At CES earlier this year, we heard whispers about the expiry of patents on Cherry's famous MX mechanical key switches—and about about the possibility of third-party derivatives hitting the market. There must have been some truth to it all. Earlier today, Razer announced its first homebrewed mechanical switches, and they look suspiciously like custom Cherry derivatives.
The Razer Mechanical Switch comes in Green and Orange variants, both of which require less travel distance to actuate and to reach the reset point than Cherry's MX designs. (Click the buttons below the diagram to see figures for the Green and Orange switches.)
The Green version of the Razer Mechanical Switch offers tactile feedback and an audible click upon actuation, and it's the springiest of the two, with an actuation force of 50 g. The Orange switch offers tactile feedback without a matching click, and it's a little lighter, at 45 g. Actuation distances aside, those characteristics mirror those of the Cherry MX blue and brown switches, respectively.
Interestingly, Razer claims its switches are more durable than the competition. Cherry MX switches are rated for up to 50 million operations, but Razer raises that number to 60 million. I don't see much in Razer's marketing literature about why that is, but apparently, mass production is handled by a "third party manufacturer," and Razer's own "quality assurance experts" roam the factory floor. The following video offers a glimpse of the switch production process—along with some tedious endorsements from "e-sports athletes:"
Razer says the new switches are available in its BlackWidow, BlackWidow Ultimate, and BlackWidow Tournament Edition keyboards. The switches are also "open to other gaming peripheral makers," the company claims, so perhaps we'll see competing keyboards adopt them.
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