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sam.chen

Complete Mechanical Keyswitch Database

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Since it's sometimes difficult to tell what is what when it comes to mechanical keyswitches now that Cherry, ALPS and Topre are no longer the primary makers of keyswitches, here's a work in progress of all the mechanical keyswitches we know of as well as some of their specifications. 

 

Mechanical Keyswitches

Cherry

Cherry with its Cherry MX switches is the granddaddy of most of the world's mechanical switches. Invented in 1983, the Cherry MX switch has been around for over three decades, but as their patents on the Cherry MX switches recently expired, many companies have jumped in to produce clones of Cherry MX's switches. 

Cherry MX Blue

Actuation Force (g): 50

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump, Clicky

Cherry MX Brown

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

Cherry MX Red

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Cherry MX Black

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Cherry MX Clear

Actuation Force (g): 55

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

Cherry MX Green

Actuation Force (g): 80

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Clicky

Cherry MX Speed

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

 

Kailh

Kailh switches are Cherry MX clones, a result of Cherry's patent on mechanical switches expiring. 

Kailh Red

Actuation Force (g): 50

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Clicky

Kailh Black

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Kailh Brown

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump

Kailh Blue

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump, Clicky

 

Gateron

Like Kailh switches, Gateron switches are also Cherry MX Clones.

Gateron Red

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Gateron Black

Actuation Force (g): 50

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Gateron Clear

Actuation Force (g): 35

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear

Gateron Brown

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump

Gateron Blue

Actuation Force (g): 55

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump, Clicky

 

Razer

Razer switches are custom designed and tuned Cherry MX Clones initially manufactured by Kailh, but later manufactured by Greetech after a series of quality control issues.

Razer Green

Actuation Force (g): 50

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.9

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 80 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump, Clicky

Razer Orange

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.9

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 80 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump

Razer Yellow

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3

Lifespan: 80 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Razer Mecha-Membrane

Actuation Force (g): Unknown

Actuation Distance (mm): Unknown

Full Travel Distance (mm): Unknown

Other Characteristics: Tactile, Clicky

Razer Low-Profile

Actuation Force (g): 70

Actuation Distance (mm): 0.9

Full Travel Distance (mm): 1.6

Lifespan: 80 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump, Clicky

 

Greetech

Greetech switches are Cherry MX Clones. 

GT02 (Black)

Actuation Force (g): 80

Actuation Distance (mm): 2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear

GT02 (Brown)

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump

GT02 (Blue)

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile Bump, Click

GT02 (Red)

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

 

Logitech

Logitech first revealed their Romer G switches when they unveiled the Logitech G910 mechanical gaming keyboard. These switches are a joint development between Logitech and Omron, who manufactures the switches. Logitech's Romer G switches feature short travel distance, short acutation distance and a light guide in the center which provides better, more beautiful lighting than competing designs. The switch also features dual actuation contact points which make it more accurate and higher durability than competing designs.

ROMER-G (Omron)

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.5

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3

Lifespan: 70 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

 

SteelSeries

SteelSeries first debut the QS1 with their Apex M800 gaming keyboard. Like the Logitech Romer G switches, the QS1 has a hollow center low travel distance and low actuation distance as well. Unlike the Romer G switches however, the QS1 does not have dual contact points nor does it have a light guide in the middle. The switches are made through a partnership between SteelSeries and Kailh. 

QS1

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.5

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

 

Das Keyboard

Like Razer switches, Das Keyboard switches are custom tuned switches based on existing designs. The Gamma Zulu switch is similar to the Logitech Romer G switch except it has longer key travel compared to the Romer G. The Alpha Zulu switch is similar to the Cherry MX design except it features a slightly lower actuation distance.  

Gamma Zulu

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.5

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3

Lifespan: 100 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

Alpha Zulu Linear (Olive)

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.7

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 60 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear (Silent)

Alpha Zulu Tactile (Mustard)

Actuation Force (g): 45

Actuation Distance (mm): 1.7

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Lifespan: 60 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

 

Topre

Topre switches are manufactured by Japanese company, Topre and are electrostatic capacitive switches. These switches utilizes a rubber dome design, but utilizes a conical spring which makes it both smooth and consistent. Aside from the Cherry MX mechanical keyswitches, many touch typists prefer the Topre switch for its smooth travel and consistent feel. 

Topre

Actuation Force (g): 30, 35, 45, 55

Actuation Distance (mm): 2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 4

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

 

ALPS

ALPS switches are becoming rare these days as they're very complicated, featuring as much as 11 parts per switch making them much more expensive to produce compared to competing designs. 

White

Actuation Force (g): 60-70

Actuation Distance (mm): Unknown

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3.5

Lifespan: 10 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump, Clicky

Black (Simplified, Complicated)

Actuation Force (g): 60-70

Actuation Distance (mm): Unknown

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3.5

Lifespan: 10 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump

 

Matias

Matias switches are essentially ALPS style switches, except redesigned by Matias to make them more durable and to eliminate the "chorus of springs" sound that many users found annoying about the ALPS switch design.

Matias Quiet Click

Actuation Force (g): 60

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3.5

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump, Clicky

Matias Linear

Actuation Force (g): 35

Actuation Distance (mm): 2.2

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3.5

Lifespan: 50 Million

Other Characteristics: Linear

 

Buckling Spring

Buckling spring keyswitches are one of the older keyswitches which made many of IBM's keyboards of the 80's and 90's quite famous due to their satisfying click and tactile bump. Unfortunately as cheaper methods of producing keyboards emerged, the buckling spring keyboard was replaced with membrane/rubber dome designs, but many keyboard enthusiasts never forgot about their great buckling spring keyboards. 

Actuation Force (g): 60-70

Actuation Distance (mm): Unknown

Full Travel Distance (mm): Unknown

Lifespan: 25-100 Million

Other Characteristics: Tactile bump, Click

 

Non-Mechanical Switches

Membrane/Rubber Dome Switch

The Membrane or Rubber Dome switch is the most commonly used switch in cheap keyboards. These keyboards feature a rubber dome which is pressed down by the switch above to complete the electrical circuit. Due to the use of the dome, the keyboard is notorious for feeling mushy and cheap. 

Actuation Force (g): 50-60

Full Travel Distance (mm): 3-4

Other Characteristics: Mushy

Scissor Switch

The scissor switch uses the same design as a membrane/rubber dome switch except the keycap is held up by a scissor style stabilizer. As such, these can be significantly more low profile in design than traditional rubber dome switches making it a better option for laptops and smaller keyboards. As these keyboards also feature a rubber dome, it also feels mushy.

Actuation Force (g): 50-60

Actuation Distance (mm): 1

Full Travel Distance (mm): 2

Other Characteristics: Very low profile, Mushy

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