Help choosing switches, please

Hi,

I'm preparing to make my first mechanical keyboard purchase (possibly a custom build), and not having the ability to try one out, I've been doing some research. However, due to so many varying opinions and descriptions, I'm having a really hard feeling comfortable with a decision. Here are my requirements:

1. I will be using this keyboard for typing and editing long documents for many hours a day. So long-term reliability and durability with regards to whatever switches I choose is very important.

2. As far as feel, I'm coming from macbook and similar type keyboards. I like the short travel, but not the hard feel that comes with bottoming out. What I think I am looking for is this: A switch that is smooth and not wobbly. Linear or tactile would be fine, in the light to light-medium weight range. Ideally I will be touch typing with a light touch and not bottoming out too frequently. Actuation or tactility nearer the top preferred. Also probably not clicky. I like the thock of Topre boards, but I don't like the higher pitched click of something like Cherry MX Blue. I also don't think I'd like the snap feel of the click bar on some of the newer Kailh switches.

Can anyone help me narrow this down? I'd really appreciate some help. Thanks.
coltrane

Unread post08 Mar 2018, 18:37

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Cherry MX Clear (milk white stem) and clones from other manufacturers (purple stems) are the only really tactile Cherry MX-compatible switches that don't click. The Clears are hard when bottomed out but there are clone variants with lighter springs and if you use O-rings then you won't press them as far anyway.
- Zealios - from Zeal PC. Expensive. There is a new silenced variant "Zilents".
- Outemu Purple.

If you plan to have hot-swapping: the Outemu switches are not compatible with Holtite sockets. The ICE switches are swappable only with other ICE switches)

BTW. O-rings are not compatible with key sets from Signature Plastics. See Damping in the Wiki for alternatives to O-rings and their compatibility.
Findecanor

Unread post08 Mar 2018, 19:00

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For out of the box Mac support, I really like my Matias Laptop Pro with Quiet Click switches (tactile, not clicky). I'd say that the Matias are the closest mechanical switch to Topre in my own experience. On the other hand, it might be a bit too heavy for you.

If you are wanting something cheap with decent tactility and decent reliability, the Thermaltake Poseidon Z with brown switches might be something to try. There's literally a hundred boards I could recommend so you have a lot of choice. Ultimately you will have to choose the switch that you think you'll most like and try it out for yourself. You may love it and keep using it for the next ten years, though many of us have gone through many boards to find that "perfect" one.
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Unread post08 Mar 2018, 19:14

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You haven't said where you're located in the US, but there are "meetups" in various places where you could try a bunch of different common and not-so-common switches.

Otherwise switch testers can give you a better idea for not too much money.

I'll second the others and say that MX Clears or Matias Quiet Clicks would probably be good matches in your case.
Darkshado
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 05:16

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Thanks for the responses. I'm have a look in the meetups section, but I doubt there's anything close, unfortunately.

I'm probably going to try one of the more ubiquitous Cherry MX style switches to start with. So here's what I'm wondering: If I choose something in the Cherry MX family, or a clone like Gaterons, and I end up not liking the feel, can I swap out the internals with the internals of another switch in the same family? For example, let's say I went with something like MX Blues, and decided I didn't like the tactile or clicky aspect. On a pcb mount, could I just pop open the switches and replace the MX Blue internals with the internals from an MX Red, if I decided I wanted a linear switch instead? And if so, could I take Gateron internals and put them in the Cherry MX housing as well?

The boards I'm looking at aren't hot-swappable types. So basically I'm wondering if I can avoid buying separate keyboards, or having to de-solder and re-solder, if I decide my initial choice in switches is wrong for me. It would be nice to know I could easily swap out springs and stems, but I don't know how much more there might be to this that I don't understand yet.
coltrane

Unread post09 Mar 2018, 19:24

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The MX and clones family is a bit hard to open up while still mounted. It can be done with PCB-mount, but you won't be able to make a tactile switch clicky for example. The leaf that gives a clicky switch it's click is the part that's actually soldered in. You can change stems and springs, but not the leaf type without desoldering. If you are truly wanting to do something like that, I'd either go for a board with hotswappable switches or buying a bunch of generic Chinese boards for $15/each with each of the switch types you want to try out.
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 19:32

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Blaise170 wrote:The MX and clones family is a bit hard to open up while still mounted. It can be done with PCB-mount, but you won't be able to make a tactile switch clicky for example. The leaf that gives a clicky switch it's click is the part that's actually soldered in. You can change stems and springs, but not the leaf type without desoldering. If you are truly wanting to do something like that, I'd either go for a board with hotswappable switches or buying a bunch of generic Chinese boards for $15/each with each of the switch types you want to try out.

Okay, so you couldn't change an MX switch from linear to tactile, or tactile to linear just by changing the stems, is that correct? Because it's the combination of the stem and the leaf structure that determines this?

But you can swap one linear stem with another, or one tactile with another? And spring swaps should work across the board within the same family of switches?
coltrane

Unread post09 Mar 2018, 20:21

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With Cherrys MX switches and most MX clones you can change the stem and therefore change a switch to linear/tactile/clicky. With certain MX switches, like the Kailh switches with click bar, it's not as easy as to just change the stem to get a different feeling switch. Blaise170 is probably thinking of Alps switches, where there is indeed a click leaf in clicky switches, but even then it's not part of the soldered contact leaf.
Springs can be swapped not only across the same family of switches, but actually with most (if not all) MX style switches.
Nuum
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Unread post09 Mar 2018, 20:31

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coltrane wrote:A switch that is smooth and not wobbly. Linear or tactile would be fine, in the light to light-medium weight range. Ideally I will be touch typing with a light touch and not bottoming out too frequently. Actuation or tactility nearer the top preferred. Also probably not clicky.

Based purely on the description, Kailh Pro Purple switches might be a good choice. See here: https://novelkeys.xyz/collections/switc...o-switches
Zobeid Zuma

Unread post09 Mar 2018, 22:10

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Thanks for the information and suggestions. The Kailh Pro Purple sounds like something I'd like to try. Although I'm beginning to suspect I might prefer a linear switch for lots of typing. Even the tactility of a macbook keyboard seems an annoyance when I am touch typing. I don't have a lot to compare with here though, so I'm just going to have to try something and see.
coltrane

Unread post19 Mar 2018, 17:05

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