Gateron 'Silent' Optical Switches

Hello enthusiasts. Do any of you have an interest in optical switches? I do, and have wanted to make custom Gateron Optical switches of my own for over a year. I even bought all of the materials for my project well over a month ago, eager to begin. However, I’ve delayed actually doing so because of a recent discovery; supposed Gateron ‘Silent’ Optical switches. The only source I’ve seen these advertised for sale on are X-Bow’s website, where they’re currently charging a hefty $50 ($0.45/ea) for 110 pieces:

This seems a bit questionable to me, seeing as they don’t have a single picture or explanation about what exactly makes them silent. I sent them an email inquiring further, asking if they might have a picture of the switches or some other resources about them. Unfortunately, I was told there was nothing but this specs sheet supplied directly from Gateron:

However, I was unable to find a direct comparison for these switch on their website. The only ones that seem even relatively similar are the KS-15 model, but they don’t mention silence as far as I’m aware:

These links are in Mandarin Chinese, and this is because less information is written on the English site. I suggest just using Google Translate for this isolated case. For convenience, here is a machine-translated screen snip of the page for Gateron Silent Optical Silvers:

Compare the image in my post to the specs of the typical Gateron Optical switches, as shown here on ePathBuy:

What I found most notable were the bottom-out values. The specs sheet for the Silent Optical switches shows a total travel distance of 4mm across the board. However, the Gateron Optical Silver and Yellow switches (non-‘Silent’) are correctly listed as 3.2mm. Assuming the sheets are in fact correct, the question is simple: what did Gateron do to the Silent switches to make them different? Did they refit parts from their silent mechanical switches into their optical line? I question if this is the case, since the stems are supposed to be longer than typical mechanical switches, which might mean requiring special molds. Why aren’t they even listed on their website, or more easily accessible otherwise?

There are many questions I doubt will be answered too soon, but I thought some people here may like to read about this modest mystery. I encourage you to make a post here, should you know anything about these switches. If you happen to own some, feel free to upload pictures in this thread. Thank you.

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I would assume that they did the same thing as other “normal” mx switches do, add rubber bumps to the top and bottom on the slider on the stems. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I would assume.


If I understand correctly (and I might not), these optical switches work by interrupting a beam of light that passes through the center plastic cylinder / “pin” at the bottom. The center post of the stem is what interrupts the light as it travels to the bottom of the center pin. IF that’s how these work, all they’d need to do is install their dampened stems in lieu of normal ones. In fact, looking closely at the silver one on their page, it looks like the little rubber pads are visible:

In the other photos the circled area is the same color as the rest of the stem, but this one appears to be white in that area, which is the same color as the dampening pads that Gateron uses.

In my experience, Gateron silents are indeed pretty quiet - roughly on-par with something like a dome keyboard - and since these won’t have any contacts, these will likely be even more so.

Edit: two things I find curious - one, the travel distance you mentioned. Two: the resting position of the pictured switch. In the past, Gateron’s silent switches have had a higher-than-normal resting position, with the rectangular portion of the stem poking up above the housing - here they appear perfectly flush. This makes me think that these top housings are relatively new, and possibly revised to improve the performance of their silent stems.

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The center post of the stem is what interrupts the light as it travels to the bottom of the center pin.

Yes, that is accurate.

In fact, looking closely at the silver one on their page, it looks like the little rubber pads are visible

You may be on to something with this color theory. Though, looking at the silver switches on my board, I’m not so sure. I think it could be just a matter of the camera and lighting they used, which may obscure the grey stem somewhat. For example, if I look at the yellow image, I see no white protrusion. They use the same images for both silent and non-silent switches, so unfortunately, I do not think images will be of reliable help.

This makes me think that these top housings are relatively new, and possibly revised to improve the performance of their silent stems.

This is certainly possible. I can confirm with my current switches that they are flush as you have described. In my time using them, they have felt smooth and unobstructed. However, I doubt they are suppressed in any way (and if they are, they would be in need of lube).

Frankly, I would have picked some up already if they were cheaper. To pay equal or more for stocks as I would an ‘artisan’ switch isn’t really a great value to me. I wish I knew a good way to silence the rails on stems myself, outside of lube. It’s almost a bit disappointing to learn these exist, since I finally have all the materials on-hand to work on my custom switches right now. I suppose the only way to learn if they’re real is to shell out for them. Do you think it is worth the expense of $55 for 110 stock silenced switches? These would end up being $80-$100 switches after modding if I did buy them; not an easy purchase for me to swallow.

If the silver switches on your existing board aren’t explicitly “silent” they won’t have those little pads. I have a post that shows a few examples of silent stems as well as the resting position thing I mentioned.

Another possible option for silents if you end up with / already have some that aren’t - Gazzew sells silent stems by themselves, and his are the most quiet - an image of his silent linear (returning to market soon) is in that post I mentioned.

As for the price it’s hard for me to say as I haven’t seen them in person or used them myself. If a switch gives you what you want, it’s worth it - but if you’re looking for a good value I don’t know that I’d take the plunge not knowing. Is it possible to get samples / purchase a small number of them for experimenting? That’s usually do with switches I’m curious about.

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Gazzew sells silent stems by themselves, and his are the most quiet

You have me quite intrigued. Though, how long are the center shafts? I do believe Gateron opticals utilize stems with longer shafts than those of typical mechanical keyboards. I also wonder if he makes stems that won’t extend the travel distance, since I wish to have it as low as possible. I don’t post on Reddit, but your SSS Panda switches sound solid. Is that the only place to contact him?

Ironically enough, it seems :3ildcat made a video on X-bow’s keyboard which includes Optical Silent Silvers back in late May:
I’d searched many times, but it never came up in my search results until now. I truly have no idea how or why. He didn’t showcase the switches for long, but from what I saw, your theory appears to be correct. You can see it a bit around two minutes into the video. This is the only video with even a glimpse of these switches that I have seen to date. Not super quiet, but not bad for a stock switch at all. Just image how they could be

Is it possible to get samples / purchase a small number of them for experimenting? That’s usually do with switches I’m curious about.

I don’t think so, since as far as I’m aware, they are not really focused on being a components vendor so much as selling $200-$250 keyboards. I’m no influencer or well-known enthusiast either, so I doubt they would oblige me. Still, the prospect of just slipping in an alternative stem isn’t something I considered until now. Invyrs sounded neat a month back or so, but I didn’t dip into the Drop since I didn’t know if they’d work for my units.

That’s a good question about the center shafts; I can tell you that the ones on Gazzew stems are pretty much standard length. Looking at some pictures online, it does look like those shafts are longer on the optical switches.

:3ildcat showcases some neat stuff, and some of the most interesting switches I’ve seen on the channel are exclusive to Korean markets.

I’m not too sure about Gazzew - his reddit username is the only way I know of to contact him; u/hbheroinbob

That said, I have seen some of his parts on Daily Clack’s website - so when the silent linears come back to market they will probably show up there.

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Hey my dude literally just made this account so I can reply to you.

You can buy with confidence form Xbows that the switches they offer are truly silent. they have little rubber on the stem to dampen the sounds. Similar to your situation, I was also looking for a set of silent optical switches. I was also really doubtful as to whether these were legit as you really couldn’t find them anywhere else. I suspect they have it cheaper in Taobao but I cant understand Chinese.

You guys can see in the picture that under the switch is a protrusion that is hollow in the middle. When the you push down the switch, the stem fills it up thus blocking the light from the board and thus actuating your keystroke.

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I appreciate you taking the time to make these posts for me, ET. I’ve been rather interested in optical switch technology, but many of the resources on them are hard to come by. How does their tactility compare to standard optical switches for you? I’ve heard many complain that silent switches add to mushiness in general. I’m not so sure if that would maintain to be the case after modifying my non-silents.

I ended up customizing my full set of Gateron Optical Silvers over the course of a few days after my posts, finishing recently. I hope I haven’t missed out on too much potential ‘quality’ by choosing to do this, but at least they seem to be reasonably quiet and responsive. It was simply such a high cost for what I viewed as ‘stock’ switches that I could only see myself buying them if on sale like the rest. I still need to put the board back together, but it should be set up by tomorrow if all goes according to plan. I’ll make a post here of my informal phone audio recordings then, if that’s of interest to you. Thank you for sharing your pictures and personal experience with me.

Yes I agree that these optical silent switches are really expensive compared to other switches, but I just wanted to try them out. You could get a discount code from them, all you have to do is place the switches you want in the cart but dont buy it, just let it wait there and Xbows would send you some messages. Wait till they give you sa discount code. I got 10% off, but i cant remember what was the code. You can try “XBOWS2020” but i’m not sure if that’s the code.

I think the tactility is good regardless of the linear optical switch. The switches that came with my board were optical blacks and the one’s I bought from them were optical silent blacks. I can’t say for the optical clicky switches since i haven’t tried them.

From my observations, the moment you press the buttons (when you depress the switches even just a little bit), the switches would activate. I presume all the optical switches would work this way since its the bottom of the stem that would actuate the button, so long as the light from the board is blocked. the only differences would probably be the weight.

However, that isn’t to say that there would be many accidental presses. The blacks switches are hard enough that you can rest your hands on the keyboard without accidentally pressing some switches. But with regard to softer switches (like gateron optical yellows 35g), they might actuate to the slightest weight on the switches.

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Yes, it’s certainly possible that is the case, especially with some of them that have shorter actuation distances. My custom 15g silvers seem to be similar in this way, and even when they were 45g, actuated fairly quickly. I’ve been curious what appreciable difference there is between the standard and silent switches both in feeling and sound. From what I can tell, it seems that they actuate so quickly that it may not even matter too much for me in the end, assuming I don’t bottom out all the time. I have a silent touch, so I certainly hope that’s not the case.

I’m really curious if the spec sheet I shared was accurate, because I prefer a low actuation, and it showed a shared 4mm travel among all silent variants. Perhaps it was simply a matter of mistranslated text? In any case, thank you for the advice. I’ll keep X-Bows in mind and wait for a future sale. Who knows, maybe another vendor will pop up with more reasonable prices in the future. If people like us continue to promote our use of optical tech, we may be so lucky.

Thank you guys for the information I just wanted to know if this website was a scam or not I really need silent switches so I think I’ll just pay for them and mod later

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Nice, feel free to post back with your thoughts and a picture or sound test whenever you get them. The standard ones I have were quite smooth at stock, so I imagine the silent variants must be solid as well. Good luck with your project.