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Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:01 am UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
I'm forever debating between the clears and the springs

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:17 am UTC
by ahammel
I favour the blues, but I've not tried anything stiffer. I use browns at work so as not to annoy my coworkers.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:13 pm UTC
by Flumble
Switch? I plug my keyboard directly into the USB port.

In all seriousity, I've touched a few fancy keyboards, but I only noticed a difference between all of them combined and my laptop keyboard. And the most notable difference was actually the polyhapticity.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:23 pm UTC
by azule
More explanation or link please. All I could think was scroll lock.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:11 pm UTC
by Flumble
azule wrote:More explanation or link please. All I could think was scroll lock.

I think the obscurity is intended/favourable for the thread, so only people who know and mildly care about the topic cast a vote. (there's no "I don't care" option in the poll)

It's about the keyswitch mechanisms in computer keyboards. A lot of keyboards simply have a piece of rubber below the plastic surface (that you touch) that gets depressed (don't worry, it doesn't get sad) and thereby closes a circuit.
Another common mechanism is the buckling spring, in which a spring standing on a seesaw is compressed and buckled when you depress it. This causes the seesaw to flip over and close a circuit.
Then there are the "mechanical" keyboards. Most often, the keycaps themselves contain a piece of metal that close a circuit when depressed. And most of the poll options you see above concern mechanical keyboards, because you can order these keys with any kind of spring, force and type of feedback. Except for when your desired feedback is powering your house.
And there are numerous other keyboard types.

I didn't know the scissor mechanism in a laptop keyboard was special enough to deserve a different entry. Then again, it is special that these keys don't have a core that goes straight down a gap.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:29 pm UTC
by KnightExemplar
Red / Brown switches feel "squishy", while Blue switches make the loud "clickity-clack-clack" sound of the old IBM keyboards. Gamers tend to prefer Red/Brown while gaming, while Typists typically prefer Blue or Clear for typing.

Different switches for different purposes. The other switches are a bit more obscure to me... but generally speaking, I only look at two classes:

1. Blue for typing
2. Red for gaming

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:11 pm UTC
by azule
Thanks for answering anyway, Flumble.

I don't see the color stuff on those links, though, so I'm still a bit confused. But now I know what a switch is.

I've had to fix different keys on keyboards. I've seen the scissor and, well, I don't remember the other names. Non-scissor. ;) I've taken keys off that appeared to be on a pole. Maybe one with a spring.

Point being, what do I prefer? For cleaning and fixing and putting back? Probably the pole one (if that exists). Prefer using? I love the really soft ones that also have good haptic feedback. Maybe a bit more space (I know, offtopic). I'm using a keyboard right now, but I haven't a clue what's underneath (maybe scissor?).

How do you guys know what mechanism you're getting?

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 10:19 pm UTC
by Flumble
azule wrote:I don't see the color stuff on those links, though, so I'm still a bit confused. But now I know what a switch is.

As with anything on the internet, feel free to select the text of one of the poll options and search for the term. :wink:
This article has nice animations of the mechanisms of different keyboards by Cherry. As you can see, keys like red and black are simply to be pressed down, while key like brown and white have a bump that you need to overcome before the keypress is registered. And keys like blue have an additional segment that falls down to give an audible tick.

If I had to buy one, I'd go for keys that don't go too deep, are tactile and silent and require very little force –just enough so you can rest your fingers on them. I should measure the force my fingers exert on a resting surface sometime.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:04 am UTC
by azule
Flumble wrote:As with anything on the internet, feel free to select the text of one of the poll options and search for the term. :wink:
Sure, but no. Sometimes you can end up on a fruitless search when you don't have enough knowledge yet. Thanks for all the links.

Flumble wrote:This article has nice animations of the mechanisms of different keyboards by Cherry. As you can see, keys like red and black are simply to be pressed down, while key like brown and white have a bump that you need to overcome before the keypress is registered. And keys like blue have an additional segment that falls down to give an audible tick.
I take it that this is a PC gaming question, then. I should probably go.

But before I do, keyboards are good. Trying to use touchscreen keyboards is so sad that I really only do it one fingered (instead of using all my fingers, as I should!). The reason is the lack of tactile feedback BEFORE I click a key.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:36 am UTC
by bachaddict
azule wrote:...

But before I do, keyboards are good. Trying to use touchscreen keyboards is so sad that I really only do it one fingered (instead of using all my fingers, as I should!). The reason is the lack of tactile feedback BEFORE I click a key.

That reminds me of a review of the first iPad, where the reviewer mentioned it feeling like typing with frostbite.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:38 am UTC
by ahammel
azule wrote:I take it that this is a PC gaming question, then. I should probably go.

Many typists prefer mechanical keyboards as well for reasons of comfort and tactile feedback.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:31 am UTC
by azule
Maybe I should have said "gamer". Meaning, people that know about this issue are probably gamers. Gamers that also type realize they need a different set of switches for typing than gaming. The only analogy that comes to mind is that of a guitarist knowing exactly what guage of string they need for each type of play they are engaged in (from doing mainly chords as rhythm guitarist, to lead melodies), but a casual player (or parent or assistant) might not know that any of that matters and grab what they first find in the store.

In other words, no offense. I never thought of this issue, even though I've had very different keyboards and even knew how they worked. *shrug*

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:02 am UTC
by bachaddict
To weigh in on that point, I don't game and haven't found my netbook keyboard (probably scissor-type) bad enough to buy a special one. I use an old HP keyboard along with a larger monitor sometimes, just because their relative positions are not fixed.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 11:00 am UTC
by Xenomortis
azule wrote:Maybe I should have said "gamer". Meaning, people that know about this issue are probably gamers.

It's not just gamers that hammer their keyboards.
http://blog.codinghorror.com/the-code-keyboard/

Programmers, writers... anyone that spends huge amounts of time typing may consider it worthwhile to invest in a solid keyboard.
And I think its sensible to do a little research before spending upwards of £100 on something you don't know much about.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:01 pm UTC
by ahammel
azule wrote:Maybe I should have said "gamer". Meaning, people that know about this issue are probably gamers.

I'm not.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:58 pm UTC
by spaceLem
I'm typing on blues right now (no O rings), and it's quite pleasant (and not nearly as loud as I was expecting), but I have browns at work, and think I prefer those. My wife has tried both and prefers the blues (she says they fill her with joy).

When I was small our family PC had an IBM model M with buckling springs, but I can't really remember what it was like.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:01 pm UTC
by ahammel
spaceLem wrote:I'm typing on blues right now (no O rings), and it's quite pleasant (and not nearly as loud as I was expecting)

I find that the build quality can make a big difference in terms of noise. My Filco blues aren't much louder than my Das browns.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:51 pm UTC
by azule
ahammel wrote:
azule wrote:Maybe I should have said "gamer". Meaning, people that know about this issue are probably gamers.

I'm not.
Sorry, y'all. I'm wrong again. I'll say "hardcore" before I'm wrong yet again and should really leave.

One day I'll be one of you.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:25 pm UTC
by spaceLem
ahammel wrote:
spaceLem wrote:I'm typing on blues right now (no O rings), and it's quite pleasant (and not nearly as loud as I was expecting)

I find that the build quality can make a big difference in terms of noise. My Filco blues aren't much louder than my Das browns.


I've got a Ducky Shine Zero TKL with blues at home, and a Ducky Shine 3 TKL with browns at work. I was very tempted by custom WASD keyboards with green and clears, but they had to come in from the US and it was just too expensive.

My previous keyboard was a Corsair K70 with browns (and O rings). It was really nice, but it met an unfortunate accident with red wine. The O rings do make a difference. The one before that was some horrible rubber dome keyboard that my wife kept badgering me to replace. I'm glad I waited.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:55 pm UTC
by lalop
Been using Reds for a while. I like them because they're low-resistance and sort of get out of my way. Also (though this may be a matter of practice), when I last tried blues, I was unable to prevent bottoming out after pushing past the actuation point.

It might also help that I've customized my browsing and program navigation to be pretty much like gaming (emacs+evil, firefox+vimperator, ranger, zathura), though ironically, I've only tried these switches once in an actual game.

I don't think having "Kalih Switches" as its own category is very useful at all, considering that they come in around as many varieties as the Cherry categories.

On the other hand, I'd love to try Buckling Springs and/or Topre sometime.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:42 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
azule wrote:Sorry, y'all. I'm wrong again. I'll say "hardcore" before I'm wrong yet again and should really leave.

One day I'll be one of you.
I don't primarily intend to nitpick, but "hardcore" still sounds inaccurate. It's not so much a question of depth of involvement, but more that of a niche. Some of us take special notice of the way it feels to type, and thus have taken a little extra time to pick out a certain board and certain switches which feel comfortable.

Oh gosh it's one of those damned analogies again. I can't help it, I just instinctively wrote:It's just the same way some, for one reason or other, pay special attention to the ergonomics of their chairs, and have taken an extra step to find a chair they like, while others will happily sit on anything that keeps their bum from touching the floor. I wouldn't call someone who sits on a HÅG a "hardcore chair person" or anything, and I wouldn't call someone who likes the "ping!" of buckling springs a "hardcore typist".


But on topic: I'm uncertain what you mean by "best". Personally, I'm in the "it's first and foremost a matter of personal preference"-camp; There are certainly quantifiable attributes associated with keyboard switches which can be used to call one type better than another (for example: Rubber domes (and scissors too - they have rubbery dome-shaped things in them) go all mushy within a few months, whereas most mechanical switches don't change their tactile characteristics for a much longer time) but the important question is which one feels good to your fingers.

But inregardless, I've voted for Reds, because they're the best thing ever and anyone who disagrees is wrong and also a poopie-headbecause that's my personal preference.

I have touched some buckling spring switches in the past, on some old electrical typewriters, and oh my! It's a very physical response indeed! I don't know if I would enjoy typing on those all day long, however. I already press my keys quite hard, which is a bad habit from years and years of typing on stale gummy bearsrubber domes.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:56 am UTC
by Xenomortis
Browns are the only ones I think I've used.
I picked them because I do a lot of regular typing and play video games a lot.
Also blues would probably annoy anyone else in the house, and I suspect I would hate Red/Blacks (I typically like tactile feedback).

That said, brown switches are quite loud if you bottom them out, and it's hard not to (typing very carefully you can avoid it, but it's not easy).

lalop wrote:It might also help that I've customized my browsing and program navigation to be pretty much like gaming (emacs+evil, firefox+vimperator, ranger, zathura)

vim is no game - it's serious business.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:17 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
Xenomortis wrote:Browns are the only ones I think I've used.
I picked them because I do a lot of regular typing and play video games a lot.

This always seems to offend Brownies... but... I've tried a few boards with your precious Browns in them, and they always feel really soft to me. The tactile "click" is too subtle for me, so it feel more like there are little breadcrumbs stuck under the key caps or something of that nature. It's like they say in advertising - if it's not abundantly obvious, it will seem like a mistake. That's how I feel about Brown switches. The little bumps and tickles they transmit to my fingers seem unintentional, like a flaw. Blues on the other hand have a big, flamboyant tactile click, which properly comes across as an intentional feedback.

It could also be an issue with the particular boards I've tried. I'm fairly certain they were all PCB-mounted and generally slightly lower quality. I'm curious to know what Browns feel like in a sturdy case on a thick, hard metal mounting plate like I have my Reds on.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:32 pm UTC
by azule
eviloatmeal wrote:
azule wrote:Sorry, y'all. I'm wrong again. I'll say "hardcore" before I'm wrong yet again and should really leave.

One day I'll be one of you.
I don't primarily intend to nitpick, but "hardcore" still sounds inaccurate. It's not so much a question of depth of involvement, but more that of a niche. Some of us take special notice of the way it feels to type, and thus have taken a little extra time to pick out a certain board and certain switches which feel comfortable.
I must then nitpick back. ;) You might not want to be hardcore/a nerd about switches, but you (and the others) are. If you're involved so much into it and care, that's what I mean. Maybe I get what you say about the niche aspect. But I guess that's how hardcore works. If everyone is involved in it, then it's not hardcore anymore. If it's at niche level, you're automically hardcore. Sorry. :P

If I were to make a Religious War about this, what would it be? Does involvement in X make you hardcore or just a nerd? etc?

Please, ignore me if you can. lol

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:47 pm UTC
by lalop
Xenomortis wrote:
lalop wrote:It might also help that I've customized my browsing and program navigation to be pretty much like gaming (emacs+evil, firefox+vimperator, ranger, zathura)

vim is no game - it's serious business.


What I meant was that I've remapped the default navigation of all those programs to focus around the same area as I used to use for gaming (QWERTY ijkl). This makes my normal mode somewhat reminiscent to my old muscle memory (though not entirely, since for browsing, where my most common action by far is scroll n lines up/down, I've actually re-remapped those to QWERTY i/j), and I'm guessing probably even helped with the transition.

Technically, though, you're actually right, since text editor navigation is a lot more efficient than hitting the equivalent of the arrow keys. So, vim is kinda a bad example of the basic navigation inspired by it. Weird.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:18 pm UTC
by Xenomortis
I have considered remapping vim's controls to focus around the QWES keys (making the navigation keys q,w,e,s) since my left hand is very comfortable in that region thanks, thanks to video games, but it looked like a lot of work...

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:29 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
azule wrote:You might not want to be hardcore/a nerd about switches, but you (and the others) are. If you're involved so much into it and care, that's what I mean. Maybe I get what you say about the niche aspect. But I guess that's how hardcore works. If everyone is involved in it, then it's not hardcore anymore. If it's at niche level, you're automically hardcore. Sorry. :P

Perhaps you're right, but from my perspective I certainly don't feel hardcore about keyboards. I simply took the time to go to a store and pick the one that feels right for me, the same way you would spend some time in a clothing store to find the right pair of trousers. Would you say you are a hardcore trouser enthusiast just because you tried on more than one pair of jeans in a day? Not everyone does that - some just go to Walmart and grab three pairs of medium tracksuits.

The hardcore keyboard people are the guys at geekhack who get their custom plates manufactured and solder together their keyboards from scratch, lube their switches, change out the springs to get the perfect weight, and so on. Perhaps going to a store and choosing between the available products, reading up on tech specs and such seems hardcore to you, but from "up here" there's a whole other realm of hardcore way above my head.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:40 am UTC
by azule
Okay then. I just need the name of this slightly less hardcore person. softcore? hah

No, I actually don't spend much time with pants. I don't check every seam to see if they look good or even feel good. If they go around my waist so that I can bend and so that they don't fall off, and the pant legs don't drag on the ground or interfere with my shoes, then I'm good and I get them. The criteria is not for me to enjoy them...but for them to not get in the way while I go around panted and not arrested for indecent exposure.

I'm hardcore about organizing. I kinda suck at it (you don't have to be good at something to be hardcore) but I'm all in and enjoy it way too much.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:03 pm UTC
by eviloatmeal
azule wrote:If they go around my waist so that I can bend and so that they don't fall off, and the pant legs don't drag on the ground or interfere with my shoes, then I'm good and I get them. The criteria is not for me to enjoy them...but for them to not get in the way while I go around panted and not arrested for indecent exposure.

That does sound a lot like the criteria I used to choose my keyboard - I need keys that don't jiggle around in their sockets, and I want the travel to be quite light and uninterrupted, but I need something to tell me when I get to the bottom.

Perhaps that, by your keyboard standards, is hardcore. I would describe this as dilettante or dabbling at the very most.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:38 pm UTC
by scarecrovv
Maybe it makes me a heretic, but I went with scissor switches because I learned to code on laptops and got used to it. Now by comparison normal desktop keyboards have:
  • An excessively long key travel length
  • An excessively high actuation force
  • An excessively tall height from where my palms sit to where the tops of the keys are
  • No clit mouse
which means I could never love them. Fortunately I was able to find a desktop keyboard that doesn't suffer from these defects. I got one last year for work, never looked back, and recently bought another for use at home. It seems to be out of stock now. I hope that doesn't mean they're discontinuing it.edit: Oh good, it's back in stock now. That's a relief.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:48 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
scarecrovv wrote:
  • An excessively long key travel length
  • An excessively high actuation force
  • An excessively tall height from where my palms sit to where the tops of the keys are
  • No clit mouse

I'm just speculating here out of curiosity, but you could probably address most of those issues and still end up with a decent (mech) board:

Travel: This shouldn't really be a problem - for example Cherry's MX switches have the actuation point 2mm down. It's a surprisingly short distance if you only press the switch down far enough to activate it, and not to the bottom. You can also put on o-rings which reduces the distance to bottoming out.

Actuation force: I believe Cherry supplies MX switches with springs that go all the way down to about 40g, which should be more than light enough.

Key height: I'm someone manufactures "low profile" keycaps to fit popular switches.

Nipple: This is the only element you would have trouble finding. I know Unicomp manufactures some models with these, but buckling spring switches might not be your thing, as they're quite unique, and a little on the stiff side.

Either way, if you're happy with your chiclets or whatever, then that's the most important thing. As I've already said, I think choice of keyboard is primarily a question of comfort, not performance.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:36 pm UTC
by mousewiz
I've been using my Logitech G15 for a good number of years now and have no real complaints about rubber domes. But I assume the mechanical things are popular for a reason, so I wonder what I'm missing. Plus the G15 is getting a little old... who needs a little display when you've got 3 monitors these days? Plus the macro keys are sooo far away, and can't be programmed to repeat left click when held down so I need macro software anyways...

Mechanical keyboard users, was it love at first type? Or was it more of an adjustment?

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:25 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
mousewiz wrote:Mechanical keyboard users, was it love at first type? Or was it more of an adjustment?

For me it clicked instantly (NPI).

I had been using a Saitek Eclipse (actually, the model before the Eclipse) for many years, and the rubber domes were really worn, so they felt rather gummy. What I really missed was for the keys to have a discrete action - a definite top and bottom - and neither was really present, as the gummy rubber domes would act as cushions, and I developed a habit of pressing the keys very hard because I didn't get any feedback as to when to stop.

So when I went to a store and touched a really solid board, with a thick, rigid mounting plate, and feather light Red switches, it was exactly what I was pining for: Incredibly light to the touch, so that I don't have to bang on the keys, and a very satisfying and natural "clack!" to tell my fingers it's time to stop applying pressure.

However, I've heard some people say they needed a bit of adjustment.

Either way, my advice is always to try to go somewhere and touch a keyboard with mechanical switches, and preferably try a bunch of different switches. Like I've said before, Red switches are my personal favorite, but they are super light, and it puts some people off. Others prefer Brown switches, but I personally think they feel very strange. Blue switches are fairly commonly praised, but they make a lot of noise. Razer now makes their own brand of switches, which are green, but are similar to Cherry's Blues.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:13 pm UTC
by ahammel
eviloatmeal wrote:Razer now makes their own brand of switches, which are green, but are similar to Cherry's Blues.

Which is needlessly confusing, since Cherry greens are a thing.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:31 am UTC
by WanderingLinguist
I'm typing this on a browns. I used to use blues (and still do at home), but they were too noisy and people in the office complained.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:11 am UTC
by eviloatmeal
ahammel wrote:Which is needlessly confusing, since Cherry greens are a thing.

I concur. Not a big fan of Razers quirky business decisions. Also not a big fan of the boards of theirs that I've touched - the switches seem all loose and wobbly. But then, as stated, I'm a fan of big rigid mounting plates, and maybe it's just an effect of PCB-mounting.

WanderingLinguist wrote:they were too noisy and people in the office complained.

Clearly you need an office with fewer complainy people.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:07 am UTC
by EvanED
I have a keyboard with Blues, and I like them quite a bit. However, I haven't used others in enough of an amount to really comment. (I did try a Kinesis, which uses Browns, for a few days. I think I liked the Blues more than Browns.)

But... I've decided that, until you get really crappy (or really worn) keys, the keyboard shape is more important to me than the keys. And the way it falls out, even though I like Blue switches more, the two best keyboards for me that I have been able to try both do not use mechanical keys at all. The MS Natural 4000 (2nd place) uses rubber dome, and the Sculpt Ergonomic (1st place, though I have two big complains about it still) uses scissor switches. Of those two, the reason the Sculpt is 1st is because of the switches. So I abused the topic and voted for that. :-)

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:29 am UTC
by cjmcjmcjmcjm
I think I'm going to get a Topre board for work and move the Unicomp home for typing projects. The Poker (Clears) will remain my travel companion.

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:26 am UTC
by NancyBruce
I like blue . Which switch do you like?

Re: Best keyboard switch?

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:01 pm UTC
by Mishrak
I use a Cherry Brown Das Keyboard and it has been one of the best purchases I've ever made.