Razer Opto-Mechanical Keyboard Switches – Are They Worth It?

When dealing with mechanical keyboard switches you are effectively facing a huge variety of choices within the same spectrum of products.

The most basic mechanical keyboard switches you will find on the market are Cherry MX switches (Red, Blue, Brows, Black, etc) and the Cherry clones produced by Kailh and Gateron.

At the same time, if you have some basic knowledge of the enthusiast keyboard community you know that the best mechanical keyboard switches (linear and tactile) are none of the above even though all of them use the same basic construction.

ALL of the custom or basic mechanical keyboard switches operate in the same manner – once pressed the key will make touch its metal contact to let your PC know an action has occurred.

Because of this, all keyboards suffer from what is called bounce, where a key touches the mental contact a couple of times because of the nature of the force applied. Because of this, all keyboards implement a delay called de-bounce to make sure only one action is executed per key-press.

This is obviously not ideal for gaming or eSports since you want your inputs to suffer from as little delay as possible.

How Razer Changed the Game

In comes a big company like Razer and decides to change the manufacturing process and creates what we call today opto-mechanical switches. The main difference between the Razer opto-mechanical switches and regular switches is the fact that they do not use a metal contact to send a signal.

The Razer opto-mechanical switches use a laser beam to transmit to a receiver that the key has been pressed resulting in no need for a de-bounce delay since there is no bounce involved.

What this means in practical terms is that the key presses while using the Razer opto-mechanical switches are extremely fast, resulting in higher precision. This is great for gamers and typists because this means there is less room for technical errors from your keyboard.

Razer has a tactile Purple switch and a linear Red switch using their optical technology. Both types of switches have short actuation points and use low actuation forces in order to enhance the speed at which you can execute button presses. This complements the optical technology that aims to produce the fastest key presses in the Wild West.

It seems that Razer simply revolutionized the mechanical keyboard switch game with their opto-mechanical switches – but is that truly the case?

Are the Razer Opto-Mechanical Switches Worth It?

For now, we have looked at the positive sides of the Razer opto-mechanical switches, and how these do not suffer from the de-bounce delay like their traditional brothers and sisters.

But what about the rest? Do these super fancy optical switches make sense, and who uses them for their advanced custom keyboard builds?

Well, to be honest besides their super-fast actuation point the Razer opto-mechanical switches do not have much to offer.

To get to experience these switches you will have to buy a full Razer keyboard since they are not sold separately and do not appear in any other popular keyboards. In terms of cleaning and modding your keyboard the Razer switches are also not exactly the best.

Since they use the same CherryMX stem you can change the keycaps you use but that’s about it. You SHOULD NOT proceed with the most important mod for a mechanical switch which is lubing on an optical switch.

This does not mean you cannot do it, but rather that doing it might brick your optical switches. The reason is that you are applying lube inside of the switch and it might block the laser signal therefore your keyboard will not see your keypresses.

Without lubing the Razer opto-mechanical switches cannot compete at all in the enthusiast keyboard market since lubing makes any switch SO MUCH BETTER. At the same time, even at stock, the Razer opto-mechanical switches do not offer an otherworldly experience to warrant their purchase.

Moreover, it is widely accepted in the keyboard community that in real-life use there is no perceivable difference between normal switches and the Razer optical switches.

So then what is the point? These switches are expensive since you have to buy a whole keyboard, you cannot lube them since they use different technology, and even when stock they do not feel the greatest.

It seems like these new switches are a wasted effort from Razer, but at the same time, these inspire hope for the future.

Even if now the Razer opto-mechanical switches are not exactly the best purchase they are shifting the paradigm in terms of how a mechanical switch operates pushing innovation. In time most switches will become optical and new modding procedures will appear in order to accommodate the changes.

So don’t lose hope and sit tight!

Final Thoughts

The reality is that currently, the Razer opto-mechanical switches are simply not worth it. You can get cheaper switches, mod them with conventional means and still spend less than a Razer keyboard with optical switches.

That doesn’t mean that this is not an exciting product because as mentioned before this is a step in the right direction that will change the mechanical keyboard market forever.

About The Author

Chris (vile_is_dead)

Custom Windows ISO enjoyer, FPS optimizer, and aim improvement enthusiast. Will disassemble all of his peripherals (and sometimes PC parts) to mod them even if all of them work perfectly fine. Discord/Twitter: vile_is_dead

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