In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about mechanical keyboard switch films. Where to get them, whether or not you should use them, and how to install them.
If you’ve never heard of switch films, this is the perfect place to find all the answers you might be looking for.
What are Switch Films?
Switch films we’re first invented to correct problems people were having with vintage black switches. The plastic housing on these switches became loose over time. With that being said, many switches will still benefit from using them.
Mechanical keyboard switch films are an ingenious invention that has two useful features. They quiet the click-clack sound from your keyboard and they make each keystroke consistently sound the same as every other keystroke.
Normally keystrokes will have slightly different sounds. This depends on a few different variables. One of these variables is friction, which is caused by your switches not being lubed. The other variable would be any sort of wobble from the top and bottom of the switch being loose.
Switch films correct the second issue. They are basically a thin piece of plastic that sits between the switch top and the switch bottom. This removes the wobble effect and stabilizes the switch.
Should I use Them?
You might be wondering if you should use switch films and there’s an easy way to find out. You will want to check your switches for wobble.
There are two types of wobble so make sure you check for the correct one. With keyboard switches, there’s stem wobble and top wobble.
Stem wobble is as it sounds, it’s the little bit of play that the switch stem has. It’s slightly different between switches but not much you can do about it. It’s a good idea to keep them lubed up especially if they are extra tight with not much play.
The other type of wobble is called top wobble, which is when the top of the switch moves around on the bottom of the switch. This is caused by a loose connection. Your switches will still function, but the sound they create will be inconsistent.
For example, some switches may be tight and sound amazing while others are loose and have a rattling sound. It’s a sort of randomness that happens between each keystroke. This effect is very unpleasant.
Switch films wedge the top of the switch making them extremely tight. Since all tops will be equally tight, each keystroke will sound the same instead of some being rattily and some not.
Which Keyboard Switches Need Films and Which ones Don’t?
Some switches will have more benefit to using films While others won’t. That’s all based on production. Some switches more commonly have top wobble while others are usually tight.
More often than not, Cherry MX switches will have some top wobble. Another switch that usually has top wobble is Healios switches. V2 zeals are hit-and-miss. Sometimes you’ll get a bad batch while other times they will be pretty good.
On the other hand, there are a few switches that are almost always tight and won’t really benefit from switch films. The original Holy Panda switches, GUS switches, ZealPC switches, Tealios Switches, Novel Key Kailh Cream Switches, YOK switches, and most Kailh and Gateron switches are all pretty tight from my experience.
Box switches are definitely a no-go for switch films, for two reasons. First, Box witches are already pretty tight so they don’t even need them. Second, it will be extremely hard to get the switch film inside if it’s even possible. They just aren’t very compatible.
If you’re unsure whether or not to use switch films for your particular switch, here is a simple test. Grab the stem and give it a slight wiggle, if the top of the switch doesn’t move very easily then you probably don’t need films. Keep in mind each switch is different so you will want to test all your switches or at least a handful.
Should I Film Gateron Inks Switches?
I think you should film Gateron Ink switches, just be cautious about which ones you use. There are two brands I like to use for switch films which are Keebo films and TX films. Both of these companies are great, but for Gateron Ink switches you will want to use Keebo films.
The main reason for this is the thickness of the films. Keebo Films are a little bit thinner than TX films. Normally, a thicker film wouldn’t be a problem but in this case, it will cause more harm than good.
Ink tops don’t fit as loosely as some other switch tops, which means there’s less room for a film. You could try to use a thicker film, but it would definitely be Overkill and you may have some trouble putting the switch top back on.
TX films would be great for a lot of switches out there, but for Gateron Inks probably not. Other switches I would us Keebo films on are Holy Pandas, T1s, and Yoks. for the same reason.
Here is a link to the Keebo films: https://kebo.store/products/switch-films
What about Razer Huntsman Optical Switches?
You can film Razer Huntsman Optical switches if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are a few reasons why I wouldn’t bother with it.
First, the board itself isn’t that great, so it’s almost not worth putting in the time to mod it. On top of that, this board is not hot-swappable which means you will need to desolder all the switches.
Optical switches are pretty smooth as it is, adding switch films would have such a minimal effect if any. Basically, it will be a lot of work for little reward.
If you’re just looking for a way to silence the switches there are a few easier methods. You could try lubing them without desoldering, or you could dampen the sound with some foam.
If you’re interested in foaming your keyboard, a cheap option is neoprene foam. You only need a thin sheet, about 3 mm, and you put it between the PCB and case. This method of silencing your keyboard works really well.
You can find the neoprene foam right here on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Can you Only Film Hotswap Keyboards?
You can film the switches on all mechanical keyboards. PCB mount, plate Mount, and hot-swappable. The downside to filming keyboards that are not hot-swappable is the amount of time it will take to desolder all your switches, and resolder once you’re done.
I wrote an article on how to solder and desolder keyboard switches if you’re unsure of how to do it. It’s not too difficult but you will need a soldering kit (Like this one on Amazon)
What are the Benefits?
The main benefit of using switch films is they will make your switches tighter, removing any wobble between the bottom and top housing of the switch.
Since there will be no wobble, the keystroke will have a nice sound rather than being rattily. On top of that, each keystroke will have the same sound rather than being inconsistent and random.
What are the Drawbacks?
While using switch films is great there are a few drawbacks. For example, if the keyboard is not hot-swappable you will need to desolder and resolder all the switches.
Also, if the switch films are slightly asymmetrical it’s possible that they will cause binding. This is either due to factory or installation error.
Because of these drawbacks, you will want to make sure your switch actually needs to be filmed, as I went over at the beginning of the article. If all the switches are already tight then I wouldn’t bother with this mod.
Would they Interfere with the LEDs?
Switch films shouldn’t interfere with LED lights. This is because there is a space for the light to pass through. If installed correctly there shouldn’t be any issues with this.
How to Install Switch Films
Switch films are pretty easy to install, however, Some people have a little trouble installing them. There is a nice little trick to make it a whole lot easier.
- Take the top housing of the switch and hold it upside down.
- Put the stem in the top housing and the spring inside the stem.
- Overlay the film inside all of that. (The sides of the top of the housing will help to keep the film in place)
- Take the bottom housing of the switch and press it on to the rest of the assembly while it’s still upside down.
This process makes installing films a whole lot easier. If you’ve had trouble installing them in the past you should try this method.
More about Switch Films
You should now know everything there is to know about switch films. Remember, not every switch needs to be filmed only the ones with top wobble. There are a few brands that work well with films, some that don’t need it, and some that aren’t even compatible.
Don’t forget to weigh out the pros and cons of using switch films. There are definitely some drawbacks, but depending on the person the rewards might be worth it.
Hopefully, this article helps with your decision making, and also with installing this mod if you choose to do so. Good luck and happy typing.