For its latest mechanical keyboard switch, German manufacturer Cherry has taken inspiration from a popular modification of one of its existing switches. The new MX Ergo Clear was announced by the company in a press release this week, but the design dates back to a DIY mod posted to the mechanical keyboard forum GeekHack way back in 2011.
The original, community-made Ergo Clear is what’s known as a “frankenswitch,” where users mix and match components of different switches to create new and interesting typing feels. The original Ergo Clear mod combined the stem of a Cherry MX Clear with the spring of a Cherry MX Black switch. It meant that it inherited the satisfying tactile bump of the MX Clear (which is far more pronounced than the bump of Cherry’s other tactile switch, the MX Brown), but with a lighter spring that makes it far easier to press.
As keyboard-focused YouTuber Glarses points out in his review of the Ergo Clear mod from last year, it’s subsequently become more common for modders to use the lighter springs found in Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches, rather than the MX Black spring listed in the original GeekHack post. But either way the principle remains the same — combining a big tactile bump with a lighter spring.
“Reliable long-term lubrication”
That brings us to Cherry’s announcement this week. In a press release, the company says that producing its own official version of the MX Ergo Clear switch will “save less experienced users from having to modify it manually.” But being an official switch means that the new Ergo Clear has gone through Cherry’s quality control process, which allows it to guarantee that the switch will survive 50 million actuations “without any loss of typing feel.” The company says it’s using “high-performance grease” to lubricate its official version of the MX Ergo Clear, rather than the PTFE lubricant used in the original mod, which it claims results in “reliable long-term lubrication.”
A spokesperson for the company did not respond to specific questions about the exact weight of the spring used in the new MX Ergo Clear switch, but it’s listed with 40cN of actuation force (the amount of force needed to get a key to register a press), and 55cN of operating force (the amount needed to push past the tactile bump). For reference, Cherry’s MX Brown has slightly higher 45cN of actuation force, but the same 55cN of operating force. The pre-existing MX Clear has 55cN of actuation force and 65cN of operating force.
Although Cherry argues that offering the official Ergo Clear switch will save users the hassle of performing the mod themselves, the fact is that many people were already avoiding it by buying one of the many third-party Ergo Clear-style switches that have cropped up over the years to capitalize on demand. One notable early imitator was the Zealio, which was manufactured by Cherry competitor Gateron. Numerous manufacturers now produce switches based on Cherry’s MX switch design after the company’s patent expired.
With its official version of the MX Ergo Clear, Cherry appears to finally be responding to the demand for a tactile switch that, until now, has only been available via DIY modifications or competing manufacturers. Cherry’s press release doesn’t list exact pricing or a release date for the new switches (we’ve followed up for more details and will update this story if we hear back) but notes that they’ll be available from “official distributors” as well as being built directly into upcoming off-the-shelf keyboards. The switch will be available in both RGB and non-RGB varieties, as well as in three and five-pin versions.