|This article requires additional photographic illustration — need photo of opened switch with diode (for this and the diode page)|
Cherry MX is a type of microswitch used in computer keyboards. It is the most popular switch used in mechanical keyboards. Various types are available, each with a different key feel. They were introduced by Cherry on 7 November 1983 and were at first only available in their linear variant. It is most common to refer to the various variants of MX switches based on their stem color, though Cherry officially does not use the color for identification.
Cherry MX switches use gold crosspoint contacts. The contact mechanism has one small static terminal, and a movable leaf that is folded against itself at the top. At least two designs of contact mechanism are known. As of 2013, the current system has a very narrow "neck" where it folds back on itself. One known previous design uses more metal and appears to be more complicated; this design has been found in the Hirose Cherry MX Orange and Hirose Cherry MX Clear, as well as Cherry MX Black.
Current production MX switches, along with Japanese-made Hirose MX switches, are all branded "CHERRY" on the top; the exact logo used has varied over time. Some early switches have been found with simple mould numbering in place of the Cherry branding, alongside switches with the branding present.
The design principal of the shell is based on the Cherry M9. The upper shell cannot be removed while the switch is mounted in a plate; the switch must first be desoldered and removed from the plate before it can be opened. The four retention clips that hold the upper shell in place need to move outwards, and the hole in the plate blocks this. For modification purposes, a PCB-mount keyboard is preferred, or an enthusiast-created plate with four small cutouts designed to allow the switches to be opened in-place.
Clicky switches use a special two-piece slider; the movable contact fires the "click collar" downwards on passing the actuation point, generating a click sound. The click collar is pulled back upwards on the return stroke by the slider itself, and held in place by the movable contact.
The keycap mount is only 180° rotationally symmetrical. The horizontal (E and W) arms of the cross are around 1.25–1.30 mm thick, while the vertical (N and S) arms of the cross are around 1.05–1.10 mm thick; there is a difference of around 0.2 mm. Keycaps do not always fit sideways. The stem on the keycap is around 3.7 mm tall; it sits on a platform that descends inside the switch, so the full travel is able to be greater than the stem height.
The most common variants of the Cherry MX keymodule are black and red for the linear switches and clear, brown and blue for the tactile switches along with various variants such as green and (tactile) grey, which are usually only used in space bars.
Other, more rare variants of the Cherry MX switch are known to include orange stems or other obscurities such as a transparent switch housing.
Old versions of the blue switches exist. Because no dye was added to the stem's plastic, these switches are called white switches.
Table of all known variants
|Name||Product code||Type||Key feel||Actuation||Hysteresis||Mount||Stem cam||Production|
|Cherry MX Black||MX1A-11xx||Normal||Linear||60 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Linear Grey||MX1A-21xx||Space bar||Linear||80 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Lock||MX1A-31xx||Alternate action||Linear||60 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX White||MX1A-A1xx||Normal||Clicky||50 cN/80 cN||Yes||MX||Yes||Yes|
|Cherry MX Click Grey||MX1A-B1xx||Space bar||Clicky||105 cN||Yes||MX||Yes||No|
|Cherry MX Clear||MX1A-C1xx||Normal||Tactile||55 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Tactile Grey||MX1A-D1xx||Space bar||Tactile||80 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Blue||MX1A-E1xx||Normal||Clicky||50 cN||Yes||MX||Yes||Yes|
|Cherry MX Green||MX1A-F1xx||Space bar||Clicky||80 cN||Yes||MX||Yes||Yes|
|Cherry MX Brown||MX1A-G1xx||Normal||Tactile||45 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Red||MX1A-L1xx||Normal||Linear||45 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX RGB Black||MX1A-11xx||Normal||Linear||60 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX RGB Blue||MX1A-E1xx||Normal||Clicky||50 cN||Yes||MX||Yes||Yes|
|Cherry MX RGB Brown||MX1A-G1xx||Normal||Tactile||45 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX RGB Red||MX1A-L1xx||Normal||Linear||45 cN||No||MX||No||Yes|
|Cherry MX Linear White||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||MX||No||No|
|Cherry MX Pale Yellow||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||MX||No||No|
|Cherry MX Grey Green||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||MX||No||No|
|Cherry MX Super Black||?||Special||Linear||150 cN||?||MX||No||No|
|Hirose Cherry MX Orange||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||Hirose||No||No|
|Hirose Cherry MX Clear||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||Hirose||No||No|
|Cherry MX Translucent||?||?||Linear||?||?||MX||?||No|
|Cherry MX Yellow||?||?||Linear||?||?||MX||?||No|
|Cherry MX Pale Grey||?||?||Linear||?||?||MX||?||No|
|Cherry MX-M8 Adapter||?||Normal||Linear||?||?||M8||?||No|
|Cherry MX Alps Click||?||?||Clicky||?||Yes?||Alps||N/A||No|
|Cherry MX Alps Linear||?||?||Linear||?||?||Alps||N/A||No|
This switch versions can be created by recombining stems and springs from existing Cherry MX switches
Features (as advertised by Cherry)
- Desktop profile, 0.60 inch (15.2 mm) from PCB (no keycap)
- Choice of feel: linear, soft tactile, click tactile
- PCB or frame mount
- Long life 20–50 million operations (depending on switch variant)
- 4 mm travel
- LED, diode or jumper option
- 12V maximum AC/DC
- Current Rating: 10 mA
- Insulation Resistance: < 100 MΩ at 100V DC
Cherry MX switches offer additional mounting options for either a wire bridge, a LED or a diode. Cherry offers all three variants and a fourth without any special options directly on their wholesale orders. Switches are available for either PCB or plate mounting, the main difference being that switches intended for PCB mounting have two additional plastic pins that secure and stabilize them when being mounted on the PCB. Plate mounted switches do not necessarily need these extra pins, since they are already being stabilized by the metal backplate. PCB mounted switches can be easily converted for back plate mounting by simply cutting off their extra stems. The mounting options are described by the final two digits of the product number (see below).
Key switches in the Cherry MX series follow an eight digit naming convention: M X [1,5] [A,C] - [0-9, A-Z]  [N,R,G,Y,D,J] [N,W,A,B]
- M: Keyswitch module
- X: Cherry MX family
- 1: Material: AuAg10, 10mA, max. 12V
- 5: Special
- A: SPST NO (single pole, single throw, normally open)
- C: Special
- [0-9, A-Z] — Operating characteristics, actuating force and key style (the switch 'color')
-  — Keystem configuration
- 1: Standard straight, cross-shaped keystem for standard Cherry key caps (the Cherry MX mount)
- [N,R,G,Y,D,J] - Integrated components
- N: No additional, integrated components
- R: Red LED
- G: Green LED
- Y: Yellow LED
- D: Diode
- J: Jumper wire
- [N,W] - Mounting configuration / case color
- N: No plastic mounting pins (plate mount) / black case
- W: With plastic mounting pins (PCB mount) / black case
- A: No plastic mounting pins (plate mount) / clear case
- B: With plastic mounting pins (PCB mount) / clear case
The following examples demonstrate possible Cherry MX product numbers and their descriptions:
- MX1A-11NN - Cherry MX Black/linear, no diode, plate mount (no fixing pins)
- MX1A-E1DN - Cherry MX Blue/tactile clicky, with diode, plate mount (no fixing pins)
- MX1A-L1RW - Cherry MX Red/low-force linear, red LED, PCB mount (with fixing pins)
- MX1A-G1JW - Cherry MX Brown/tactile non-clicky, with jumper wire, PCB mount (with fixing pins)
Cherry MX switches cannot be opened when the switch is mounted into a plate. For PCB-mounted switches, the shell can be opened using the four corner holes. Insert a screwdriver into two opposite corner holes, and pry the side retention tabs away from the switch body. This is not possible with the plate in place as the plate prevents the side tabs from moving outwards to clear the retaining lugs.
- Keyboards with Cherry MX switches
- File:Keymodule MX.pdf
- File:Switch info.pdf
- Kaihua — 红轴将被取代 Kailh黄轴大战Cherry轴 — Detailed disassembly shots