Razer rolls out their own Cherry MX switch clones for Mechanical Keyboards

Razer is by all means a juggernaut in the gaming industry, being especially well known for their computing peripherals. They've delved​ into tablets, custom high-end laptops, headphones, mouse pads, and even have a fairly extensive clothing range available for purchase for the die-hard enthusiasts... and there are lots of them. When it comes to mechanical keyboards, Razer happens to be the most famous and widely stocked mechanical keyboard brand there is; many mainstream computer stores only stock Razer's line of mechanical keyboards.

However, being the largest and most popular keyboard manufacturer doesn't mean that they are the best... in anything... when it comes to mechanical keyboards. Their keyboards are overpriced, they're oversized, and they're available in arguably the worst possible switches that gamers could use (Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Brown). In fact, the only reason those switches were offered were because Cherry MX Blue switches have a distinctive loud click when they actuate, accompanied by a fairly strong tactile bump, making them fairly noisey and marketable. This type of switch is preferable for typing, however, it's far from favorable when you want to spam a key quickly when gaming, which is what could be done with the much more gaming-suitable linear Cherry MX Red switches. Some people do however swear by Blues, and ultimately its all up to user choice and preference.

But that's enough ranting today, and lets focus on the news at hand.


This photo shows the various components inside the linear Cherry MX Black switch, 

Cherry MX clones are not uncommon-- they've been made for years. Everything from blatant rip-off fakes presented as original Cherry MX switches, through to popular Chinese clone switches from companies like Kailh that are gaining attention and acceptance from mainstream manufacturers such as MAX Keyboard.

Razer seems to have decided to abandon the mainstream Cherry MX switches and develop their own line of exclusive Razer branded clone switches. In design, they appear to be based on the Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX brown switches, with slight modifications of the switch actuation and reset points. The Razer branded switches actuate at a smaller distance of 1.9mm into the keystroke as opposed to the typical 2mm of linear Cherry MX switches, and 2.2mm of "clicky" Cherry MX switches. They are also claiming a 60 million keystroke life span, as opposed to the typical 50 million keystroke lifespan that is touted by Cherry (Razer is erroneously claiming that its just 20 million keystrokes however Cherry's official documentation begs to differ, but to be fair, Cherry did cite a 20 million keystroke figure some years ago)​.

The switches are being released into two variations, described as "clicky" and "silent," and being called "Green" and "Orange" respectively.


This shows the Razer "Green" switch variant's specifications being compared against some "standard mechanical switch."

The major difference between typical Cherry MX switches and Razer's new switches seems to be that the switch shaft sits slightly higher than the Cherry switches, and the pins are situated slightly above where they would typically be positioned. Whether this would have any noticeable effect in gaming is anybody's guess, and no-one would really be able to tell until they try them. As it stands, the switches serve two important factors:

  • Financial move: Cherry switches are far from cheap, and there is an enormous backlog on switch supply. Manufacturing your own switches ensures you can make the switches at the lowest possible price (even after appropriate licensing costs), avoid large shipping costs, and guarantee your supply.
  • Marketing gimmick: "This changes everything!" was and remains to be Apple's unofficial catchphrase, and Razer is taking a similar approach. The keyboard market is limited in creativity, and you can only change keyboard designs so much. Corsair has secured a 1 year exclusive contract with Cherry for RGB switches, so this might be Razer's way of differentiating their own product during the RGB switch transition period.

Whatever the case may be, this is an extremely positive move for the keyboard world. It introduces a new element of competition and innovation, as well as greater variety and switch selection for end users. Based on how Razer is presenting their switches, they may very well turn out to be the greatest gaming switches ever made, and most gamers and keyboard enthusiasts likely can't wait to get their hands on them. Regardless of Razer's excessive branding and attempts to appeal towards a very mainstream element of computer users, they are still investing time and money into technology for what was an otherwise fairly stagnated market, which I'm sure no-one can view as being anything other than a wonderful contribution.

Check out Razer's switch demo video below:

Source: Razer | Images via Razer

Author's note: Over the next few weeks I'm going to provide an in-depth look into mechanical keyboards, covering everything from the various switch types, manufacturers, layouts, and customization (including some background on why my plastic ESC key costs more than its weight in gold, and why I can sell it for that price at the drop of a hat). There should be a bunch of switch tester giveaways throughout the series, so look out for it!

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"Razer happens to be the most famous and widely stocked mechanical keyboard brand there is;"

No they're not, *Cherry* are, and lots of similar keyboards that use Cherry switches still, that's why Razer are cloning them. The word's been full of Cherry keyboards since a decade before Razer even existed.

Razer's only been selling Cherry microswitch keyboards for a couple of years, they were seriously late into that game.

They'll have a bit of an uphillstruggle on their hands marketing them to serious gamers, aside from the Deathadder and Abyssus their reputation is for products that fail fairly quickly, and they have the Steelseries 6Gv2 / G7 to contend with which use Cherry MX Black switches.

It may seem petty to some, but if you're going to spend near £100 or more on a keyboard people want it to be right, and to last. I've had one cherry keyboard for 20 years that's still perfect, I just bought a G7 for a different key feel, having a windows key is are actually useful these days, and because it's black.

There's some switch info that I wrote up a while ago and links to more on http://www.quakelive.com/forum...15&viewfull=1#post98515

Edited by yakumo, Mar 6 2014, 11:26pm :

Cherry is far from being a famous and widely stocked keyboard manufacturer. I can walk into any electronics store right now and buy a Blackwidow, but am I going to find anything from Ducky, Das Keyboard, Vortex, or.. heh.. Cherry Corp? Nope. Cherry hasn't been a popular keyboard manufacturer for years.

Just because Razer is late to the keyboard game doesn't mean they haven't completely dominated the market. I never said that they were the first to produce mechanical keyboards, I said that they were the most popular brand. And.. well.. they are.

Does Razer make wireless keyboards? Coffee table couch users (like myself) would like one It'd match my Mamba.

bitslasher said,
Buckling spring forever!!! I use a IBM Model M from 1988 non-stop since 1996. Can't beat it, IMHO. But that's just me.

Me too, I'm so used to them now I can't imagine typing on anything else. Also the great thing about the Model M is because of the modular SDL connector they have you can buy a USB cable for them. My 1987 keyboard will live on forever.

I use a Scissor-switch keyboard and love it more than all those mechanic keyboards simply because they require way less power to press a key and the pressing depth is lower which makes me able to type faster in my case. Though I'm not gaming that much compared to coding so my usage case is different ^^

I use a Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2013 for gaming and I quite enjoy it. Though I do prefer the Ducky Shine 3 I also have over it.

I'm curious, so I'll pre-order a new Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth (2014?) with the new orange switches to try out.

Edited by Boo Berry, Mar 6 2014, 8:43pm :

If not RED, why bother? I use a cherry red tenkeyless and will NEVER go anything else. As a hard core MMO player who's fingers would get tired after playing for an hour, my fingers never get tired now. The cherry red takes just over the the weight of your fingers resting over keys, it's perfection! Just try a true cherry red keyboard if you are playing any fast paced keying games, and you will never go back!

I play MMOs among other things on Blues, with a WASD keyboard.

I don't mind it. I cannot stand typing on reds, and sadly I do 50/50 gaming and typing. I know there's a drawback with blues, but I was able to get used to it. I could not get used to typing on reds, it was the most infuriating experience.

I said this on reddit;

Cherry switches are popular because they're incredibly durable and reliable, outside of the feel and sounds of the different switches. Durability and reliability are two words that Razer are absolutely not known for. The opposite, in fact.

I can't see this going well.

I absolutely would not buy one of the first batch of these things until they've been reviewed for any stock-wide flaws. Then, if the news is OK, I still would be hesitant because Razer do not know what quality control is, and they haven't done ever since they become popular.

I still don't think their operation has come to terms with the massive boom they had a few years ago.

Same here. I'd never buy anything from Razer until there would be enough user reviews on amazon/newegg to let me judge the product quality. Razer is not alone though, Logitech/Corsair and other manufacturers are not really that much better, there's not really much choice out there on high-end hardware if you care about quality/durability. Microsoft once made very good and durable high-end hardware, then the quality went downhill, and then the design as well, and now all their newest keyboard/mices are just a sad, horrible mess.

Disagree with Logitech, their high-end stuff is superb, durability wise.

They had an issue with some of the gaming mice, but they sorted that rather quickly and, unlike Razer, their customer service goes above and beyond what they're supposed to do, rather than barely scraping the bare minimum, which is what Razer do.

Wakers said,
Disagree with Logitech, their high-end stuff is superb, durability wise.
They had an issue with some of the gaming mice, but they sorted that rather quickly and, unlike Razer, their customer service goes above and beyond what they're supposed to do, rather than barely scraping the bare minimum, which is what Razer do.

In the last 6-7 years I only bought Logitech hardware. I bought a MK710 and the keys became almost impossible to press from any angle but the exact center, the Marathon mouse of the same desktop set kept giving me issues with the battery contacts and the laser sensor and required obsessive cleaning, lots of their mouses still eventually end with the double-click issue due to poor switches, my G35 headphones broke three times with no reason other than poor plastic. Also Logitech for no apparent reason still loves putting the holes of the screws hidden below the sliding pads forcing you to damage them every time you want to clean your mouse, one of the most infuriating IT-related things.
It's a miracle I still buy their hardware, but it's mostly because there's not much other choice left. Also remember that Logitech support is not the same in all countries and that a good support doesn't improve the questionable quality of a lot of their products.

For comparison I have Microsoft hardware that I used continuously for 10+ years that is still perfectly intact (even the rubber and key letters!), I even have their first PS/2 mouse from the late 1980s and it still works perfectly. The only issue I had with Microsoft hardware was the horrible wireless receiver, sometimes it didn't work even when stuck under the keyboard.

Edited by francescob, Mar 6 2014, 8:22pm :

Wakers said,
Disagree with Logitech, their high-end stuff is superb, durability wise.

They had an issue with some of the gaming mice, but they sorted that rather quickly and, unlike Razer, their customer service goes above and beyond what they're supposed to do, rather than barely scraping the bare minimum, which is what Razer do.


My G5 still works to this day, just replaced it thinking I'd be happy with Razer when I wasn't. I ended up going back to Logitech.

I never had good luck the with non-gaming cheap Logitech headsets, but then again, I've never had good luck with headsets in general. My 930s seem pretty solid though, from a build quality standpoint. My last keyboard I gave to my brother though was a G11. No issues, just felt like trying out a mechanical keyboard to which my G710+ holds up nicely.

You're comparing Creed to Nickelback there, buddy. Although Corsair is probably the largest mech keyboard supplier, I can't take them seriously after they released the K60 with the rubber-dome function keys. That was a major WTF moment for me.

They probably licensed the design. Kailh switches are 1:1 Cherry clones and they don't seem to have any issues, and Kailh is likely to be making the switches for Razer.

I know Razer is either a hit or miss with some people, but their products have been wonderful in our household. Currently using their tournament mechanical keyboard and Deathadder with no issues. I had a keyboard and mouse from 2005 that I just gave to my brother and they are still going strong.

I bought a $5 refurbished Dell keyboard and mouse combo about two years ago and they're still going strong. I don't know why anyone would spend more than that on those.

AsherGZ said,
I bought a $5 refurbished Dell keyboard and mouse combo about two years ago and they're still going strong. I don't know why anyone would spend more than that on those.
Different opportunity cost. A $50-60 keyboard is a priced at a good level to me. I've also used my buddies $150 plus mechanical keyboard and it would run circles around any generic Dell keyboard.His job entails being on a computer 8-12 hours a day. In some cases, you do get what you pay for.

I gave Razer a shot with my last mouse, a Naga Hex Wraith Red, but I was extremely unsatisfied with it. Never quite felt right, the buttons felt like they got in my way, and... well, I don't want to rant on.

Anyway, I've typically stuck with Logitech, having just replaced the mouse once more back. Using the 602 mouse, 710+ keyboard, and 930 headset. I'm a pretty happy camper, I've got to say. The Razer keyboards looked pretty cool, but I also dislike how small the wrist guard is compared to Logitech's. My keys are also not loud at all, I believe using the brown switches. Feels like I could write a novel with this keyboard.

Hmm, I made the switch to Razer gear last year and I've not been disappointed. I know every company has flawless and flawed products but the Razer Blade laptop, Orochi Wireless Mouse, Sabertooth Controller and Hammerhead Pro headset that I ordered all work for me (knock on wood). I also know it's pricey but I guess it depends on the buyer and what he/she is willing to spend.

Compared to the competition, I hardly think the razer keyboards are overpriced or oversized. You can pick up blackwidows for $100 on sale, and they're a good size with a real number pad

They're extremely oversized. They've added a good inch and a half at the bottom for a light-up Razer logo? An inch at the top for no reason? They're huge keyboards.

They're overpriced because you can pick up a dozen different keyboards during sales for much less, such as QFRs for about $60.

duoi said,
They're extremely oversized. They've added a good inch and a half at the bottom for a light-up Razer logo? An inch at the top for no reason? They're huge keyboards.

They're overpriced because you can pick up a dozen different keyboards during sales for much less, such as QFRs for about $60.

I was going to say, an extra 2 inches doesn't make something "huge", but then I had second thoughts lol

D. FiB3R said,

I was going to say, an extra 2 inches doesn't make something "huge", but then I had second thoughts lol

Look out for the series I put out. I'm at a point where I can't even handle keyboards that have an arrow cluster, let alone a numpad. They just look so clunky when you see the other possibilities out there.

Like, have you ever looked at the numpad really? It's nothing more than the home cluster and arrow keys. Does it really deserve to take up such a large block? Imagine your mouse is where your numpad is now-- ergonomically its great, and its a billion times more comfortable.

Ok, let me stop here before I write an article in this comment reply

duoi said,

Look out for the series I put out. I'm at a point where I can't even handle keyboards that have an arrow cluster, let alone a numpad. They just look so clunky when you see the other possibilities out there.

Like, have you ever looked at the numpad really? It's nothing more than the home cluster and arrow keys. Does it really deserve to take up such a large block? Imagine your mouse is where your numpad is now-- ergonomically its great, and its a billion times more comfortable.

Ok, let me stop here before I write an article in this comment reply


Dude... you've totally missed the penis joke