top of page

What are Optical Switches, Exactly?

Hi All,

this is a compliment article to our Beginner Guide to Mechanical Switches. A buzzword that's going around right now is optical switches. They are alternative switches to mechanical keyboard and mouse switches.

Razer Inc was the first, and so far only, company to make optical switches commercially available.

To understand optical switches, you must first understand traditional mechanical switches. There is one under each keycap of a mechanical keyboard. When you press down on a keycap, the plunger in the switch is thrown downwards, allowing two pieces of metal to touch and connect a circuit, sending a signal to your computer. With optical switches, when you press down the plunger in blocks a laser, sending a signal to your computer marginally faster. While this can improve your keyboard latency by a few milliseconds maybe, this is not very practical because your keyboard latency with USB 3.0 is hardly notable already. And, it takes more time for the signal to be converted in your keyboard's circuitry than it actually takes for the pieces of metal to bang together. However, optical switches have the potential to be much longer-lasting than mechanical switches, because mechanical switches physically wear themselves down over time, while optical switches don't. Plus, the new optical switches do not seem to be far more expensive than mechanical switches, considering the prices of the Razer Blackwidow (mechanical keyboard) compared to the Razer Huntsman (optical keyboard). So, overall a very interesting concept, and maybe even the future of keyboards and mice everywhere.

Products that have optical switches as of 3/16/2020


> Razer Huntsman Elite - $180

> Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition Tenkeyless - $130

> Razer Huntsman - $90


> Razer Viper Mini - $40

> Razer Viper Ultralight - $50

> Razer Viper Ultimate - $150


bottom of page