It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Das keyboard on our desk. The mechanical keyboard maker has been a big player in the revival of mechanical models in recent decades and is known for pioneering blank-key keyboards for confident touch typists. And over the years, Das has produced proven winners such as the Das Keyboard 4C TKL. Its latest flagship is built with the Mac in mind, but you don’t have to be an Apple user to enjoy the luxurious Das Keyboard MacTigr, a full-featured, low-profile keyboard with Cherry MX key switches. It would certainly please any advanced Apple user, except for the painful $219. The MacTigr is undoubtedly a top-notch keyboard, but next to more affordable Mac keyboard alternatives like the Logitech MX Mechanical, the value story isn’t as strong.
Das Design Goes Mac
As you can guess from the name, MacTigr is made primarily as a Mac keyboard. This means it has Mac-specific keys like the eject key on top and the Command key instead of the Control key. Unlike the latest Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, the MacTigr gets rid of about half a dozen function keys and replaces them with some dedicated shortcut keys and a volume rocker—a fair swap in my book.
When you pick up the board, you’ll find it surprisingly heavy. While many vendors spend time looking for ways to make their keyboards lighter, Das Keyboard decided that weight is actually a good thing. At 2.4 pounds, the MacTigr is almost three times heavier than a full-sized Magic Keyboard and about twice the weight of the Satechi Slim X3, thanks to its steel top plate and aluminum case. While it’s hefty, it boasts a relatively slim profile of 1.1 x 5 x 17.1 inches (HWD), putting it on par with the Logitech MX Mechanical. But it’s definitely a bulkier design than Apple’s traditional thin chiclet boards.
The keyboard circuit is put to good use by not just one, but two USB-C ports on the board for data transfer, charging and syncing with other devices. There’s no wireless or Bluetooth connectivity, a definite bummer at this price, just a cable with a USB-C connector. Flipping the keyboard over, you’ll find a rubber grip in each corner, but no feet to tilt the board into a typing angle. This is also disappointing – it would be nice to get some extra height and wrist support.
But the stars of the show are the soft-touch, dual PBT keys and the Cherry mechanical switches underneath. MacTigr uses low-profile Cherry MX linear switches. They’re quiet, with just a gentle click and about 45 grams of tactile force that makes every keystroke feel solid. The typing feel is perfect, a stark contrast to the scissor switch keyboards that make up most Mac desktop accessories.
Dull claws, missing fangs
If you’ve used other Das Keyboard products, you may already be familiar with the company’s unique Q Software. It allows you to download applets to add functionality to the keyboard using the board’s RGB lighting, say, to monitor CPU activity, notify you of incoming messages, or display weather updates. This tool is very intuitive if you are using a supported board.
The problem is that at the time of writing, there is no software Q feature available for the MacTigr, probably due to the lack of RGB lighting. Also, while there are profiles for several different games, you can’t customize the key functions like you can with other keyboard software. However, the keyboard offers a full N-key rollover that can be activated by pressing the Fn and Play keys. (N-key rollover is a term used to describe how many keys can be pressed at once, allowing you to press multiple keys at once and have all keys register as pressed.)
Another pain point will surely be the price of the MacTiger. It’s a richly featured keyboard with a sensational typing feel, but at $219 it’s likely to be a tough sell, beating out even the $199 Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, let alone Logitech’s $169.99 backlit wireless MX Mechanical. The included USB-C hub is a nice feature, and the soft-touch volume control and comfortable keys won me over, but it’s not a bargain.
No, alas, the king of tigers
Working with the Das MacTigr keyboard leaves us torn: We really like the keyboard, especially compared to Apple’s home-brand alternatives, but its high price, lack of wireless connectivity, and limited ergonomics offset its luxurious typing experience. If you have a use for dual USB-C ports and have the cash to burn, you’ll be thrilled with the MacTigr. For everyone else, the Logitech MX Mechanical remains our favorite Mac keyboard replacement, with the $89.99 Satechi Slim X3 a close second on the economy.