Author Topic: Switch Longevity Comparison  (Read 2814 times)

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Offline zegonix

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Switch Longevity Comparison
« on: Sun, 04 February 2024, 11:44:48 »
I'm quite new to the custom keyboard hobby and have only just two years of experience. Lately I noticed misses and bouncing on several switches I used for about half a year. For example I built my Mode Envoy with Haimu x Geon White Tactiles. That was in August 2023 and already I have bad switches. I noticed similar problems with other switches and have friends who complain about the same.

A little internet research on longevity of different manufacturers switches yielded absolutely no results. Has anyone done some research on this topic or a few years of experience with various switch manufacturers which could be documented here?
I have a set of Gazzew Boba U4's that show no problems after more than half a year of use and I have a set of Mode Anthracites that have about the same amout of use and show no problems so far. But I do expect switches to live 2 years at the very least.

Greetings, zegonix

« Last Edit: Sun, 04 February 2024, 11:48:04 by zegonix »

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 04 February 2024, 14:54:41 »
Longevity is tough because how they were soldered or inserted can cause a dramatic change in lifespan.
Matias switches are a perfect example of this, the pins are not well secured in the housing and how they get soldered can cause all sorts of issues, as such Matias keyboards are pretty good, but others using the same switches are extremely inconsistent. Most off-brand switches are made by Gateron so most will have similar longevity.

As for evaluating them,
Cherry does testing but that's on complete boards, under controlled conditions, there's not really a good way to do a test with various brands because if you use hot swaps how they get inserted can cause issues, how you solder them can cause issues and any results you gain without inserting or soldering could be completely useless.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 04 February 2024, 17:25:51 »
You'll probably die before the keyboard does.

Offline LavenderB

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 05 February 2024, 09:33:15 »
To add to what others have said, this subject is sadly rarely discussed in our community, so there isn't much information on it. One of the reasons might be that many people have multiple keyboards that they switch between, and they also buy and sell keyboards often, so they don't spend much time using any particular set of switches. Also, reports of switch reliability vary. For example, one streamer who does actually spend a lot of time with his keyboards has said he has never had a switch fail on him over time, even though some of his builds are many years old. He mainly uses switches from cherry and gateron, but some of his keyboards are with JWK and greetech switches. On the other hand, I've heard people here saying that their gateron switches have failed. It's all really unclear.
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Online Rob27shred

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 05 February 2024, 15:27:41 »
As others have said this is a very murky topic unfortunately & the 50 to 100 million presses some switch manufacturers claim is based off of very controlled testing. Like Leslieann said there is a myriad of factors that can affect the switches operational lifespan negatively. That said I have been in the hobby for around 6 years now & have a few sets of switches that have over 2 years of usage on them. IME the only switches I have ever had fail on me were the Drop Holy Pandas from the first round they sold of them. Those ended up having fairly brittle housings & more than a few of them had the legs break off the top housings while being soldered into a board. Other than that I have had some dud switches from almost every manufacturer, but considering the amount of switches I have used that is to be expected. As far as the ones I have installed in boards & did not show any issues early they all have been fine, even years down the road. That said I already knew how to solder good & fast before getting into this hobby & I am very meticulous about the way I build my KBs. So I believe as long as you do not overheat the pins when soldering in the switches, be careful to make sure all your switches are inserted & seated properly, & stay away from using switches in a plate that fits them very tightly you should get many years out of your switches. Hotswap is another animal though. I do have a few hotswap boards, but I do not constantly swap the same switches around between them. I think using the same switches even a handful of times in hotswap builds is too much stress on them. The few hotswap boards I got are hotswap because that was the only PCB available for them when I bought them. With the exception of my Geon Frog 8K, I specifically got that board with a hotswap PCB for trying out switches I am on the fence with. That way if I don't like them, I am not stuck having to desolder them.     

Offline zegonix

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 21 February 2024, 13:32:15 »
Thanks for the replies.
I exclusively use hotswap PCB's for the flexibility and because I'm lazy. You mentioned mechanical stress during manipulation as a big factor in switch longevity which seems very plausible to me.  Interestingly enough, the switches who failed where installed just once or twice, others I used and moved more. Could be actual difference in quality or coincidence of course.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 21 February 2024, 18:14:37 »
Thanks for the replies.
I exclusively use hotswap PCB's for the flexibility and because I'm lazy. You mentioned mechanical stress during manipulation as a big factor in switch longevity which seems very plausible to me.  Interestingly enough, the switches who failed where installed just once or twice, others I used and moved more. Could be actual difference in quality or coincidence of course.
Those that failed may have had bent pins originally or just pushed in further during install, or something else, hard to say.

It's important to remember, hot swap is a hack, these switch tabs were never meant to be used as pins for swapping, therefore they lack the necessary strength (and/or rigidty) for insertion, let alone multiple insertions. Then you have any movement/vibration which can just make it worse as time goes on. I'm not trying to make hot swap sound like garbage, just trying to explain the realities of it, for all the bad, the good side is when one does fail it's easily replaced so...
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| KBT Race S L.E.
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| Logitech Illumininated | IBM Model M (x2)
Definitive Omron Guide. | 3d printed Keyboard FAQ/Discussion

Offline Mandan

  • Posts: 39
Re: Switch Longevity Comparison
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 06 March 2024, 18:45:41 »
I'm quite new to the custom keyboard hobby and have only just two years of experience. Lately I noticed misses and bouncing on several switches I used for about half a year.

I'm typing this on an IBM Model F keyboard made in 1984.  I have written several books and magazine articles with it, and my outgoing email runs about a megabyte each month.

I had to buy a DIN-to-USB adapter for it when DIN ports went away, but the keyboard still works just like it always did.

The IBM Model Ms use a plastic key-plate and plastic rivets that sometimes have to be serviced, but it's not unusual for them to go over 20 years without needing service.  Unicomp makes them now.  Modelfkeyboards.com sells some Model F variants