Keyboard specialist Cherry has written to HEXUS with information about its new Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile switches for laptops. It hopes to set a standard with its new patented designs, and it believes these 3.5mm tactile switches with 1.8mm travel, 52cN actuation force, RGB ready construction, and proven Cherry Gold Crosspoint technology are "a game-changer for the industry".
Cherry seems to have been a bit slow in getting to laptop keyboards. Back in August 2019, we already saw Gigabyte adopt Omron mechanical keyswitches in its Aorus G15/17 gaming laptop line. Before that laptop makers had to outrageously use full-height mech switches as might appear in a typical desktop PC keyboard (HEXUS reviewed the MSI GT80 Titan SLI with such a keyboard installed back in 2015).
Now, Cherry's high-end laptop solution, designed and made in Germany, is here with a development of its Low Profile switch from 2018, refined for a total height of 3.5mm (70 per cent less deep than the desktop Low Profile switches). To create this design, Cherry eschewed the traditional housing and plunger components to instead use a two-piece keycap mount made of stainless steel, which is preloaded via a spring and is an element of the mechanics. This allows for a very precise actuation mechanic, says Cherry, and combined with a tweaked gold crosspoint contact system provides a tactile switching characteristic and also generates acoustic feedback in the form of an audible click. From that description I would say it offers something like a Cherry MX Blue switch quality in a laptop.
Key switching specs are the pre-travel of 0.8mm, actuation at 1.0mm, and bottoming out at 1.8mm. Cheery says a force of 45cN is required for the actuation, which increases to 65cN at the tactile point. A short bounce time will be attractive to fast typists and gamers too.
As well as those specs, another important feature is the space-saving and cost-efficient SMD, allowing for easy laptop implementations without adding too much height/cost. Moreover, the translucent thermoplastic parts of the switch allow for LEDs to be directly under each key, for balanced and homogeneous illumination. Lastly, these keys should be plenty durable with IP40 rating, quality material precision construction, and are rated for 15 million actuations with no loss in quality.
Cherry says Alienware contributed to the development of these Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile switches and will be one of the first laptop makers to use them. New models of the Alienware m15 R4 and m17 R4 series are going to be configurable with these keys and Alienware has implemented per key RGB lighting, AlienFX sync, 100 per cent anti-ghosting, plus N-Key Rollover (NKRO).
Other specs of these Alienware laptops include Intel 10th gen processors and mobile graphics up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. Pricing starts at US$1,799 and $1,899 for the m15 R4 and m17 R4 series, respectively. Going for the Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile switches option will add $150 to your system price.