Cherry is overhauling its classic mechanical keyboard switches


It’s a big day in the mechanical keyboard world. Cherry, the German manufacturer behind the ubiquitous Cherry MX, has announced a redesigned version of the switch called the Cherry MX2A that it says should feel smoother to press, sound quieter, and still be rated to survive millions of actuations. The new switch will be available to buy standalone later this year and will also be available preinstalled in Cherry’s Xtrfy K5V2 keyboard

The announcement of the Cherry MX2A comes after years of keyboard enthusiasts learning how to modify Cherry’s switches to overcome their perceived shortcomings. Depending on who you ask, Cherry’s switches have too much wobble, feel scratchy to press, and don’t sound as good as some of their competitors. Since Cherry’s patent for its MX switch expired, a host of other companies have started producing their own switches based on its design, often with tweaks designed to address these complaints.

Cherry’s range of switches will be offered in the new MX2A design, though not every switch will get every enhancement.
Image: Cherry

There are numerous different official Cherry MX variants, ranging from linear Red switches to tactile Browns and clicky Blues. Each of these switches will be offered in the new MX2A design, but Blues and Silent Reds will miss out on a couple of the enhancements, per Cherry’s table above.

Although Cherry has carried forward the overall design of the MX switch with the MX2A (including the same cross-shaped stem that means it’ll be compatible with most current keycaps), it’s made a host of tweaks in an attempt to improve upon it. The switches use a new barrel-shaped spring rather than the old cylindrical design, which the company says should feel more consistent and smooth. Each switch stem is also designed with a so-called “crown” of ribs to help keep the spring centered. There’s lubrication applied to the dome that the spring sits on in the bottom socket that Cherry says also improves smoothness and reduces noise, and the top of the socket has been redesigned to help better guide the switch stem down as it’s pressed.

The Cherry Xtrfy K5V2 will be the first keyboard equipped with the new switches.
Image: Cherry

While optical and Hall effect keyboard switches are growing more popular, Cherry is sticking with its gold metal contacts for the Cherry MX2A switch. But the company argues that its switches “typically” offer a debounce delay (aka the amount of time it takes for these metal contacts to settle together and register a keypress) of under 1ms. Ultimately, however, Hall effect and optical switches still have the capacity to be more responsive. Wooting advertises that its Lekker Hall effect switches have a debounce delay of 0.03ms, while Razer and Corsair each claim their optical switches have “zero debounce delay.”

For now, Cherry’s head of global component sales, Jim Foster, tells me the company plans to sell the MX2A alongside its existing Cherry MX switches as a more premium alternative at a roughly 10 percent price premium. Exact pricing for the switches will vary based on volume.

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