Mechanical keyboards are no longer a niche market, but mainstream. Brands such as Akko, Drop, Ducky, Epomaker, and Keychron have become household names, and today’s enthusiasts can choose between dozens of different layouts and buy parts from even more suppliers.

The number of available switches seems endless, from the shortest stroke for gamers to the heaviest for people who type a lot – all in linear, tactile, and clickable options.

But on the other hand, this has led to a large variety of offers, and it can be difficult for a neophyte to sort through the large number of models and choose a keyboard that suits their needs.

This is where magnetic keyboard switches come in.

On a standard mechanical keyboard, you physically close an electrical circuit to register a key press. When you press a key, the two legs on the stem (the moving part to which the cap is attached) push against two metal plates that close the circuit.

The shape of the stem and its feet is what distinguishes a linear switch from a more tactile switch. Linear switches have smooth stems, while tactile switches have a bump that provides a small moment of resistance when pressed.

The overall design of the stem, its feet, the spring that the stem sits on, and the switch body as a whole can dramatically change the feel and sound of the switch, as well as when the keyboard registers a key press.

For example, for a standard Gateron Red switch, the actual key press is registered after you press the key about 2 millimeters, and the total distance of the stem movement to the bottom of the switch is 4 millimeters.

Magnetic switches don’t work like that. They rely on magnets and springs and are activated by sensing changes in the magnetic field. Popularized by Dutch keyboard startup Wooting, these switches rely on the Hall effect and have actually been around since the 1960s.

They still use the same design as mechanical switches, with a rod and springs, but because there is no electrical circuit to close, there are no feet on the rod. However, there is a permanent magnet in the stem, and when you press it, a sensor on the keyboard’s circuit board registers exactly which position the switch is in. And that’s where the most important change comes in: you can change the depth of the stroke to register the keystroke.

For whom magnetic switches on mechanical keyboards are suitable
Image Credits: Akko


For gaming sessions, you can set the trigger to 0.1 millimeters, but then when you use the same keyboard for typing, you can change it to, say, 2.5 millimeters to avoid false keystrokes.

This is usually done with a simple key combination on the keyboard itself or in the manufacturer’s software. Since these sensors are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, it is usually possible to calibrate the keyboard.

This also allows you to do a few other tricks, as you can change not only where a key is pressed, but also where it is released. In gaming, this is what allows you to quickly spam a key when needed (and most instruments that come with magnetic keyboards also have a shortcut setting), and this high degree of customization allows you to experiment with your favorite settings without having to physically switch to another switch.

механічна клавіатура
Akko MOD007B-HE PC

You can even create a macro of sorts by assigning multiple actions to a single key, so that a single key press will register different actions when you press halfway down, when you go down, and when the switch brings the key cover back up again – and maybe another action somewhere in between.

The only thing you can’t change is the resistance of the switch. For all the talk about magnets, it’s ultimately the spring inside the switch that’s responsible.

One problem is that there is still no single standard for these switches, so not every switch will work on every keyboard. However, depending on the manufacturer, you can connect traditional mechanical switches to the board.

Unfortunately, Akko keyboards have not yet appeared in Ukraine, and the average price in the world for such keyboards is about $150.