A QUICK GUIDE THE MECHANICAL SWITCHES
Keyboards are usually categorized according to their switch types, which is the mechanism under the key. Besides cost and design, different switch technologies affect overall user experience such as key response – the force needed to press or the feedback you get after a key is pressed, and key travel – the distance required for a key press to be registered.
Today, perhaps due to the popularity of e-sports and professional gaming, mechanical switches have become synonymous with quality, and more keyboard manufacturers are putting focus on producing mechanical keyboards. But, what exactly is a mechanical keyboard? Who is this Cherry you keep hearing about? And why should you care if your switch is red, brown, blue or black?
Unlike your typical rubber dome keyboard (those that come with a desktop system), each key on a mechanical keyboard has its own switch beneath it, so you can remove and replace individual keycaps. Not that you would need to change them frequently anyway, because a switch like one from Cherry has an average lifespan of up to 50 million actuations.
Because every key has a unique switch, mechanical keyboards feature many benefits over your conventional rubber dome ones, like NKRO (N-Key Roll Over), which dictates the number of key combinations that can be executed at the same time. Users with mechanical keyboards housing a PS/2 interface enjoy true NKRO, whilst most USB mechanical keyboards can only handle up to 6 concurrent keystrokes. This is due to the two interfaces differently managing input. However, many high-end gaming keyboards are already able to offer full NKRO over USB.
Among mechanical switches, Cherry MX switches are the most popular and commonly used today. Here’s a closer look at the four major sub-types: Cherry MX Black, Red, Brown and Blue.