Friday, January 10th 2020

Cherry Updates MX Switch Lifetime, Introduces New VIOLA Mechanical Switch

When we were invited to meet Cherry at CES 2020, we expected more news on the >100 million actuation rating for their popular MX switches. CORSAIR had broken the news, in a manner of speaking, when they used the new MX Brown and MX Speed (Silver) switches in their new K95 RGB Platinum XT keyboard, and Cherry confirmed to us that all currently produced MX Red, Brown, Black, and Speed (Silver) switches are now rated to this higher count (from 50 million before) with no loss in quality. This improvement comes in the form of an increased gliding surface area on the front side of the switch stem, in addition to having eight guide rails inside for added stability, which Cherry calls "Hyperglide". The company claims to also have optimized the contact force for the gold cross-point contacts, which has now resulted in a reduced debounce rate of under 1 ms. They are working on having similar improvements done to their remaining MX switches, including the MX Blue.

What was unexpected, however, was them announcing a whole new mechanical switch series under the VIOLA name. Cherry is targeting the value-oriented keyboard market here (think well under $100) which tend to use adapted membrane switches to provide a tactile and clicky feedback under various names including mem-chanical, mechanical-like, and so on. The new VIOLA switch, which currently has a single linear switch member, is fully mechanical and uses a novel contact method that allows Cherry to get away with a lower price point. Read past the break for more on this.
The patent-pending "V-shape Contact System" is a single piece self-cleaning brass contact that the switch stem glides on, and allows for actuation midway through the travel path along two contact pads on the circuit board. This also allows for a two-part force travel diagram, which is linear in each phase as seen below. The switch, as with the Cherry MX Red, has a total path of 4 mm with actuation at 2 mm and 45 cN, and a bottoming out force of 75 cN to allow people to train themselves better to not bottom out. The switch design also allows for over travel and a faster reset.
The VIOLA switch as it currently is has no other name, and Cherry is expected to add in a color or similar reference to distinguish this linear switch when others join the family. It shares the 8-pillar guidance system the updated MX switches received, and uses POM housing with a tolerance of under 0.01 mm for added stability in use. The outer part of the housing is also a mounting bracket in mechanical keyboards, and this solder-less method allows for effective hot-swapping of the VIOLA switches without needing a special switch socket as with competing brands such as Kailh.
The switch stem retains the MX-stem compatibility when it comes to keycaps, so enthusiasts will no doubt be glad to know they will still be able to use their replacement MX-style keycaps with these switches. The housing is also transparent to allow for increased compatibility with RGB backlighting, and Cherry had a prototype keyboard using these switches to demonstrate the feature set. For once, Cherry is actually contemplating seriously about bring this keyboard prototype to market as a retail solution, so do let them know if you want one and also share your thoughts on the new VIOLA switch. Personally, I am excited to see more competition in the $40-75 keyboard market, with not only fully mechanical switches coming out but also those under the established Cherry brand name.
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4 Comments on Cherry Updates MX Switch Lifetime, Introduces New VIOLA Mechanical Switch

#1
AnarchoPrimitiv
I'd absolutely love a white, TKL, RGB mechanical keyboard.... There's not enough on the market, everything is black, but No love fory blue switches? I still don't know how anyone can claim to enjoy typing on red switches... I thought red switches were for people who've deluded themselves into believing it makes them a better "gamer".
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#2
Fourstaff
AnarchoPrimitiv
I still don't know how anyone can claim to enjoy typing on red switches... I thought red switches were for people who've deluded themselves into believing it makes them a better "gamer".
I like red switches ... :oops:
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#3
Tsukiyomi91
depends on preferences. That said, TKL RGB keyboards in white needs more presence in the market full of boring, black TKL RGB keyboards.
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#4
Vayra86
AnarchoPrimitiv
I'd absolutely love a white, TKL, RGB mechanical keyboard.... There's not enough on the market, everything is black, but No love fory blue switches? I still don't know how anyone can claim to enjoy typing on red switches... I thought red switches were for people who've deluded themselves into believing it makes them a better "gamer".
TKL, wired, and even RGB optional is already hard enough. Let alone with a blue mechanical switch.

The best I could find for simple typing was a scissor switch TKL wired. And even that is a real search, you're pretty much left to some noname Chinese/Korean brands. If its TKL, it goes wireless quite easily because apparently the only conceivable use case there is couch use or something. I don't get it :D

Might wanna look beyond the known brands to find what you need ;) I also found a blue switch mechanical (noname) half keyboard for gaming this way. Total cost for the chiclet and the half keyboard: 50 bucks with shipping and thats two separate orders as well! :D Now I have the ultimate gaming and typing combo. Very happy camper.

In case you're interested / need a lead for the blue (Outemu) switches

This thing is rock solid, key positioning is fantastic, including the (G) function keys. The switch is VERY clicky. But light.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Keyboard-One-Handed-Backlit-Mechanical-Definition-black/dp/B07R4KBDXR?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-ffab-uk-21&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B07R4KBDXR

Also, just for giggles. I'm still looking for the backlit mode called 'Squatting' and 'no trace of snow' :roll::roll::roll:


As for these Cherry improvements... sounds to me like a desperate search to say 'we are higher quality switches' compared to the much cheaper Chinese knockoffs... that are just as good. I can just smell the marketing BS from here, lots of fancy slides but really its the same bit of plastic and metal with a spring. I kinda got that confirmed with my Kailh brown switches and now with these blue ones. The differences are minimal and preference based.
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