Hey, folks! Here’s a somewhat quick-and-dirty comparison between a few silent switches, because that’s what I felt like doing with my evening.
First, some sounds. I recorded all of these some time ago on my kitchen table with an old iPhone, a foot or two away from the keebs sitting on a folded hand towel:
Cherry profile thick PBT caps, lubed but crappy Costar knockoff stabs. Steel mounting plate with plastic case.
Notice the almost metallic rattly sound. These switches feel sandy and mushy at the same time, pretty unpleasant and not worth the price IMO.
OEM profile pudding caps, lubed clear plate-mount stabs. Thin aluminum mounting plate / upper shell.
These have a dry, “plocky” sound and feel much more smooth and crisp than their heavier, crunchier Cherry counterparts. Still some slight texture in the key travel, but it’s minimal. Low-key one of my favorite switches considering the modest price.
Cherry profile GMK caps, factory-lubed stabs, band-aid modded. Thick aluminum mounting plate and case. These have a dry, metallic, “snickity” sound, and are easily the loudest “silent” switches I’ve tried so far, though much less so than un-silenced switches of any kind.
I think the contact leaves against the stems are where most of that noise is coming from. They’re alright, and juuuust quiet enough for the workplace - but they feel a bit un-refined next to their linear cousins. (Excuse the background A/C and awkward typing on this one, for some reason.)
[Outemu] silent tactile stems (v2 or 2.2, can’t remember) in Halo housings, no lube other than what might be left over in the housing from the factory. OEM profile Ducky PBT caps. Lubed GMK / Cherry plate-mount stabs. Medium thickness aluminum plate / top shell.
Fairly quiet and more tactile than the Gat browns, but far less crisp and a bit wobbly. Even the sound has a “floppy” quality to it, as if I’m wearing oversized fat rubber gloves. These sound and feel a bit like rubber domes, minus having to bottom them out to register a key press.
The actual reason I made this post, [Outemu] silent linear stems (v2 or 2.2, can’t remember) in YOK Trash Panda housings, lubed with Gazzew’s “#2 blend” grease. OEM profile Ducky PBT caps. Lubed GMK / Cherry plate-mount stabs.
Extremely quiet - more-so by a long-shot than any silent I’ve tried so far, and I’ve tried almost all of them except for the new Silent Inks. (Next in line would be Aliaz switches, but they’re kind of “meh” IMO.)
All these were recorded under very similar conditions, and I’m hammering on the keys with enthusiasm for good measure.
Next, a few fuzzy images comparing some of the switches and stems:
Silver Silent Sky Panda (The really quiet one):
Zilent | Gat Silent Black | Outemu Silent Sky Linear (v2-ish):
Notice how different the [Outemu] stem is. The dampening material is completely distinct, as is the shape of the lower “foot” area that impacts the bottom housing. The dampener is much softer, and can also be easily removed / replaced if need be.
It’s a more simple design, but it works. Note also the taper at the back of that stem - this presumably prevents the occasional “tick” sound that happens when the bottom-back-side of the stem sometimes hits the housing in other silent switches on hard or off-center key-presses.
One other detail - notice the dampeners on the [Outemu] stems extend out more both at the top and bottom of the slider - I presume this has an effect on the feel, but it also eliminates an issue I’ve noticed with many other silent switches…
See above a Zeal PC Zilent next to a “Silent Silver Sky Panda” - notice how much higher the Zilent stem sits, while the slider of the [Outemu] stem is flush with the housing.
A Zilent and Zealio (both V2) for comparison:
The Zealio is essentially “normal” - that is, most MX style switches I’ve seen have the slider juuust peeking above the housing as it is in this photo. Compare that to the [Outemu] above which is almost totally flush, and the Zilent next to it which sits much higher.
Aliaz and other Gateron-manufactured silent switches all appear to do this, and on the more tactile ones, this actually creates what I perceive as a fairly annoying amount of pre-travel before the “actual” (or maybe intended) feeling of the switch kicks-in. While I’m not the biggest fan of the tactile [Outemu] stems, they do not suffer from this issue at all due to their longer dampeners up top.
A quick side note: While they are buttery-smooth and certainly more quiet, the lubed “Silver Sky Pandas” still can’t beat Helios when it comes to that super silky smooth feeling.
Alright! That’s all I have for you today. I thought this was pretty fascinating - and I think there’s enough still to explore here to make a more in-depth video overview on the subject at some point. I’m fairly new to switch science and switch modding, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Edit: Changed “Gazzew” to “Outemu” for clarity. If you are interested in these stems and their related parts, you can get them from hbheroinbob on reddit, who (apparently?) also goes by “Gazzew”. (Thanks @Laughmaster !)