There are many mechanical keyboards that can be used with Macs but there are few made solely for Macs. The MacTigr by Das Keyboard is made for Macs and only Macs. And, unlike a lot of other mechanical keyboards, including the company’s other models, the MacTigr has a low-profile design similar to Apple’s own Magic keyboards.
The MacTigr feels built to last, made from aluminum and a stiff steel top plate. Das Keyboard uses Cherry MX Low Profile Red switches to keep the keys low and the body slim. These are linear switches so the keys go straight down without a click or a tactile bump to feel the actuation.
Typing on linear switches can take some adjustment, but once you’re used to how smooth and fast the MacTigr is, Apple’s keyboards feel a whole lot less magical. The keyboard is relatively quiet, too, with no audible click from the switch.
But one of the best reasons to consider the MacTigr doesn’t have anything to do with the typing experience. Next to the attached USB-C cable on the back are two USB-C ports. When the keyboard’s connected, the ports can be used for charging devices like a phone or tablet or data transfers at speeds up to 5Gbps.
Also, and I know this is going to sound silly, but the MacTigr has one of the best volume knobs I’ve ever come across. It has a soft texture to it but also an oddly satisfying click. It sits alongside a row of discrete media controls and a sleep button that can quickly lock your Mac or MacBook when you walk away.
There is, however, a short list of things that might turn you off of the MacTigr in favor of something like Logitech’s MX Mechanical. For starters, the keys are not backlit. I’m used to seeing this on wireless models because it can really ding battery life. But wired keyboards, including other models from Das Keyboard, regularly have backlit keys. Especially when you consider the whole world of gaming keyboards.
Similarly, there is no software from Das Keyboard to remap keys or create macros — a staple of gaming mechanical keyboards. The keyboard can be used with Karabiner-Elements, free open-source mapping software for MacOS. Also, although the MacTigr has standard Mac Command and Option keys as well as the aforementioned media keys and a sleep button, Das Keyboard didn’t map the three remaining shortcuts to the function keys that you’d find on a Mac or MacBook keyboard.
One last thing: The cable is fixed to the back of the keyboard instead of removable. Das Keyboard did this to make it more reliable for professionals. For storage and travel, however, a fixed cable is less desirable than a removable one. Also, I use a custom coiled USB-C cable with my other keyboards so losing this little bit of extra flexibility is disappointing. Still, none of these are real dealbreakers, with the exception of maybe the backlit keys. Even then, the company used a bolder font for better visibility in low light.
Overall, the Das Keyboard MacTigr looks, feels and sounds great and gives professionals on Macs a truly enjoyable typing experience. High-quality keyboards aren’t cheap, though: The MacTigr is $219, which converts to approximately £180 or AU$310.