This page is a guide of computer keyboard key switch mechanisms.
Most keyboard key mechanism today use rubber dome. ⁖ basically all laptop keyboard and Microsoft Keyboard Gallery. Rubber dome type is cheap to make, but is not as good as other mechanisms that use spring, because the tactile feedback is not precise, kinda wobbly. Usually what made it worse is the cheap key housing that goes with it. (ever had squeaky keys that make ugly noises and sometimes stuck midway due to friction?)
Scissor-switch is found in laptop computers, starting around ≈2002. It is still rubber dome, but is enhanced by a scissor-like mechanism above the rubber membrance.
This is most famous as used by IBM Model M keyboard, and loved by many programing geeks.
You press the key, the spring compresses, then at some point, it can't take it anymore, then CLICK, it buckles, crumpling and gave up all resistance!
This tech is old. If you want the tactile feel of the click, you can get from keyboards that use “Cherry MX Blue” switch. 〔☛ List of Keyboards with Mechanical Switches〕 But if you really want buckling-spring, you can buy it from Unicomp. See: IBM Model M keyboard, Unicomp.
Cherry Corporation of Germany makes mechanical switches called Cherry MX. It is the most popular mechanical switch. There are several different models of Cherry MX, with different properties of feel. These models are color coded. They are:
Cherry MX Black is same as Red, except more force is required. I don't like MX Black one at all. For example of Cherry MX Black, see SteelSeries 6Gv2 keyboard.
The Brown ＆ Blue types are good for writers or programers. When you press down, after certain point, there's a bump feel, then after that the pressure is reduced. This lets you know precisely when a key is activated.
The primary difference between Brown ＆ Blue is that Blue has a audible “click” at the bump point, and Blue is lighter. For many people, the major complaints about Blue is that it's noisy.
There are few others, but less common. Here's a summary.
|Cherry MX||brown ⬛||blue ⬛||green ⬛||red ⬛||black ⬛|
|Key Feel||Tactile Bump||Tactile Click||Tactile Click||Smooth (Linear)||Smooth (Linear)|
Here's a video that compare the noises they make.
the keyboards are:
Note: the only one that intentionally makes a sound, is the MX Blue, which makes a click sound.
All the others, do not make any noise if you press the key slowly. The sound came from the key hitting bottom. Also, they don't sound as loud as in the video. In the video, the wooden desk and recording makes it louder.
Except the Blue MX, these Cherry MX keys do not make more noise than average full-sized key rubber dome keyboards, unless when compared to laptop style shallow scissor-switch keys, which are basically silent.
Also, some keyboard makers claim to have some sort of silencer, but i haven't tried them.
Another way to reduce noise is to buy those rubber ring switch damperners.
here's me typing on the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard:
You can visit a local store to test out different switches. (if you are in San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, you can visit Fry's Electronics.) Or, you can buy a switch testing kit.
Another type of expensive switch is by capacitance. In particular, one made by Topre Corporation, of Japan.
Topre key switch as famously used in:
don't know how this switch works, but i have used one for a couple of years. It's excellent. See: Keyboard: Matias Mini Tactile Pro. This keyboard has strong presence in Mac community.
Yes. See: Keyboard: Effect of Mechanical Key Switch on You.
List of Keyboards with Mechanical Switches
Another issue commonly discussed with key mechanism is key ghosting and n-key rollover. Basically, it means how many keys can be pressed simultaneously. See: Keyboard Ghosting; How Many Keys Your Keyboard Can Take?.