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View Full Version : Comments on Cherry MX key switches



Ole Juul
March 28th, 2014, 02:22 AM
I'm looking for comments from anybody who uses Cherry Blue or Green key switches.

I'll probably buy a WASD keyboard in a while. They seem about as good as any and they offer a tenkeyless with coloured keys which is what I want. So, I got a few switch samples to look at. I expected most of them to be very soft. They are. In fact they are so soft that I'm sure you can depress them by just staring hard. However, after reading many, many reviews, I thought that the Cherry Blues might be OK. The sample I have is quite soft, as I expected, but figured I could get used to that.

What I'm concerned about is that for over 20 years I haven't typed on anything other than a Model M, and before that a model F. Neither of those are hard, but have a nice feel. I'm worried that, despite the price, Cherrys will feel flaky to me. I'm also concerned that they may have a short life span. I usually consider anything that doesn't last 25 years as being cheap crap. My low maintenance car is older than that, so a pricy keyboard should be fine. No? But I heard someone mention 5 years which sounded scary! Of course to an 8 year old, 5 years sounds like a long time. I'm pretty impatient, but at my age I'd still be prepared to wait that long for a bus. People writing about keyboards on the net appear to be very young. Anyway, surely an expensive keyboard will last 100 years - OK maybe not, but give me 20.

I see that WASD also supplies Cherry Green switches which are rated at a little harder than a model M. (Greens a little softer) Anybody using either of those?

Compgeke
March 28th, 2014, 11:47 AM
Coming from a Model M Greens would be the least change bit still different. No MX switches have the click of a Model M or the tactileness.

If you want to ask people who are hardcore keyboard geeks then deskthority\geekhack might be a better area to ask. I'm not the biggest fan of MX myself, still using an '87 Model M right now.

Ole Juul
March 28th, 2014, 07:11 PM
Thanks for your reply Compgeke. That's what I wanted to hear. I'd continue with the old model Ms that I have, but want something shorter. I'm guessing I can easily get used to the Greens even if they have a different feel as long as they don't engage when you rest your fingers on them.

I posted here specifically because I wanted to see what this group had to say. Some of you probably also started typing on Underwoods. ;) I've spent many hours reading though a lot of pages on forums, and find the people to be rather young and don't appear to share my perspective on either time or typing. Nothing wrong with that, but I'd still like to know how durable these switches are - the company doesn't give useful data.

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2014, 07:33 PM
I have a few vintage keyboards that use the black MX switches. They're not bad--and I've used one long enough to have worn a visible depression in the space bar. You may want to investigate.

But like you, my regular keyboard is a Model M. I like the noise.

njroadfan
March 28th, 2014, 07:35 PM
I haven't tried them personally, but the MX Greens are what you want if you gotta have clicky and firm. I have a MX Blue keyboard and its a tad light to type on, I don't think I have accidentally triggered a key by resting my fingers on them. I also have a "Classic" MX black keyboard on the Amiga that I really don't care for. The keys are gritty after 25 years of use, but they are plenty stiff still and every switch works. That keyboard was absolutely filthy when I got it. I don't care for the lack of tactile feedback though and its tiring since I bottom out keys without it.

If you want buckling spring, I'd give Unicomp a call and see if they will do a custom order with color keycaps. You never know.

Ole Juul
March 28th, 2014, 07:57 PM
Well OK! Now I'm getting the answers I need. Thanks guys. :)

Hmm, Unicomp is indeed always on my radar and they're even less expensive too. The colour keycaps are so dear to my heart, but I'm still realistic enough to perhaps loosen up a little on that idea. I haven't seen a tenkeyless on their site though, so they might not have the ability to do one. I have a feeling that the reason that Unicomp is so price competitive is that they have fixed, and paid for, tooling - I don't know. My thought on the general idea is that many people, like myself, haven't learned to use the keypad comfortable, and don't have any practical reason to do so. Outside of the three finger salute in DOS, I haven't touched that side of the keyboard in as long as I can remember.

Anyway, it does sound like the Cherry switches are OK, even if a bit different. I always bottom out when I type - giving the key a good whack. I'm not sure why anyone would want to not do that. How do you avoid it? Even as a fairly accomplished flute player, I would have trouble consistently pushing down the the keys half way. In any case, I think I could live with no click. The Blacks (I have a sample) seem a bit soft and just like the Blue, the difference being only 10g according to the chart. If Chuck can live with the Black ones, I bet I could too. I'm still leaning toward the Green though. We'll see.

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2014, 09:12 PM
Hey, Ole--I'm not a flute player, but a tuba player. You know the size and throw of the valves on those things... :) My wife's a flutist/flautist and gets along quite nicely on a Model M.

Ole Juul
March 28th, 2014, 09:49 PM
Hey, Ole--I'm not a flute player, but a tuba player. You know the size and throw of the valves on those things... :) My wife's a flutist/flautist and gets along quite nicely on a Model M.

Yes, I have had valve instruments, including tubas, in my hands a lot. Yes, they have a HUGE throw. (I can't play more than an octave scale - slowly - though.)

I'm actually not so much worried about adapting to a different keyboard, but want to be careful before I spend the best part of a 200 dollar bill. I also have some polio effects in my left hand which give me a bit of a twitch some times, so I want to make sure that I don't end up wearing out the backspace key in the first week because of false presses.

Chuck(G)
March 28th, 2014, 10:13 PM
I'd recommend that you stay with the model M then--few keyboards have the same feel.

Compgeke
March 29th, 2014, 11:49 AM
If possible you can try and fund a Space Saver Keyboard (SSK) Model M. It's basically a TKL Model M, but their price isn't the cheapest. If you want even smaller there's the "Kishsaver" Model F but they're about as rare as a real Apple I and they need a new controller, but that's still a work in progress.

Maverick1978
March 31st, 2014, 09:32 AM
Ole, which keyboard are you looking at that you're willing to drop $200 on a Cherry?

I've vintage Cherry Blues, which some prefer, in an old Dolch PAC-64 luggable (I say old - it's a Pentium-200, IIRC). It's keyboard was made by Cherry, but because the keyboard casing is actually part of a portable computer, it sits rather flat, and has a strange angle. That said.... it feels a little tighter to me than my "modern" Cherry Blue tenkeyless from Cooler Master (CM Storm Quickfire Rapid). It's got strange fonts on the board, but it's a bargain at $55 street. It's got a nice weight overall, and I don't find myself actuating keys by accident. I've also a Leopold Cherry Black keyboard - these are, to me, the toughest of all to actuate. Not in a bad way, just that it takes a heavier "hit" to depress the key, even moreso than the Blues. Cherry browns (what I'm typing on now) have about the same feel to me as the Blues, but not quite as noisy, so this and the MX Black board get used at work. Cherry whites and reds (two other keyboards I rarely use) are extremely light to me - I wouldn't suggest these.

Nothing beats the feel of the Model M, however. If you go into ANY Cherry board expecting Model M type feedback, you will only come away disappointed.

All in all, if you're willing to drop in the $200 range, I honestly feel like the IBM Space Saver Model M is the way you need to go. Right now, they seem to be pulling higher than normal ($250+), but I've a feeling that they'll come back to the $150-175 range soon. And you might also luck up by putting a want ad in the forum here - I did (got one about 2 yrs ago for $25 plus shipping - the thing was pristine, and currently "completes" my PS/2 Model 25)

Ole Juul
April 1st, 2014, 01:58 AM
Ole, which keyboard are you looking at that you're willing to drop $200 on a Cherry?

The WASD V2 87-Key. (http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/mechanical-keyboard/wasd-v2-87-key-custom-mechanical-keyboard.html#ad-image-0) Apart from personal taste issues, I've only noted two issues. One is that the case does not have screws. I'm otherwise a fan of Asian manufacturing, but this is supposedly US designed, so they should have specified the proper way. Second, their web page coding is poor, and has functional errors in the Java. I generally have trouble trusting someone like that, but the owner speaks very honestly on forums, so I think they're not too bad really. Anyway with the WASD I can get livable colours. After 20 years of being married to the beige Model M, I'm doubting that I can stand the bland much longer. It is having a serious effect on my mental health and it is time for a divorce - that or I'll have to get counseling.



I've vintage Cherry Blues, which some prefer, in an old Dolch PAC-64 luggable (I say old - it's a Pentium-200, IIRC). It's keyboard was made by Cherry, but because the keyboard casing is actually part of a portable computer, it sits rather flat, and has a strange angle. That said.... it feels a little tighter to me than my "modern" Cherry Blue tenkeyless from Cooler Master (CM Storm Quickfire Rapid). It's got strange fonts on the board, but it's a bargain at $55 street. It's got a nice weight overall, and I don't find myself actuating keys by accident. I've also a Leopold Cherry Black keyboard - these are, to me, the toughest of all to actuate. Not in a bad way, just that it takes a heavier "hit" to depress the key, even moreso than the Blues. Cherry browns (what I'm typing on now) have about the same feel to me as the Blues, but not quite as noisy, so this and the MX Black board get used at work. Cherry whites and reds (two other keyboards I rarely use) are extremely light to me - I wouldn't suggest these.

Thanks for all the info. It's great to hear about real experience. I've read a lot about the Cooler Master and it sounds like it's about the cheapest way to get a keyboard with Greens. I have samples of blue, brown, red, and black. I can compare by pushing two together, as well as looking at the charts. The reds obviously are not for heavy breathers or energetic fingers. I don't mind giving a good slap to the keys. They all seem pretty quiet to me.



Nothing beats the feel of the Model M, however. If you go into ANY Cherry board expecting Model M type feedback, you will only come away disappointed.

All in all, if you're willing to drop in the $200 range, I honestly feel like the IBM Space Saver Model M is the way you need to go. Right now, they seem to be pulling higher than normal ($250+), but I've a feeling that they'll come back to the $150-175 range soon. And you might also luck up by putting a want ad in the forum here - I did (got one about 2 yrs ago for $25 plus shipping - the thing was pristine, and currently "completes" my PS/2 Model 25)

You could be right, but the short model M is not going to be much improvement over the long one. I don't use a table or desk, but a flimsy holder on the end of an arm, so a lighter board would be good too. One problem I have is that the model M is not electrically compatible with my KVM. Even though I've got an extra circuit board from a model M sitting around somewhere, I don't feel like getting into making those kinds of changes. It just seems like a lot of work that I don't really have time for these days. If I get an IBM Space Saver Model M, I'd have to do that.

As I've been experimenting and reading since I first posted this, I've come to several realizations. Most people with experience, not just here, seem to say that the buckling spring has the best feel. The other thing I've realized, is that I don't know what "feel" means in practice. I've spent years with my fingers on a flute, which has absolutely zero tactile feedback so I'm used to that. You can have heavier or lighter springs, or bend each to taste, but no "feedback" is allowed. You can be sure that when people spend $10-30K for an orchestral flute, they get what is required for accurate key control. Anyway, feel is not what I would consider a desirable part of the model M, but rather and artifact.

Yesterday I unplugged the model M and replaced it with a Benq X-Touch X800 just to see if the modern interface fixed the electrical problem. It did. The KVM doesn't care about USB or PS/2, but it doesn't like a model M, and I also tried another model M just to be sure. (I've got a bunch of them) As for the cheap keyboard and the "x-touch", that was an eye opener. It is certainly not comfortable for typing, though I'm not really that fussy, and this "x-touch" has a snap to it - so plenty of "feedback", as they say. This board just won't do, but I started to wonder about whether the tactile feedback was anything that means anything to me. The model M does have a bump in it, but it's not to my advantage. The greens and blues also have a bump, but it is very light, so should be a bit of an improvement in that regard. This Benq certainly feels bad, but I'm not sure that I like that much feedback. You get a big snap (not sound, just feel) when you depress a key. Though I do think the worst part of this keyboard is the short stroke, and cheapness of course.

So, I think I'm going to go for the greens. The tactile feedback is charted as being similar to the blues, but with the improvement of the in and out stroke being aligned. The bottom line to me is that I don't get unwanted key pushes, particularly with my slightly gimped left hand.

Anyway, with the WASD I can get everything in the one place. I can get some real colour without shopping around in different places, and I can get the electrical interface. Getting a Space Saver Model M would mean that I would probably end up spending another couple hundred dollars to get it painted or the right key tops fitted. It wouldn't be cheap, though I'd probably save at least that much by not needing therapy. It's a hard call.

http://i793.photobucket.com/albums/yy217/Eyonymus/Computers/bits/f7ampf8.jpg?t=1396348397

mojorific
April 1st, 2014, 06:17 AM
I'm going to put in a short reply.

Stay away from the greens - they are very firm and require extra effort in comparison to blues, blacks, reds, etc.\

Probably the closest to the Model M would be blue's. I prefer the blacks or reds myself - no clicky keys that have a nice feel.

Maverick1978
April 5th, 2014, 08:17 PM
Ole, don't forget that dye is cheap, and dying plastic is rather easily accomplished... although the results certainly won't be as vivid as color plastic.

That said, I'm not sure that the Model M Space Saver would be compatible with your KVM. Though GeekHack has Teensy Board controllers to address that. If you're interested in the Space Saver, then perhaps purchasing a ready-made Teensy Board would be in order?

Ole Juul
July 4th, 2014, 01:11 AM
I thought I'd bring closure to this old discussion. I ended up ordering a WASD tenkeyless with Cherry greens. And it came today!

Thanks again for people's input. Even if I didn't end up agreeing with all points, it was still useful information for gaining perspective. I agonized quit a bit over this and even though I had a sample of the Cherry switches (red, blue, black, brown) I did not have a sample of the green. I looked at all the charts I could find and compared to the data on the Model M which, as mentioned, I've been using for decades.

The feel and firmness of the greens is heavenly! I couldn't be happier with that aspect. And that's after typing on a cheap plastic dome keyboard since I last posted two months ago. The heavy touch suits me to a 't' and speeds up my typing as well. I'm glad I didn't get the soft blues, because I was thinking about that.

As for the look and general physical appearance, I'm very happy. The bright colours are more saturated than I had thought which is what I want. I won't include a picture, because the layout above (from the WASD design page) is close enough, except that I got green keys where the three blue ones are. I call this the F7&F7 design. Those keys give my eyes a cue whenever that comes into play.

One more thing that is very good for me is the size. I have my keyboard on an arm along with the screen. The lower weight is nice, though it's not super light either, but the much smaller size is very noticeable and welcome. It covers only 48% as much area as a model M.