LAS VEGAS — Cherry, one of the leaders in mechanical keyboard switches, and often a must-have for keyboard enthusiasts, is releasing a new low-profile switch, the company announced here at CES 2018 today. The switch is called the Cherry MX Low Profile RGB, and it will come in the company’s Red variety. The first keyboards with the new switches will come in the second quarter of 2018.
The switch is aimed at new, thinner keyboards and, potentially, upcoming gaming notebooks. In some hands-on time with prototype keyboard, it felt almost exactly the same as a keyboard at my desk with full-size Cherry Red switches, although these key had lower travel. The first version of the new switch is based on Cherry’s existing MX RGB Reds.
The switch is 11.9 millimeters thick, or 35 percent thinner than the existing 18.5 mm MX standard. A representative for Cherry told me that some gaming-laptop companies are looking into these new switches.
Making the switches was a challenge, I was told, because while some users wanted lower travel, they wanted the same classic feel. Unfortunately, that was hard to reproduce with science, they said, so Cherry had to keep making prototypes until they got it right.
But the new switch is not exactly the same as the old one. There are a few changes. For instance, the signature cross-shaped stem is now surrounded by a cylinder. This makes each switch tougher against water and dust, although it won't be 100 percent water- and dust-proof. (Getting that would require a rubber cap, I was told, which would mess with the feel.) The force curve is ever so slightly different, but very close to MX switches, and the actuation point, by necessity, is lower.
The RGB back lighting shines evenly across each key, thanks to a groove in the switch that allows more light, which will be great for gaming laptops that tend to offer a wide variety of colors.
Cherry didn’t say exactly when the first keyboards will come, but it was showing off its own prototypes as well as early prototype keyboards by companies like Ducky and Vortex.
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Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.