Razer unveils homebrewed mechanical keyboard switches

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.

Comments closed
    • yammerpickle2
    • 6 years ago

    I’ve had Razer, and Logitech and I’ve never had a Logitech fail. It might get obsolete, but everything still works. I can’t say that for my Razor products. They work well for about 6-8 months and then they stop functioning correctly. My most recent try at a Razor product was an Orbweaver. Right out of the box the spacebar thumb key would not return, and shortly after unpacking it, I was printing out the return slip. I really wish they would be more robust, as initial performance is good, but I want something that works for years at a time, and not a few months.

    • Klyith
    • 6 years ago

    Razer unveils Chinese clones of the cherry switch that they’ve put their name on. These are Kailh switches and they’re crap.

    [url<]http://imgur.com/a/7ujle[/url<]

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      The specs don’t match up with what’s here.

        • bhtooefr
        • 6 years ago

        [url<]http://www.kailh.com/images/Business%20Partners.jpg[/url<] [url<]http://www.sweclockers.com/image/red/2014/03/07/Kailh+0001.jpg?t=original&k=e43bf09a[/url<] They're Kailh switches. Kailh says that Razer's buying from them, and they have the Kailh logo on them.

      • TwoEars
      • 6 years ago

      too right.

      razor cutting out cherry…

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      lol. Cheap Chinese keyswitches….great! It wouldn’t surprise me if like most other Razer ‘gamer’ gear there ends up being wide reports of failures within 3-6 months. At least those keys have the knockoff company branding embossed in them…now if the same thing starts showing up with OEM branding, kind of like re- or de-branded RAM chips, that will be worrisome.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    Is it just me or do these look suspect?

    • TwoEars
    • 6 years ago

    My 6 month old razor deathadder 2013 just went super squeaky in the scroll wheel…. not impressed. My last mouse was the MX518 and that one lasted 5 years.

    I should have known better but I wanted to see what all the fuzz was about.

    My next keyboard or mouse will be logitech for sure.

      • Farting Bob
      • 6 years ago

      You cant go wrong with a logitech mouse. And if you do go wrong, you get to deal with the best customer support in the industry.

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    Razer + durability = does not compute.

    This is from someone who’s gone through 3 Diamondbacks.

    • Captain Ned
    • 6 years ago

    Well, if the patent on the MX switches is up then the patent on the buckling-spring switch HAS to be expired. If you’re going to build a keyboard, do it right. 1391401 or go home. 😉

      • Ninjitsu
      • 6 years ago

      I still use a 16 year old mechanical keyboard that we got with our first computer back in 1998. I think it’s manufactured by Advent.

      • anotherengineer
      • 6 years ago

      That’s why you old folk are hard of hearing now……………those buckling spring keyboards 😉

        • superjawes
        • 6 years ago

        “You’ll have to speak up. I’m [s<]wearing a towel[/s<] typing on a Model M."

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      Tired meme.

      • just brew it!
      • 6 years ago

      Yes, I’ll bet the patent on the buckling spring is expired as well. I suspect there’s less demand for it because of the longer stroke (laptops have conditioned people to expect shorter actuation distance), and Unicomp has been filling the demand for new buckling spring keyboards well enough. I’ve always wondered why Unicomp doesn’t do NKRO versions of their ‘boards. I bet they’d get more traction in the current mechanical keyboard market if they did that.

        • bhtooefr
        • 6 years ago

        Cherry MX’s US patent, 4467160, was filed 1983-07-12, and published 1984-08-21, so it expired 2003-07-12. It’s been expired for a while.

        As for the two relevant buckling spring patents… 4118611 (for the original capacitive implementation) was filed 1977-08-30, and published 1978-10-03, so it expired 1997-08-30, and 4528431 (for the membrane implementation used by the Model M) was filed 1983-10-03, published 1985-07-09, and Google claims that it expired due to failure to pay maintenance fees effective 1997-07-09 (but it would’ve expired 2003-10-03 anyway).

        As far as why Unicomp isn’t doing NKRO… everything they’re making today is based on the Model M design, which uses a membrane underneath (a strategy that IBM used for massive cost reduction when going from the Model F to the Model M), a technology with inherent limitations that make N-key rollover more difficult. Conductive keyboards usually use diodes to prevent current from flowing unpredictably around the matrix, but on a membrane, that’s very difficult to do reliably or cheaply. That said, it is possible to do higher than 2KRO on a membrane, Microsoft did it using resistive multitouch technology, on the SideWinder X4: [url<]http://www.microsoft.com/appliedsciences/content/projects/SideWinderX4.aspx[/url<] In any case, the old Model F actually did have NKRO (and used capacitive sensing, which had different demands of the switch mechanism (the goal was to hit the PCB as lightly as possible when the spring buckled, whereas the Model M needed to apply some force to the membrane, so the spring geometry is different)), but Unicomp isn't tooled for any Model F stuff. And as for them tooling up... based on what they've been shipping lately, they can't even afford to retool the products that they have in production now, and are making their products on horrendously worn-out tooling.

    • CMF04k
    • 6 years ago

    Now, if only they could make those LED’s on our back lit KB’s last longer than 6 months?

      • vargis14
      • 6 years ago

      Man is that really a problem? I have has my Razer BW Ult keyboard on for the last 2 and 3 months 24/7 and every LED is still working.
      My keyboard has 3 light settings low medium and bright. perhaps since I keep it on medium is why none have failed.
      I will continue to keep it on medium since LED failure is now on my mind.

      Anyone else with a Black Widow keyboard have a led fail? Mine is the blue colored LEDs??
      My imperator mouse is the same age as my keyboard and it is working fine also.

        • Cyco-Dude
        • 6 years ago

        i think the issue is not that the leds stop working, but that they go dim over time. that’s not a razor issue though, it’s just how leds work…they don’t last forever.

        if anyone has an led-blacklit keyboard, you would be smart to turn the leds off when you don’t need them to preserve led lifespan. me, i just turn on my case’s cold cathode light to see in the dark. lights up my keyboard, desk, room…it’s great.

          • CMF04k
          • 6 years ago

          Pardon my exceedingly high expectations, but when i pay over $100.00 for a keyboard, I expect it to function fully for more than 6 months. Having said that, I would point out that the last 3 keyboards that i have had with back lit keys were plagued with dying LED’s.
          3 different brands Razor among them. You send it back at your expense, and they send you a new one only to have the same thing happen 6 to 8 months later. I also don’t want to hear about this being the nature of LED’s either. My TV’s, stereo receiver, PS3, and even my PC Motherboard LED’s have lasted years! not to mention my first gen Sega Genesis red LED indicator still lights up.

          This is nothing more than crappy QC! and sub standard production methods.

            • Cyco-Dude
            • 6 years ago

            the “nature of leds” comment was the fact that leds, left on non-stop, will eventually go dim. dying leds is another matter. if those keyboards are so bad, stop getting them.

          • just brew it!
          • 6 years ago

          LEDs only dim over the timescales that would matter on a keyboard if they are being over-driven. Used properly, LED lifetime should be on the order of 50,000 hours or more; that’s 5+ years of continuous operation!

          If the LEDs are being over-driven that’s the fault of whoever designed the backlighting circuit and selected the components.

    • WulfTheSaxon
    • 6 years ago

    Count me as cautiously optimistic. I doubt the claims that they’ll be more durable than Cherry MX, but they shouldn’t be [i<]less[/i<] durable. It seems like it’d be hard for them to lie about things like travel distance and actuation force, in which case the Orange switches look quite promising to me. I don’t see the Greens being very popular with gamers, but they do look compelling for typing. [url=http://cdn.overclock.net/8/88/8846736e_785448034edc7cebb9ea660c5f11e288.jpeg<]The MX Blue actuation-reset gap is dismal[/url<].

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      I was going to write something different then I looked at the linked graph more closely, and it does seem to match the 0.7mm quoted in Razer’s comparison. I would hardly call that dismal when the comparable Razer switches are only a whole 0.3 mm better. I suppose if you’re a super-twitch gamer that could matter, but it would hardly matter for typing and these are the clicky switches, and moreover I don’t think it would be noticeable by a person in normal use. The part of the video where they compare the Orange to the Brown is trying to show a difference of only 0.05mm as if it’s some monumental difference.

        • aspect
        • 6 years ago

        No idea how much of a difference the razer switches provide but the actuation/reset gap is quite noticeable between different switches. I have a brown and red, and on games where fast repeated clicking of the same buttons are used, you can tell that the red is faster.

        A side by side comparison will be needed to see if the razer switches are worth it.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 6 years ago

          You are wrong, it’s not the actuation/reset gap. Browns have a [b<]smaller[/b<] actuation/reset gap than reds: [url<]http://support.wasdkeyboards.com/customer/portal/articles/1374990-mechanical-keyboard-guide[/url<]. It's something else with the key feel, most likely the lack of any tactile bump which is the obvious difference, or perhaps the fact that prior to the operation point Browns peak at a higher force (the 'pressure point'), which makes you think that.

      • just brew it!
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, I would say the actuation-reset gap is my only nit-pick with the MX Blue, but it is indeed much less of an issue for typing than for gaming. Reducing that gap may actually mean the Razer Green is a reasonable gaming switch.

      Edit: Just to be clear, my nit-pick is with the fact that the reset point does not exactly correspond to the tactile “bump” on the upstroke. This is the one area where I find buckling-spring to be superior to MX Blue.

    • SnowboardingTobi
    • 6 years ago

    lol “e-sports athletes” … yeah… “athletes”… right….

      • Laykun
      • 6 years ago

      [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athlete[/url<] "Sportsperson, a person who participates regularly in a sport" Seeing as e-sport is a sport you can class those people as Athletes in that context.

        • rechicero
        • 6 years ago

        Well, as you like the wiki… [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport[/url<] "Sport (or sports) is all forms of usually competitive physical activity which,[1] through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment to participants, and in some cases, spectators." Calling videogames sports is... controversial. They are games. They can be competitive. But, sports?

          • Melvar
          • 6 years ago

          If Chess isn’t a sport, then Borderlands isn’t a sport. You can’t have it both ways.

            • superjawes
            • 6 years ago

            That’s not an applicable comparison. Chess is slow paced because the copetition is about strategy. Borderlands is a first-person shooter that requires a certain measure of precision. That is, Borderlands requires an active skill, ability, or activity. Chess…not so much.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 6 years ago

            Never heard of speed chess?

            • superjawes
            • 6 years ago

            Doesn’t change the nature of chess by too much. It would still be a mind game more that it required a specific skillset, at least when compared to games that require both speed and precision.

            • anotherengineer
            • 6 years ago

            You’re right. Chess was a board game made by people back in the day before they had the technology to make video games, and wanted something to do to kill free time, just like today.

            And if everyone had zero free time there would be no video games, or chess or anything else of that “extracurricular activity” nature.

        • Crackhead Johny
        • 6 years ago

        Umm e-sport is a “sport” because they decided to call their past time a sport. Kind of like them being the coolest people on the planet because they declared that they were the coolest people on the planet.

        “Heavy drinkers have declared drinking to be a sport, this new “D-Sport” and its amazing athletes.. blah blah blah” I don’t think that would fly either. Actually with what heavy drinking puts the body through, I think D-sport has a better chance of getting its participants referred to as “athletes” than e-sport does.

        The physical exercise is missing from e-sport, so you do not have “athletes”.. Well OK, you can call those who compete in DDR, athletes but that is not a big part of “e-sport”.

        Sport: an animal or plant showing abnormal or striking variation from the parent type, esp. in form or color, as a result of spontaneous mutation.

        OK looking at their computer cases I think we have found and argument for “sport”.

      • Voldenuit
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]lol "e-sports athletes" ... yeah... "athletes"... right....[/quote<] Pfft. Snowboarding. Real men use [url=http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/4/5470408/doc-brown-tony-hawk-show-off-huvr-real-life-hoverboard<]hoverboards[/url<]. In pink.

        • internetsandman
        • 6 years ago

        I mean all you’re doing is nailing yourself to a plank of wood and throwing yourself down a mountain, right? Where’s the physical or mental endurance there?

          • SnowboardingTobi
          • 6 years ago

          Please, I’m no savage. I strap my feet in. Never, ever nail. Gosh!

      • donkeycrock
      • 6 years ago

      Athletes use muscles to compete. Your brain is a muscle. Think before you speak.

        • superjawes
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]Your brain is a muscle.[/quote<] No...no it isn't... [quote<]Think before you speak.[/quote<] Indeed.

        • SnowboardingTobi
        • 6 years ago

        bahahaha… oh lordy

        • jihadjoe
        • 6 years ago

        Musclehead.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    Buckling Springs or bust.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    Why do the browns get called out, they are silent supposedly.

      • Melvar
      • 6 years ago

      The Razer Green is tactile and clicky, like the Cherry MX Blue. The Razer Orange is tactile and not clicky, like the Cherry MX Brown.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      Browns still make noise, but it’s more of a bottoming out than anything else. My Cooler Master QuickFire Pro is anything but silent, even with O-rings installed on every key cap.

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Agh… Razer about looks and performance? Yup… Durability? Nope.

    I’ve used Razer products for ages and while they look nice, they don’t last at all. They’re made out of cheap shit and break randomly 1-2 years in. Pretty much every Razer mouse I’ve owned (and I’ve owned just about every one of them) has went through a RMA. Usually faulty clickers, sometimes the laser stops tracking well regardless of how clean the lens is. Double clicking with one click or not clicking at all… considering that’s all keyboards do, I wont be buying one of these.

      • Helmore
      • 6 years ago

      With me the problem is the teflon feet on the mouse. They wear down too fast. Way too fast. Takes me less than half a year to go through their teflon feet.

      • tanker27
      • 6 years ago

      True story, My first job out of college was helpdesk support and the company I worked for at the time had the contract for Razor. This was back the year before Y2K. We would get calls from irate customers on how their mice died withing 6 months or less or how the paint rubbed off or how shotty the drivers were. Oh those were the days. Back then everything was guaranteed so we usually shipped them a replacement on the spot. Every new product they brought out they would send our team of 12 new ones. We were supposed to use them. Myself, I was rocking a Logitech. II actually got in trouble because when the Razer people came buy they didn’t see a Razer mouse on my desk. When asked where it was I casually opened my desk drawer and showed them every unopened product they sent us. So yeah I’ve never trusted nor have I ever spent money on anything Razer. Their stuff just sucked.

      Needless to say the company didnt last long because of a couple of officers embezzling company money. And I actually got laid off by email AND Voicemail, but that’s another story for another time.

        • slowriot
        • 6 years ago

        That’s 15 years ago. It has absolutely nothing to do with current Razer quality.

        For every “My Naga died after six months!” there’s a “My G500 stopped registering clicks after three weeks!”

        The real secret? Most of them should be followed by “after I raged out and slammed it against my desk.”

          • tanker27
          • 6 years ago

          Sure it does its called Brand/Consumer loyalty. Shotty construction then = now. And you’re right I have had Logitech die just not as fast as a Razer.

          You couldn’t convince me to buy a Razor not when there are better quality items out there.

          But to each their own.

            • slowriot
            • 6 years ago

            [quote<]Sure it does its called Brand/Consumer loyalty.[/quote<] No, that's your perception of build quality. It has nothing to do with the actual build quality. [quote<]Shotty construction then = now.[/quote<] No. If your timeframe is remotely accurate then you're talking about a point when the company was barely a year or two old and had only a single, extremely niche product available. The company is a radically different operation. It couldn't possibly work the same now as it did then. Their engineering, manufacturing and quality assurance are on a entirely different scale. [quote<]You couldn't convince me to buy a Razor not when there are better quality items out there. But to each their own.[/quote<] I don't care what you buy. What annoys me is your thought process.

            • tanker27
            • 6 years ago

            What bothers me Is why do even care unless you work for Razer? /eyeroll

            • Zeig9
            • 6 years ago

            Of course. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you must be a corporate shill.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 6 years ago

      Been rocking the same Death Adder for almost 6 years, hasn’t slowed down a bit.

      Had to replace the mouse feet but other than that, it’s perfect.

        • internetsandman
        • 6 years ago

        You’re the exception, not the norm. This is like everyone who bought an OCZ SSD three years ago and doesn’t have any problems with it

        I owned two Mambas and both stopped being usable within three months, I bought a Logitech mouse (G500 I believe) and it’s stood up even against my occasional gamer rage and it’s still going strong after a year and a half of usage

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 6 years ago

    Video needs more lens flares, blurry closeups, esports celebrities, and assembly line/testing machinery testimonies.
    I almost saw the finished product once, but then they cut away. That was close.

      • tstartrekdude
      • 6 years ago

      Needed more Aphromoo and dliftt senpai hugging and stuff.

      • drsauced
      • 6 years ago

      Naw, needs more, “Pro-gamers hate this!” Or infomercial grade, “Isn’t there a better way to game?” That might have been more inspiring. I’ll stick to my Filcos and Rosewills, thanks. Cherry MX 4LIFE!!!

    • Chaseme
    • 6 years ago

    Considering I’ve been constantly disappointed in Razer I’ll assume these wont be as good as Cherry MX.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This