Topre switches are the best thing you’ve never heard of. They are so rare to see in the workplace, or the gaming community, that many of you have likely never used one, seen one, or maybe even heard of one. That may explain why you are searching for what are Topre switches.
Topre switches are great. Swapping away from them can feel awful. Think about the difference between you putting on dress shoes that don’t quite fit, versus those comfy running shoes you’ve had forever. They just feel GOOD to use. Luckily for you, you don’t need to have used them before or even know what they are to get benefit from this article.
Here you will find everything you need to know about these switches, where they shine and where they don’t. There are even some recommendations about which keyboards you might want to look into buying if Topre switches are something you like the sound of.
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Table of Contents
What are topre switches?
Topre switches are named after their original designer and manufacturer. A Japanese company by the same name. The switches were designed as an alternative to the standard mechanical switches. Topre switches are funnily enough quite controversial in the world of computing.
Some people love them, some hate them, why people feel so strongly about them isn’t always clear. From my personal experience, some people who use them can be a little elitist about them. Which can be aggravating for those who don’t use them. The differences between Topre mechanical switches and standard ones are as follows:
Topre switches rely on beveled, rounded, top connected to an electric circuit. This means that keystrokes are registered via electric currents directly not from a switch being flicked. Keystrokes are registered via electrical currents supplied by sensors.
This difference allows Topre switches to “reset” to their original resting place more quickly and much, much, more smoothly. There is very little key bounce. You probably don’t realize just how much your keys bounce when you type, but they do. By removing the bounce you can get into a smooth motion. As hitting certain keys harder doesn’t result in them coming back up quicker or slower. Since we don’t press all keys with equal force this can be very beneficial.
Topre switches still use a spring, just as mechanical switches do. But instead of flicking the switch, the spring sits directly on top of the keyboards PCB. Why this is so strange, and problematic, will be covered later on in the article. All you need to know for now is that standard mechanical keyboards switches do not press directly onto the PCB in the same way.
Another key difference is that Topre switches rely on their rubber bevel just as much they do the spring. The spring is used to give the rubber a little more pushback. The spring also works far better at triggering the sensors. Force applied to a small area is way more powerful than a wide one. This is why golf clubs have such a small head when in theory a bigger one would make it easier to hit.
If you want to find out more about the company behind these switches, you can find a link to the English version of their (Japanese) website here.
Why might someone want to use topre switches?
Topre switches are meant to make your typing more precise and more comfortable. They don’t spring back with as much force, rather than they gently rise back into place. Not that they even depress that much either. They have a relatively high point of actuation compared to many standard switches. Topre switches are very different in feel to standard keyboards. It can be quite hard to describe. The kind of person who would use these switches is generally someone who is looking for fast response time when typing. If you are trying to hit a high word count per minute when writing, these keyboards might be what you are looking for.
What do topre switches feel like?
Topre switches feel like you are pressing your fingers into a rubber dome. Rather than a hard, flat, or curved down surface.
This is because they do have a rubber dome inside of them as well as a spring which helps remove the unwanted mush feel that you get from a standard membrane keyboard. The rubber dome can be adjusted depending on the desired tactile feel.
Topre switches bump up towards your finger in some cases. It can feel strange to the touch at first. When typing, you don’t typically have something pushing back at you. Force is very one way. Topre is slightly different in this regard.
Topre keys also feel very light to the touch. There isn’t much weight behind them. They are easy to use, some people don’t like how easy to use they are as it feels almost as if they aren’t doing anything.
Conversely, some people find that they feel more reactive and tactile due to their rounded shape and quick, smooth, spring back.
Depending on if you are a heavy-handed typer or type with a very light touch, this will determine what spring force is best for you. The great news about Topre switches is that there are a few options for this. While you don’t have super heavy springs, you do have the choice of about 35gs up to about 55gs of force.
Overall I think the switch is smooth and enjoyable to type on. The question becomes, is this increased experience worth the price point though? That’s debatable. Some people don’t even like the way Topre switches feel. Much less want to pay extra for them.
What do Topre Switches Sound Like?
The sound from a Topre switch is one of the main reasons why people buy them. It does have sort of a click sound, yet less springy/metallic like what you get from a cherry switch. The sound is much crisper and not so harsh.
Describing a sound doesn’t quite do it justice. I will scour the tubes for some videos of different Topre switches and post them below!
Realforce 87U 55g Topre Typing Sounds (lubed/silenced)
10 min of typing on a Happy Hacking Topre Keyboard – ASMR
HHKB Sound Test – Topre 45g
Are topre switches tactile?
Topre switches are incredibly tactile. Tactile means a sense of touch, Topre switches excel best at giving you a nice sense of touch. You feel each keypress very clearly, yet the feeling is subtle.
This is ideal because when you are typing the feeling of each key being pressed and then springing back up is not meant to be a conscious thought. It is a background feeling that helps your muscle memory kick in.
The best way to describe the tactile-ness of Topre switches is that they make typing feel effortless. Standard mechanical switches are like driving stick, Topre ones are like upgrading to an automatic. The principals are still the same, it is just easier, it just feels better.
Are topre switches worth using?
Topre switches are great in my opinion. I will stop going over how weird they feel because weird is subjective. That being said, whether or not they are worth using depends on whether or not you like their feel. Some people love them so much they never want to go back. Anything other than Topre switches feels old, slow, and uncomfortable. Some people swear off them almost immediately.
The only way you will know for sure whether they are worth using for you is by giving them a try. Now, here’s the problem. They aren’t cheap. They are incidentally quite expensive. That is the biggest hurdle for getting people to use these switches, in my opinion. If they were more affordable, more people could see how good they are. But, unfortunately, they cannot.
If you are willing to spend the dollars to give them a try I’m sure you will like what you get. Whether or not you are willing to risk it is up to you. Another problem is that you simply cannot swap out your preexisting switches for a Topre one. You can’t just swap out those beautiful cherry-MX Blue Silent switches for a set of brand new Topre ones.
Can I put topre switches in myself?
As mentioned just above, no, you can’t put Topre switches in yourself. Even if you are pretty nifty with your hands and you truly know your way around a keyboard you won’t be able to make the switch.
If you think back to the above section where we discussed how Topre switches work, you will see that they require a direct connection to the PCB. The PCB, printed circuit board, is what sends the keystroke signals to the computer so it can register your keystrokes.
Ordinarily, a mechanical keyboard will have switches that hit levers that hit the PCB. A Topre switch connects directly to the PCB. You can’t simply swap out a switch, you would need to swap out the entire circuit board.
This isn’t feasible because the circuit board you have likely isn’t the right size or shape to fit Topre switches.
Are topre switches good for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome?
Topre switches are great for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or any other wrist mobility and flexibility issues. They are easy to use in general, which is always a bonus when typing can be painful.
Since Topre switches have a very high point of actuation with a very low-pressure threshold, they require less movement from your hands. Additionally, since the keys spring back up evenly and smoothly there are fewer micro-adjustments to be made.
These adjustments are not a conscious decision that you make, they are your brain calculating where the key is and how hard you need to press. These micro-adjustments are not ordinarily felt when we type but are the reason we can start to feel aches and pains. People with arthritis are always feeling aches and pains, so these micro-adjustments are more prominent.
These calculations that our brain makes are completely autonomous, similar to how we catch a ball when its thrown to us. Sure, we track the ball and consciously go to grab it (as we move our hands and press keys). But the actual mathematics of how much we move is all subconscious and powered almost entirely by muscle memory.
What are the best Topre keyboards?
Topre keyboards are not cheap, those that are should be treated with suspicion. Some companies try to pass off regular keyboards as Topre keyboards.
This section will list three great Topre keyboards that won’t let you down. They may not be the cheapest, but they are certainly the highest quality. Since topre switches are more on the expensive side anyway, why not commit fully and get some good ones?
Any of these three keyboards would serve you well, which one is best for you is up to you to decide for yourself. Here are the three best Topre keyboards.
Price comparison chart for all 3 keyboards:
|Topre Realforce 104UB||$$|
|Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2||$|
|Seasonic Topre keyboard Realforce RGB||$$$|
Per Amazon rules, I can’t disclose exact prices. This is a visual representation of the price compared to each other. The more “$” means a higher price comparatively.
Topre Realforce 104UB
The Topre Realforce 104UB is one of the best Realforce models on the market. The Realforce is a pretty great all-around keyboard. It has non contact electrostatic set of switches. This means they are incredibly receptive to your touch, the switches hardly move at all. This means your fingers hardly need to move when you are pressing each key.
This keyboard comes in black as standard but can be customized somewhat if you are happy to do so yourself. It is possible to paint the frame, so long as you don’t take it apart. Putting this keyboard back together is a nightmare.
This keyboard made the list because it has individually weighted keys. This means that keys that are harder to reach and are generally hit with less force require less force to register that the key has been pressed.
Every single key has been given its specific weighting. Another reason that you shouldn’t take it apart. The hardest to reach keys need just 15 grams of pressure. Which, is almost none, it cannot be understated how light that is.
This keyboard has a pretty long life span, 30 million keystrokes. Which is a pretty common lifespan for mechanical keyboards in general. However, with Topre keyboards it is less common.
This is a full size keyboard, with 13 programmable function keys. You are getting just as much functionality as with any other keyboard. But with infinitely more comfort and ease of use.
If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.
Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2
This is a great keyboard, it is honestly one of my favorites, it stays true to its Japanese roots. If you couldn’t tell, the Happy Hacking Keyboard company is of Japanese origin. This keyboard is only an 80% keyboard. It has opted to remove its NumPad in favor of being more portable and sleeker looking. It looks good, too.
This keyboard makes use of the same capacitive switches so it is equally as sensitive and easy to use as the Realforce. This keyboard has a smooth matte, smokie grey finish, and looks quite smart and professional. Perfect for an office setting.
It may be called the happy hacking keyboard, but it can be used for anything. From gaming to programming. I would dare say it makes a better gaming keyboard than a programming one.
This keyboard is designed to be as compatible with whatever else accessories you need, it has two female USB ports so you can plug in a USB key or a mouse if need be. Ideal for when you are working remotely, especially when traveling.
This keyboard has blank keycaps, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But, it is pretty cool. It adds to the sleek finish. If you know how to touch type, it should be no problem.
If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.
Seasonic Topre keyboard Realforce RGB
The Seasonic Topre keyboard Realforce RGB is certainly a gaming keyboard. It might not be solely marketed as one, but like so many RGB keyboards before it, that is where it shines.
It too has the capacitive keys making it very light to the touch. This keyboard made the list because it has a feature that is very rare in keyboards to start with, even more so when you are looking at Topre keyboards. It gives you the option to change the point of actuation. This is perfect for picky typists and people suffering from mobility and dexterity issues.
The Seasonic also as a changeable RGB backlight, meaning you can assign different colors to different keys, or change the keyboard to change colors as you go. It has a full set of customizable function keys, meaning it can be used for even the most complex programming tasks. As keyboards go, this one does it all.
If I had to pick one, it would probably be this one. This keyboard comes from a company that backs themself, as they offer a three-year warranty. You can expect nothing but the best when you go for this particular Realforce.
Realforce claims that this keyboard is 25% faster to type on than any of its competitors. Of course, this keyboard won’t make a bad typist good. But, it could make a good one great.
If you’d like to learn more or read more reviews, check it out on Amazon.
Hopefully, this article has answered any questions you may have had about what are Topre switches and Topre keyboards. They truly are a very useful invention. They are so rare to see, especially in an office setting, that its quite a shame in all honesty.
Aside from the fact that they make people more efficient and more comfortable typists, it can also reduce the risk of injury. In theory, it would make sense from a business perspective to use them. The reason they aren’t is likely the cost factor. Supplying an entire office cant be cheap.
If you are like me, any keyboard you buy needs to work well for general day to day tasks, but most importantly needs to work well for gaming. This kind of keyboard works very well for gaming because it improves reaction time and keystroke speed. If you take a combo-based game, such as League of Legends, then being able to get your combo off 25% faster (as some keyboards claim to be capable of) you are putting your self in a position of great strength.
It is not cheating to use better equipment, no one would argue that a better PC will improve your gameplay somewhat. A better keyboard is no different. Any of the above keyboards would be great for any purpose you might have for them. My recommendation would be the Seasonic. Especially if you are an avid gamer!
If you want to see more of my product reviews, check out my Guides and Reviews category!