Thursday, September 21, 2023

Cherry’s latest mechanical keyboard switch is inspired by the community

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Shreya Christina
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The original community-created Ergo Clear is what’s known as a “franken switch,” where users mix and match components from different switches to create a new and interesting typing feel. The original Ergo Clear mod combined the stem of a Cherry MX Clear with the spring of a Cherry MX Black switch. It meant it inherited the satisfying tactile hump of the MX Clear (which is much more pronounced than the hump of Cherry’s other tactile switch, the MX Brown), but with a lighter spring that makes it much easier to press.

“Reliable long-term lubrication”

Which brings us to Cherry’s announcement this week. In a press release, the company says producing its own official version of the MX Ergo Clear switch “will deter less experienced users from manually changing it.” But being an official switch means the new Ergo Clear has gone ahead Cherry’s Quality Control Process, allowing it to guarantee that the switch will survive 50 million operations “without loss of typing feel”. The company says it uses “high-performance grease” to lubricate its official version of the MX Ergo Clear, rather than the PTFE lubricant used in the original mod, which it claims results in “reliable lubrication on long-term”.

A company spokesperson did not respond to specific questions about the exact weight of the spring used in the new MX Ergo Clear switch, but it does list it with an actuating force of 40 cN (the amount of force needed to pull a ​key to register a pressure), and 55 cN actuation force (the amount needed to push past the tactile bump). For reference, Cherry’s MX Brown has a slightly higher actuation force of 45 cN, but the same actuation force of 55 cN. The already existing MX Clear has an actuating force of 55 cN and an actuation force of 65 cN.

Schematic of MX Ergo Clear switch.

A cross section of the MX Ergo Clear switch showing the stem (the white block in the center) and the spring.
Image: Cherry

While Cherry claims that offering the official Ergo Clear switch will save users the trouble of running the mod themselves, the fact is that many people have already avoided it by purchasing one of the many third-party Ergo Clear style switches available. have cropped up over the years to take advantage of the demand. A notable early imitator was the diligent, which was manufactured by Cherry competitor Gateron. Numerous manufacturers are now producing switches based on Cherry’s MX switch design after the company’s patent expired.

With its official version of the MX Ergo Clear, Cherry finally seems to be responding to the demand for a tactile switch that until now was only available through DIY mods or competing manufacturers. Cherry’s press release doesn’t mention exact pricing or a release date for the new switches (we’ve followed up for more details and will update this story if we hear anything), but notes that they will be available from “official distributors” as well as built directly into emerging standard keyboards. The switch will be available in both RGB and non-RGB variants, as well as three- and five-pin versions.

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