Corsair and Cherry Introduce New, Quieter Mechanical Keyboard Switchesby Billy Tallis on August 6, 2015 10:00 AM EST
After languishing in relative obscurity for a few decades, mechanical keyboards have exploded in popularity in recent years. Almost every maker of input devices for computers has joined the trend with at least one or two mechanical keyboards, several new suppliers have introduced their own brands of key switches, and the existing players have updated their products to suit the needs of their new customers.
The leading supplier of mechanical keyboard switches is Cherry, whose MX switches have been on the market since 1983. The different variants of MX switches offer differences in stiffness, tactile response, and audible clicking. All the switches share common interfaces for mounting the switches to the keyboard and attaching the keys themselves to the switches, so a keyboard manufacturer can easily produce several similar products to suit different tastes. The switch variants are identified by the color of the plastic stem that key caps attach to; blue, brown, black, and red are the most common.
This week Cherry is introducing quieter versions of some of their switches. In these quieter switches the colored plastic slide at the heart of the switch will now be made with a double-shot injection molding process to integrate a shock absorber made from a rubbery thermoplastic elastomer. This will soften the impact and dampen the noise produced when the key stroke bottoms out or springs back to the top. Previously, users bothered by the noise of bottoming out could add rubber O-rings or foam pads around the key stem to catch the key on its way down, but installing them as an aftermarket modification is tedious and it slightly reduces the key's range of travel.
|Cherry MX Switches|
|MX Black||MX Black Silent||MX Red||MX Red Silent|
The Cherry MX Silent switches will reduce or eliminate the need for O-rings and also provide the first effective way to reduce the click that can occur when a key is released. Cherry will initially be making Silent versions of the MX Black and MX Red switches, both of which feature a linear actuation force, with activation thresholds of 60 cN and 45 cN respectively. The Silent switches will be available with both the traditional opaque plastic housing and the newer translucent housing designed to allow surface-mounted LEDs to shine through on boards that offer customizable RGB backlighting. Key travel is reduced from 4mm to 3.7mm, but the other specs are unchanged, including the rating for 50 million actuations.
Corsair was Cherry's exclusive partner for the introduction of the Cherry MX RGB switches in 2014, and for this launch Corsair gets six months of exclusive access to the Silent switches. The first product using the new MX Silent switches will be the Corsair STRAFE RGB Silent, which will be available for pre-order this month with a MSRP of $159.99 and will ship in October.