Home Tech Keyboard Nerds Won’t Love Cherry’s New MX2A Switch, and That’s OK

Keyboard Nerds Won’t Love Cherry’s New MX2A Switch, and That’s OK

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Close-up view of computer keyboard missing a button with black keys and gold color decoration

The Cherry MX switch is perhaps one of the most important mechanical keyboard switches of all time. Some may argue that it is one of the best mechanical switches ever. No other switch has the same legacy. It’s been around for decades and is one of the few switches that controls the entire range of keyboards. You find it in everything point of sale systems, office cubiclesAnd police cars Unpleasant gaming setups even premium, custom, limited edition keyboards.

Until recently, almost every mechanical gaming keyboard came with MX Reds, Browns or Blues. For a long time, Cherry’s switches were the best option (mechanical switch or otherwise) for building a keyboard, and they were known for their excellent typing feel and longevity compared to their rubber dome and scissor switch contemporaries.

I love the original Cherry MX switches. They still have a personality and charm that no other Switch has been able to copy. I type on them regularly, almost every day, and always find them a pleasure to use, despite their shortcomings. It therefore came as a surprise when Cherry announced a successor with the MX2A. How could one of the most beloved and enduring mechanical switches suddenly change so dramatically? Can these changes make the MX better?

Photo: Henri Robbins

Cherry’s legacy

The Cherry MX Black does the mechanical switch. It’s a fairly heavy duty linear switch made entirely from Cherry’s proprietary blend of plastics and has been in production since 1983 with only minimal changes to date. Cherry rates its MX switches at 100 million keystrokes, and it’s not unheard of for MX Blacks to still be in use even after two decades of near-constant use. They eventually became a sign of quality: if you saw a keyboard with MX switches, you could be pretty sure it would be both reliable and enjoyable to type on.

When the custom keyboard scene started to form in the early 2000s, people realized something interesting: the longer you used MX switches, the smoother your typing became. This was true for all of them, but most noticeably for MX Blacks. Most common in heavy-duty office and point-of-sale systems, they had a heavier spring that required more force to be pushed down, causing the plastics to exhibit large amounts of wear.

These ‘vintage’ MX Blacks – which required desoldering from older keyboards – became incredibly sought after by enthusiasts for their smoothness, and their scarcity further increased demand. At the time, Vintage MX Blacks were the best possible switches for a custom keyboard kit.

It’s worth noting that these worn switches are quite scratchy by today’s standards. Modern switches, made of high-quality materials and lubricated at the factory, are ahead of MX switches in smoothness. However, many keyboard hobbyists today consider the MX Black to be a “good” scratch compared to the scratch sensitivity of other switches. It’s consistent, subtle and quite charming, as long as you don’t expect perfection. There are no sudden bumps or jerks, but instead a consistent friction that feels more ‘real’ and satisfying than something designed for perfect smoothness.

Open clear plastic box with mechanical parts of keyboard keys falling out

Photo: Henri Robbins

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