Do you know anything about Topre switches? The world of mechanical keyboards seems deeper than we can imagine. When we think we have known enough and are ready to receive the title of mechanical keyboard master, a new-but-not-so-new keyboard stands before our eyes. Those are the topre keyboards and the topre switches. For anyone, who […]
What are Topre Switches? Are they good for typing and gaming?
Do you know anything about Topre switches?
The world of mechanical keyboards seems deeper than we can imagine. When we think we have known enough and are ready to receive the title of mechanical keyboard master, a new-but-not-so-new keyboard stands before our eyes.
Those are the topre keyboards and the topre switches.
For anyone, who has not heard of, who has heard of before, or who has wanted to know more about Topre switches, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will get to know almost anything about the Topre switches as well as some famous representatives of Topre keyboards. So, stay tuned!
What are Topre switches?
Besides the name Topre switches, you may have heard of this phrase somewhere, electrostatic capacitive (non-contact) switches. Both of them refer to a new type of switch that sends signals to the PCB via electric circuits.
Topre company is the one who came up with this new technology and only this Japanese company produces the Topre switches. Well, you can get why the electrostatic capacitive switches have the name Topre now.
The Topre switch has a hybrid mechanism between a mechanical switch and a rubber dome. Unlike the mechanical switches that create the circuit through the contact of two metal leaves, Topre switches use capacitance to let the circuit board detect the keypress signals without physical contact.
The result is more durable, lighter, and faster switches. Nonetheless, some think those are quite mushy due to the rubber dome.
*Capacitance: The ability of a system to store charge in an electric field.
Types of Topre Switches
There are a number of different Topre switch types that you will find in different Topre keyboards. It’s time to discover them.
Standard Topre Switches
Most Topre keyboards use these switches. They come in different weights and they are very reliable in terms of durability and quality.
Purple switches or Topre Silent switches. You can find them in most Realforce keyboards or in some Cooler Master Topre keyboards such as the Novatouch.
Unlike the standard Topre switches, Topre short-throw switches have only the 40-gf-weight choice. It’s mainly found in compact keyboards due to the short-height design. Since those switches have short travel distances, you can believe in the rapid speed of the key responses.
Happy Hacking keyboards use this type of switch. As you can see from the picture, aside from the stem, a two-tone switch is literally a part of the keyboard that cannot be removed.
Cherry-stem Topre Switches (Cool Master Topre Switches)
A great collaboration between Cooler Master and Topre. The Cooler Master Topre switches have a cross-shaped stem that’s like Cherry MX switches, hence, you can alternate the keyboards’ switches from Topre switches to the switches in Cherry MX lines.
Topre Switches Review
In fact, it’s not easy to look for a Topre keyboard and it’s most likely to be very expensive. But, why do people still want to try the Topre keyboards? How about finding out the answer by analyzing this strange mechanical switch first?
The design for Topre switches is completely different from the usual mechanical switches. From the outside, there’s a round stem that looks like a plunge that upholds the keycaps. Inside, there isare a slider, a rubber dome, and a coil spring, from top to toe.
As the switches are connected directly to a printed circuit board underneath, they are very strong and stable to type on. Moreover, the weights of Topre switches are mostly under 55 gf, making them on a light switch side.
There are Topre switches made especially for RGB effects. To allow the backlighting to shine through the keycaps, the switches’ housing and stem are made of transparent materials.
If you are too familiar with normal mechanical switches like Cherry MX ones, you will be surprised a lot by the feels from Topre switches. The rubber dome contributes a lot to the overall typing experience, leading to a soft, smooth, and gentle feel on your fingertips.
There won’t be much resistance from Topre switches but you can still feel a tactile bump at the first press. Combined with light weights, you may sometimes feel like sliding through keycaps without realizing it at all. That’s not to mention how quiet they are.
The unique feel can either be a hit or miss. Some people agree with the comfortable typing experience. Other people think Topre switches are too mushy so they are a big no for them.
Personally, we quite enjoy how Topre switches feel. It’s one of a kind in a very good way.
Now, let’s start to analyze the mechanism behind those electrostatic capacitive non-contact switches to understand how they work.
When you press the keycap, it does not need to go all the way so the PCB can receive the signal. As the keycap connects to the plunger (the round stem), the plunger is also pressed down and forces the slider, rubber dome, and conic spring to be compressed. Even if you press the keycaps partly, the plunger is ready to move way down.
As the conic spring is being pressed, it activates the sensing mechanism in the printed circuit bar to detect the electric circuit. After the PCB collects the data via the capacitance phenomenon, it sends them to the computer.
Normally, as this design is compatible with installing N-key rollover, you may find Topre keyboards having this function easily.
A lot of people think that typing on a Topre keyboard is just like typing on a membrane keyboard. However, since Topre switches have a plunger supporting the keycap, they are way more solid and stable to type on, making the actuation pretty nice.
Besides, Topre switches provide many different actuations thanks to the capacitance mechanism. Moreover, without physical contact, those switches have light actuation and a great consistency in every press.
Well, regarding heavy typists, the heaviest weight of Topre switches is 55 gf. Thus, we think Topre switches may not feel that much satisfied as heavy mechanical switches.
The longevity of Topre switches is up to 50 million keystrokes. This number is quite normal as other average-quality mechanical switches. Hence, we think the Topre switches’ lifespan is fine. Not impressive or disappointing.
The mechanism is electrostatics, therefore, the durability of Topre switches will depend heavily on the degradation of this mechanism. The switches will stop working when the degradation completes. And, the unwanted result is an unexpected no-response of some keys.
There are three main reasons for the very high price of Topre switches. First, only the Japanese Topre corporation can produce those electrostatic capacitive non-contact switches. Next, the whole production process from making components to quality checks is of high quality, adding quite an amount to the overall cost.
Last, the demand for Topre keyboards in the market is not that big compared to other keyboard types. Yes, they are quite famous in Japan. But, in other parts of the world, they are not that sought-after products.
Therefore, the final result is very expensive Topre keyboards. Normally, the price range is from $200 to $300. There are also Topre keyboards that are sold for over $300.
The sound of Topre switches is very distinct. The electrostatic capacitive switches still have the ‘click’ sound from mechanical switches, but there is no high-pitched, metallic-like sound, resulting in a very pleasing typing sound to the ears.
In this video, there is a sound test of a Happy Hacking keyboard – a very famous topre keyboard. Nothing beats a real illustration, right?
Topre Switches On Switch Testers (Source: Scott Wasson’s Twitter)
Topre switches are an excellent choice for high-performing gaming keyboards. They are outstandingly well-made, highly sensitive, super smooth, and very consistent to be included in a keyboard for gaming.
In this kind of keyboard, speed is a vital factor, and we believe Topre switches can satisfy this demand due to their circuit-sensing mechanism. Furthermore, the released noise from the switches is not disturbing like some of the mechanical switches, meaning that it won’t disrupt your typing flow nor get in the way of your chatting.
Nonetheless, we still think top-notch mechanical switches made especially for gaming, such as Razer Optical switches or Cherry MX Silver Speed switches, are more suitable for highly competitive games.
We cannot count how many timestime we have said that typing on Topre switches feel unbelievably comfortable. That is why we are quite confident to say you may feel so, too. The actuation is very nice with good soft tactile feedback. Each key press is both smooth and solid which enhances the speed of moving your fingers.
Furthermore, the short actuation point increases the overall typing speed, while the tactile bump is clear enough to signal you the successful key press. That makes us think the Topre switches are very nice to practice touch typingtype.
Health benefits of using Topre switches
The light actuation of Topre switches is decently awesome for people with typing health issues, especially those related to your wrist because you don’t need to press hard to register the keys.
Normally, to avoid swelling wrist or hand fatigue, people tend to look for well-designedwell-design ergonomic keyboards. You can takestep another step for health benefits with the Topre switches.
Moreover, due to the seamless and consistent typing from the Topre switches, you won’t have to make many adjustments between your fingers when moving from one key to another key. Even though the adjustments are tiny, very tiny, they can still make an enormous change for people with wrist problems.
Should you use Topre switches?
The Topre keyboards are super costly. Moreover, the mushy feel is not enjoyable for some people. So, that makes anyone, including us, consider carefully before purchasing any Topre keyboard. Let’s find out whether a keyboard with Topre switches is for you.
Firstly, they have a unique feel and it’s suitable for people who are fond of exploring new things. Secondly, that distinct typing experience is of good quality – even, smooth, stable, and nice, soft tactile. Thirdly, the light actuation force is great for people with wrist problems.
Fourthly, the Topre switches have a highly fast response, making them a good option for fast typing and touch typing. Last but not least, the sound of Topre switches is remarkably enjoyable. A lot of users have said that the nice emitting sound has been the main reason why they bought the Topre keyboard.
Can you install Topre switches yourself?
Our answer is no. You cannot install Topre switches by yourself. The electrostatic capacitive switches are built directly onto the printed circuit board. So, you cannot change the Topre switches to another one even if you are pretty good with manual tasks.
Moreover, as different Topre keyboards use different Topre switch types, for example, Happy Hacking keyboards use Topre two-stone switches while Realforce keyboards use Topre purple switches, it’s truly difficult to find the right switches to change to.
To conclude, customizing the Topre keyboards is impossible.
Cherry vs Topre switches: Which one is better for you?
Cherry MX Low-profile Red Switch (Source: CHERRY MX)
|Mechanism||capacitance||physical contact of metal|
|Components||slider, rubber dome, and conic spring||spring and two metal leaves|
|Weight Force||35 gf – 55 gf||35 gf – 60 gf|
|Activation Type||tactile||clicky, tactile, linear|
|Travel Distance||around 3.8 mm||normally 4 mm|
|Sound||quiet low sound||vary|
|Lifespan||50 million keystrokes||normally 100 million keystrokes|
At a quick glance, Cherry MX mechanical switches have an upper hand over Topre switches. They have a wider range of actuation types, weight forces, and sound types. On top of that, the longevity is at the top with 100 million keystrokes, being double that of Topre switches.
Another thing worth mentioning would be the keyboard prices. Although both Topre and Cherry MX switches are expensive, since the need for Cherry MX is higher, there are a lot of Cherry MX budget keyboard options.
However, as the mechanisms behind the two switch kinds are completely different, so are the feels. While mechanical switches have different feels on different switch types, there is merely one general typing feel for Topre switches. But, the feelingfeel is truly unconventional. Moreover, the feel can change slightly depending on how much weight you use, which is very fascinating.
Where to buy Topre switches?
In order to put your hands on those unique switches, we recommend you check out e-commercial sites such as Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. Those big platforms have the most choices so it’s easier to compare the prices o with them.
Furthermore, you can visit the keyboard vendors or computer vendors like mechanicalkeyboards.com, carousell.sg, or drop.com. Or, we suggest you visit the Topre keyboards’ official website. They also sell the Topre keyboards there or show you the places to get the keyboards.
Another good option is to ask your local computer store. For us, visiting a physical shop is the best as we can touch and feel the Topre keyboards directly. Thanks to that, there will be fewer surprises and disappointments when receiving the keyboards, compared to waiting for online shipping.
What are the best Topre keyboards?
Here are some of the best keyboards with Topre switches for you. We have to consider every aspect in order to pick out the best four keyboards for this list.
Happy Hacking Keyboard
- Compact layout
- Wireless keyboard
- Key programming
The Happy Hacking Topre Keyboard has a non-standard compact layout that takes time to get used to. However, once you feel comfortable with it, you can truly enjoy the great typing quality as well as the sturdy build of this keyboard. Moreover, it has a wireless feature and key programming function, which is pretty nice.
Leopold FC980C Keyboard
- 98-key layout
- PBT keycaps
There are two case versions to choose from with top-quality PBT keycaps. The 98-key layout is weird at first but once you get familiar with it, you will realize it’s a smart design, allowing the keyboards to be small and portable but still keep the important key functions.
Seasonic Topre Realforce RGB Keyboard
- Standard or tenkeyless layout
- Vivid RGB effects
- PBT keycaps
if you have a hard time looking for an RGB Topre keyboard, we highly recommend the Seasonic Topre Realforce RGB one. The lighting effects are vibrant and you can customize the lighting per key.
Epomaker Niz Plum Atom 68 Keyboard
- 68-key layout
- Wireless keyboard (optional)
- RGB effects
- $174 – $269
You need a compact wireless RGB Topre keyboard? We have one here for you – the Epomaker Niz Plum Atom 68 keyboard. Moreover, the Epomaker uses Cherry-stem Topre switches so you have the freedom to customize the keyboard with some Cherry MX switches.
Besides these four keyboards with Topre switches, there are more Topre keyboards that are very wonderful to be set with your PC. We have compiled here a list of the best Topre keyboards in 2022, so have a visit if you like.
Topre Switches FAQs
Are Topre switches mechanical?
It’s hard to define Topre switches as they have a rubber dome and the working mechanism does not require physical contact. On the other hand, there is a spring and the switches use electric circuits to send signals. Thus, we think it’s safe to say Topre switches are mechanical ones.
Are Topre switches good?
Yes, they are. The typing experience is truly wonderful as it’s light, smooth, very consistent, and very sturdy with a nice tactile sound. The minor issue is the lifespan is just so so at 50 million keystrokes.
Are Topre switches tactile?
They have a tactile bump at the first stroke. However, the feel is very soft and light. After then, there won’t be any clear responsiveness as other tactile mechanical switches. So, we don’t think Topre switches are tactile switches. They are more unique switches with tactile bumps.
Are Topre switches mushy?
Topre switches are a little bit mushy due to the rubber dome inside. However, they do not feel squishy squashy as membrane keyboards but the switches feel pretty solid and stable.
Are Topre switches quiet?
They are not completely quiet but Topre switches’ sounds are relatively low due to the rubber dome and non-contact feature. If you want to mute the sound at maximum, there are the silent Topre switches.
What do Topre switches feel like?
They feel soft thanks to the rubber dome but still have an edge due to the mechanical parts. The whole experience is pretty nice with a lightweight, fast response, and a low, pleasing ‘click’ sound.
How do Topre switches work?
The Topre switches apply the capacitance phenomenon to activate the circuit-sensing in the printed circuit board. Thanks to that, there is no need for physical contact to activate the electric circuit.
Are Topre switches good for gaming?
They are not the best choice for gaming but still awesome enough. Since the typing is great and the key response is rapid, a keyboard with Topre switches can aid you well in high-performing games.
Are Topre switches good for typing?
We have to say yes. The Topre switches are of excellent quality when it comes to typing. It’s light enough for people with wrist issues and fast enough to reach the level of speed you want. Moreover, every key is stable and consistent and there is no scratchy issue. In short, a great switch choice for people prioritizing typing performance.
What is special about Topre switches?
The Topre switches work by using the theory of capacitance. So, you don’t have to press all the way in order to activate the keys successfully. Moreover, you can alter the actuation according to your typing force, giving it a distinct feel that you won’t find anywhere else.
Should you lube Topre switches?
Keyboard pros have warned us about lubing Topre switches. Since the amount you need is exceptionally small, the chance you over-putting on them is very high, leading to sluggish Topre switches. Besides, Topre switches are super smooth so you don’t really need to lube them.
After this journey with us, we hope you have already received a new certification of mechanical keyboard master – topre keyboard master.
Despite not being hyped in the marketplace, we still think the topre switches are truly terrific. And, if you are a keyboard lover, don’t forget to experience these distinctive keyboards once.
Anyway, we hope this article is helpful for you and you have some fun while getting to know the Topre switches. Thanks for reading!