Das Keyboard MacTigr review: Finally, a true Mac mechanical

Das Keyboard MacTigr review: Finally, a true Mac mechanical

Enlarge / Das Keyboard MacTigr mechanical keyboard.

Scharon Harding

Specs at a glance: Das Keyboard MacTigr
Switches Cherry MX Low Profile Red
Keycaps PBT plastic
Connectivity options USB-C cable
Backlighting None
Size 17.16 x 5 x 1.06 inches
436 x 127 x 27 mm
Weight 2.43 pounds (1,100 g)
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $219
Other 2x USB-C passthrough ports

Mechanical keyboard manufacturers have a habit of overlooking Mac users. More often than not, mechanical keyboards come with Windows layouts and USB-A connectors, ignoring the many MacBook users with no USB-A ports and the macOS users craving Option and Command keys.

Das Keyboard, a Metadot sub-brand founded in 2005, released the MacTigr mechanical keyboard today to help balance the scales, listing macOS as the board’s only supported operating system. The MacTigr doubles down with a Mac layout, USB-C cable, a pair of USB-C ports, and quality switches that will please users used to paying a premium for elevated designs.

But that’s about all the MacTigr does. It lacks power features, like easy programmability or swappable mechanical switches. It’s not bad, but it is fairly boring, and I expected this cat to have a more memorable roar for its $219 MSRP.

The mack daddy of Mac compatibility

Many mechanical keyboards say they’ll work with Macs, but their Windows keys and USB-A cables paint Apple computer support as an afterthought. The MacTigr is built from the ground up to be a Mac keyboard.

A layout made for macOS.
Enlarge / A layout made for macOS.

Scharon Harding

Mac users rejoice, as there are native Command and Option keys—and no Windows, Alt, or Num Lock legends. As simple a consideration as this may seem, it’s still uncommon among mechanical keyboards, though some boards include keycaps for Windows and macOS users.

Unlike other Mac-first keyboards I’ve tested lately, like the Keychron K14, the MacTigr has other important non-Apple controls, like display brightness controls, a sleep button, media control via flat buttons, and a notched knob. These flat keys make a cheap plastic noise when pressed, but the knob has a smooth, rubber-like texture that’s delightful to touch.

Please pardon the dust.
Enlarge / Please pardon the dust.

Scharon Harding

Knobs are handy for tasks like zooming in and out or toggling tools in creative apps. However, the MacTigr has no software for programming its knob (or anything else), and pressing the knob in doesn’t register an input.

Oddly, there’s also an eject key, even though Apple hasn’t released a Mac with an optical drive since 2012.

“Many creative professionals like videographers and photographers still have loads of legacy CD-ROM and DVDs,”  Das Keyboard CEO and cofounder Daniel Guermeur told Ars. “Since we had room for one more key, we decided to add it.”

USB-C

The MacTigr marks its territory with the rare use of a USB-C connector instead of USB-A, which Apple ditched on its MacBooks. I couldn’t immediately find any other full-sized mechanical keyboards that include a Mac layout and connect to the system via USB-C (if you know of one, feel free to let me know in the comments). If you’re just after a wired mechanical keyboard with a Mac layout, though, options include Keychron’s C2 (which starts at $54), the Macally BMKEY ($130 MSRP), and Das’ 4 Professional for Mac ($170 MSRP).

Does the MacTigr work with Windows?

Das does not recommend using the MacTigr on any OS besides macOS and lists the keyboard as “macOS only.”

A Das representative told Ars that “the keyboard would function when connected to a PC/Windows device, but the Mac-specific keys would not. Also, the MacTigr does not have either a Windows or Ctrl keys, so we would not recommend using the MacTigr on a PC Windows device.”

I used the MacTigr with a Windows device for many hours, with Command working like a Windows key, et cetera. Just don’t get upset if the keyboard doesn’t work as expected with an unsupported OS.

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