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What is "Cherry" in the world of mechanical keyboard? - The Kapco

What is "Cherry" in the world of mechanical keyboard?

What is "Cherry" in the world of mechanical keyboard?

Mechanical keyboards are a rabbit hole flooded with jargon, which can be overwhelming for beginners to the hobby. Some enthusiasts even mention fruits, such as Cherry! Fret not, today we’re going to find out exactly what "Cherry" is in the context of keyboard enthusiasts. (ps: it's not actually a fruit)

What exactly is “Cherry” in mechanical keyboard?


Cherry is a well-known brand in the mechanical keyboard industry. They are a German computer peripheral-device maker. It all started in 1953 when Walter Lorain Cherry founded The CHERRY Corporation in the USA. The CHERRY Corporation was a manufacturer of microswitches which are used in arcade machines. These microswitches can control electrical devices and are used in arcade buttons and joysticks.


In 1967, CHERRY’s production facilities were relocated to Germany. CHERRY started manufacturing computer keyboards in 1973,making them one of the first in the industry. They launched the G80-3000 mechanical keyboard which is now the oldest keyboard series in the world. Its successor, the G80-3000N RGB is still in production today!


In 1983, CHERRY introduced MX mechanical switches which marked the start of mechanical keyboards. Their first ever mechanical key switch was the MX black. Fast forward to 2014, CHERRY introduced the RGB technology. At that time, the mechanical MX keyboards can be illuminated by LEDs with up to 16.8 million colors. The gaming community liked the idea of RGB as it adds to the aesthetics of their setups. Competitors like Razer ventured into the technology as well because of the rising interest in RGB keyboards among the gaming community. As a result, Razer launched their Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 which featured their own green switches.


In 2018, CHERRY launched MX low profile switches which have lower height compared to the normal MX switches. They first introduced MX low profile RED as the red variant was their most popular switch at that time. This allowed for a slimmer keyboard design which complements ergonomic working. Slim keyboards also mean that they are easier to carry around as they dont take up as much space as regular keyboards. The first keyboard featuring these low profile switches was the Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile. 


The classic Cherry MX switches


  1. Cherry MX Red switches

These linear switches are smooth and consistent. Red switches are commonly used in the gaming community because they provide immediate response and require the least resistance to actuate.


  1. Cherry MX Blue switches

These switches are clicky and most commonly found in mechanical keyboards. Beginners to mechanical keyboards usually favor these switches as they output the loudest feedback and give the “mechanical” feeling.


  1. Cherry MX Brown switches

These are tactile switches. This is the sweet spot between linear and clicky switches.Keyboard enthusiasts love brown switches as they provide a satisfying feeling.


  1. Cherry MX Black switches

These switches are similar to red switches. Black switches are linear like red switches but they require higher actuation force compared to reds. This causes the black switches to feel heavier as they require more effort to actuate. Heavier switches allow for precision typing as we are less likely to accidentally press a key.


The modern variants of Cherry MX switches

  1. Silver switches

One of the fastest Cherry MX switches. They are linear and have low spring resistance. These are upgraded versions of red switches.


  1. Green switches

These switches are slightly modified from blue switches. Green switches have an increased actuation force compared to the blue switches.


  1. Gray switches

Slightly modified version of brown switches. These switches are tactile just like browns but have a higher actuation force. Gray switches provide a noiseless feedback which results in a silent click, or commonly known as silent switches.


What is the difference between Cherry, Cherry MX & MX style switches?


You may have seen these different terminologies on the internet. Cherry and Cherry MX switches are originals and manufactured by Cherry themself. On the other hand, MX style switches are imitations of Cherry switches. These MX style switches feature the iconic “+” cross-stem of Cherry switches. Why are MX style switches freely distributed in the market? The reason for this is the expiration of Cherry’s patent in 1984. Since then, the market has been flooded with MX style switches which resemble Cherry’s design. 


Here is a list of similar brands that manufacture MX style switches:

  • Gateron
  • Outemu
  • Razer
  • Kailh
  • JWK


Modding possibilities for MX style switches 


Modding switches is the cheapest way to take your keyboard to the next level. The reason for this is that the tools required to modify switches such as switch lube are usually inexpensive.


  1. DIY lubing

To lube your MX style switches, you need to first take apart the switches. Using a switch lube, you can lube many parts of your switches. These include spring, bottom housing, top housing and stem. Lubing switches can change the sound of your keyboard and make it smoother. However, do not overlube your switches as it will make your switches feel mushy and unresponsive.


  1. Damping

Damping is to reduce the noise made by your keyboard. One of the methods is to use O-rings. To do that, remove the keycaps on your keyboard and place O-rings in the keycap stem. This will cushion the impact of bottoming out and reduce noise.


All in all, Cherry is a pioneer in the computer hardware industry and has created the world we live in now. Cherry had produced high quality products in the past and always will do. Due to the enormous success of Cherry MX switches, other brands like Gateron and Kailh wanted to compete in the market and reach Cherry’s level. As a result, more MX style switches flooded the market and consumers got a wider range of options to choose from.


Key Takeaways:

  • Cherry is a manufacturer of various computer hardware related products and has over 70 years of history.
  • Cherry MX red, blue and brown switches are linear, clicky and tactile respectively.
  • Cherry MX silver, green and gray switches are their modern counterparts.
  • Cherry manufactures Cherry MX switches whereas other brands produce MX style switches
  • MX style switches provide many modding options to users.

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