Cherry intros MX RGB key switch; first keyboard due from Corsair

Like your keyboards backlit? Then you may like this piece of news. Cherry has announced a new family of MX mechanical key switches designed specifically for multicolor illumination. Known as the Cherry MX RGB series, this switch family is due to premiere in a Corsair mechanical keyboard next year.

Now, of course, we’ve seen backlit keyboards based on Cherry’s previous MX switches before—but those simply had 3-mm LEDs slapped on the side of each key switch. The MX RGB switches work a little differently. They’re translucent (or, in Cherry’s words, have an “optimized, transparent case with a scattering surface lens”), and they’re meant to be paired with LEDs mounted right on the surface of the circuit board. The result, according to Cherry, is that keycaps can be “evenly illuminated not only in the widest variety of brightness levels but also in up to 16.7 million different colors.”

Here, I’ll let the company show off the MX RGB switches in the world’s most hilariously overproduced video:

Cherry intends to offer these MX RGB switches in four flavors corresponding to the most popular non-illuminated MX variants out there today: blue, brown, red, and black. In this case, the colors refer not to backlighting, but to the tactile and auditory response of the switching mechanism. Blue and brown switches have tactile bumps in the actuation curve, and the blues also click when actuated. The red and black switches both have linear response and no click; the only difference being that the reds need a little less pressure to depress. See this page for more details.

Corsair hasn’t said exactly when it plans to release the first Cherry MX RGB-based keyboard, but the company tells us it’s planning “exclusive demonstrations” at CES 2014 early next month. I assume we’ll get more details then.

Comments closed
    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, they’re 5050 SMD devices, so they’re 5mm on a side. That’s a good deal larger than the normal 1206 or 0804 (length x width in 10’ths of mm).

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    Those do look pretty cool. I think they may be too large to fit under a key switch though.

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    While Cherry doesn’t require plate mounting, many Cherry boards do it anyway (and still cost significantly less than the Matias). The switches in my Rosewill RK-9000s are plate mounted.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    The use case I’m thinking of is a laptop in a dark room. There is no light but the glare of the screen. So, there’s not benefit from colored keys–you won’t be able to see them against the glare of the screen. If they give off a light of their own, then that’s going to help.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Red, at night, doesn’t mess with your night vision and tends to be the primary focal frequency–green and blue tend to look blurry at ngiht, try it out to see.

    We don’t see red very well and it’s actually no very distracting. Blue, on the other hand, really grabs the attention.

    But, none of this matters a ton. If we can pick the color and intensity of the keys, we can all dial in what we each like best!

    • bhtooefr
    • 9 years ago

    Who knows.

    One thing I’ll note is that Alps-based boards do require plate mounting, whereas Cherry doesn’t, so that increases the cost for a keyboard built around the Matias switches. (That said, plenty of cheaper Alps-based boards back in the day resorted to making the top case the plate, and soldering the switches through that, then just bolting the back case on.)

    • bhtooefr
    • 9 years ago

    All MX switches are intercompatible as far as keycaps.

    (Now, for the larger, stabilized keys, there may be incompatibilities due to different types of stabilizers, but that isn’t caused by the switch, that’s the keyboard itself.)

    • Arclight
    • 9 years ago

    You could use different colored key caps for the ones you need to identify quickly.

    Frankly after switching (excuse the pun) from a rubber dome A4Tech keyboard that i have used more than half a decade (it was pretty robust with a metal plate on the bottom) i find myself missing the bumped lines for the F and J keys and even more so the bulged key caps for the center line (the 6 Y H and N key caps) which gave me a tactile feedback and helped me find the right position without looking at the keyboard.

    I wonder if i can buy custom made keycaps like that… Are cherry MX black swicthes compatible with keycaps from other cherry mx switches?

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    You should take a look at these LEDs, then. They’re pretty cool.

    [url<]https://www.adafruit.com/products/1379[/url<]

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    Heh, I didn’t know about those. But if the switches are so cheap, why are their keyboards so expensive?

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    Ahh, OK. I meant the latter.

    • bhtooefr
    • 9 years ago

    Already has happened, [i<]in retail quantities[/i<]: [url<]http://matias.ca/order/[/url<] $0.25/ea before shipping for the Matias switches. And I like them better than the Cherries, too. Oh, and Matias was doing the clear-switch-for-backlighting-reasons thing a year before Cherry did it, too. Although, they only went that way for indicator lenses in key caps, but there's no reason you can't light the whole key. But, you can't get an actual Matias board with those switches for $40. As far as a whole keyboard goes... there's always the TVS-e Gold Bharat: [url<]http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=48838.0[/url<] And that's using MX Blues.

    • Airmantharp
    • 9 years ago

    I like soft white, personally. With a bright monitor in front of you, dim red lighting might actually be difficult to see, and human peripheral vision picks up red wavelengths better, and likely more distracting.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    I would like a dim red glow so I can place my hands right in the dark. Mostly for the F keys and shifted characters on the numbers. Dim enough that it won’t interfere with my vision, but bright enough to be visible over the glare from the display.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    The word ‘discrete’ when applied to RGB LEDs is a bit confusing. Are you saying that they’re using three separate LEDs? Or are you saying that they’re using an LED which is no part of the switch package. If the former, then I’ll suggest that you’re crazy. If the latter, then I’d suggest that you’re not contradicting me at all.

    Possibly there’s an option 3.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    That was a pretty intense video.

    • gigafinger
    • 9 years ago

    Ironic username…

    • Arclight
    • 9 years ago

    Personally i dislike any LED. I turned off the one from my case and the power LED from my monitor. The only light that comes from the computer should only be from the monitor.

    • James296
    • 9 years ago

    oh boy, incoming red thump bombs

    • oldog
    • 9 years ago

    Hey that looks exactly like my QPAD keyboard. I love mine and was thinking about getting another one. But this is a much better price point. Thanks for the link!

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    As I already noted, it sounds like they are relying on discrete LEDs mounted under the switch. So it is up to the keyboard designer.

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    Probably never gonna happen. This would require quality mechanical switches to be available for around 25 cents a pop, which just isn’t gonna happen IMO.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    The keyswitches are cool and all, but, as an LED person, I’m more curious what kind of RBG LEDs they’re using and how they’re driving them. I hope they’re using the ‘smart RGB LEDs’ like you can get at Adafruit. Basically, it’s a 5050 sized RBG LED with a small chip in it that does PWM and current regulation for the three LED die. You give it 5V and speak to it with a serial line. It repeats the input on an output so you can daisy chain them as long as you like. With one pin, you could drive a while keyboard–as long as you’re not concerned with the refresh rate. I bought a meter of them (60) and have been having fun with them for over a month. But, more tech is always welcome!

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, but he had the perfect chance to use ‘moot’ and missed it. Try harder!

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    I want to be the first person to have a seizure because of these keys! Oww, Flashing Seizure Robots!!!!

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    I have a K90 and no problems so far and I definitely use it a lot. Perhaps a small data point, but I haven’t heard any bad things.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Neat… that’s what happens when you’re raking in the money for producing the best switches on the market. It just took people awhile to find them and realize what a difference they make.

    I fully welcome our Cherry switch making overlords… From Germany – Of course.

    • the
    • 9 years ago

    When I heard RGB, I thought of the Optimus Maximus keyboard which has 48 x 48 pixel displays on each of the main keys.

    Distinctive RGB colored back lights is still neat though.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    IR – good for cold climates as finger warmers.

    UV – good for giving people finger skin cancer.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Look for sales.

    • Milo Burke
    • 9 years ago

    Does this mean I can skip buying a monitor and game by looking at my keyboard? That’s what I really want.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]the world's most hilariously overproduced video[/quote<] As overproduces as it is, the thing that really stuck in my mind was the WASD layout at around the 1:00 mark in the video. The W goes above the A key. If you are trying to showcase a gaming keyboard don't highlight the single biggest flaw of using the WASD cluster instead of the cursor keys.

    • Grigory
    • 9 years ago

    Well, many clear plastic materials strongly absorb UV light so this might not work. (I found that out the hard way as a boy trying to expose photosensitive pcbs and pressing down the film with a piece of “clear” plastic. It wasn’t clear to UV light, as it turned out.)

    • internetsandman
    • 9 years ago

    Better Corsair than Razer

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Actually, you could make the actual keycap out of UV-reactive plastic and it would probably look really cool.

    • Star Brood
    • 9 years ago

    A cheaper mechanical keyboard (~$40) is something I’d like to see. Price of this I’m sure goes in the opposite direction.

    • holophrastic
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, me too. That would have been great when switching from programming to gaming. Alas, my keycaps are blank, so the illumination means nothing to me.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    I want my fingers to have well developed curves…….from MUSCLE!!!!!!!!!

    • willyolio
    • 9 years ago

    was anyone else hoping that “RGB” meant that it was a keyswitch that could change its linear response/clickyness on the fly? no? just me?

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    It’s not so much a finger strain issue as it is finger strength and feedback. Rubber domes are awful on the feedback front.

    And for lighter switches, I feel like I could make more mistakes if they’re too light, since I can type a little too heavy as it is. I would hate to accidentally trigger a key.

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    I suppose it does. I’ll have to test my sample at home a little more to get a feel.

    Personally, I’m a Blue or [linear] kind of guy. I find the browns so light that they may as well be linear, and I think I just like hearing the click of blue switches as I’m typing along (although I do use dampening rings to cut the sound of bottoming out).

    • slowriot
    • 9 years ago

    More resistance? I have MX Reds in my keyboard and I want even less resistance. Do some people enjoy finger strain?

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    And a bigger tactile bump!! I think the whites have no bump??

    [url<]http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_MX_Clear[/url<] [url<]http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_MX_Brown[/url<] ooo the cherry bible [url<]http://deskthority.net/wiki/Cherry_MX[/url<] edit [url<]http://www.overclock.net/t/491752/mechanical-keyboard-guide[/url<]

    • Aistic
    • 9 years ago

    And like all german solutions, it satisfied it’s purpose very well.

    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    It sounds like it is designed to use discrete surface-mounted LEDs [i<]under[/i<] the switch, not LEDs in the switch itself. So yeah, it is completely up to the keyboard manufacturer. Heck, they could even produce a version that illuminates the keys in IR or UV (though I can't think of a good reason to do so).

    • RickyTick
    • 9 years ago

    At least it’s not a FATAL1TY.

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    Clear switches are tactile, but they offer more resistance than browns 😉

    • vargis14
    • 9 years ago

    You did a Vargis14, skimming the article a wee bit too fast. I was – plenty for asking the refresh rate on the dell 4k monitors.

    Have some ruthless people in here if you do not pay attention to detail. I know everyone seems to show there love instantly.

    • Airmantharp
    • 9 years ago

    MX Browns with O-rings are quiet and have a slight tactile bump- not sure why you’d want a non-tactile version 🙂

    • dethndestructn
    • 9 years ago

    The Holocaust was made in Germany too…

    • dethndestructn
    • 9 years ago

    +1 for use of penultimate

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    I want a code
    [url<]http://codekeyboards.com/[/url<] darn clears sold out!!

    • Airmantharp
    • 9 years ago

    I’ll keep my Max Nighthawk X8 with MX Browns and white backlighting:

    [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnctharp/10721794644<][img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5539/10721794644_478a05da82.jpg[/img][/url<]

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    You just found the best use for a backlit keyboard. MUST HAVE!!

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Yes. It’s covered in the post. See the penultimate paragraph.

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    So is this clicky or tactile or what?

    • boskone
    • 9 years ago

    Too bad it’s Corsair. I’m shopping for a keyboard for work, and see a lot of complaints about Corsair keyboards having problems with one or two keys (usually seems to be backspace and/or space) after a few months or a year. 😐

    • Grigory
    • 9 years ago

    That’s the thing, since there probably won’t be any electronics inside the switch (except for the LEDs) it should not be limited to “only” 16 million colors. It depends on the driver circuit which will be external to the switch. Total marketing bull that is even somewhat badmouthing the product.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    Ya so much confusion with this.

    I see monitors usually call it 10 bit, 2^10 then cube it since R*G*B for 1.0737 billion colours, and 8-bit monitor 2^8 per color so, cubed = 16.777 million colors.

    So I guess the keyboard is 8-bit or is it 6-bit + AFC?? lol

    argggg

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 9 years ago

    I admit, I’m a little disappointed because when I saw they’d come out with a new key switch, I’d kinda hoped they were taking on Topre with a better switch (quieter, same or better precision), but I guess this’ll do.

    Perhaps this will FINALLY give us back the keyboards that can choose their own colors that we’ve all craved. For a while there, this was a feature that was on a LOT of keyboards, then poof, it was gone.

    Coincidentally, that change did happen as keyboards transitioned to mechanical, so yeah, I see the appeal of this.

    EDIT:

    Not excited by the, “Exclusively on Corsair keyboards…” though because that just means higher prices.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 9 years ago

    I will be excited if part of the functionality is a switch to have the keyboard rapidly and randomly cycle through the colors (and light intensity levels if that is available) OR cycle in time to music via built in microphone.

    I’ve waited darn long enough for the world’s first DYNAMIC DISCO KEYBOARD and my desire will no longer be denied! Nerds of the world unite–this is YOUR time and YOUR needed entertainment device for your crazy unchained LAN dance parties! I’m looking at you BlizzardCon and ComicCon!

    EDIT: First morning trying Starbuck’s coffee energy drink. I’m better now. Really.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    Made in Germany!!!!!!!!

    Sold!

    • way2strong
    • 9 years ago

    Disregard him, stay excited…

    • PainIs4ThaWeak1
    • 9 years ago

    Simmer down now eVGA.

    • Kevsteele
    • 9 years ago

    I’m sitting here with my Corsair K70 keyboard that has three burned-out LEDs in less than two months, and I can’t get in touch with them to RMA the thing. Too bad Corsair’s going to be the first out the gate with this new tech…

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 9 years ago

    Price ? I’m expecting ~$200, or is that too low?

    • DPete27
    • 9 years ago

    24-bit!!

    • Hattig
    • 9 years ago

    Meh, only 16.7m key colours, i’ll wait for the 1 billion colour version.

    • chuckula
    • 9 years ago

    MX Raw Umber FTW!

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