Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms
This page is a guide of computer keyboard key switch mechanisms.
Rubber Dome Switch
Most keyboard's key switch mechanism is rubber dome switch. Basically all Laptop Keyboards, and Microsoft Keyboards , Logitech Non-Gaming Keyboards .
Rubber dome switch is cheap to make, but is not as good as other mechanisms that use spring. Rubber dome's tactile feedback is not precise, is wobbly, and wears out. 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 rubber dome with a scissor-like mechanism as stabilizer. It is found in laptop computers, starting around ~2002.
Cherry MX Switches
Cherry Corporation of Germany makes a series of mechanical key switches called Cherry MX.
Cherry MX series of switches are first introduced in 1983. They are the most well known switches. There are several different models, with different feel to them. These models are color coded.
|Cherry MX Switch||type||force||pre-travel||total travel|
|▩ Speed Silver||linear||45g||1.2mm||3.4mm|
|▩ Silent Red||linear||45g||1.9mm||3.7mm|
Linear Action: Red, Black, Silent Red, Speed Silver
All these are linear switches.
MX Red requires the least pressure to activate the key. It's really nice. Typing on it is effortless.
CHERRY MX Red switches
Cherry MX Black is same as Red, except more force is required. I don't like MX Black at all.
Tactile Action: Brown, Blue
The Brown and Blue types have a tactile bump. When you press down, after certain point, there's a bump feel, then after that the pressure is reduced.
The Brown and Blue types are often preferred by programers and writers.
The difference between Brown and Blue are:
- Blue has a very definite click feel.
- Blue is very noisy. It makes a “click” sound by design.
Cherry MX Blue switches Cherry MX Brown switches
Key Switch Tester
There are many other color-coded Cherry MX switches, but less common.
Cherry MX Compatible Switches
Many Chinese companies make Cherry compatible switches.
Cherry MX compatible switches are not EXACTLY the same as those from Cherry the company. For example, Cherry MX Red has a actuation force of 45g, but Kailh Red is 50g. That 5g difference is a big difference for key feel.
There is no agreement on whether the Chinese ones are better or worse. I recommend the Chinese ones, because keyboard with them are usually cheaper and is not worse.
Huizhou Gateron Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. (惠州佳达隆电子科技有限公司), makes key switches. Gateron switch is a series of Cherry MX compatible made by Gateron . There are ks3, ks8, ks9 series and variations. They differ in tech details, but key feel is color coded the same.
|Gateron ks3/ks8/ks9||type||force||pre-travel||total travel|
Gateron KS-9 Key Switch Buy at amazon
“Zealio Switch” is also from Gateron. It is another variant improvement of Cherry MX, smoother, less scratchy.
Kailh KT Switch series are Cherry MX compatible switches, made by Kaihua Electronics (凯华).
see Kailh Switch
Kailh BOX Switch
Improved Cherry MX compatible.
Kailh Choc Switch
Choc Switch is a low-profile mechanical switch, from Kaihua.
Outemu switch is Cherry MX compatible made by Gaote Corp. 东莞市高特电子有限公司.
Logitech GX Blue Clicky
Logitech GX Blue Clicky came out in 2018. It is made by Kaihua. It is just a variation of the Cherry MX Blue.
The stem is Cherry MX compatible, so you can buy keycaps. [see Cute Keycaps]
Logitech invented Romer-G switch in 2015.
This came out around 2018-10.
the Titan Switch is a tactile switch, and supposedly faster reaction time.
Used in Roccat Vulcan Keyboard
The switch may be made by a Chinese company named TTC. http://www.ttc9.com/
TTC (惠州市正牌科电有限公司 — Huizhou Zhengrui Electronics Co., Ltd., abbreviated 正牌科电) is a manufacturer of switches, digital encoders and connectors. TTC appears to be related to Trantek Electronics Co., Ltd., also founded in 1998, and who appear to offer the origin of the abbreviation “TTC”.
Optical Key Switch
Gateron Optical Switches
Gateron also makes optical switches. Cherry MX compatible stem.
Gateron optical Switches Buy at amazon
Topre Switch (Electrostatic Capacitive Switch)
Topre switch is most famous for used in Happy Hacking Keyboard
Niz Plum Switch
Niz Plum is inspired by Topre.
Varmilo EC Switch
Varmilo EC Switch is like a Cherry MX, but with contactless electro capacitance mechanism for eletric switch.
Buckling Spring Switch
Buckling spring switch is most famous as used by IBM Model M keyboard from 1980s and 1990s, and is loved by many keyboard nerds. It has a crisp tactile feel, but makes the loudest key noise.
[see Mechanical Keyboard Noise Comparison]
You can buy Buckling Spring keyboard from Unicomp Keyboard
Hall Effect Switch Keyboards
Hall Effect Switch Keyboards
Key Noise Comparison
Mechanical Keyboard Noise Comparison
Does Mechanical Keys Matter?
Mechanical Keyboard and Repetitive Strain Injury
What Does “Mechanical” Keyboard Means
computer keyboard key switch expert Thomas Ran (aka Chyrosran22) tells us
Demo of Different Force-Displacement Curves for Key Press
Which Switch is Best?
It's impossible to rank them, as different people have different preferences.
My own preference is ROUGHLY this, and they shoud be 45g or less:
- Epomaker Niz Plum (China topre. 35g)
- Optical Switch or Hall Effect. At 45g or less. Great Tech.
- Varmilo EC Switch at 45g or less. (cherry mx with capacitance)
- Kailh BOX Switch at 45g or less.
- Kailh Choc Switch clicky, lowest is 50g. (low profile)
- Cherry MX linear or clicky or clone. 45g or less. Some linear clones are 50g, too high.
- Buckling Spring (too loud)
- Topre Switch (hate it)
- Cherry MX black (hate it)
Univac Magnetic Separation Switch
Key Switch Topic
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