Vengeance Gaming Keyboard Keyswitch Technology

By , on October 14, 2011

Since announcing our first gaming peripherals a few weeks ago, there has been a great deal of interest in our new Vengeance™ K60 and K90 gaming keyboards, which has been very exciting for us to follow. One of the most novel aspects of starting from a completely blank slate was that we were able to develop a product that specifically addresses the needs of PC gamers.

The K60 and K90 aren't rebadged products from a keyboard OEM or a typist's keyboard with the keyswitches changed out to Cherry MX Reds. These are completely new designs, built just for PC gaming, which has allowed us to incorporate several design innovations that we have not seen in a gaming keyboard before. One such innovation was the opportunity to use Cherry MX Red mechanical keyswitches for the main keyboard, and additionally use silicone dome switches in some key positions where we found their performance characteristics to be better suited than those of a mechanical key.

From when we first prototyped the K60 and K90 keyboards, my team and I all preferred the feel and action of Cherry MX Red switches over any other type of keyswitch. Getting used to their light spring-force (just 45g), and linear actuation required a few minutes of practice, but soon allowed us to react quickly and effortlessly in any in-game situation. Double and triple-taps became effortless and instinctive, and after the satisfying mechanical feel of the Cherry MX Reds, returning to our laptop's scissor-keyswitches was particularly disappointing.

However, we also found that multiple taps, while critical on the "action" keys, are undesirable on other keys — especially the macro keys. Accidentally triggering a macro twice can ruin an otherwise well-timed plan for assaulting a boss, for example.

After quite a bit of experimentation, we decided to use Cherry MX Red switches for all for all of the action and typing keys, and incorporate a row of tuned silicone-dome key switches for just the top row (the Esc and F-keys), plus the nine keys in the center block (PrtScn, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down).  All of the programmable macro keys on the K90 also use silicon dome keyswitches with a shorter travel — which allowed us to position them on a lower plane than the main gaming keys



To prevent accidental keystrokes, we tuned the force and linearity of the silicon dome keyswitches for extra damping — something we can't do with mechanical keys — to ensure that they have a clear actuation point and can be triggered reliably in a single press. Using a switch like a Cherry MX Black, would have addressed the force issue (it would be stiffer) but would not have allowed us to tune the damping.

The silicon dome keyswitches have them same 1ms reporting rate and are integrated into the 100% anti-ghosting matrix, so they respond just like any other key. The advantage comes from the precision of their actuation, with very little chance of an accidental key press.

A lot of the team members that worked on the Vengeance K60 and K90 have been building keyboards for many years. Most of us are PC gamers, too. It has been exciting to be able to design and build a truly unique and completely new gaming keyboard from scratch and we're confident that once you've used a Vengeance K60 or K90 keyboard, you'll love them as much as we do.