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How does magnetic switch feel to a traditional mechanical switch enthusiast?

How does magnetic switch feel to a traditional mechanical switch enthusiast?

Magnetic switch, or to say Hall effect switch, becomes a trendy in mechanical keyboard community. Some big switch manufacturers starts to make such switch for Magnetic keyboard fans.

No doubts that Magnetic keyboard opens a door to the mechanical keyboard. Especially towards the gaming end of the community.

Finally, ThereminGoat, the well-known and OG switch enthusiast, gives a compprehensive review of magnetic switch. If you want to know more, please no hesitate to read his full review. Yes, it is a long but knowledgeable. 

Gateron Magnetic Orange Switch


At the highest level, the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches come in a clear over white housing construction with artificial cheesy orange colored stems that are quite similar to a very old modern Gateron switch by the name of ‘Gateron FF Cheese.’ Unlike the FF Cheese switches, as well as all other MX-style switches, the Magnetic Oranges and other Hall Effect switches made by Gateron have a pair of features which makes them immediately distinguishable as being HE-type. The first is that of the rounded north and south portions of the stem top which produce a partially circular, partially rectangular shaped profile to the stems as opposed to the completely rectangular top profiles of normal MX-style stems. The second is that of the either giant gaping hole in the bottom housing (KS-20, KS-20U) or completely flat bottom housing externals (KS-20T, KS-37). Beyond these immediately distinguishable features, though, there are quite a few other details to be looked into at the component and sub-component levels. All other details of note about the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches can be found at the sub-part level and are covered in the following paragraphs below.

Figure 8: Color comparison between the stems of Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches and Gateron FF Cheese (Center).

Figure 9: Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches and their components.

Looking first to the clear, polycarbonate top housings of the Magnetic Orange switches, both the internal and external structures feature quite a few peculiar design features. Externally, the Magnetic Orange switches feature an inverted, stylized ‘GATERON’ nameplate and fixed, mid-height LED-diffusing bubble similar to that of many other premium Gateron offerings in recent months. As well, the hole in the top housing for accommodating the stem is significantly larger than in traditional, MX-style switches as a result of the rounded north and south side of the stem. In fact, this hole is so large that even if there were MX and HE switch cross compatibility, the stems of traditional MX-style switches would loosely flap around when placed in Gateron’s HE-type top housings. (This can also be seen explicitly by the numbers in the measurement card for the switch components below.) Internally, the top housings are fairly similar to the design of MX-style Gateron switches, though it feels a bit odd to see that the north and south side guiding rails in the top housings are also curved to match the shapes of the stems in these switches as opposed to their normally flat shape. Most interestingly, the mold markings for the Magnetic Orange top housings are located not in the upper corners underneath the nameplate region, but rather directly below the upper housing attachment pins on the edge of the actual top housing, itself. Present on both sides, these mold markings still come in the form of single capital letters on the left and numbers on the right, which is a departure from the two-letter norm in Gateron-made switches.

Figure 10: Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange top housing external design showing fixed, mid-height LED diffusing bubble, inverted 'GATERON' nameplate, and large center hole for accommodating the HE-style stem shape.

Figure 11: Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange top housing internal design showing curved guider rails on north and south sides of the center hole as well as odd mold markings located below the upper housing attachment clips.

Moving next to the ‘mac n’ cheese’ orange, assumedly POM stems of the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches, we are greeted with quite a slew of uncommon design features that are all covered with a moderate, almost light amount of factory lube. Most notable of all of these features is that of the fat center pole which is sized as such in order to house the magnetic used to trigger the Hall Effect PCBs. In addition to standing out for being as round and chonky as it is, at approximately 3.61 mm in diameter, it is also standout for just how short it is, just barely sticking beyond the edges of the slider rails on either side of the center pole. The stem itself only sits a grand total of 10.81 mm tall, as compared to most modern, MX-style switch stems that are at or beyond 13.00 mm in height, only further highlighting just how short the center pole is. Unlike traditional stem structure, the slider rails are hollow and made to slot into a third rail guiding system built into the bottom housings of the switch. A strange design choice is also present in the stems in the form of a small ‘foot’ that comes off of the northwest corner of the stem as it sits in the bottom housing. In these linear Magnetic Orange switches, this foot clearly does not trigger anything in spite of the fact that it clearly suggests that it should or could. Conceptually, it is really similar in design (and likely intention) to that of a foot which would trigger a click bar in Kailh’s Box switches and thus I’m assuming that we may see more KS-20U switches in the future with tactile and/or clicky capabilities. The fact that this remains functionlessly in the Magnetic Orange switches, though, further points back to Gateron’s frenetic pace of design and release as they very rarely, if at all, leave design features in their premium switches which don’t serve a noticeable purpose.

Figure 12: North facing side of Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switch stem in a size comparison to an MX-style Gateron Deepping stem. Also note the functionless protruding leg on the right-hand side of the orange stem in the photo.

Figure 13: South facing side of Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switch stem showing mold ejector marks, hollow rails, and small amounts of factory lube still present on the stem's center pole.

Figure 14: Top down view of the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange stem situated in the bottom housing without spring. Note both the interlacing of the third-rail style stem guiding mechanism as well as the aforementioned useless stem leg in the upper left hand corner.

Finally arriving to the white, nylon bottom housings of the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches, we are met with the switch component that is the most drastically different than that of the traditional-MX switches. First and foremost, it’s pretty hard to ignore the massive hole through the center of the bottom housing which is there to fit the large magnet shown in the stem above. While this center pole hole is open in the KS-20 and KS-20U switches, it is covered over flush with the outside of the bottom housings in the KS-20T and KS-37 Gateron HE switches. (It should be noted that whether this is open or does not noticeably alter the performance of Hall Effect switches as the magnetic fields can and do extend through the plastic of the housings.) All other expected internal components of a switch are present in the Magnetic Oranges – including recessed padding at the bottom of the slider rails, mold markings, and a small spring collar on the south side – though placed in substantially different locations than traditional MX-style switches which I will let the photos below speak for. Externally, we again are met with many common features that are simply placed in odd placements. Two capital letter mold markings can still be found on the left- and right-side halves of the bottom housing, though upright and closer to the PCB-mounting pins than normal Gateron switches. As well, a lone stylized ‘G’ anticounterfeit mark can be seen in the upper left-hand corner of the bottom housing exterior close to where a metal PCB pin would be located in traditional MX-style switches.

Figure 15: Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange bottom housing interior design showing large stem pole hole with factory lube, third-rail style guide rails, and slight south side spring collar built into housing wall.

Figure 16: Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange bottom housing exterior showing PCB mounting pins and locations of mold and anticounterfeit markings.

Push Feel

Completely disregarding the very strange internal structure and magical magnetic powers that the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches boast as part of their Hall Effect compatibility, what they offer on paper is a ‘plain Jane’, no frills linear switch. Traveling just about 4.000 mm in total for a complete downstroke, the Magnetic Orange switches have a medium-light spring weight of 52.3 grams at bottom out and a minor, but not too generous amount of factory lube on all sides of the stem. Were these to be made in the form of traditional MX-style switches rather than HE-type, they would certainly be among the more conservative linear releases Gateron’s made in quite some time because of their specifications, lack of specifically performance enhancing details, and above all their execution. Unlike premium Gateron MX-style switches priced in the same range around $0.70 per switch, the Magnetic Oranges are just the tiniest bit scratchy and quite a bit inconsistent in their smoothness across the batch of switches that I received. Some switches get this inconsistent factory lubing worse than others and its especially noticeable in these worst-case switches as it causes the topping and bottoming out to feel (as well as sound) squishy, sticky, and some other icky feeling ‘s-word’ here. While present at both ends of the switch, it is definitely much more noticeable and overbearing in the topping out. In the more adequately lubed switches, though, the housing collisions are rather soft and cushioned, with the topping out only being a tiny bit more thin than the bottoming out. All things considered, I guess it’s not necessarily delivering anything that is terribly bad relative to all other linear switches that have ever been made before it out there, though I certainly had higher expectations of Gateron switches at this price point. While I recognize that a good fair bit of their pricing is likely due to the new molds and designs required to pull off a Hall Effect style switch, it’s hard to expect anything other than incredibly consistent, heavily lubed and smooth as butter linears from premium Gateron offerings.

Figure 17: Force curve for stock Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switch.

As an interesting point of note for those of you who have never seen the force curves for Hall Effect style switches before, this perfectly linear upstroke curve is actually expected and common. In traditional MX-style switches, the dip in upstroke force between 0 and ~2.00 mm in most switches is a result of the stem legs disengaging with the large leaf of the switch on its return to the top. Due to the fact that Hall Effect switches do not rely on interactions between stem legs and leaves to complete circuits, and instead only rely on the touchless electromagnetic interaction between the stems and the PCBs, the force curves for linear switches are a function solely of the spring and its weight. Thus, the force curve regions in between the housing collisions will obey Hooke’s Law and produce a force “curve” that is directly proportional to their compression distance. (That is, until we start getting progressive springs in Hall Effect switches.)


The Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches are altogether on the quieter end of the linear switch spectrum with sound that is largely driven by the medium pitched, slightly thinner, and more plasticky sounding topping out of the stem. Given that the bottoming out occurs onto the edges of the slider rails of the stem as well as contacts in a deepened recess in the bottom housing aimed to increase surface area of contact, the bottom outs are almost completely silent in normal use unless they’re being typed on particularly heavily. While scratch is present in the sound of the switches as was already hinted to above in the push feeling notes for the switches, its presence and severity is intermittent and entirely dependent on the switch to switch variation in lubing. The variation in factory lubing does also cause the topping outs of the switches to sound a bit sticky in those particularly bad switches, making the switch’s sound almost entirely based around such. Beyond these issues with consistency and housing thinness, the Magnetic Orange switches are otherwise free from unexpected poor sound features including any ping from their thick springs.


Surprisingly, the Gateron Dual-Rail Magnetic Orange switches have a noticeable and slightly greater than average stem wobble in both N/S and E/W directions for a premium Gateron switch. While they are probably closer to the all-time average for stem wobble across all mechanical keyboard switches that I’ve tried to date, I guess I still expected more of Gateron and at this price point. This likely won’t bother most users of the switches, though it could be potentially bothersome if you are particularly picky about your stem wobble.

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