The best guide to mechanical keyboard switches


Originally published at:


Probably 25 years ago I tried to explain to somebody how the keyboard that came with my bosses first IBM PC XT had this perfect clickyness, and they thought I was nuts.


I understand mechanical keyboards just fine. What I don’t understand is why so many of them. Along with everything else in PC land suddenly has RGB lighting. There are RGB mousepads and ram sticks all over the place.



Cherry MX Grey, please.


And I bet you can dent a table top by drumming your fingers on it.

Cherry MX Brown at home, buckling spring at work. I’ve got a office so it doesn’t distract too many people.


clearly you didn’t learn to type on a mechanical typewriter


I can’t afford one of those fancy new keyswitch keyboards. Although I own an antique Zenith from their small 386 machine with some sort of green Alps switches. Other than that, buckling spring Model M all the way! Besides, it feels just like the IBM Selectrics I learned to type on!

I picked my first personal Model M out of a metal recycling bin behind the machine shop where I used to work in 1996. Did I mention that it was submerged in green water full of mosquito larvae? I dried it out, cleaned it up and it’s in service to this day. Everyone I find in a thrift shop, I hoard.


Calling @codinghorror, cause well this is your thing.
I am pretty sure a codekeyboard is the first luxury buy for me once I find employment.


I hate to bring down the tone of the conversation, but I have really gown to love this keyboard.

Gauche, I know.


Great, I’ve already been made fun of for my love of mechanical keyswitches once today.


Gamers. More specifically the people who think gamers want lighting.


I think the new Magic Keyboard is close to the Perfect Form of keyboards. With the cylindrical battery compartment replaced by an internal lithium one with no visible on the case, it has an almost sf-nal quality.

Here it is, with the previous gen on the right.

It makes me think of how a new low-end iMac might look: basically like a 17" iPad Pro on a stand, with exactly that brushed metal case, of similar thickness.


Honestly if someone massdropped “Magic Keyboard But With Switches” it would clean up. You’d have to do something odd with the arrow keys and right-shift, but all the little mech boards are odd in that way.


Previous version (that took AA batteries) is ok except when the batteries degrade inside and corrode the cap shut and you have to throw the whole thing away.



Haven’t tried one of those yet, but I eventually plan to use one with my iPad.


Me too - because it is so thin and close to the desktop there is no need to elevate your palm in order to avoid rotating your wrist. Very good for avoiding tunnel carpel, and very close to the experience of typing on my MBpro - which is like having this keyboard embedded in your desktop.

The fact that the typing feel is consistent from MBpro solo and docked at my desk is great too.


The arrow keys on both of those can die in a fire. That is the one thing I don’t like so much for my laptop keyboard as well.


Kind of related: my brother is trying to make a fidgety toy where one could test out different types of keys. Bonus of learning 3D printing with his son. Was originally supposed to be a key tester but turned out everyone he handed it to liked playing with it. (Bonus for me of someone wanting me to play ukulele, on camera no less, ha) (ps-hoping I am not breaking rules by seeming to advertise. Long time reader, never comment. Has been a fun family project though)


At the other end of the spectrum, I buy switches for about 4¢ each off Alibaba Express, torment them (shave down the sides) with a belt sander…

…and then cram them into development boards.


Ultra-rare Cherry MX Clear mechanical keyswitches are the heart of the CODE keyboard.

I’m not sure that “Ultra-rare” is something you want when sourcing computer components.