What are Cherry Viola switches?
Cherry Viola switches are mechanical switches that are for more budget mechanical keyboards. Cherry’s goal is to replace many keyboards that are currently used by most people that have rubber dome switches. Their intent is to offer high-quality, durable, and more ergonomic switches than what is being used out there today at a low-cost price. Sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s dive in further.
Introducing Cherry Viola Switches
Everyone wants to use mechanical switches, or at least everyone that knows about them wants to use them. What about for everyday consumers that type once in awhile?
Cherry just introduced their new Viola switches at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2020.
Cherry’s MX switches have been the go-to switches for most gaming keyboards, especially big companies such as Corsair, MSI, and Alienware to name a few. For many keyboard enthusiasts, there are a ton of switch options out there.
When I first started looking at switches, they were always compared to Cherry MX switches. Like how Razer Greens feel like Cherry MX Blues. Or like how Halo Clears feel like Cherry MX reds but harder to press.
Cherry MX switches can range from $27 to $49 for a pack of 70 switches. This will cover a 60% keyboard.
They have added benefits over rubber dome keyboards in the sense that they offer keycap mounting, hot-swappability, and RGB lighting.
Specifications on the switch
The new VIOLA switches have a total distance of 4mm with an actuation point at 2mm, like other Cherry MX switches.
The VIOLA switch is a crosslinear switch that is unlike MX-style switch categories. Some articles have said they are similar to the linear reds and others have said they feel like browns. We’ll just have to wait to find out.
It uses a new contact system called “V-shape Contact System. It is a self-cleaning brass contact that the switch stem will glide on. When the switch is pressed, the contact system will allow for actuation halfway through the travel distance.
It has an actuation force of 45g, the same as the Cherry MX reds. Cherry is telling people to not make any comparisons to the MX switches though, these even get their own names that are VERY different from the MX colors.
At the end of the travel distance, the spring force is up at 75g. That is heavy. This is good though because on linear switches, it’s hard to tell when the switch actuated, so many times when I type on linear switches, I tend to bottom out to make sure my keypress registered.
With a heavy bottoming out force, you’ll know that you’ve reached and passed actuation and do not need to press any further. It’ll save your fingers from fatigue and give you some feedback of actuation, although not a tactile one.
The upper housing of the switch is see-through and allows illumination through the switches if the PCB has RGB lighting on it. Visually, from the pictures, the lighting looks fantastic.
These switches will be made in Germany with high-quality checks alongside all of Cherry’s other switches.
Benefits of budget switches
I’m very excited for these budget switches because price is a huge barrier to people who do not intend to use their keyboard often throughout the day or don’t even use a keyboard in general.
For kids or students who are getting their first computer, the get to experience typing on a higher quality switch for an affordable price for the parents.
Someday, it would be amazing for the keyboards that come with HP or Dell computers to have mechanical keyboards included in them. Or maybe just a few keys with the switches. Give the people a small taste of the wild side.
It says that these switches are meant for keyboards between $50 and $100. Hoping that these will be mainstream keyboards (things like the Logitech MK540) and not small companies that make mechanical keyboards with brands that no one knows.
Questions for the future
Some questions that arise include the compatibility of these switches with PCBs.
A big feature that Cherry listed is that these switches can be hot-swapped with PCBs that offer this function. Does this mean that the Viola switches are plate-mounted?
I’ve read that “the switch offers hot-swap functionality and can be easily replaced or removed from the keyboard.” I’m still a newbie at this, but I think the hot-swappability of a switch depends on the PCB, does it not? If I’m wrong, correct me here.
But I thought that all Cherry MX switches and most Gateron switches can be hot-swapped as long as the keyboard you are putting them in supports that function. If not, then you’ll still need to solder the switches onto the PCB.
It seems that these switches might be more competitive with imitation MX-style switches such as Oetemu or Gateron rather than compete in the rubber dome market. For a keyboard that is around $50-$80, there are many good mechanical keyboard options that are already on the market, although they do not have the Cherry name to them. How will Cherry plan to compete with the mainstream market?
So some possibilities include that rather than replacing the rubber dome switches that everyone knows about, it might be that Cherry will be taking out some online competitors and overseas manufacturers such as Redragon, DIERYA, Havit, and other budget mechanical keyboard manufacturers. We shall see.
Cherry MX Red Input.club