EpicGear EG MMS Switches

Since the company was kind enough to provide us with a sample kit of their switches, we went ahead and had a closer look at their construction and individual characteristics. Unfortunately, even after tearing the switches apart, we were unable to discern anything that would give us a hint as to who the manufacturer of these switches might be. Because of the body being a direct copy of Cherry’s design, it is highly unlikely that these switches are being made by Kaihua/Kailh or Gaote, as they are using their own body designs. Their internal design of the straight gold-plated contact area does not match any Gateron, Alps or Trantek designs that we have seen to this date either. EpicGear claims that this design is proprietary and patented, therefore we expect that their manufacturer has an exclusive partnership with EpicGear and we are not going to see these switches on any other products.

The actuation distance of these switches has been reduced to 1.5 mm and they can allegedly survive 70 million keystrokes. We have no means of actually testing that, but we feel that these figures are being greatly exaggerated. In order to reach 70 million keystrokes, a user would have to press one single key nearly 10.000 times every day for 20 years. Even Cherry’s 50 million keystroke rating is absurd. The alloy that the switches are made of is most likely going to corrode much before the switches get destroyed from mechanical stress.

Since there are no travel/force diagrams available for these switches, we decided to use our analyser and composed them ourselves. The three following figures show the force/travel diagrams that we extracted, with the red dots showing the actuation/reset points. We can see that we usually get actuation points about 1.6 mm down the travel distance and force readings slightly lower than the 50 cN rating of the switches. Note however that the following diagrams were created by testing four of each switch type for 20 steps between 0 and 4 mm, which is the travel distance of the keys. As we know from our quality testing sections, real products have variations; therefore, these should be considered as indicative, not absolute.

The force diagram on the left shows the switch being depressed, and on the right is the switch being released. Click each image for a closer examination.

The orange and grey switches are effectively mirror images of each other for the depress and release, with a minor deviation in the release of the grey. The purple switch however gives a pair of profiles quite different, providing a sharp release point when the key feels light.

Per-Key Quality Testing & Software Final Words & Conclusion
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  • qlum - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    So judging from the article they basically went with a unknown oem to produce them inexpensive mechanical keys which may perform a little less consistent but allows them to include some spare switches while also keeping the price down.

    Interesting enough to see. I think we may see more of those in the future driving down the price of mechanical keyboards as a whole.
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I agree. Cherry switches are overpriced as hell, and this keyboard is proof of that. The hype surrounding Cherry and their, what is it, 8 different tactile strengths, and the fact they are "German" just goes to show the need for other generic competitive mechanical switches.

    This keyboard is mostly interesting because of its price. But overall it looks like a decent keyboard that should last quite a few years.
  • althaz - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    Are they overpriced though? They are only a little better, but they *are* better and this keyboard isn't cheaper than alternatives from more recogniseable brands.

    There are some cheaper mech keyboards out there - they are about half the price of this board, but they are also very inconsistent (a nice way of saying "shithouse").
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, May 12, 2016 - link

    Yeah, silly thing for people impressed by gimmicks
  • Zaggulor - Friday, May 13, 2016 - link

    The clones do vary in quality and feel. Different factories have altered the design a bit.
    Gateron branded ones are supposedly smoother and nicer than Cherries in linear types. Greetech Green switches have also gotten praise (basically comparable to Cherry MX browns).
    Kaihl Black switches have been described to be bit more pleasant than Cherry Blacks by some people as well.

    And I also haven´t really heard THAT much negative about other brands in general, besides some users reporting more variance in switch resistance than they have had with Cherries.

    Then we also have clones of Topre switches that are used in Royal Kludge RC930 keyboard.(awesome brand name, btw). These are apparently very competent switches, but with somewhat different feel than the original and come with shock absorber bands installed straight out of the factory. It´s roughly 50% of the price of Topre Realforce boards, so it should be a good deal for many who aren´t necessarily crazy about Cherry type switches. Here is a review: https://www.keychatter.com/2015/03/12/review-royal...

    Interesting thing about this Epicgear board are not really the switches themselves, but the ease of changing the switches without having to open the keyboard casing. But there are other boards out there that offer this option too:

    "Teamwolf" brand has similar capability and they have also multiple color leds lights to go with that. http://www.amazon.com/Teamwolf-Zhuque-Mechanical-K...

    In general, you can now get perfectly adequate mechanical keyboard for 40 bucks. With most of the "bells and whistles" you can get from more expensive brands. Only thing you really give up are the actual Cherry switches and not getting thick doubleshot ABS or PBT keycaps out of the box... and perhaps the control software is not quite so polished.
  • Ogewo - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    How about testing some ergo? Once you go ergo you never go backo. Kinesis, Matias, etc.
  • Zan Lynx - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I went back. I found flat keyboards felt better, years ago. I'm going to give it another shot with the Keyboardio though.
  • Ogewo - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    Keyboardio certainly looks nice. I wonder how stable the "tent" orientation is, though. I like lots of curve\vertical orientation.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I went back too after going through several ergonomic keyboards. I gave several models a few months each, but always found the experience pretty miserable if not worse for my wrists and the tendons in my hands that move my fingers.

    What I would like to see is some AT testing of a few inexpensive membrane keyboards because I have a sneaking suspicion that they'd be competitive despite costing 1/10th to 1/20th of the price if you take into account the loss of programmable macros and RGB lighting. However, I realize that doing so may cast the mechanical keyboards in a bad light and generate some vendor animosity which would might cause problems getting flagship product samples in for review.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - link

    I think they've tested some membrane boards in the past... What you're suggesting might hold true as far as features, but it doesn't change the fact that membrane boards *require* you to bottom out on each and every key press which is ultimately more tiring for anyone that has weaned himself off that.

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