How to choose a mechanical keyboard switch

(Pocket-lint) – Mechanical keyboards are wonderful things, especially if, like us, you spend a lot of your day typing. If you’re coming from a two-dimensional laptop keyboard, prepare to be wowed, nothing beats the tactile feel and sound of a quality keyboard.

The decision to move to a mechanical keyboard is an easy one, whether you’re a gamer or a novelist, it’s always worth having a quality set of keys to hammer away at. However, once you’ve decided to invest, there are still a lot of decisions to be made.

For some people, mechanical keyboards are a huge hobby that comes complete with esoteric lingo, inside jokes and maxed-out credit cards. For the rest of us, it can be intimidating to get started.


Don’t fret, we’re here to help with one of the most important decisions a mechanical keyboard newbie has to make: which switch to choose.

An introduction to key switches

In the most basic of terms, pressing a key on your keyboard activates a switch, which sends a signal to your computer so that it knows what you’ve pressed. Different types of switches have different feels to them, so mechanical keyboards are often available with a variety of options to suit different users’ tastes.

Ideally, you’ll want to try some switches in real life to see how they feel. If you’re lucky enough to live near a store that sells gaming peripherals, then they might have some on display that you can try out. Otherwise, you could invest in a switch tester, which is essentially a dummy keyboard with a variety of switches for you to try out.


There are three main types of switch design that you’ll come across:

Linear: These switches typically require the same pressing force all the way down and are the most common type that you’ll find on gaming keyboards. The switch triggers somewhere along the travel of the key, but you won’t be able to feel where it happens. It gives a smooth, light feeling and is great for fast actuation – the kind you’ll want when playing PC games.

Clicky: A clicky switch, unsurprisingly, makes a clicking sound when pressed. There’s a distinct bump in the key travel, followed by a click that lets you know exactly when the keyboard has registered your keystroke. Clicky switches are very much a love-it-or-hate-it kind of situation. If you work in an office, you’ll likely want to avoid these as they might drive your co-workers mad. However, there is something extremely satisfying and typewriter-like about using them.

Tactile: A tactile switch sits somewhere in the middle of linear and clicky. You get the same bump as a clicky switch, but without the click. They’re often still noisier than a linear switch but less so than a clicky switch. These are our favourite all-rounders, but whether you like the feel or not is all down to the individual.

Pocket-lintHow to choose a mechanical keyboard switch photo 2

Common switch colours and what they mean

Key switches are

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The Penkesu is a Do it yourself retro handheld Personal computer with a mechanical keyboard

There are not a lot of extremely-moveable handheld PCs any more, outside of the GDP pocket and its gaming-targeted successors. With tablets, smartphones, and even handhelds like the Steam Deck diluting the marketable desires of proudly owning a notebook, there isn’t much house for mini laptops beyond the easy joy of proudly owning a enjoyment-sized variation of a conventional computer.

But which is not stopping Do-it-yourself-er Penk Chen from setting up their personal handheld Pc named the Penkesu — a retro-futuristic ultraportable notebook with a mechanical keyboard. It could extremely very well have existed as a doing work sci-fi film prop in the ’90s or an R&B video plot unit in 2002.

The situation for the Penkesu is designed applying 3D printed areas paired with hinges made for the Video game Boy Progress SP. The clamshell lid is equipped with a vast 400 x 1,280 7.9-inch capacitive touch display screen, wired through the hinge with a ribbon cable carrying the HDMI signal to a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W at the base.

Then a USB interface with charging, furthermore a Li-ion battery round off the primary laptop parts, subsequent Chen’s target to use a negligible amount of electronics. All that is left for the Penkesu is the keyboard, which is made up of an Arduino controller with reduced-profile Kailh Choc V1 switches, lower profiles keycaps, and the rest of the electronics.

The innards of the Penkesu
Graphic: Penk Chen by means of GitHub

The end result is a swanky handheld laptop or computer that kind of reminds me of the Raspberry Pi 400 compact keyboard that properties an ARM-driven personal computer — but with a display screen.

This is not the 1st retro-tastic Raspberry Pi notebook we have found, as there was also the apocalypse surviving Raspberry Pi cyberdeck laptop. Like the Penkesu, it also has a mechanical keyboard. But as an alternative of a compact layout, the cyberdeck’s factors are wrapped in a rugged drinking water-evidence pelican digital camera situation.

Compact notebook layouts have long gone by phases at many factors, suppliers raced to develop compact and economical web-concentrated netbooks or joined Intel’s war on the MacBook Air with Ultrabooks. But handheld PCs like the tremendous fascinating clutch-style Sony VAIO P could under no circumstances pretty capture on. In the circumstance of the VAIO P, this was simply because it was not incredibly usable owing to the slow Intel Atom processor, odd 8-inch 1600 x 786 resolution monitor, and a practically $900 value tag.

sony vaio p

Would be interesting if brands made compact pcs like the Sony VAIO P again.

But if you cherished the kind element of the VAIO P and have a use situation for a Raspberry Pi, then probably this great retro handheld is a little something for you. If you simply cannot believe of a motive to make 1, just bear in mind it could be the best laptop for hackers.

If you’re imagining of using on the job, Penk Chen has posted all the info

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