A Closer Look at the Cherry MX-Board 3.0 Keyboard
The Cherry MX-Board 3.0 Keyboard uses a full ANSI 104-key design with four additional keys above the numpad area for volume controls and web browser home page launcher. The entire keyboard is black including the keycaps with the legends laser etched in white and centered on the keycap with the exception of the backspace, enter, shift, caps lock and tab key which are without labels but use a minimalist symbol instead.
The USB 2.0 cable is detachable at the back center and uses a mini-B connector port.
Underneath the keyboard there are small rubber grips on each lower corner and has space for the bundled optional large pair of adhesive backed silicon for extra grip.
There is an opening at the bottom for an optional non-bundled palm-rest. This palm rest is available separately for $10 on Amazon.com, made of ABS and is compatible with Cherry MX-Board 2.0 keyboards as well. At the top edge on the other hand, pieces on the left and right side can be raised to elevate the Cherry MX-Board 3.0 at an angle.
The most distinct feature of the Cherry MX-Board 3.0 is its use of low-profile keys. These are low-profile flat compared to the typical contoured style. These are even much lower profile than the Cherry G80/G81 which are already lower profile than most other OEM keyboards.
There are no fancy LEDs apart from the white LED backlit Cherry logo above the USB connector port. All the indicator LEDs are green mounted at the bottom and integrated on the lock toggle keys. Both left and right Windows keys also have indicator LEDs for when they are active and are off when they are disabled.
Since it uses a standard layout with 1.25x modifiers (using dummy switches for stabilizers) and the keycaps use standard Cherry MX mounting, the keycaps can be swapped out with custom ones easily if preferred. The default keycap themselves are of good quality and are 1.25mm thick.
Disassembly and Modding Options
Unlike most keyboards, the Cherry MX-Board 3.0 is very modder friendly can be disassembled without harming labels or affecting warranty if done correctly. The two-piece shell is held in place by screws at the back and all these screws are covered with a plastic cap. There are five in total and they are all lined up along the top area. There are no screws hidden under the product label or underneath the rubberized feet.
Once the screws have been removed, the top connects to the bottom via latches all over the sides. The initial one is unlocked at the back near the USB connector. Simply push this in with a screw driver head or any tool small enough. From there, keep on moving the tool along the side and push the top part in slightly so the latch detaches along the way. After that, the shell can be removed entirely from the PCB assembly and can be repainted by the modder.
The switches are plate mounted and the keycaps do not need to be removed to remove the shell since all the screws needed are accessed at the back only.
The soldering job on the PCB is the perfect example of German precision having extremely clean connections and mint PCB surface. On the other hand the lack of diodes is apparent and unfortunate.
A Holtek HT82L95E USB keyboard encoder is used on the Cherry MX Board 3.0. This is a simple 8-bit controller plus the lack of diodes on the board will limit this keyboard to standard 6KRO + modifier over USB. I will test it with a PS/2 adapter however to see if the NKRO claim works but looking at the datasheet for this controller, I am doubtful.