Thanks for stopping by and checking out our Topre Realforce R2 Keyboard review. I spent a couple weeks at work with the Realforce R2 Keyboard (Model R2-US5-BK). It is a sturdy, full-size keyboard with the legendary Topre Capacitive key switches. Read on to hear about my experience with the keyboard from Japanese company Fujitsu and to check out some of the photos I took of the keyboard.
What’s in the Box?
- Quick start guide in English
- Quick start guide in Japanese
Most of the keyboards we’ve reviewed in the past come with a bunch of extras like more keycaps, a keycap puller, and other promotional materials. Given the capacitive switches, the Realforce keyboard isn’t meant to be pulled apart so we can’t fault Topre there. The box itself is a simple two-tone red and black with an overview of the features on the back. Just like the keyboard itself, the packaging isn’t ostentatious like products from many gaming brands.
Topre Realforce R2 Ratings
Below, I’ve rated the Topre Realforce Keyboard in three key categories: switches, build, and value.
The 55g soft tactile feeling keys are a joy to type on (they also offer 30g, 35g, and 45g models). I’ve experienced Gateron, Cherry, and Kailh switches and these Topre switches are my favorite to type on so far. I think I’d still prefer Cherry MX Reds for gaming, but for a fast, comfortable typing experience I’m hooked on these Topres. The 55g actuation resistance and 4mm of key travel distance seems to be my sweet spot between reducing typos and being easy enough to actuate to still type really fast. By definition, capacitive switches are activated via electricity. There’s still a subtle tactile bump with each press, however, there’s is no hysteresis to fetter your keystrokes. Put simply, the keystroke is smooth and satisfying.
The 55g switches on the Realforce keyboard kind of make a “thunky” sound when actuated. It is a novel sound to me — I’m used to a clicky sound or little sound at all when it comes to keyboards. Certainly, this sound would be far less annoying than say a blue switch to co-workers or if you share a space at home with anyone.
How does a Topre Switch work? Instead of bits of metal and plastic sliding against each other registering each key press (like a Cherry MX switch), the resistance of these keys comes from the depression of a rubber dome. The rubber dome is pushed down and compresses a spring. Underneath the spring, is where the capacitive sensor lies. When the spring is depressed, the sensor will detect the key press. The sensor will only register a key press if and when the capacitance crosses a certain threshold. As you can see, no metal or plastic parts are sliding together here. The mechanism by which the Topre switch works has led to much debate in the keyboard enthusiast community. Is it mechanical? Or is it just a glorified rubber dome? Whatever it is, the Topre switches feel great and its switches score a 9.5.
As you may have heard, the Topre keyboards are made in Japan by a company called Fujitsu. Their commitment to quality is apparent, the Realforce R2 makes me think of offerings from Das Keyboard. This black version of the Realforce R2 is a lovely looking keyboard. The rhino like greyish black keycaps are stunning and stand in contrast to the flat black of the backplate as well as the glossy rectangle that contains the Realforce logo and four LED indicators. In line with the backplate and keycaps, the lettering on the keys is black too. It is stylish and more forgiving then removing the lettering altogether. Overall the R2 offers a minimal and professional aesthetic which appeals to my preference toward less is more.
The Realforce keyboard is solid with plenty of heft which helps keep it rooted in place, with or without the two feet extended in the back. As one would expect from a keyboard in this price range, there’s cable routing along the backside. The keycaps on the keyboard employ what Realforce calls a ‘step sculpture’ design which is supposed to offer a more ergonomic typing experience.
As you can see from the image below, each row of keys is angled a little differently. It isn’t a massive difference, but it does seem a bit easier to press keys on the lower rows (the ones closest to me). All-in-all Topre’s attention to detail resulted in a build score of 9 out of 10.
Fujitsu is selling their Realforce R2 Keyboards for $258 at the time of this writing. The Realforce keyboards are a rarer species then say a Razer or Steelseries keyboard and can be more difficult to find in the United States than most other brands. I did find many of their keyboards for sale on Amazon. It also appears that availability may be on the rise, as Fujitsu has become the official licensed distributor for Realforce in the US.
It is impossible for me to say that at $250, this keyboard is a tremendous value. It is a gorgeous keyboard that provides an extremely satisfying typing experience. Nevertheless, there are many top tier keyboards such as the WASD V3 Mechanical Keyboard well under $250. Their full-size, WASD 3 board that can be customized comes in at $160. Sure, it isn’t Japanese made and not nearly as unique but the build quality is just as good. On the other hand, most folks looking at keyboards at these price points aren’t really that concerned about price. But the fact remains, $250 is a tall order for a keyboard without backlighting or swappable keys. The Realforce R2 keyboard scores a 6 out of 10 in our value category.
Zoom In: Specs
Here’s how the Realforce R2 measures up.
- Price: $258
- Feel: Soft Tactile; Light to Medium Force
- Sound Level: Quiet to Low
- Actuation Force: 55g
- Key Travel Distance: 4mm
- Key Design: Step Sculpture
- N-Key Rollover: Full N-Key Rollover
- Cable Length: 5.2 feet (1.6m)
- Keyboard Dimensions: 5.6 x 17.9 x 1.2 inches (142 x 455 x 30mm)
- Software: Realforce Software
Zoom Out: Summary
A rarer species of keyboard that originates from Japan. The Realforce R2 is delightful to type on and the Topre switches offer a novel experience to someone like myself who is used to mechanical switches.
Topre Realforce R2 Keyboard Review
Switch - 9.5/10
Build - 9/10
Value - 6/10
The Topre Realforce R2 is a stunning, professional looking keyboard that’s a joy to type on. The thunk of each key press is sure to please both gamers and typists.