Posted On 08/19/2015 By In Other Reviews, Reviews

REVIEW: Project Zealio switches

It has been a really long time since I’ve been as exciting about a new product as much I have been with the Project Zealio switches. Not just because Cherry Clears are my favorite MX switch, and because the timing is perfect for throwing them in my Mira, but because this is something developed by a community member that benefits the entire community. I’ve said it plenty of times before, this is what I love most about the mechanical keyboard community. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the larger manufacturers actually listening to the community and incorporating that feedback into their products, but that isn’t quite the same as having something that is 100% developed by community members, and that is just what these switches are.  A group buy for these switches will start sooner than later, and some will be sold at ZealPC.net afterwards. If you are interested, I would highly recommend just jumping in on the group buy when it happens instead of waiting for them to pop up in the store though.

Before getting into specifics about how the switches felt to me, you may find yourself asking “what really makes these any different than Cherry MX Clears?” which is a very valid question. People have been using MX Clears tuned with different springs for quite a while now, which is essentially what Purple Zealio switches are. There are a few noticeable differences between stock MX Clears and Purple Zealio switches though. The first big difference is that keycaps are a bit easier to take off of Zealio switches. Cherry MX Clears are known for fitting extremely tightly into the cap stems, to the point where some manufacturers even include warnings with keyboards that ship with Clears switches, like this one from WASD…

 

The next obvious different is how much smoother the Zealio switches are when compared to MX Clears. MX Clears do have a bit of grittiness to them, which really is my biggest issue with Clears, even though they are my favorite MX switch. The Zealio switches, made by Gateron, are noticeably smoother. In my opinion lubing them isn’t really needed unless you want to further customize the feel of them (more on that below).  Did I mention the switches are Purple? How awesome is that?!

Keep in mind that I am reviewing these based on the feel of the single switches, and not yet in a typing scenario. When the Plate I ordered specifically for these arrives, I will be building a variable weight keyboard with these switches to test out in a full typing experience. I will really be able to elaborate on how they feel after trying them out in a full keyboard. Initial thoughts:

62g Purple Zealio (& lubed variant) 

Despite having a heavier spring than standard Cherry MX Browns, I can see these being something that fans of MX Browns wil love. They do feel slightly heavier of course, but the smoothness really makes them feel lighter than I expected, even when compared to my Infinity with 62g Lubed Cherry MX Clears.  I think these would be perfect for anyone that is a fan of lighter switches and may feel a bit intimidated about trying heavier switches.

The lubed variant felt amazing. The bump actually stuck out a little bit more for me, and the additional smoothness was noticeable. They felt slightly more “worn in” than the stock switch.

65g Purple Zealio (& lubed variant)

The 65g Zealios are the perfect middle ground. They don’t feel overly heavy, they have a nice noticeable bump, and are just as smooth as any of the Zealio switches. For me personally I feel like I’d either use the 62g to have that noticeably lighter touch, or the 67g switch to noticeably more resistance. Then again, if you can’t decide what you want, the 65g switch is a great safe bet. If you like the feel of stock clears, I feel like these will feel extremely familiar.

The Lubed variant felt very good. The tactile bump was a little less noticeable, but the movement was very, very smooth. Out of all of the switches, the lubed 65g switch is the perfect middle ground.

67g Purple Zealio (& lubed variant)

The 67g Zealios were easily my favorite switch of the lot. These switches are the furthest departure in feel from any stock MX switch on the market right now. The tactile bump is quite pronounced and crisp, and the actuation force is right up top, which is something that I’ve really grown to love being the Topre fan that I am. The bump is the most “crisp” on the 67g switches, and less drawn out than on the others. That crispness, in conjunction with the heavier springs and smoothness really just makes this a gloriously refined feeling switch. These will absolutely be going in my Mira.

The lubricated variant of the switch lost just the slightest bit of “oomph” on the tactile bump, and it also lost almost all of the tiny little “click” of the switch actuating, which isn’t a bad thing. I would personally use the stock switches, but the lubricated one did feel extremely nice, and was somehow even smoother than the stock Zealio.

62g Clear Zealio 

Normally I am not a fan of linear switches, but I have learned to appreciate MX Blacks as I do like my heavier switches. The 62g Zealio Clears were exceptionally smooth. The keypress was very uniform, only feeling slightly heavier right before bottoming out. For people that do prefer linear switches, I have yet to use a linear switch that felt as good as these. They were quite reminiscent of some worn in vintage blacks, though lighter to the touch.

Clear RBG Switch Tops 

These do exactly what you’d think they do. They provide the larger opening that RGB LED’s need. They fit perfectly on the switches and were otherwise no different than the stock switch tops.

Conclusion

Remember, these are just my initial thoughts on the switches. I will continue to use them, and test them over the next few weeks and make another post when I have tested them all out in a full keyboard scenario. First impressions were extremely good though. There was nothing with the build quality or design that would concern me, and I would be extremely comfortable jumping in the group buy for a few hundred of these as it stands right now. Big kudos to ZealPC for making this happen!

If you have direct questions for me about the feel of them please feel free to ask. It can be hard thing to describe, as feel is so subjective. If you do have questions just find livingspeedbump on Reddit, GeekHack, Deskthority, or on the freenode #geekhack / #mechboards irc channels, and I will try to answer any questions that I can.

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Disclaimer: This review sample was provided courtesy of Zeal PC (http://ZealPC.net) and is in no way shape or form a paid review/advertisement.

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