It’s hard to stand out in the crowded mechanical keyboard market, but Metadot’s Das Keyboard line attempts to differentiate itself by focusing on highly functional keyboards that make up for their lack of visual flair with sturdy construction, excellent switches, and desirable features like USB passthroughs and a high-quality scroll wheel.
The Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate is a flagship deck with a very special optional feature: blank keycaps. This intriguing design choice, in conjunction with the modern design and extra features, definitely helps the 4 Ultimate stand out despite the relatively high price point.
The most obvious, and unusual, characteristic of this keyboard is the fact that the ABS keycaps are blank. There’s nothing printed on them whatsoever, which gives the 4 Ultimate a monolithic, uniform look that you’ll probably either love, or find off-putting.
There’s no real advantage to this from a user perspective, other than aesthetic, though this is an excellent way to teach people how to type, or to challenge those who rely on looking down as they type to break the habit.
At the end of the day, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a defining characteristic that sets the 4 Ultimate apart. It’s also available with printed keycaps as well, though you’ll be missing out on what makes this keyboard so unique if you go that route.
All the rest
The 4 Ultimate has a very monochromatic, minimalistic feel that adds a sophisticated, modern sensibility. There’s no brightly colored plastic, and no garish lights; this is about as simple and functional a mechanical keyboard as you’ll find, from a design perspective. The anodized aluminum top panel is black, as is everything else, except for a nice hint of red on the large scroll wheel. That metal faceplate adds a sense of stability and durability that is missing from a lot gaming keyboards.
This is decidedly not a keyboard designed exclusively for gaming, and though the switches are sufficiently versatile, Metadot is apparently targeting the office and typing crowd with the 4 Ultimate.
It’s certainly a simple keyboard, possibly to a fault, depending on your preference. There is no RGB lighting whatsoever, just the deep blacks of the keys and the chassis. If you’re looking for color or customization, you’ll want to look elsewhere. If you want a super simple, modern deck, the 4 Ultimate is probably exactly what you had in mind.
Choose your color
For most people, looks are probably less important than your typing experience. At the end of the day, a keyboard is for typing, not a conversation piece, and the most obvious way your typing will be impacted is by the choice of switches.
Cherry MX switches are pretty much the gaming standard for a reason. They’re durable, feel great to use, and there’s a variety of different tactile responses to choose from depending on your preferences. You can get the 4 Ultimate with Brown or Blue Cherry switches, and though they vary pretty dramatically in terms of feel, both are excellent choices.
Cherry MX brown switches have a softer feel, with a bump about halfway through the key press.They’re less clicky than the blues, and are probably a better choice for use in an office. The Cherry Blue switches are quite loud, which can be a plus or minus depending on who you ask, but the 60g actuation force results in a very pleasant typing experience. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and either version of the 4 Ultimate is going to offer up a solid typing experience.
A large scroll wheel sits up top, near the three media buttons, and it’s a pleasure to use. It has the perfect amount of durability and resistance, and is dramatically better than the small, cheap feeling plastic scroll wheels you’ll often see. The media keys can be used to pause, mute, switch tracks, or put your computer to sleep, though they are a little mushier than I would have liked.
One of the most exciting features about the 4 Ultimate is the inclusion of two 5 Gb/s USB 3.0 passthroughs on the back. I’m not always a huge fan of this feature, as it means the inclusion of another USB cable necessary to power the ports, but because of the lack of RGB lighting, the 4 Ultimate gets away with just one. This is a huge advantage, and one of my favorite things about the 4 Ultimate.
That USB cable is also very long, which is a nice plus. I do wish it was braided, and I always prefer detachable cables, especially in this higher price range, but the extra length, and the fact it only takes up one port is certainly appreciated.
A final feature worth noting is the rather odd inclusion of a removable magnetic footbar in the place of elevated feet. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind this, and I certainly don’t understand why it also can be used as a ruler. I’ve never wished my keyboard could be used to measure things, and frankly would have preferred more traditional adjustable feet. I appreciate the willingness to experiment, but I don’t think it paid off in this case.
That’s pretty much it as far as features go. There are no macro keys, and as mentioned before, no RGB lighting. This is decidedly not a keyboard designed exclusively for gaming, and though the switches are sufficiently versatile, Metadot is apparently targeting the office and typing crowd with the 4 Ultimate.
The 4 Ultimate is an all-around interesting keyboard. It’s clearly targeted toward those who want a straightforward, modern aesthetic, and aren’t particularly interested in the features of most gaming keyboards in this price range.
What is here is top-notch though. The scroll wheel especially stands out as a thoughtful inclusion, both functionally and aesthetically, and the USB 3.0 passthroughs are absolutely welcome.
The switches are solid, though the value of the printless keycaps is entirely subjective. I could see how this no-frills look would fit in perfectly in an office or a minimalist build, though it certainly isn't for everyone.
For the right person though, someone who wants an elegantly designed keyboard with high quality switches and appreciates an understated look, the Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate could be exactly what you’re looking for.