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Das Keyboard 4 root edition Review

  REVIEW

Updated on: 22 March, 2021
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 7 Minutes
Das Keyboard 4 root edition Review
Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay (Source: Pixabay)

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition is a solid mechanical keyboard that includes either the Cherry MX Brown or Blue key switches. It comes with the reputation of Das Keyboard, known for their reliable and well built designs.


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Das Keyboard 4 root edition Summary

Das Keyboard 4 root edition

A high quality mechanical keyboard with a solid set of features for general or office use. If you do need the USB 3.0 hub of the Professional model, the root edition is a better buy. Available with either Cherry MX Brown or Blue switches. Shame no backlight.

81.0%

Criteria

Features
70.0%
Build Quality
90.0%
Typing Experience
94.0%
Value
70.0%

Usage

General
75%
Gaming
65%
Office
85%
Mobile/Portable
0%

  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Choice of either Cherry MX Brown or Blue switches.
  • Replaces the USB 3.0 hub of the Professional model with USB 2.0.
  • Lack of backlight is disappointing.
  • No wireless support.
  • Expensive.
  • Only available in full size.


Introduction

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition is one of my favourite mechanical keyboards. Das keyboard makes a wide range of solid and reliable mechanical keyboards with a focus on typing experience and build quality. The root edition is a variant of the popular and highly rated Das Keyboard 4 Professional and offers the same full-size keyboard layout, solid and robust construction and Cherry MX key switches. Whilst it is not the cheapest mechanical keyboard available, it will outlast your PC and potentially your next one as well. For Mac users, Das offers a similar model, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac that fully supports macOS including custom keycaps and full function key and media control support. It is hard to find a high-quality mechanical keyboard that fully supports macOS, so hats off to Das keyboard for making a specific Mac model.

A mechanical keyboard offers a more tactile and responsive typing experience and is preferred by typists, programmers and gamers. A mechanical keyboard is also typically more durable and offers a choice of different key switches, each providing a different typing feel. This level of customisation and choice is one significant advantage over other keyboard types, such as the typical membrane keyboard. One nice feature of the Das is the ability to choose between 2 different types of key switches, either the clicky typist friendly Cherry MX Blue or the more versatile and tactile Cherry MX Brown. I have a preference for the MX Browns due to their quietness and tactile feel; however, for those not in an open office or prefer more keyboard feedback and feel, the MX Blues offer a great typing experience. Cherry MX key switches are very popular, and whilst there are several high-quality alternatives such as those from Kailh or Gateron, you cannot go wrong with the original mechanical key switch from Cherry.

The only real negative for the root edition is the lack of backlighting. Many of the keyboards I use and review include a backlight, many with multi-colour RGB lighting. I have become accustomed to a keyboard with a backlight, and the lack of a backlight in the Das was noticeable and caused some miss-keys and fumbling at night.

The keyboard is only available in full size which might disappoint those looking for a more compact keyboard. If you are looking for a more compact design, the Das Keyboard 4C TKL Tenkeyless is available with Cherry MX Brown switches. But still no backlighting! Check out our Guide to Keyboard Sizes and Layouts for details of the various keyboard sizes available.

Looking at other Das keyboard models, I prefer the root edition over the cheaper Das Keyboard Model S Professional. The Model S Professional only comes with the Cherry MX Blue switches and has a plastic top panel construction over the aluminium top panel of the Das Keyboard 4 root edition. However, if you prefer the Cherry MX Blue switches and are not too fussed about the case being made from plastic, the Das Model S Professional is quite a bit cheaper and does represent great value for money.

The more expensive Das Keyboard 4 Professional can also be considered; however, the differences are very minor, with only a reduction from USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 for the integrated USB hub. Check out our full comparison of the Das Keyboard 4 Professional and root edition.

Features

Most Das keyboard models could be described as functional and are not fully loaded with LCD screens, RGB lighting or accessory software. However, I think that is their appeal. They do what they are supposed to do very well, are extremely well built, and provide many years of trouble-free service.

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Top View

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Top View (Source: Das Keyboard)

USB Hub

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition is described as a minimalist or essential version of the more expensive Professional. However, only the USB hub has changed, downgrading from USB 3.0 to USB 2.0. This is the only difference to the more expensive model, having the same high-quality aluminium top panel, Cherry MX key switches and full-size key layout.

Das Keyboard 4 root edition USB Hub View

Das Keyboard 4 root edition USB Hub View (Source: Das Keyboard)

At $20 cheaper, unless you need a USB 3.0 hub on your keyboard, I see little reason to not choose the root edition over the Professional model. I cannot remember the last time I used a keyboard with a USB hub, and do not think it is something I would need. The only use case I can see is for laptop users where the number of USB ports is limited, or only includes USB-C ports and you need to use legacy USB devices. In this case, the faster USB 3.0 may be preferred, especially with external storage.

Media Controls

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition includes a large volume knob and dedicated media controls. For Mac users, the media controls also work with the respective Mac functions.

There is also a dedicated sleep button that will sleep your PC. I found this worked well on Windows, but not as reliable on a Mac.

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Rear View

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Rear View (Source: Das Keyboard)

Cable

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition includes a long 2-meter braided cable. I like the braided cable that has a softer feel than a more typical plastic cable. Interestingly the Professional model has a more traditional plastic cable that I find inferior to the braided cable. At 2 meters it is longer than most people need, but if put your PC under a desk and have convoluted desk cabling, the added length can come in handy. It is a shame the cable is not detachable, something that is becoming increasingly popular on mechanical keyboards.

A Ruler!

Okay, perhaps not a market differentiator, but interesting none the less. The magnetically detachable Das Keyboard footbar raises the keyboard by4-degrees. Once removed though, it can be used as a 16-inch ruler, with markings on both sides.

Build Quality

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition features the same high-quality construction you have come to expect from Das Keyboard. It has the same rigid aluminium top plate as the Professional model and includes internal dampening to reduce unwanted noise. There is no echo or hollow sound, even when typing fast and heavy.

Das Keyboard makes some of the most solid mechanical keyboards you can buy and have long held a reputation for their long-lasting designs.

Typing Experience

Genuine Cherry MX Key Switches

Both the Das Keyboard 4 Professional and root edition offers the choice of Cherry MX Brown or MX Blue key switches. The choice of the switch is down to personal preference, each offering a different feel and sound. Whilst there are other switch types available, for typing the Brown and Blue switches are the most popular. All Cherry MX switches are gold plated and have a 50 million key press lifespan. Gamers typically prefer linear key switches due to their smoother feel, something to consider if gaming is a priority. However, in those cases, I would recommend a mechanical keyboard more aimed at gaming.

  • The Cherry MX Brown switches offer a good balance between tactile response and noise, making it a good all-round choice.
  • The Cherry MX Blue switches offer a more tactile response with a noticeable audible click. Perfect for the typist that prefers a typewriter feel.

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Side View

Das Keyboard 4 root edition Side View (Source: Das Keyboard)

Note that the key switches are not removable and are soldered directly to the circuit board. Whilst it is rare that you would ever need to replace a switch (I have never had one fail), having the ability to swap out the switches is popular with fans of mechanical keyboards. Popular keyboards such as the Glorious GMMK Tenkeyless keyboard or Keychron K8 Wireless are hot-swappable, allowing you to change the switches out as your needs change. For example, you may start to get into PC gaming and prefer a more linear key switch. Rather than buying a completely new keyboard, a set of inexpensive (USD 30 to 40) can fundamentally change the feel of the keyboard.

N-Key Rollover

The root edition supports full N-Key Rollover.

Rollover

Rollover is the ability of a computer keyboard to correctly handle several simultaneous keystrokes. With a full N-Key Rollover (NKRO) keyboard, you can press as many keys as you want and the keyboard will register all of them.

Both gamers and fast typists will benefit from NKRO. Many games require fast and simultaneous keypresses, and missed keys will impact your gameplay. Fast typists will be able to achieve greater accuracy and WPM if the keyboard can register all keypresses. NKRO can be turned off, but I have not had a reason to disable it.

Value

Whilst there are cheaper mechanical keyboards available, the root edition represents great value for money considering its solid build quality that will give you many years of service.

The lack of a backlight may be a showstopper for some, and I have found that typing at night is less pleasurable than my other backlit keyboards, especially in a dimly lit room.

Usage

When choosing a mechanical keyboard you need to consider your intended usage. It is rare to find a keyboard that is great at everything, with most tending to excel in certain areas such as typing or gaming.

General

General usage considers its use for typing, gaming and both at home and in the office; a general all-round keyboard. These are keyboards that are perfectly acceptable in most situations.

The Das Keyboard 4 root edition is the near-perfect general keyboard. It looks professional and solid looking and would fit into most environments.

Typing

Das Keyboard sponsors the international Ultimate Typing Championship for good reason. They make some of the best mechanical keyboards for typing. The solid and robust design, combined with quality Cherry MX key switches makes them ideal for typists looking to improve their typing accuracy and speed.

Gaming

To be honest the root edition is not the best gaming keyboard.

Das Keyboard only offers Cherry MX Brown or Blue key switches rather than the more popular linear switches (such as Cherry MX Red) that are loved by gamers, and the lack of RGB lighting or gaming-specific features means that it looks rather bland next to a typical gaming PC.

If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard predominantly for gaming I would recommend a keyboard designed for gaming. However, if gaming is only a small proportion of its intended use, additional gaming features may not be such a priority, then root edition may well be good enough.

Office

The root edition would fit right into any office environment. It looks professional and its build quality would give years of service.

Mobile/Portable

As the root edition is only available in full size, it is not designed to be a portable or mobile keyboard. If you are looking for a more compact keyboard from Das Keyboard, they do offer the Das Keyboard 4C TKL Tenkeyless. However, I would recommend a battery-powered keyboard, such as those from Keychron, which offer great build quality, a selection of quality key switches and Bluetooth connectivity.

Conclusion

I enjoyed using the Das Keyboard 4 root edition. It has a solid feel that highlights its exceptional build quality. The Cherry MX Brown switches were a delight to type on and have a satisfying tactile bump. I have become accustomed to a backlit keyboard, especially for late-night typing, so the lack of backlighting was a disappointment.


Das Keyboard 4 root edition Specifications

Specifications
Physical Specifications
Length 
45.72 cm
Width 
17.272 cm
Height 
2.032 cm
Weight 
1.3 kg
Cable Type 
Braided USB-A
Cable Length 
6.5 feet
Removable Cable 
No
Keyboard Layout 
104-key US layout, 105-key for UK, NO, and DE layouts
Keyboard Features
N-Key Rollover 
Full
Keycaps 
Removable Keycaps 
Yes
Backlit Keys 
No
RGB Lighting 
No
Media Hotkeys 
Yes
USB Passthrough 
2 x USB 2.0
Wireless Support 
No
Charging Port 
N/A
Battery Capacity 
N/A
Key Switches
Type 
Mechanical
Key Switch Model(s) 
Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Blue
Removable Key Switches 
No
Support Software
Windows 
No
Mac 
No
Linux 
No
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