Author Topic: Journey through many obscure switches before settling on something unremarkable?  (Read 1563 times)

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Offline squizzler

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I am wondering if many of us here have read about fancy key switches online and experimented with various ones, only to end up preferring, or returning to, mainstream Cherry models.

Initially I brought a KB paradise with Matias quiet click switches. This was based on reading around and imbibing opinions that said the best switches were tactile. Disaster! This was a couple of years ago when Matias was having problems with chatter in their quiet clicks and after that I took the plunge with an ergonomic with hot swap sockets. I got both pale blue and red Kailh box switches and started with the pale blue with clicker and higher actuation force. I enjoyed the experience of typing with the light blues, but when having to type in proximity to somebody else the blues got changed for the reds, with the intention at the time that I wild swap back. I have subsequently got another keyboard, again with box switches, another clicky, this one white.

Whilst I enjoy the friendly tick of the click bar switches, I actually think I prefer the reds best. The Matias, which I heard great things about when considering my first mechanical keyboard, I no longer in light of my subsequent experience find all that pleasant in feel. The click-bar box switches - and presumably Cherry Blue - have a more linear feel than Matias with the click and associated tactility overlaid on a basically linear action. This is nicer to me, despite Matias on their own website being dismissive of the inherently linear design of MX relative to the "proper" tactile action of their click leaf. And with that in mind, I think that, if I am quite happy with a variety of keys ranging from medium to light, from linear to clicky via tactile, and finding myself getting on best with the most "ordinary" of switch actions, there seems very little reason to avoid the benchmark brand. My Matias experience taught me to value reliability over claims for of switch feel, and whilst this was one of the more egregious examples, we still occasionally hear of other niche switches suffering various reliability issues.

So, from being somebody who came to believe various online opinions that Cherry was generic and unexciting, and a brand that real enthusiasts were supposed to move beyond, I am coming to consider them the "real McCoy" that I will likely pick as my next switch and stick to thereafter. I also admit that my views might be somewhat coloured by an element of Euro-patriotism that makes me want to support the product manufactured in the EU.

Whilst many such people will no longer be avid GH users and thus not stuck around, are there many here who have taken a journey through various obscure switch brands, participated in loads of "group buys", and all the rest of it, only to end up with a really ordinary or unremarkable switch becoming your favourite? Whilst Cherry Red or Brown might be considered "middle of the road", maybe you have ended up with rubber dome or apple chiclet keyboard as your keeper? Who has made the longest and most tortuous journey through keyboards and switches only to end up at what would in retrospect have been the most obvious choice at the start?
« Last Edit: Thu, 18 March 2021, 09:43:04 by squizzler »
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Offline Maledicted

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  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
I have the exact opposite experience, and I feel like your conclusion makes sense based on the switch type that you personally seem to prefer. There's very little to differentiate linears from each other other than smoothness. Even yourself, though, didn't actually seem to end up with MX. Even the humble box red isn't exactly the same as MX, or clones, and pale blues are about as far removed as you can get from MX in modern clickies. I find it curious that you framed everything around linearity, and wonder how many people may frame it the same way when they end up preferring less substantial tactility than most clicky people do. I suppose, then, that the very reason you like box whites and pale blues is the same reason that I prefer thick clicks to them.

I used crappy dome boards most of my life, then "gaming" keyboards happened and I was happy for years with MX red and blue switches (for gaming and typing respectively). Now that I have tried what other options there are, I would never use either again outside of laziness or compromise (my gaming board is still an MX red K70, partly because linears are linears, and MX red is just good enough).

Personally, I would rather use anything Matias makes than anything I have tried that's MX or a relatively close clone that I have tried, and I would rather use their clickies than box switches as well.

To add to the irony, capacitive buckling spring was literally the only thing that got me interested in looking for something better than MX. I had already owned a Model M. At the time I didn't see enough benefits over MX and just went back to blues, but the sheer smoothness and refinement of capacitive buckling spring in the form of an F XT I originally just bought to work with an old XT clone computer was what made me start looking at how much better clickies could be than MX blue.
« Last Edit: Thu, 18 March 2021, 13:50:18 by Maledicted »

Offline funkmon

  • Posts: 424
I am wondering if many of us here have read about fancy key switches online and experimented with various ones, only to end up preferring, or returning to, mainstream Cherry models.

Initially I brought a KB paradise with Matias quiet click switches. This was based on reading around and imbibing opinions that said the best switches were tactile. Disaster! This was a couple of years ago when Matias was having problems with chatter in their quiet clicks and after that I took the plunge with an ergonomic with hot swap sockets. I got both pale blue and red Kailh box switches and started with the pale blue with clicker and higher actuation force. I enjoyed the experience of typing with the light blues, but when having to type in proximity to somebody else the blues got changed for the reds, with the intention at the time that I wild swap back. I have subsequently got another keyboard, again with box switches, another clicky, this one white.

Whilst I enjoy the friendly tick of the click bar switches, I actually think I prefer the reds best. The Matias, which I heard great things about when considering my first mechanical keyboard, I no longer in light of my subsequent experience find all that pleasant in feel. The click-bar box switches - and presumably Cherry Blue - have a more linear feel than Matias with the click and associated tactility overlaid on a basically linear action. This is nicer to me, despite Matias on their own website being dismissive of the inherently linear design of MX relative to the "proper" tactile action of their click leaf. And with that in mind, I think that, if I am quite happy with a variety of keys ranging from medium to light, from linear to clicky via tactile, and finding myself getting on best with the most "ordinary" of switch actions, there seems very little reason to avoid the benchmark brand. My Matias experience taught me to value reliability over claims for of switch feel, and whilst this was one of the more egregious examples, we still occasionally hear of other niche switches suffering various reliability issues.

So, from being somebody who came to believe various online opinions that Cherry was generic and unexciting, and a brand that real enthusiasts were supposed to move beyond, I am coming to consider them the "real McCoy" that I will likely pick as my next switch and stick to thereafter. I also admit that my views might be somewhat coloured by an element of Euro-patriotism that makes me want to support the product manufactured in the EU.

Whilst many such people will no longer be avid GH users and thus not stuck around, are there many here who have taken a journey through various obscure switch brands, participated in loads of "group buys", and all the rest of it, only to end up with a really ordinary or unremarkable switch becoming your favourite? Whilst Cherry Red or Brown might be considered "middle of the road", maybe you have ended up with rubber dome or apple chiclet keyboard as your keeper? Who has made the longest and most tortuous journey through keyboards and switches only to end up at what would in retrospect have been the most obvious choice at the start?

I also found the opposite. I much prefer Matias...but of the MX style switches, I'll tell you what, I prefer Cherry, and it's a fantastic mainstream option. There's a reason it's so popular. Here's my move as a fan of keyboards.

1. Acknowledge and love Model M.

2. Move away from Model M to standard whatever keyboards because of lack of Windows key.

3. Find out about mechanical keyboards, buy a keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches. Be happy for years.

4. Find out they're still making Models M with the Windows key. Be happy.

5. Find out Matias is still making Alps type boards. Be happy.

6. Find out you can convert all this piss old keyboards I have in my closet!

7. Find out I can remap the keys so I don't lose my Windows functionality when going to a piss old keyboard.

8. Find out I can live with the ping and dumbass layout of Models F.

In between those steps I tried out a few switch types and keyboards, including some cheapo ones and some "expensive ones" and they didn't really make a huge difference to me in my preferences, which were for the sharp but light tactility of the buckling spring and Matias switches.

So now I main an F, but I rotate in the Matias and a Model M or two frequently, but the keyboard that's hooked up to my server has Cherry MX Blues. You just can't beat the absolute middle of the road pleasantness of those blues. You can type on em all day and enjoy it, and your fingers don't get tired and they're not so light you find you're absolutely annihilating the things when typing.

Offline bkrownd

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   I was never super picky, but I REFUSE to go back to my old Timex-Sinclair 1500 keyboard.  Those damned rubber chiclet keys are the devil's nipples.   >:D

« Last Edit: Thu, 18 March 2021, 17:03:07 by bkrownd »
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Offline Leslieann

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Cherry works, they should, they've been doing this a very long time, they also got very complacent and held the market hostage.
They didn't innovate, let molds go to crap and over charged for the product (go look at what we used to pay for them).

Not every aftermarket switch is a hit, nor is it always going to be perfect, but at least they're trying stuff and absolutely crashed prices compared to what we were paying. Is everything perfect in this hobby, of course not (especially with recent shortages) but our options have never been better.
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Offline tp4tissue

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Well you've already tried the God-Lvl switch Cherry Mx Bloo,  so of course everything just seems confusing now, because nothing measures up .

Offline Maledicted

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Well you've already tried the God-Lvl switch Cherry Mx Bloo,  so of course everything just seems confusing now, because nothing measures up .

Can you explain to me then how I am not confused at all in my own personal conclusion that MX blue feels like typing on plastic grocery bags and would rather use reasonably good dome with slider boards when I usually prefer clickies?

Offline jamster

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I've tried a bunch of different switches over the years. My strong preference is for boring, unmodded Topre 55, and I will compromise on MX-style for some reasons, but I have no desire at all to use stock Cherry MX switches. There is not a single switch in their range which I care to use. There are boards that I have wanted, which I will not buy, because they come with Cherry MX.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 March 2021, 11:47:16 by jamster »

Offline fohat.digs

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my own personal conclusion that MX blue feels like typing on plastic grocery bags


Leslieann's "jailhouse" mod transforms blue and green MX into really nice switches - light, quiet, with high activation point.

It's a lot of work, and I have never modded a Cherry keyboard myself (well, except for O-rings on my son's (gaming) Filco TKL with blacks), but the result is really quite pleasing.
 
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Offline Maledicted

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  • Location: Wisconsin, United States

my own personal conclusion that MX blue feels like typing on plastic grocery bags


Leslieann's "jailhouse" mod transforms blue and green MX into really nice switches - light, quiet, with high activation point.

It's a lot of work, and I have never modded a Cherry keyboard myself (well, except for O-rings on my son's (gaming) Filco TKL with blacks), but the result is really quite pleasing.

I think MX clickies, specifically, feel like that. Few clones manage to feel worse (I'm looking at you Ajazz). Outemus and Gaterons don't rattle at all right out of the box and are surprisingly crisp by comparison. If I didn't like vintage clickies so much and/or was on the hunt for something better than MX blue back then, when there were few viable alternatives otherwise, I'm sure it is something I would have tried. I would still like to try some if they're ever around, out of curiosity. I'm reasonably confident I would prefer box thick clicks, Alps, Matias, buckling spring, etc anyway though.

I actually wish there were more switches with lower actuation points, like capacitive buckling spring.

Offline Darthbaggins

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   I was never super picky, but I REFUSE to go back to my old Timex-Sinclair 1500 keyboard.  Those damned rubber chiclet keys are the devil's nipples.   >:D
LMAO, I'm stealing this for my sig.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 March 2021, 15:17:47 by Darthbaggins »

 bkrownd:"Those damned rubber chiclet keys are the devil's nipples."   >:D


Offline Avi_

  • Posts: 28
When I started with this hobby, I was heavily influenced by people's opinions that Cherry MX are bad or that Cherry MX Brown are bad or that MX design in general is bad. Now, after trying about 40 various switches, I think Cherry MX are great. They are very reliable, consistent, easy to type on. You need to form your own opinion.

Offline Maledicted

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... I think Cherry MX are great. They are very reliable, consistent, easy to type on. You need to form your own opinion.

This is a perfectly valid opinion, and I would even agree with everything you said other than their being great. A difference of perception, I suppose. I have said it a million times, but I think MX is the Honda Civic of switches. They get you from A to B with no fuss or drama. For years that was enough for me. It no longer is.

Still, if I want to get people into mechanical keyboards, I often gift people a cheap Amazon board with Outemu blues. They're good enough at rock bottom prices to pique interest, and may serve them well for many years. If they don't like them, oh well. In the worst case I wasted $30-50, and in  the best it can find someone else to addict ... kind of like the movie The Mask.

Offline diazel

  • Posts: 117
Started with Razer Black Widow Ultimate with "Razer's" green clicky clones. Going from the rubber membrane of a generic Dell giveaway keyboard to the BW was a game changer and it started me down the path of looking down on every keyboard that was not mechanical.

Fast forward, I start learning about MX switches and learn about reds and browns. All of a sudden the thin, high pitched click of the Razer greens (aka blues by another mother) were not my favorite. Still didn't care for the reds as I was a tactile guy and felt like the reds were all about bottoming out. Not to mention reds were entirely too light for my liking. At least that's what I thought at the time. My next foray was a used Filco Majestouch 2 with Cherry MX browns. All of a sudden I had a chassis with superior acoustics and a heavier, more appreciable stoutness to the board and I was hooked. Browns became my new thing. Picked up a Cougar Puro TKL with reds because I liked the fact that it came with a magnetic keycap protector/dust cover. It now awaits switch transplant.

Then...and here's what really set me down the path of spending what I now consider dumb time and money into keyboards: Anne Pro 2 with Gateron browns. Holy crap. Could not get enough of the space bar thocc. Could not get enough of the light show. Could not get enough of the BT and portability. Immediately wanted to try the other options so I picked up another model with the Kailh box browns. All of a sudden I had a board with MX browns, Gat brows, and Kailh box browns and was surprised to realize how different they all felt to me. Started looking at other high quality manufactured boards. Couldn't pull the trigger on a Leopold but was tempted for quite awhile regarding the Ducky One2 mini.

In the midst of this I started to find YT channels talking about how people modded their keyboards. Changing keycaps, lubing their stabilizers. Regretfully made silly purchases such as a WASD set from Massdrop which were laser ablated ABS which didn't match the other keycaps at all and looked horrid. There goes $20. Then a custom designed TKL set from WASD keyboards that were thin printed ABS. Wasted $60. Started doing more and more research about keycaps.

Fast forward to GH, r/mk, r/mechmarket, etc. Discovered Taeha Types. Discovered Chyrosran88. Proceeded to spend HOURS listening to various combinations of switches, caps, boards. Watched every single one of Thomas's keyboard reviews at least twice.

Blah blah blah, another Anne Pro 2, a Tofu60, DZ60+keyboardbelle kishsaver, Vortex Vibe, Lexmark Model M, Apple AEK, AEK2, IBM M122, IBM F122, F62, F77, Ducky 2, Ducky 3, Fujitsu rubber membrane, Maja, Space65, NMB dome with slider board, HHKB, Niz clone board, GK61, M0110A, U80... then down the switch rabbit hole: cherry mx clear, mx green, mx red, mx blue, mx brown, mx pink, gat brown, milky yellow, yellow ink, silent alpacas, YOK trash pandas, Zilents, Sakurios, TTC Gold, Holy Pandas (controversial ones), Boba Gazzez U4, Royal box navy...

So where did I land? I used to like loud, clicky tactile switches. My 3 keeb mainstays at this particular moment: Vortex Vibe with lubed Sakurios, Tofu60 with stock Zilents V2, and F77 capacitive buckling spring. That said, if you were to give me most any mech board with mx browns and properly tuned & lubed stabilizers, I would be juuuuust fine.

Offline Voixdelion

  • Posts: 338
LOL God I love this forum... Still feels like home to me.

I don't know WHAT has exploded in the mechanical switch market since I have been off on my merry way with the MX blues for typing Nirvana, but WOW there is certainly a plethora of choice now! 

It began with a article about the Model M5-1 at Dan's Data.  I wanted to claim one for myself and expected it would take a long while before it would turn up for me, but I was rather unprepared when it turned up in 36 hours after I put in a classified "WTB" at ebay.  But that was a pet project, not a typing revelation, so it began here at geekhack...  I went through all my exploring with the older stuffs, thank goodness, as I can't imagine how much money it would have cost me to go hunting NOW with all the new varieties that have cropped up.   I had gone through a small fortune as it was with just trying my way through the Black Alps, White Alps and various clones and imitations of the MX bluesand actually liking some of the weird ones that showed up in random chicony keyboards, but ultimately finding the MX blue to be where I lived most comfortably, but I never did try the MX browns, which remained a sort of a curiosity that I never felt compelled to satisfy when a new board was on the table because the Blues had become a comfort zone.  So even when there were more choices I leaned toward the clicky rather than the tactile alone, such as when I went with a Gateron Blue on the keyboard I got to pair with my mobile. (I got one of the Knewkey typewriter look-alikes, which is very much a hit with my pals who actually remember having to use those manual beasts before the IBM Selectric wonder took over..)

I actually decided to swing by here to check out if there was anything to know about a Kaihl brown switch, mostly because it comes attached to a trackball keyboard that I stumbled across and am kind of dying to pick up, but I haven't decided yet if I really need to add another one to the collection as it is already ridiculous.  I need to unload something if I am going to snag another new board.  But the irony of all of it is that the most EXCELLENT switch is still the first ones I used to type on back in grade 8 (waaaaay back when I was learning Turbo Pascal, and the teacher told me I had a real "knack" for programming, like I should really think about doing something more serious with that, as it was kind of a gift and I just thought we didn't need any NEW software programs because they already HAD word processing... I AM SUCH AN IDIOT, I KNOW!!). 

Ultimately, though I do have a fondness for many of the light clicky types I have encountered, as well as my beloved M5-1, what it all came down to after all of it, was the very place I started from decades ago.  There is no sound of productivity quite like that pingy 'ting!' that ye olde F-XT used to sing out in the computer room at my high school as I clattered through last minute essays that were due next period.  Lucky enough to find one stashed in the closet at my Grandfathers house, I never parted with it through all the other explorations, hoping that SOMEDAY I might get hold of a converter or fashion one myself to bring it back to modern life.

I think that as far as the way the actuation and pressure and springback of the keys feel, there will never be anything better than what I've got in my old model F-xt, ever since I added Soarer's converter, for which I am eternally thankful.  I am in utter shock at the prices these are currently fetching, as there was a time they were treated like the proverbial red-headed stepchild, what with everyone after the much more elusive F-AT.  Soarer really brought back a whole era, I guess? Brings to mind the idea that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" can even apply to the same man with a couple of decades in-between.  Though the Cherry MX blues will do for the modern boards,There is nothing quite as effortless as the F-XT, which feels like it uses just gravity alone to actuate on keypress, and that twangy echo that follows the clack of the key reverberating in the metal case is musical efficiency incarnate.  It's the closest thing to typing on an IBM Selectric typewriter, the ultimate office machine.   Or it would be, if I can get re-adjusted to the layout of the keys being a little off of where I am accustomed nowadays.  I am really liking that the CAPSLOCK is back where it should be and the CTRL is easier to access too - it's like really REALLY OLD muscle memory, but it is THERE....

It's the most perfect pressure switch design though.  All my issues with my XT are layout related, but I will probably push through that and retrain my typing to fit the XT rather than not use such a fabulous keyswitch that is readily available.  In fact, I was wondering if anyone around here could tell me how hard it might be to get hold of a replacement keycap, as I am missing my ?/ key and the right shift key as well.   I'm currently using the F7 and F8 keys in their stead since I don't use the function keys much at all.  Will it work with keys from the Model M?  That will take care of the ?/, but not the shifter. 

Trying to get a little practice on it, since I need to do some extended typing today.  I love this thing!  I am tempted to snag that trackball keyboard though.... I think I'm at the point where I very rarely meet a mechanical switch I don't LIKE.  But the capacitive buckling spring , I LOVE.  Then again, those browns remain a mystery for now...   I might have to find out what the tactile switch without the clicks is all about.  But there is no way I  am going to test all seventy some-odd of however many options there are now.  I think the category of switch is probably the most important thing.  Kind of like being an introvert vs an extrovert, you fit into a bigger genre of switch type rather than being a fan of some clicky  and some linear switch sort... I think I'm a clicky chick-y overall, which is why the browns haven't pulled my focus.... yet.  This damnable large trackball board might be a road of ruin I have yet to travel...     
"The more you tolerate each other, the less enforcement will happen."-iMav

Offline Maledicted

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... In fact, I was wondering if anyone around here could tell me how hard it might be to get hold of a replacement keycap, as I am missing my ?/ key and the right shift key as well.   I'm currently using the F7 and F8 keys in their stead since I don't use the function keys much at all.  Will it work with keys from the Model M?  That will take care of the ?/, but not the shifter.

Any buckling spring caps will work on any buckling spring board. Spacebar wire stabilizers aren't all the same, and there are multiple space bar sizes. I also had to swap some of the stabilizer inserts on my F107 when I went from Unicomp (They still newly manufacture Model M keyboards and caps) caps to the F reproductions, but the stabilizers are included. Your timing is impeccable to pick up some F XT quality modern reproductions from our very own Ellipse: Model F Keyboards

Production should still be in full swing.

No mention of trying Alps SKCM blues or whites when you like clickies so much? Modern clickies to try would be Kailh's box family, jades in particular (maybe pinks or whites too if you're attached to capacitive buckling spring). Matias' clickies (which I'm currently using at this very moment) are probably the best feeling and sounding modern clickies in my opinion, but the box jades are likely more robust and very nearly just as nice. It is hard for anything to compete with capacitive buckling spring and Alps SKCM, but they both come close.

There are switch testers available with dozens of different switches available to try without buying batches of switches or entire boards these days as well.