Holy Panda Keyswitch


48 points | by ecliptik 286 days ago


  • jrockway 285 days ago

    Is this linked because the switches reached $6 each?

    I am not surprised. The mechanical keyboard community has a good contingent of people that have a lot of money and nothing to spend it on. People post their keyboard pictures to reddit with a Rolex Submariner or a $750 bottle of scotch in the background. I don't mean this as a criticism in any way, but there is very much that element to it. People pay $600 for a set of keyswitches to get a $600 set of keyswitches, not because of the incremental value over a $0.10 keyswitch.

    • mumblemumble 285 days ago

      So, I'm a bit of a cheapskate, so my soul wants to agree 100%.

      But I also spend something in the neighborhood of half my waking life using a keyboard, so I could see choosing to spend money there even if you're happy with a $10 wristwatch. Assuming it really is that good, of course. I'd perhaps rather that than spend $1000 on a nice sofa when one of the $300 Ikea models will do.

      • Piskvorrr 285 days ago

        Well...the point was marginal utility. My keyboards are on the expensive side for the same reason, but the functional difference between a $100 keyboard and a $10000 keyboard will be minimal.

      • CarVac 285 days ago

        You may not believe me, but Holy Panda switches feel amazing to type on, even among mechanical switches.

        There certainly is the aspect of exclusivity and collection, but there's a reason it became so notoriously desirable in the first place, and that's the feel: zero wobble, and an unusual tactility profile.

        • dhagz 285 days ago

          I'll agree with that - I have a board that I built with Clear-minded Pandas (basically the same thing, but a Halo Clear stem instead of a Halo True), and it is so amazingly satisfying as a tactile board. Like you said - basically zero wobble, and an almost instant tactile bump that no other switch really has.

          • binaryapparatus 285 days ago

            > Weight: 67g bottom out if using Panda springs, 100gf bottom out if using Halo True springs

            That means they require more force than Model M? Too much I think.

          • sleepybrett 285 days ago

            I built a zanda (panda housing, zelios stems) board when halo stems were impossible to find. Everyone who has tried it loves it.

            • mewse-hn 285 days ago

              I thought the halo clear + true had the same stem with different springs

          • dkersten 285 days ago

            I use mechanical key switches and definitely do have other things I’d rather be spending the money on, but I find that they do substantially increase my typing comfort (I didn’t spend $600, but did spend over $300 on my keyboard) so do personally find they’re much better for me than $0.10 key switches.

            • jrockway 285 days ago

              Oh, I'm talking about mechanical keyswitches when I cite 10 cents. That is approximately what the Cherry clones run for in quantity. (They are about 30 cents at retail.)

              You may cringe at "clone" but the reality is that after the MX patent expired, the Chinese manufacturers are making way better switches than Cherry ever did. Cherry got so bad that the competition forced them to retool; they would have been perfectly happy selling you scratchy switches from decades-old tools if it weren't for the innovation that is happening in China.

              • trampypizza 285 days ago

                In my experience of Red and Brown switches, Gateron ones have always been more pleasant to use than Cherry ones. On my desk at home I have a Cherry MX Brown board (Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro L) that I am seriously considering taking apart in order to replace the switches because a cheap mech I got years ago with Gateron browns is probably the most plesant switch I have ever used.

                Edit: Having said that - I admit my sample size is small and I did enjoy the two Cherry MX Blue boards I have used.

                • jrockway 285 days ago

                  I'm pretty impressed with Gateron's switches, at least in the form of the Healios switch that they manufacture. Very smooth. Very quiet. Tighter tolerances than the Kailh switches I've used.

                  • bloopernova 285 days ago

                    I'm saving up for an Ergodox split keyboard with Kailh Copper switches. Now I'm wondering if I should try to find Gateron switches instead.

                    • jrockway 285 days ago

                      The Ergodox EZ has "hot-swappable" switches; you just pull them out and snap new ones in. So you can get the keyboard now and experiment with switches forever.

                      Edit to add: I have two EZs. I also ordered my first one with Kailh's copper speed switches and found them TERRIBLE. Speed switches are very hard to type on. (Imagine pressing Enter when you mean Backspace. It's stressful!) The hair-trigger on the switches combined with not knowing where backspace was on that keyboard made learning a very difficult experience. I now run Healios (linear) and Box Navy (clicky) on my Ergodoxen.

                      I would also recommend getting comfy with QMK before your keyboard arrives. Install the build tools, make a Github fork for your configuration, and make sure you can build images easily. You will want to tweak stuff extensively when you are just getting started, as the default layout is pretty garbage. (So are the online configuration tools.)

                      • bloopernova 285 days ago

                        good to know, thank you for saving me from a lot of potential hassle!

                    • trampypizza 285 days ago

                      From the switches I have used it does appear that Gateron QC is more consistent than Outemu or Kailh - but I have handled 10 different mechs at most so the sample size certainly isn't large enough to draw any meaningful conclusions!

                    • taude 285 days ago

                      Really? I'm the opposite thought I'm not comparing apples-to-apples. I have both a Gateron Brown (one of those Kickstarter Keychron keyboards), and a regular mx-browns on an Drop Alt. The Keychron with Gateron's feel like I'm playing with Fischer Price toys. I'm not sure if it's the switches or plastic base vs aluminum, but I prefer my MX browns on my other keyboard Any thoughts on this? (I'd happily get a keychron with browns on an al base if I can expect the typing experience to be better.

                      • trampypizza 285 days ago

                        Well I have a KC60 with Gateron Browns which I have used with both a plastic case and an alu one, and whilst this does change the typing experience quite a lot I do enjoy both. The feeling is consistently a nice, clean and snappy typing experience.

                        One thing which could contribute to why I don't enjoy the Cooler Master board is that the switches sit on a plastic plate which does cause the keypresses to feel a little mushy. That and the fact that the keypresses themself feel coarse, so the combination of the coarse feel of the brown switch and the flex in the plate ruin the experience. Perhaps if I had MX Browns in a different board I would feel differently but I must admit the experience has put me off, moreso considering the premium you often pay for Cherry. I would probably want to spend a week using any MX Brown mech in future before committing to a purchase (which I probably should have done before buying the CM mech, but it can be hard to find shops near me to experience a wide range of mechs).

                        I say all of this knowing that I could disassemble the MX Brown switches and lube them, as well as changing the springs. However the 1 Gateron Brown and two Gateron Red mechs have been really enjoyable to use 'out of the box'.

                      • NikkiA 285 days ago

                        Blue and green fan, and I agree, prefer Gateron's blues and greens over Cherry, although my keyboard atm uses 'official cherrys' because it isn't a 'budget' keyboard :/

                      • dkersten 285 days ago

                        Ah, ok, I see!

                        My point was more that I don’t see a problem with spending a lot of money on better tools, while yours seems to be that people are spending more as a status symbol, when substantially cheaper options exist of the same (or very similar) quality. So we weren’t really commenting in the same thing, sorry about that :)

                      • BoorishBears 285 days ago

                        There are so many dirt cheap (even the cheapest Gaterons are actually 20 cents) key switches that this is like saying "I find blue handled pens write better for me than green handled pens". Maybe it's true of the pens you tried, but there's little correlation.

                        I have everything from Topres to Zealios... my current daily is using switches that cost 30 cents.

                        The quality to price ratio in mechanical keyboards is completely and totally non-existent since other manufacturers came to the scene, and honestly we'd be seeing even better values if mechanical keyboard users weren't so hellbent on shoving money into things and assuming it makes them better.


                        I overheard someone saying they wish there was a more expensive version of a certain budget keyboard the other day.

                        When asked why, the person didn't really have a reason. They just wish it wasn't a budget keyboard so they could like it (read: show it off).

                        • dkersten 285 days ago

                          Yes, I see I misunderstood the comment a little bit. I completely agree. Sometimes people spend more money on things simply so they don’t feel cheap, even if the end experience is otherwise exactly the same.

                      • golergka 285 days ago

                        > not because of the incremental value over a $0.10 keyswitch

                        Things like that never have "incremental" value - in my experience, it's almost always something along the logarithmic scale. Same with whisky: a limited Ardbeg release or a record-breaking Octomore is 2-3 times as expensive as a standard 10 year Laphroaig, but the difference in quality is much less than between latter and a typical cheap blend like Black Label.

                        • lmilcin 285 days ago

                          If somebody can drop in excess of USD 1k on a phone why not drop couple hundred on a device somebody is spending most of the day touching.

                          This is different from a gadget you might put in a drawer and maybe use it occasionally. I have been using my trusty mechanical keyboard every day for around half a day for the past 15 years.

                          If it makes me feel good (ie. it has satisfying mechanics and is not irritating) then I have no problem paying couple hundred for it.

                        • falcolas 285 days ago

                          I’d be a lot more interested in this wiki entry if there was a bloody force graph. Without that we have to rely on baloney like “a short rounded bump”. What is the definition of short? Rounded? Why is “bump” quoted in the article?

                          If you can’t provide a force graph, at least publish the total travel, the activation force and distance, the deactivation distance, and how far the tactile feedback is from both.

                          • CarVac 285 days ago


                            Most tactile mechanical switches have what I call 'slack' at the top before the increase in force: following is my daily driver keyboard's switches, the Novelkeys/Kailh Box Navy.


                            The Holy Pandas have the bump begin at the very top of the travel, which lends to a firmer feel at the top and a smoother-feeling tactility.

                            • falcolas 285 days ago

                              I thought I had replied earlier, but it appears it was eaten.

                              Thank you for posting those, that picture is worth a bunch of words.

                              That said, it doesn't seem like a mechanical switch I'd want to use. The lack of correlation between the tactile feedback and the activation point would drive me nuts. To me, the value of the tactile feedback is to indicate when the switch has been activated, so I can type without having to bottom out the switches.

                              • CarVac 285 days ago

                                There are in my opinion two sorts of tactile switches: the ones where the tactility exists so you can be reminded to not bottom out (like Cherry Brown), and ones where the tactility induces you to bottom out, like rubber domes (including topre) and Box Navy.

                                These have the heaviest point before the tactile 'collapse', so once you clear the bump it's mostly smooth sailing all the way to the bottom, but there's enough resistance to eat up most of the energy before impact.

                                This is of the latter sort.

                                • falcolas 285 days ago

                                  That's fair. But bottoming out is hard enough on finger joints that I typically consider them to be a hard pass.

                                  And, having used Topres, they don't really remove much of the energy you had to use to bypass the peak. It's still a fairly hard impact at the bottom.

                                  • CarVac 285 days ago

                                    Bottoming out depends on a lot of things.

                                    Topre offers a little padding on the bottom as you squish the rubber.

                                    Plastic plates or PCB-mounted switches offer a little give.

                                    Personally, my daily driver has thick steel plates, but it's a small board and I type on my lap, so my thighs cushion the blow.

                                    And regardless of what keyboard I use, I bottom out, really heavily. Box Navy switches are considered rather heavy, but I bottom them out with no trouble.

                          • cpr 285 days ago

                            Or skip all this Holy lubed Pandelioz nonsense and get a Steelseries Apex Pro. Astounding smoothness, Hall effect action (no contact), very close to the original TK Microswitch keyboards I used and loved back in the late 70’s at MIT. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_keyboard

                            Great review at https://youtu.be/jfz9TgeZ9m0.

                            • CarVac 285 days ago

                              That's completely orthogonal to the appeal of the Holy Panda though. The Apex Pro switches aren't tactile at all, they're linear.

                              Obviously if you prefer linear there's no room in the discussion for the Holy Panda.

                              • tdy_err 285 days ago

                                Why yes that is also a keyboard.

                                What do you suppose the odds are that a gaming-peripheral manufacturer sat down and came up with a better switch implementation than any that the mechanical keyboard community could?

                                • sleepybrett 285 days ago

                                  Optical/Hall Effect switches generally require special PCBs some part of the sensing is often surface mounted to the pcb instead of integrated into the switch housing. There is a hall effect board coming out the mechanical keyboard community called the Keystone (https://kono.store/blogs/keyboards/the-future-of-keyboards)) but generally speaking such an undertaking is to big for the community in general. Requiring both full switch design (generally new switches from the community are simply tweaks to existing designs, maybe just a slight adjustment to the stem, spring, or leaf) or new layouts using existing switch footprints (generally speaking just the cherry mx footprint, but there are quite a few pcbs that will support cherry mx and old ALPs/Matias switches.

                                  • ecf 285 days ago

                                    Very high.

                                    Almost all switches I’ve seen made by the community are simply Frankenstein switches made with different springs, housings, or stems from other switches.

                                    For example, all the “Holy Pandas” are is a stem from one brand of switch (halo clear/true) combined with the housing from another (invyr panda).

                                  • bloopernova 285 days ago

                                    That sounds really nice. I'm saving up for an Ergodox split keyboard, now I wish I could get the Steelseries key switches on the Ergodox base.

                                  • userbinator 285 days ago

                                    Weight: 67g bottom out if using Panda springs, 100gf bottom out if using Halo True springs

                                    That is ridiculously stiff. I wonder how comfortable they are for extended periods of typing.

                                    • jrockway 285 days ago

                                      Switches do not activate at the bottom of the travel, they typically activate about halfway down. The force increases linearly to the bottom-out point. (For tactile switches like these, there is an additional spring that is unrelated to the bottom-out force, which makes the first half of the travel non-linear.)

                                      The travel after the activation point is just to prevent your fingers from pushing the keys all the way to the bottom. Once you hit the bottom, infinite force yields a movement of 0mm, so it's "infinite grams". So you should look at these numbers as how much cushioning you need after you hit the activation point. With purely linear switches, you don't need a spring to "catch" you, so you can go lower. With tactile switches, the force abruptly goes to almost zero, so momentum will carry your fingers farther down the travel. The bottom-out spring is designed to dissipate that energy before you slam the slider into the bottom of the switch. (As a thought experiment, imagine a car suspension spring as a keyswitch that requires 1 nanometer of travel to activate. You would not tire yourself out typing on that, and you would never bottom out.)

                                      I use 67gf bottom-out switches, "Healios", and they are very middle-of-the road in my opinion. I have used lighter switches, I have used heavier switches. I do not bottom out on them, but they do feel about as light as I'm willing to go. (I use Box Navy as my daily driver, which are quite a bit heavier in terms of activation force. Also louder!)

                                      • 0xffff2 285 days ago

                                        Isn't the lesser number about the same as Cherry MX Clears? I have one keyboard with clears and while I ultimately prefer the less stiff browns, I don't find the clears to be uncomfortable.

                                        • tdy_err 285 days ago

                                          It’s more realistic to interpret a test graph than to look at the PAF #. E.g.: Traditional Cherry switches will increase resistance during the press while HPandas [and many others] dip quickly and settle back into the initial resistance.

                                          It’s hard to describe what that feels like in practice, even still.

                                        • nlh 285 days ago

                                          Two relevant links here for those interested:

                                          1. If this has piqued your interest in mechanical keyboards, head on over to http://old.reddit.com/r/mechanicalkeyboards and fall deep into the rabbit hole; and

                                          2. Massdrop or Drop or whatever actually went out and manufactured these — I think the first batch sold out but keep an eye here if you’re interested in Holy Pandas: https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-invyr-holy-panda-mechanical-...

                                          (Looks like they’re doing another batch - good timing)

                                        • tartoran 285 days ago

                                          Anybody can recommend a decent unconspicuous full mechanical keyboard that does give the feedback but doesn’t bother everyone around? I’ve seen plenty of gamming kbs that I wouldn’t use in an office, I’d like to find one that looks just like a regular keyboard.. Don’t care if it’s wired or not

                                          • moondev 284 days ago

                                            Check out the drop alt or Ctrl. They make a non rgb version or u can just turn off the LEDs. It allows you to hot swap switches. Trust me you will want to try out a bunch until you find the perfect option!

                                            • mewse-hn 285 days ago

                                              The code keyboard with cherry clears is what I see recommended all the time as a stellar office keyboard. It's got basically zero branding or disco rgb.

                                              • ThreeFx 285 days ago

                                                Do you consider Topre to be "fully mechanical"? IMO Leupold has nice keyboards which look decent.

                                                • tartoran 285 days ago

                                                  I have no idea, I'll check them out. The problem is that I am not sure how noisy these are, I'm sure the feedback is good enough. Btw, I don't care if a keyboard is fully mechanical as long as it has a nice feel to it. Leopold looks nice too.

                                                  • Slippery_John 285 days ago

                                                    They're pretty quiet on their own, but also have further silenced variants (often called type-s or some such). Also look for Topre Realforce or HHKB Pro 2. The latter is what I generally recommend to folks that want to get a good board without having to wait around for the typical group buy periods. The small form factor takes getting used to, but I love it. There's a newer model called HHKB Pro Hybrid that has both wired and bluetooth, but iirc it's a bit hard to find right now.

                                                • voldacar 285 days ago

                                                  Matias makes a quiet tactile keyswitch. It feels about identical to vintage ALPS from my recollection.

                                                • firemelt 283 days ago

                                                  I wish these switch could be cheaper and mass produced

                                                  • UI_at_80x24 285 days ago

                                                    How do they compare to buckling springs?

                                                    • chaoticmass 285 days ago

                                                      They are very different, but as someone who has been a die-hard buckling spring user since childhood, I found I actually really like them.

                                                      I wen to a Mechanical Keyboard meetup (for the first time) last year. I brought my model Ms for people to try out. Someone there had brought his boards and had one of them for sale. Without knowing what it was, I typed on his board he was selling and instantly liked it. He was only asking $200 so I bought it. He was telling me it was using Holy Panda switches, but I had no idea what that meant. I just liked how it felt.

                                                      It has a very strong tactile bump, right at the top of the travel.

                                                    • AlgorithmicTime 285 days ago

                                                      Nothing will ever be quite the same as good 'ol buckling springs. Preferably capacitative buckling springs ala IBM Model F. Membrane buckling springs, e.g. Model M, are quite good too.