master 3S is optimized to work on glass, has a max dpi of 8000 and polls at 125Hz, which is awful by gaming standards and would only be relevant to me if I didn't use a mousepad.

The thing is though, Logitech has been getting lazy and confident. There is no pressure to improve the internals of these things because they’re aimed squarely at designers and not deviants who desolder their mouse switches for fun. These are well made but deeply unserious mice, aimed at upper-middle class professionals, which would explain the (I am guessing product placed) presence of Logitech’s Ergo line in the 2022 Stephen Soderbergh covid lockdown thriller Kimi, about an agoraphobic work-from-home tech support technician who uncovers a web of deception around a smart speaker from her gargantuan loft in Seattle.

Zoë Kravitz's character in the pretty solid movie Kimi uses (I think) a Logitech Pebble Mouse and ERGO K860. The Ergo and Master series are the ones aimed at tech professionals. Later, an evil Russian-coded hacker that lives with his mom uses a CoolerMaster Devestator to stalk her for the company.

This is why when Keychron announced the M6 mouse, me and a bunch of nerds at r/MouseReview freaked out. Here was Keychron making a mouse seemingly identical in form factor to Logitech’s MX Master, but with the guts of a gaming mouse. It has a similar shape, a familiar side scroll, and a switch to toggle the top wheel from infinite to tactile scroll. What’s more, it’s lightweight, it features a Pixart 3395 sensor (one of the best out there for gaming), a 1000Hz polling rate (really as high as the human eye can notice), Huano Blue transparent pink dot switches (nice, nice), both a USB-A and USB-C dongle along with Bluetooth (I’m liking what I’m hearing), and all clocking in for $49.99, half the MSRP of the Logitech. It also runs on some very lightweight software that you have to download from some guy’s Google Drive account, which only runs when you want it to run and doesn’t pull any sneaky bullshit. The perfect fusion of gaming and productivity.

This brings us to Keychron as a company. Keychron makes ‘fine’ products. I would not say they are uniformly great, as the build quality on their lower end models will sometimes leave a little bit to be desired, but where they shine is features. If you want a Bluetooth keyboard with hot swappable switches that runs open source firmware, Keychron is your cheapest entrypoint that isn’t DIY. And over the years they have proven themselves more willing to listen to consumer feedback and adapt faster than other companies. I like to see a company that is hungry, wants to win, and is willing to listen to freaks like me. I immediately bought the mouse and posted about it when I had the chance.

That rattle is not good.

The bad news came before the mouse even arrived. A follower of mine, Dave, on Twitter (that’s what it’s called) reported several things that were less than stellar about their M6, and when it arrived I confirmed a lot of them. Let’s start with a basic one: this mouse does not feel as good as it should. Keychron boasts about the light weight of this mouse, but to the touch the case has more flex than I feel comfortable with. The side-clicks and rotary scroll are also a step down from something like Logitech. But the big one, I gotta say, is the main scroll wheel. This thing rattles, man. Something about how the rotary encoder works is just fundamentally off, and based on disassembling it I believe it is the way they printed the mechanism that enables and disables the infinite scroll. This is a pity, because the actual clicking feels pretty solid, it pairs instantly, and when it works it works.

I tore a ribbon cable trying to modify the scroll wheel, but there's a good mouse in there. Maybe I can 3D print a housing for it later.

This is the most depressed I have ever become because of a gaming mouse. I got so desperate that I tore a ribbon cable attempting to modify the scroll wheel. You are so close, Keychron. I don’t like taking sides with companies on principle, but I want you to win this one. I want someone to scare the everloving bejesus out of companies like Logitech. Barring a total rethinking of how mouse hardware works, I want someone, anyone, to make an ergonomic mouse that’s cutting edge, reasonably affordable, and doesn’t require bullshit software. Hell, take a swing at vertical mice like the MX Vertical/Lift while you’re at it! All the parts for an incredible mouse are quite literally there with the M6, just bring it back to the drawing board, tighten up that scroll wheel, fix the case, maybe tweak the side buttons and you are golden. You are so close. I believe in you.

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