I'm Rumai. Hey

Hey. I’m Rumai (pronounced roomy, or however you like) :slight_smile:

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

MOD-M Tactile

MOD-H Tactile

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

Aliaz 100g

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.

Rankings:

  1. Zealio 65
  2. Zealio 62
  3. Tealio (the most impressive switch of the 25, by far- my preference is still fairly clearly tactile and this finished in 3rd)
  4. Kailh Purple
  5. 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.

Rumai

7 Likes

There is no right switch, there is only the switch that is right for you.

The first switch tester I ever bought had only six switches, and they were all flavors of Cherry. I had strong opinions of those and they provided an excellent starting point. (My strong favorite of the bunch was Cherry MX White).

If you start attending keyboard meetups, you’ll be exposed to a cornucopia of strange and wonderful switches, and owners who love them. I very much recommend going to one if possible. It will blow your mind.

I don’t regret a thing. This community is kind of crazy, but it’s also crazy kind. All I’ve ever had to do was ask, “so, what do you like about your keyboard?”

I think it took about a year to learn most of the vernacular, and to firm up my own preferences. It was a strange and wonderful journey down a rabbit hole, but I learned carrots are delicious and it’s always duck season.

Hi! I liked your write-up from a “noob’s” perspective :slight_smile: Although you seem much more knowledgeable than the term “noob” would imply!

I consider myself “hype-allergic”, so I didn’t believe anything I heard about Zeal’s switches. Recently I got a switch tester (thanks @mgsickler NovelKeys!) with Blue Zilents in three weights. As with your experience, I did not expect to be as blown away by the feeling as I was. I am almost sad to say that they are far and away my favorite switch, and it’s really close between the 65g and 67g weights. I ended up going with 67g for a 60% build, and it’s become my daily work driver.

This was an awesome self-introduction! Thanks for sharing.

I’m mostly a Topre dude myself, but I think your assessment of Tealios in particular is spot-on. For an MX board, that is definitely my favorite switch (perhaps with some modifications), based on all the ones I’ve tested at meetups recently. I’m currently working on producing a Cherry MX keyboard, and frankly Tealios have been a big inspiration for me in undertaking that project. :slight_smile:

Great first post! Always great to see someone’s thoughts on switches. They sometimes give me a new perspective on a switch that I didn’t see before and make me want to try them again. My favorite is the 67g Zealios, but I’m about to start trying some new switches now that I’m back building keyboards. Tealios are next up, that are going on a brass plate in the Fjell I just picked up.

Enjoy experimenting and good luck with your first build!

Thanks for the warm welcome, appreciated!

I’m adding the following:

Cherry Red
Cherry Black
Kailh Red
Kailh Black
Kailh Silver
Kailh Burgundy
Kailh Speed Burnt Orange
Kailh Berry
Kailh Plum
Outemu Purple
Outemu Ice Light Purple
Zilent 62g
Zilent 65g
Zilent 67g

Hoping to also get an Outemu Ice Dark Purple.

I’m avoiding BOX switches entirely for now. I’m not sure if the recent issues actually extend across all BOX switches, and I’m not on top of the space enough to be confident that the issues have been resolved in the latest releases. Makes an easy decision to avoid them on my initial build. Definitely looking forward to revisiting them later.

*Edit/big mid-post decision:

I was going to avoid BOX switches entirely… We’ve come this far though, right?

Adding Hako Violet, Hako Clear, Hako True, and Box Royal (new version of all four). Getting ten of each so I can throw them into a hot-swap aluminum case and actually feel typing across a row or cluster- have realized that’s worth it. Doing the same with 62 65 and 67g Zealios as those three are my current front-runners (67 growing on me, 62 fading, but I’m confident throwing ten in an actual board will clear things up). Making the decision to pass on further consideration of Zilents.

Upon deep self-reflection, I’ve admitted to myself that I’m too much of a product elitist (?) / insert better phrase here to give “mainstream” choices a fair chance. Product elitist doesn’t capture what I’m trying to say. It’s not the brand, the price, or the fact that they are “modified.” It’s their reputation. Their reputation has become a part of my opinion. I believe my underlying bias will overshadow the actual feel. Maybe I wish that weren’t the case, but I don’t believe it makes sense to try to fight it. Self-awareness and honesty lead to success and inner peace, no?

I do genuinely think it’s really cool that the community is pushing these new switches and innovating, so on the plus side I like that I’m supporting that. That said, I’m abandoning the top list for now, and narrowing in on the above BOX switches along with the three Zealio weights. If a BOX wins my love, I’ll take my chances with the new designs- I’m very happy with the keycaps I chose, but they hold no sentimental value. If not, I’ll order the remaining Zealios in my chosen weight.

TIL that typing out a forum post can really aid my decision process. I also learned about the differences in north and south facing PCB LEDs, resulting home-row issues, and holtites.

I understand. Seeing a HHKB for the first time likely had a greater impact on my deep dive into keyboards than any other event. If you ever execute on the case (I told you I’ve spent a lot of time reading), I doubt I could resist.

(Side history question- Has there ever been a legit case made for the HHKB?)

Yes, and it was horrible.

The story I’ve heard on that one was that it was expensive and had really bad acoustic properties. There are many challenges to surmount in making an HHKB case, so I’m entirely sympathetic to whoever designed it, though. I’ve got some thoughts on how to approach it, but I’m trying to get my Heavy-6 group buy rolling first and will work on HHKB schemes when those are being machined. :slight_smile:

I’m confident it’ll be possible at some point.

I mean PFU fujitsu did it (although the HHKB is their own in-house board so that’s like having the answers to the test).

http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/hhkeyboard/hhkbprohg/externals.html