With so many new switches that can differ in spring length, spring force, housing material, stem material, stem tactile bend, leaf differences, lube options, and other modding options, do you ever find yourself a bit “overwhelmed” and just switch to one of your boards with some “classics” on them?
What are your “classic” switches?
For me it would definitely have to be,
Gateron Black Inks (also Gat Black Inks with UMHWSOEAUHTOEUTNHS stems)
Halo Clear (yeah I’m a mad man and I love it)
Halo True (See parenthetical above)
Ergo Clears (62g & 63.5g)
Mx Black Switches
The switch world feels like a very large but shallow lake. I see so many new switches focusing on a minutia of differences, but that’s what happens when a lot of things are stuck in the MX formfactor. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, it just is what it is. I think new molds that are improved for smoothness with improved tolerances are the way forward as we are approaching switch optimization with respects to what we can further do to continue modding them.
So what are your classic switches? Any memorable builds you have them in that really sealed the deal for you?
Are you still looking for that next top switch? Have you already found it?
Do you think any of the new switches coming out will be future classics before we know it?
I can’t admit to having tried an incredible range of switches, but of those I have, I’ve definitely found some classics. So in order of preference.
Gazzew Boba U4T
Gazzew Boba U4
Everglide Aqua Kings
I had used U4’s and Kiwi’s almost exclusively until I built my Matrix SE with the U4Ts and that really changed things. Now I can’t imagine using anything but U4Ts.
Then on a totally different end of the spectrum, building up a Had60 with the Aqua Kings showed me not only were they good, but they felt nice to type on too. So I installed them in my Melgeek Mojo68 and love the feel and sound they brought to the board.
And finally, I did join the cult of Topre and though I’m only an acolyte at this point, I am completely in love with the Leopold FC660C with the 45g silent switches. That for me is one of the absolute best boards that you can take out of the box, use immediately, and be completely happy with it as is. Unless you discover Norbauer’s cases in which case you have to modify it for ‘reasons’.
I should give a lot of credit to Theremin Goat’s reviews. When I was searching for switches for the first time it was his ranking that turned me on to the Kiwi’s and U4’s.
I have only been in the hobby for a year, so I think the only classic switch I have probably used are Cherry MX Browns in my Filco from 2015.
I just ordered U4Ts for my next build, so I guess I will get to try a “modern day” classic, as they seem to be very popular.
My current favorite switches are Designer Studio White Jades, but I don’t hear about them much. The description says they are similar to Everglide Dark Jades, so if those count as a classic switch I guess I am close to trying those
The following purchase decisions wouldn’t have been made without ThereminGoat’s amazingly detailed reviews.
So what are your classic switches?
The “classics” I know of based on how long they’ve been around and how often they show up in conversation. Zealios(redux edition) Pingy, rather just harvest old browns off some “gamer’s” broken 2015 mech to make ergo clears if I’m going to do all the work. Ergo Clears: Need lube badly, not sure if the result of bad stems or whatever. Topre in general: Using Deskey’s various sliders, rings, gaskets, and pads has been a massive pain in compairson to what is available to MX. Topre(980c 45g): Really wish I got a slienced version in a stronger weight, best thock sound I’ve heard in a switch. Modding it to fit in a heavy-9 has been painful.
Topre Realforce RGB: Rattly but RGB and fits MX caps.
Hako(beacuse I’m kinda on the side of IC, especially after MD basically yoinked Matt3o’s brand too): True are good, clears felt kinda…“chonky”?
Linears: They all feel the same to me. MX Reds, speed silver, gat yellows, gat ink blacks v2, Aqua Kings, Alpacas. IDK, I just lack the nuance to detect the difference in feeling.Out of them all, box reds I got on a FLEsports 980m clone sounded the best, but that was definitely a function of the case.
My favorite switches
Any memorable builds you have them in that really sealed the deal for you?
Uncomfortably Tactile: Zealios V2 - Switch tester, I ain’t dropping $1.1/switch to be uncomfy.
Best VeryTactile: U4T - Melody 96, full Alu with brass plate Blue Samurai
Runner Up: Pro Purples - GMMK 104 with some random 8008 clones in DSA
Best Light Tactile: Pewters - Keychron K4 with new OEM cherry stabs, upgradekeyboards stab pads, YMDK Laser-etched carbon caps.
Runner up: Box Browns - FLESports 980m clone that came stock with “tea” switches.
Have you already found [top switch]?
The Naevy v1.5. Sounds and feels good stock due to POM long pole stem. 3 pin so it fits everywhere but it’s still stable. It breaks in very well without lube, handles light lubes/oil very well. Medium weight makes it comfortable for typing and still responsive for gaming. I swear I have about 500 of them in preparation for when they get taken off the market and replaced with something else.
I went exclusively Topre a few years ago, like late 2019, and haven’t looked back. I have very little idea of what goes on in the MX world. Even upcoming projects in custom EC/Topre don’t interest me at all. I have parts for a build that won’t happen till later this year, but that’s about it.
This week I put my set of holy trash pandas in my bacca60 and wow it was a real chef’s kiss moment. They remain extremely satisfying to me. From the sound to the obnoxious tactility it just feels like peak custom keyboard to me.
Before this return to the panda, I had been using my heavy grail for a while. 45g topre would be my other classic.
That right there is the flame to my moth. Couldn’t tell you why, but nothing quite tickles my brain like teasing-out distinctions between things that are almost the same. The day the MX patent expired my fate was sealed…
But yes - as much as I love my endlessly-varied minutia, there are plenty of times I just go for something I already know, and that I know I like. Stand-bys. Classics.
Not many on my list are “classics” in the sense of early tone-setting for the space (especially after being spoiled for quality these past couple years), but in my personal library of keeb life, they’re the ones I read again and again, the ones that stay in boards longer than the rest.
My stand-by classics:
Clicky: Kailh Box Whites
Linear: TTC Aces & Wilds (just so darn reliable)
Tactile: TTC Matrix Tactiles & Holy Bobas (latter kinda changed the landscape for me when I first tried them)
Silent Tactile: TTC Silent Bluish Whites (very recently edged-out Silent Box Browns & Boba U4s for me… can you tell I like TTCs?)
I can’t say I have a stand-by silent linear right now; it used to be Gateron Silent Inks, but I’m not as into them as I used to be. I’m generally a big fan of Kailh Deep Sea silent linears, but I don’t necessarily see myself using them more often than any other given switch thanks to being just a bit light for me. Yes, it took considerable will-power to keep the list that small. There are lots of switches I really like or that I find interesting that aren’t on it; I kept it trimmed-down to those I use regularly or at least repeatedly.
Some honorable mentions that are more classically-classic, but don’t get as much desk-time as they used to thanks to the above:
Clone Blues - my gateway drug
Cherry MX Browns (like @GFWD; in a Filco from mid 2010s) - babby’s first non-clicky tactile
Gateron Silent Blacks - I don’t actually own a set, but used them in my first build for someone else. I was surprised how much more I liked these than their Cherry counterparts - they’re by no means smooth, but the swishy texture and travel sound combined with the “plock plock” bottom-out sound is something I find very satisfying. If someone wants a basic / budget silent that’s not too soft, this is usually where I point them first.
Kailh Box Browns - it keeps getting better? yes! First tried on an AnnePro2, and were my favorite switch for a long time. Even after I’d started dabbling in customs and fancy switches I kept going back to that keeb with those switches for quite a while. So satisfying, so convenient. I’ll also note that multiple build clients have chosen these from testers.
Kailh Silent Box Browns - very satisfying if not the most consistent; probably the first “silent” tactile I really liked; tied with the family of Bobas for switch I’ve purchased the most of for myself and build clients
TTC Gold Brown V3s, lubed - yes, there are four browns on this list, no, these aren’t nearly as good stock as the TTCs above, yes, I found them super satisfying after tuning
My answer for both would be “yes, TTC Silent Bluish Whites”. They might need a name less than eight syllables to really catch-on in the world of short attention spans, but darn if these aren’t the most solid stock silent tactiles I’ve ever tried… >.>
I’d probably also put TTC Aces (and other similar switches, of which there appear to be more as time goes on) in this category - I understand they’re already certified classics in the East, and I think if enough people try them, the same will happen here; less because they’re the best at any one thing, and more because they don’t suck at anything and also require zero effort.
Emphasis mine; I think I get it, man.
The springs might sound a bit like the ring of baseball bats on fence posts, but the Halo switches were the first ones I tried that fascinated me. They had a design intent beyond “tactile” (help facilitate a non-bottoming-out typing style) which I think they nailed, and considering that intent while using them changed the way I thought about switches for good. They might not be the switches that first drew me in, but they may very well be the ones that lit the fire of interest that still burns in me today.
Halo stems in other housings are easy to love, but I think the switches themselves are a bit under-appreciated in the grand scheme of things; both in terms of (MX) historical context, and in terms of how enjoyable they can be to use.
From one old head in the hobby to another I completely agree with your take on the flood of new switches. While I love that we have so much choice now, I think we’re getting pretty close to all what can be done with a switch in a MX footprint. So I have also found myself having some switches I consider classic & gotos. For me those would be (in no particular order)
Good vintage/retooled/hyperglide MX blacks spring swapped to something 63.5g & below.
Milky top/black bottom Gateron Yellows (spring swap optional & I’d also add Pro milky Yellows to these as they are that good IMO. Just not old enough to be called classic yet)
Good vintage/hyperglide MX browns (I don’t think browns got a retooled version, I may be wrong there though)
Good Cherry housings or Gateron milky top/black bottom housings with PE stems
ALPS SKCM Browns
ALPS SKCM Oranges
ALPS SKCM Undamped Creams
ALPS SKCL Greens
ALPS SKCM Blues
Capacitive/membrane buckling spring
I could be happy just using those switches for every build, but do admit I would never do that. As I love trying new switches from different manus, made from different plastics, with non standard springs. So while I never fall back on my classics completely, but usually will pick one of them for a build I want to turn out just right.
Currently using a KUL ES-87 with HG blacks, while preparing to rebuild a camo Filco Majestouch with HG blacks as well. Also got some HG browns on a rama kara, quite happy with latest batch of Cherry HG switches.
GMK Sandstorm is the only keyset I want on that board. I originally planned to go with Durock POMs but didn’t like the sound profile. Hopefully, these HG blacks with 70g TX long springs will sound better.
I’m probably going to need/want to refit my Filco Majestouch 2 with MX Browns at some point.
The MX Browns are now actually the strong point of the board, as they are worn-in pre-tooled Browns. So they have become relatively smooth, feeling like factory BOX Creams.
But the CoStar stabilizers were facked to begin with [fighting against Cherry-profile and PBT] and now they are a little bent, I guess. Or maybe they always ticked and rattled.
I guess I could retrofit Cherry stabilizers via soldering. But I had also imagined something more ambitious, using those replacement Filco plates and PCBs somebody is making. [But they are for TKLs, I think. Mine is full-size].
Hmmm. Wonder if a new-build Filco TKL made with aftermarket parts would be better and cheaper than most custom TKLs. Probably not, if it’s still tray-mount.
It’s amazing how many of these ‘classics’ I have in builds. 2 full Ergo Clear keyboards, a BOX Brown TKL, Zeal V2 Leopold, and the parts to make Holy Bobas. I also got a BOX White TKL for a relative.
If Halo True is a classic, so is Pro Purple. I think it’s basically a lighter Halo True. The spring might get stronger at the end. There’s something about the spring, anyway. Most replacement springs are boring with it, although 62-63.5 are pretty good.