Mechanical keyboards have been on the rise in gaming circles for a few years now, offering a more satisfying tactile experience through the use of real mechanical switches instead of the crappy rubber domes that you’d also find in your remote control. The vast majority of mechanical keyboards sold today use one of three different switches made by Cherry Corp, a small company in Germany. You have a choice of blue switches, which are tactile and sound clicky; brown switches, which are tactile but a little quieter; red switches which are linear and light with no tactile bump. These switches have been Cherry’s mainstay for decades, so when the company announced a new line of switches to be revealed at CES 2014, keyboard nerds got excited.
As it turns out, the new switches aren’t exactly what we were expecting – instead of being a new type of switch entirely, they’re an adaption of these same three popular switches, with one new ability: an integrated RGB LED, capable of producing 16.7 million different colours. That means instead of choosing a keyboard with backlighting in one colour, you can now change the colour of your entire keyboard – or even individual keys – on the fly. It’s not the most substantive change, but it does mean you have a whole lot more choice over the appearance of your keyboard.
The driving force behind bringing these new switches to market was the American firm Corsair, one of the many companies that produce gaming keyboards using Cherry switches. The company is a relative newcomer in the mechanical keyboard space compared to veterans like Filco, but Corsair’s first two generations of keyboards have found some success – and with a one year exclusive on using MX RGB switches, they should become an even higher profile manufacturer.
Corsair and Cherry debuted a prototype keyboard at CES, dubbed the MX RGB Project, that had MX RGB switches modded into Corsair’s second generation K70 keyboard. First-hand impressions of the keyboard were quite favourable, and no doubt Corsair will be producing a production version post-haste. The first model is due to arrive in the latter half of 2014, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about individual models before then.