Author Topic: My First Switch Tester / Sampler  (Read 2175 times)

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Offline Zobeid Zuma

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My First Switch Tester / Sampler
« on: Wed, 20 September 2017, 10:53:36 »
I'm still a bit of a n00b around here, but I think I'm picking it up pretty fast, and I'm shopping for the mythic Holy Grail of switches to use in my first build.  So, I bought a tester with a selection of 12 switches -- acquired from NovelKeys.  I wanted to especially focus on Kailh BOX switches and Outemu switches, since both companies are doing some interesting things, but I got a couple of others in the mix as well.  So, after playing around with them for a little while, here are my impressions. . .

Cherry MX Green:  Your basic heavy clicky switch.  When I was first getting interested in better keyboards, a friend pointed me toward the WASD Code and suggested Cherry MX Green switches with O-rings.  I didn't take his advice, but I did file it away for future reference.  Now I see what he meant.  It's smooth, it's heavy, and it clicks, and there are no gimmicks.  It feels good.

Cherry is a company that seems to provoke divided opinions.  To some folks there are Genuine Authentic Cherry MX switches and then there are crummy cheap-ass clones.  To others Cherry is a company resting on its past reputation with worn-out tooling and no new ideas while the Chinese forge ahead.  I did read that Cherry have updated their tooling recently, and I can say the switches I've gotten have been smooth and nice.

Gateron Green:  These are often mentioned as a preferred alternative to Cherry MX Green, but I find myself less enthralled with this example that I received.  It's the single most "pingy" switch I've ever encountered, even more so than Outemu blues, and it often seems to ring like a bell after I strike it.  It feels similar to the Cherry MX Green, but slightly loose.  Given a choice I'd take the Cherry switch.

Kailh BOX Brown (standard) and Burnt Orange (heavy):  These are the most distinctive tactile switches I've encountered.  They put the tactile "bump" right at the top, so it hardly feels like a bump at all.  It just takes a bit more effort to get the key started moving, then it's smooth sailing from there all the way to the bottom.  I find this force profile highly pleasing, and these immediately became my top choices for a non-clicky tactile switch.

Kailh BOX White (standard) and Blue (heavy):  These are clicky switches that feel smooth and precise, and they make a loud, sharp click.  However, they have a quirk that I've never seen before.  They make an equally loud click on the way back up!  Yes, for each key press you get two strong clicks, and that just might be too much of a good thing.  I'm not sure that's the kind of auditory feedback I want when I'm touch-typing.  (However, when I tap the key quickly, the clicks are so close together that they make an interesting sound I could possibly get used to.)

Outemu Brown (light), ICE Purple (medium) and ICE Dark Purple (heavy):  The Brown is the standard tactile switch, and the ICE Purple variants appear to be Outemu's counterpart of Zealios.  I've heard all the fuss about this whole category of switches, so I had to test them.  I can't even tell much difference between the spring weight of these three, it's subtle.  The tactile bump is somewhat stronger than a Cherry MX Brown (which to me is barely discernible) and it comes after the switch has already started moving a bit.  However, when I tap the key quickly, it merely feels like unasked-for roughness rather than useful tactile feedback.  I'm not a fan.

Outemu Blue (medium), ICE Blue (medium) and Teal (heavy):  I already had a good experience with Outemu Blue switches on a keyboard that I've had for a while, so I knew I wanted to compare these clickies.  On the keyboard they are a bit pingy, which is less noticeable on this tester.  I wondered if the ICE version would feel or sound any different from the regular blue switch, but I can't tell that it does.  The Teal is the same thing, only a smidge heavier.  If I go for a clicky switch and decide the double-click of the Kailh isn't for me, then these Outemus should be an easy choice.  There's not much difference in sound or feel between the Cherry MX Green and the Outemu Teal, but the Outemu costs less and comes with sockets.

Oh yeah, the Outemu Teal switch and all of the ICE switches came with the little sockets on their pins, so you can solder them in and then later swap them (for other Outemu switches) without de-soldering.  Nice touch, that.
« Last Edit: Wed, 20 September 2017, 11:02:10 by Zobeid Zuma »