Switch Marketing Terms: What to Know and What to Ignore
If you’re just now stepping into the world of custom mechanical keyboards, or trying to expand your switch catalogue for upcoming builds, all of the phrases you may see on a switch sales page can be confusing. Where more seasoned keyboard veterans might scoff at me for making a claim like this, I can assure you that even after having purchased thousands of switches myself I still come across new, strange ways of vendors trying to sell me switches. While I don’t have the space here to go through every single one of the quirky selling gimmicks I’ve seen over the years, I figure it might be worthwhile to give a loose guide to help people out. So, in this article I’m going to cover the things that you need to both look for and ignore when buying your next set of switches!
Type and Manufacturer
Image Credit: @BMa1
While this may seem an incredibly obvious suggestion to be made as something to look out for it, it isn’t entirely without merit. To new people coming into the...
I LOVE the design of these keycaps. That and the cherry profile are essentially why I got them and the only good things about them. Design and cherry profile - it ends there.
The keys have a louder hollow sound to them, I much prefer PBT keycaps and I think it's a superior feel and sound...but I also know the colors aren't as nice with PBT. So, like many things in life, it's a trade off.
Aside from that, I purchased a set that was missing a key and came with two of another key. So the total count of pieces was correct, but I was missing one key. Another key didn't come out of the mold properly and had what looked like a scratch, but was probably just something it rested on or something in the way that prevented the top layer of plastic from covering the entire key. You could see the other color underneath from the outside in the "scratched" area (wasn't scratched, nothing is going to scratch that in shipping, in packaging, etc. that's just how I'm describing it and it was not shallow nor hairline thin -- it was a manufacturing defect clear as day). You can also see the marks on the keys where they were snapped off supporting pieces of plastic. They didn't smooth or buff these out or do any kind of treatment afterward (fortunately this is on the side of the keys you don't see if your keys don't recess into your keyboard a bit). So I had to exchange them (I did not buy the set directly from Drop, so exchanging was fairly quick and easy). I did buy the novelties set from Drop and had no missing keys or anything like that.
So is GMK worth all the hype? No. Not really. They're overpriced, plain and simple. I do like them in terms of their design and the profile, don't get me wrong. I'm happy to have them...But would I recommend them to someone else? No, not at all. Not unless they had a bunch of money to spend with nothing better to spend it on. Not unless there was a steep discount or sale on these. No way.
I read a few blog posts and reviews about how great GMK was and how they are limited and often required groups buys, etc. Lots of hype. They're supposed to be the epitome of keycaps. Do I think they are now having owned them and having compared them to a few other (admittedly limited) sets? Definitely not.
Want a fun set of keycaps and can find these on sale or don't care about cost? Sure, go for it.
Want value? Look at a nice PBT set and skip the hype, it's not real.
I bought this refurbished keyboard because it was cheap and it was an entry-level keyboard to start modding. Boy was I wrong, I opted for the Halo True switches because I already had Gateron Yellow and I wanted something different. The Halo Trues right out of the box sound pingy and heavy AF. Every release of the keypress resulted in pinging coming from the unlubed springs. Combined with the hollowness of the case and the metal plate being soldered to the PCB, this keyboard sounds terrible. To be able to lube the springs you would need to de-solder the switches. YES this PCB is soldered and every switch is soldered to the board. It is not friendly for beginners to start modding and it was tedious even for me to desolder all of the switches just to lube them. Lubing the switches with 205G0 and the springs with Super Lube Synthetic oil helped a lot and eliminated pinging from the switches and smoothen out the keystrokes. I still did not like the Halo Trues, probably due to that 100g actuation endpoint. I ended up swapping to Akko CS Silvers linear switches hand-lubed. While I had the switches desoldered from the PCB, I bought some Mill-Max sockets which convert the PCB into a hot-swappable board. This made disassembly and reassembly a lot easier when trying to change mods around. However, the Mill-Max sockets raise the switches about 2mm above the normal seating which made the switches not mount to the metal plate. The switches would mount at an angle and cause interference with the stabs causing them to get stuck at the bottom and not come back up. I was able to get over this hurdle by putting the keycaps on and pressing extremely hard down to force the switches to mount to the metal plate.
My mods for this keyboard include:
PE foam for the case
Tempest Tape mod for PCB - 1 layer
PE foam in between plate and PCB - desoldered the plate from PCB and used the PE foam to avoid direct contact between the two
Holee Mod lubed with 205g0
Akko CS Silver switches lubed with 205g0 and Super Lube oil on springs
Overall sound: In between Clack and Thock but loud!
I would not recommend this keyboard to people who plan to mod it out of the box just as I had intended. I'd spend the money elsewhere such as the Akko 5075S kit, which is gasket mounted and uses a polycarbonate plate to sound quiet and thocky. However, for this price, you won't be able to find a hybrid keyboard that has an aluminum case and metal plate anywhere else. Had I known all of this, I would not have bought this keyboard in the first place. Although I am content with how the keyboard sounds after all of the modifications, I would've chosen something else. If you've read this review and are thinking of buying this keyboard as one of your first keyboards then I'd at least recommend you get the Gateron Yellow switches. The yellows are all around a solid choice amongst the modding community.
I get that you sell keycaps but what about the keyboard itself? Also, do I need those things that go under the keycap as well? Sorry, Im a keyboard N00b but I would like one. Im just a little intimidated here by the fragmentation of products.