Cherry MX Board Silent Review

Written by Dave Alcock

January 25, 2017 // 10:11 a.m.

Tags: #cherry-mx

Companies: #cherry

Cherry MX Board Silent Review

Manufacturer: Cherry
UK price (as reviewed):
Approx £125 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $150 (ex tax)

Cherry is a household name in the mechanical keyboard industry, and the company produces an obscene amount of mechanical switches every year. Last year, Cherry manufactured MX Silent switches in collaboration with Corsair. Corsair had product exclusivity with these for 12 months, but this recently expired, allowing others in on the game. Corsair only used the Cherry MX Silent Red variety (which were pink), but it seems that Cherry has also made an MX Silent Black (which is grey). Now, to incorporate these switches Cherry has decided to update its very popular G80-3000 in a bid to keep its happy customers buying what they know. According to Cherry, the MX Board Silent is set to cost around £125, although with the current dollar rate it could well be higher given the US MSRP is $150. This is a high price for what seems like a basic board, so it will be interesting to see what it has to offer.

Straight away, we can see that it will bring back some fond memories for people. The design may seem very dated, but this is tried and tested and has worked for Cherry, so why change? I am not a huge fan of aggressive looking gaming style keyboards, so seeing something different is refreshing. Having said that, I do believe that it could have been done better; the design needs a refresh due to some reasons I will mention shortly. As you can see, the keyboard also comes with a PS2 adapter, which can be useful for people who don't know how to turn on USB legacy support and try to use the keyboard with a BIOS that doesn't support it naturally.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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The footprint of this keyboard is huge: It is 200 x 470 x 40mm, which, considering it has no extra keys or functions, does appear to have been done for no other reason than to stay retro. It feels very cheap and plasticky, and the absence of any keys or buttons at the top of the board really doesn't help this fact, nor does the large space between the number keys and F-row. A lack of backlighting and extra functions isn't an issue as long as this is reflected in the price, but so far I just can't see this.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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Flipping the keyboard over, we can see that it just clips together; there are no screws at all, and this again means it has a cheap feel, as there's nothing at all to keep the case bottom from flexing, particularly towards the middle. The non-detachable, 1.7m USB cable is unsleeved and has the same beige colour as the keyboard.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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Looking at the keys, we can see that even the font used is the same as it has always been or at least very similar. They are only PBT keycaps with a printed legend, but I actually really like them. I am not a big fan of the whole fad there seems to be with 'gaming style' fonts, and I think that a nice, simple look is far better - you're free to disagree, of course.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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The keyboard has a slight angle to it which can be increased in gradient by flipping out the rubber-tipped feet. The keyboard also has a nice profile which, when combined with the aforementioned angle, allows for a nice, comfortable typing experience; I experienced no fatigue or wrist strain while using the board.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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Of course, the main thing to discuss is the switches. It comes as no surprise that Cherry has excelled in this area. I was at CES 2017 and amongst the first to see this keyboard and these switches, and the main thing I took away from the experience was how much I liked the Silent Blacks. The Silent Reds are just too squishy for me, and we have already seen them with the Corsair keyboards. The Silent Blacks are identical to standard Blacks, but they have noise dampeners at each end of the movement, ensuring a quieter experience as well as having a slightly spongier feel. Now, if you type heavy-handed, the switches don't really make much difference to a standard Black one in terms of noise. It took me a while to realise this, as I am used to Green switches and hammer them when I type. Getting back to touch-typing to the actuation point was a little bit challenging, but once I had done it, I could certainly tell that they were quieter than standard Cherry MX Blacks.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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The Cherry MX Silent Black switch has a heavy actuation force of 60 cN with an actuation point of around 2mm. The switch bottoms out at 3.7mm and is linear; this means there is no click or bump at all, so you will not get any feedback to say the key has been pressed. With a bit of practice, you can stop pressing the switch at 2mm, right where the switch sends the actuation signal. This means you won't bottom out the switch and cause noise. The switches do produce noise on their return, but this is more of a plasticky sound, probably due to the keyboard case more than the switches. Overall, you will be in for a very pleasant typing experience if you want to use Cherry MX Silent Blacks.

Cherry MX Board Silent Review Cherry MX Board Silent Review
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Conclusion

I really struggled to review this keyboard. Half of me loves it; half of me hates it. The part of me that really enjoys using it is reminiscing about using the old IBM Model M and Packard Bell boards circa 1997. If I had one of those, though, I feel I would be far happier, as I seem to remember them far more substantially than this throwback to that era. The Cherry MX Board Silent does feel great to type on, but replacing the keycaps after taking pictures made the keyboard flex so much it instantly made me aware of how much empty space there must be inside. A mid-plate or just a little extra weight to the keyboard would go a long way. Having said this, using the keyboard while it was on my desk felt perfectly fine, and the switches are very nice to type on. They feel suitable for the office environment that this keyboard seems to aim at, although it clearly also targets those who want to feel some nostalgia or just a very simple keyboard. The only real feature is the 14-key rollover; there are no macro keys, no media keys, or anything else.

Overall, the keyboard is interesting, and it does pull on some heart strings, but this trip down memory lane does not come cheap. If it was priced at around £70, I would have seriously considered it. At £125, though, I just can't justify it. Regardless of how successful similar models have been in the past, I feel that is where they should stay if Cherry is going to charge more than keyboards that are better built and have far more features.
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