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Cherry’s new low-profile switches offer an alternative for Apple Magic Keyboard fans

Ducky Blade keyboard

Cherry are the go-to supplier of switches for many mechanical keyboard gamers, and are certainly a crowd favourite among keyboard manufacturers. Now Cherry are bringing their keyswitch expertise to a whole new form factor with their new low-profile MX Red RGB switch.  

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The overall height of the low-profile switch has been reduced from the age-old 18.5mm of the full-size switch to only 11.9mm. Within this slender frame, Cherry have kept their Crosspoint contact tech intact, ensuring the full 50 million operations that has become expected of many mechanical boards.

As RGB lighting is uber mission-critical, the housing of this switch is transparent to allow LED light to pass through. These LEDs will need to be mounted onto the PCB itself due to space limitations, rather than into the switch as is the case with Cherry’s full-sized switches.

Cherry MX Red low-profile switch

The switch features the exact same actuation force required by the usual MX Red fare, so no change there. Total travel has reduced from 4mm to 3.2mm, however, due to a change in the pre-travel distance from 2mm to 1.2mm. It’s important that these switches retain their telltale mechanical feel even after they’ve dropped 35% of their mass, so hopefully Cherry can deliver on their signature typing experience.

If Cherry’s MX Red’s linear feel doesn’t take your fancy, then Cherry have implied that further switches will be made available down the line – likely a tactile blue or brown switch is on the way. The first products with Cherry low-profile MX Red RGB switches should be arriving within a few months, and fans of Ducky keyboards will be pleased to know that their low-profile board has already surfaced at CES 2018 and will likely launch alongside the first wave of products.

Cherry MX Red low-profile switch height

Cherry are far from the first to delve into slimline switches, although, thanks to their popularity among gamers, it could be a major release for low-profile keyboards, lightweight and thin accessories, and gaming laptops. Kailh have already attempted to offer some respite for weary membrane laptop gamers with their Mini Chocolate low-profile switches, among others. Outside of slim laptops, more mainstream low-profile recessed keyboards will allow fans of Apple’s Magic Keyboard to experience mechanical switches without adding too much additional key height along the way – the first step toward mechanical enlightenment.

Maybe 2018 will be the year of fully-mechanical gaming laptops that won’t break your back to drag from place to place – but don’t expect any miracles just yet. Even with some considerable shedding, these these low-profile switches would still take up considerably more space than required for an Nvidia Max-Q laptop or similarly slimline design. Unfortunately, some extra bulk is the price you’re required to pay for a truly mechanical typing experience.