Should You Buy A Keyboard With Magnetic Switches?

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Is it time for you to make a switch to magnetic keyboards?

Story Highlight
  • Magnetic switch keyboards offer a frictionless keystroke experience with adjustable actuation distances, enhancing both typing and gaming experiences.
  • The typing feel and sound of magnetic switch keyboards differ from traditional mechanical keyboards.
  • They are slightly expensive compared to traditional keyboards but worth the price.

From speed to tactile feedback and noise, I’ve built and used mechanical keyboards with all sorts of switch types. Well, just when I thought I had tried it all, an innovative new switch hit the market – Magnetic switches.

Their working principle is rather simple; unlike traditional mechanical switches that have a spring and all sorts of mechanisms, a magnetic switch simply has a magnet on one end and a sensor on the other. As such, when you press the key, the magnet gets closer to the sensor, hence registering the key press.

There is no doubt that the way these magnetic switches work is definitely something new, but if you’re thinking of calling these switches just another gimmick, let me walk you through some of their real-world benefits. 

Smooth And Set-able Actuation

Magnetic switch keyboards offer no friction as they operate on a magnetic field, and this will offer you a smooth keystroke experience. It also gives you a unique feature of being able to set the actuation distance of keys.

Now, what I mean by that is you can adjust how much you need to press the key to register the input. In simpler and more practical terms, the keyboard lets you set how hard or light you need to press the keys before they register.

Generally, there are 8 to 9 levels of set-able actuation heights, and you can adjust that for every key based on your need.

VXE ATK68 Magnetic Switch Keyboard
VXE ATK68 Magnetic Switch Keyboard ( image credit: https://sellgudet.live/)

One thing to keep in mind: This adjustable actuation is digital, not physical. The keyboard detects how far down on the spring the stem depresses, but the spring itself doesn’t change — it can’t. You’re changing the actuation distance, not the actuation force.

So, a key that requires, say, 55 Newtons of force in order to completely depress will still feel just as “stiff,” even if it only now requires 25 Newtons to depress the switch to the actuation point.

Durability

Since magnetic switch keyboards do not have physical contact points like traditional keyboards, they do not wear out with time, making them extremely durable.

The switch has a magnet beneath each key, and the mechanism works on the principle of the Hall Effect. As you press down on the key, a voltage is generated due to the magnetic field of the magnet, which serves as input for the processor.

Research figures show that each key can perform up to 100 million actuations over the span of its lifetime for a magnetic switch keyboard and if I compare it to traditional keyboards, they offer only about 50 million actuations per key. Personally, I would prefer a keyboard that can last long and requires less maintenance over time, and a magnetic switch keyboard provides me with that feature.

Lightning-fast Time Responses

Magnetic switch keyboards offer extremely fast time responses, which suits gamers as they enhance their gaming experience by minimizing lag.

With magnetic switches, you don’t have to wait for the key to move back to its resting position for it to count as deactivated; instead, as soon as you release any type of pressure, it will deactivate.

This means when rapidly pressing a key, you don’t have to lift your finger off the button before pressing down again, as you would with mechanical switches.

Feel And Sound

Keychron’s Q1 HE Magnetic Switch Keyboard
Keychron’s Q1 HE Magnetic Switch Keyboard( Image credit: IMBOLDN)

Magnetic switch keyboards may feel different to people who enjoy the tactile feedback of traditional keyboards. Although I personally have no issue with that as I have gotten used to its feel after some time.

I know some people also love the clicky sound of traditional boards, and from my own experience, magnetic keyboards sound slightly different from them. The difference is minor, to be honest, and it’s not a problem for me as I like to have a smooth and quiet experience during my long typing sessions.

Let’s Wait

As with all new tech, magnetic switch keyboards are more expensive than the normal mechanical keyboards we are all used to. So, unless you’re going to use the set-able actuation feature, which is pretty much their main selling point, I don’t see the appeal of going for it.

Of course, as more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon of mechanical switches and new keyboards are released, their prices will definitely go down, giving them a better value than right now.

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