Hey. I’m Rumai (pronounced roomy, or however you like)
This will be my introduction post, but I don’t want it to be a no-content post. I also doubt anyone really cares about my keyboard history, at least not yet. That’s fair.
This will be tldr for most. If you don’t want a noob’s first impression of way too many switches, this isn’t for you, and I won’t be offended.
I’ve been lurking on the sidelines of the mech keeb community for about a year, spending surely close to 100 hours reading, looking, and shopping. I’ve decided now is the time to dive in.
This is a really cool community. Incredibly positive and supportive. I like that. In the interest of trying to contribute to the community rather than simply firing a bunch selfish questions (I have plenty!), I’m going to start by breaking down the 25 switches I received today. This starting post will be fairly useless, though perhaps interesting, to seasoned veterans. I am hopeful, however, that it may help others who are just jumping in.
I also think it will be helpful for me. I bought these switches to see how I feel about these first 25 switches, as well as to use the first impressions to guide me to additional switches. I intentionally bought some switches I knew I didn’t like, simply for the point of reference. I also knew I’d ultimately want to try a bunch of other switches.
I imagine this is somewhat implied, but I’m actively planning my first build. Happy to get into that here, or another thread, or not at all. For now, this can be something along the lines of “noob’s first build, part 1- switches.” If there’s any interest (or at least no objections), I feel like it may make sense to add to this as I finish out the build, but that may just be me wanting things to be “complete.” If I’m way off putting this in the intro forum, tell me! No worries.
Shoutout to NovelKeys for the switch tester and the cute packaging.
I know, a switch-tester is no substitute for using the switches on a real board. I’ve read it a hundred times, knew it would be true, and had it immediately confirmed when I placed my fingers on it. I still have no regrets and think this is a fantastic starting point.
Let’s get into it.
Cherry Brown- scratchy, dead/no “life” to the feel
Cherry Blue- as expected, I’m firmly in the “I want tactile or maybeee linear (more on this later)” group. Nothing wrong w/ these, just not for me. Used to think I loved clicky, that it was additional feedback and therefore more feedback overall which must be better, but now I think it distracts from the tactile feel and is an inferior form of feedback. I still have no problem with loud, but I don’t really like clicky
Cherry Green- too heavy for anything other than maybe a numpad or macro
Cherry Clear- while I wouldn’t call this super heavy, the resistance feels awkward, also moderately scratchy
Cherry White- prefer it over Greens, but still can’t see myself ever using
Kailh Brown- significantly more lively and significantly less scratchy than Cherry Brown. Actually kindof growing on me
Kailh Copper- super responsive, don’t think I enjoy it as much, feels more pressured, but definitely could see the use case. Feels pretty similar to the Brown
Kailh Purple- not very tactile, but actually really like this. Of the first 8 switches, my favorite (though Kailh Brown gaining fast). Going back through, this is almost certainly my favorite “mainstream” switch. Followed by Kailh Brown. Followed by Gateron Brown. It’s pretty close between those 3, then a fairly steep dropoff
Gateron Brown- feels much more like the Cherry Brown than Kailh. If you gave me Kailh and Gateron Browns blind, no chance I’d say they are the same/modeled after the same. Kailh has so much more resistance. Gateron feels less scratchy than the Cherry, and a lot lighter than the Kailh. Actually feels most similar to the Kailh Purple so far. I like this switch, but initial impression is that it feels a little “cheap”
Gateron Green- smoother, lighter, and more alive than the Cherry Green. >>> than the Cherry, but still not for me
Gateron Silent Brown- dislike the silence, and seems to feel less satisfying. Would recommend true noise-isolation if you want to focus on feel, seems impossible to distance yourself from the sound. It is part of the feel
Greetech Brown- respectable. A little wobbly, a little more dead. Still prefer over the Cherry!
Zealio 62g- Full disclosure here. I absolutely wish I had blind-tested first. I didn’t think of it and was too excited to start poking obsessively. So going in, I know these are super popular, super well-respected, loved by the elite, however you want to put it. Despite knowing that there is simply no way I can distance myself from that bias, I have to say these switches blow every previous switch completely out of the water. Not even close. I truly believe if I did a blind test, I’d reach the same conclusion, but still, massive grain of salt. Should you try these if you’re new? Absolutely. Should you try them blind to make sure you’re not like “OMG ZEALIOS!” ? Absolutely. I got all the weights for a reason- I absolutely expected Zealios to be at the top of my list. If I had to buy a set of switches for my build without testing, I would have gone with 78g Zealios. Keep in mind this is with pretty extensive research including videos, switch breakdowns, etc, but still. I was and still am biased. Now let’s get into the weights. (More on what I like about Zealios up next.)
Zealio 65g- Best switch I have yet to try. Not close. Okay, somewhat close. 62gs actually feel really good (I’m pretty shocked that I’m considering the lightest). Almost like I want 64g customs. Zealios somehow feel softer and better built at the same time. More responsive, more alive. It doesn’t seem to be the wobble. Seems about the same. I can’t really put it into words. The actuation and resulting tactile feedback feels so good, while still being super smooth. I don’t really get it, and it makes me want to go a bit deeper into researching the actual mechanics. While I expected Zealios to be at the top of my list, I also went into this fully expecting to want to test more switches before finalizing my build choice. That hasn’t changed. Zealios have shown me the drastic difference in feel in what should be a pretty similar experience. Now I want to find and try everything similar. I want to try all the other “exotics” (I think of these as community-made/community-conceived, boutique is perhaps a better word). I saw a video comparing Zealios to Kailh and Outemu Purple switches that was super helpful (credit to modsandends). I will be trying those switches and anything else similar that I can get my hands on. *Update- these feel so much better near the bottom, and I think often when I say “feels lively” that’s what I’m trying to capture. They almost push me back up a little and it feels amazing. I want that.
Zealio 67g- Noticeably heavier. Surprising. Still feels great but too heavy, not in the running for me. Will admit that I feel I’d need to try a full keyboard of heavier switches to really know, and probably for a couple days. Initial reaction is that there is definitely a sweet spot, regardless of hand strength, and it’s much closer to the lighter end of the spectrum than I realized.
Zealio 78g- I said I would’ve chosen these if I couldn’t test first. It would have been a huge mistake. I’d prefer Cherry Browns (which I basically hate) over these. Simply too heavy. I have strong hands, workout 50+ hours a month, thought I loved the idea of heavy switches. No. Just no. There is no way this will lead to as fluid of a typing experience, regardless of finger strength. It’s not just about fatigue. It’s about feel and fluid transitions. Another cool choice for a macropad if you want a different feel for certain “send it” tasks. 67g I could totally see. 78 is a strong no.
Tealio- You can tell by my selections that I was very confident I wanted tactile, not clicky, not linear. That said, these are fantastic. I’d absolutely try a full board of these if I were a writer. I also am absolutely open to trying additional linear switches in the future, all because of this switch. The most lively switch on the list. So good that I’d consider buying a full set just to give it an actual trial (feels like pretty huge praise when I didn’t think linear had a chance going in). I don’t know if I’ll ever have function keys again, but this is the F5 I’d recommend to sneakerheads waiting for drops.
Zilent 78g- To me, silent feels worse, but see my comments re: Gateron Silents earlier.
MOD-L Tactile- These next 3 are interesting. Not very tactile. A little wobbly. Still feel nice though, feel a little smoother (than most of the Cherry, Kailh, Gateron). They feel distinct. Would be interested in the L potentially if I were a writer. These didn’t wow me enough to really take them seriously over other options, but I don’t think others should count them out, worth a try
Aliaz 80g- my favorite silent by far. Keep in mind I only have the 78g Zilent (I’d expect to prefer the 65g Zilent over this Aliaz). I don’t think I want a silent board at this time, but would definitely consider for a silent build. Smooth
Jailhouse Cherry Blue- Both jailhouse blues feel pretty gross. Not for me. The Cherry is by far my least favorite switch of the 25. Not even close.
Jailhouse Gateron Blue- Gateron way better than the Cherry, but feels like too much resistance and then too little after actuation. Not sure who these Jailhouses are for tbh.
- Zealio 65
- Zealio 62
- Tealio (the most impressive switch of the 25, by far- my preference is still fairly clearly tactile and this finished in 3rd)
- Kailh Purple
- MOD-L Tactile or Kailh Brown
The more I play the more I think 4 and 5 might be flipped. Definitely close.
Honorable mention to the Jailhouse Cherry Blue, for being so incredibly unpleasant. In all seriousness, it’s super cool to be playing in a space where there is so much feel-based preference involved that some experienced users prefer something that would make me want to never use a computer again.
Fun first day.