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(Image: © Tom’s Hardware)

OUR VERDICT

Kailh’s Silent Box Red switches are some of the lightest switches you can find for your keyboard. That makes for fun gaming and less exhaustion, but accidental inputs too.

FOR

  • Very little force required to actuate
  • Quiet and soft
  • Linear design’s good for gaming
  • Dust and water resistant

AGAINST

  • Easy to press the same key twice
  • Light actuation forces can cause accidental keypresses
  • No tactility for heavy typists

Whether you’re a speedy gamer, lightweight typist or heavy-handed with a habit of bottoming out, there’s a mechanical keyboard switch these days for everyone. Selecting or making the best gaming keyboard or your next productivity workhorse is like picking the right dance partner. The keys have to be able to keep with your fingers, without overpowering or boring them.

The newest switches from Kailh are for those who don’t want the clicky showmanship of something like a Cherry MX Blue or even the tactility of Cherry MX Browns. Instead, Kailh Silent Box Red mechanical switches will win over those who like their keys to stay mum. And with only 35 grams of force to actuate and 3.6mm of total travel, these are some of the lightest actualting mechanical switches you can get.

Kailh Silent Box Red Cherry MX Silent Red Gateron Clear Kailh Box Red Cherry MX Red
Type Linear, silent Linear, silent Linear Linear Linear
Total Travel 3.6mm ± 0.4mm 3.7mm ± 0.4mm 4.0mm 3.6mm ± 0.3mm 4.0mm
Actuation Point 1.8mm ± 0.4mm 1.9mm ± 0.6mm 2.2mm 1.8 ± 0.3mm 2.0mm
Actuation Force 35gf ±10gf 45gf 35gf 45gf ± 10gf 45gf
Lifespan (in presses) 80,000,000 Over 50,000,000 50,000,000 50,000,000 Over 100,000,000
Rating IP52 IP40 N/A IP65

Design

No description available.

Let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room. These switches’ stems aren’t red, as the name implies. More honestly, they’re a bright pink the shade of a cartoon pig. Like many mechanical keyboard switches, they feature a plus-shaped crosstem, allowing them to fit standard keycaps that would fit on traditional Cherry MX ones. I used the Kailh Silent Box Reds with ABS double-shot injection keycaps from Glorious’ Modular keyboard for most of my testing, for example, and I also fit Razer PBT keycaps and HyperX Pudding PBT double-shot keycaps on them.

Note that Kailh’s Box switches don’t get their name from their stem shape. Instead, the ‘box’ moniker refers to the shape of the housing’s structure, which is box-like for fighting off dust and moisture. Interestingly, retailer Kono believes Kailh’s box design in general makes them more durable than Cherry MX’s bare crosstem design. The retailer claims they last “25% longer than regular MX variants during stress testing” and also are less wobbly. If you’ve ever noticed wobbly keys with any of Cherry’s Red switches, Silent Box Reds are worth considering.

In my roughly two months using a Glorious Modular keyboard with Kailh Silent Box Reds on and off, I spotted a shameful amount of dust and hair around the keycaps. Upon removing the keycaps, I saw that problem carried over to the spaces between the switches too. However, I couldn’t spot any dust in the switches or in the circle stems. And, of course, the keyboard has been functioning properly.

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Kailh’s Silent Box Reds are IP52-certified. That promises that dust won’t enter in notable enough amounts to interfere with the product working. According to the DSMT, which makes the certification, this rating also assures you that “vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.” That’s quite specific but at least tells you that these are at least somewhat waterproof. That’s more than Cherry MX Silent Reds offer. The switches’ IP40 certification only promises that objects over 1mm won’t interfere, and doesn’t cover liquids at all.

The Silent Box Reds fight off dirt with their slider design and sealed composite gold alloy contacts. Keep in mind that Kailh says this certification applies best when “applied to products that meet the corresponding protection level.”

Kailh designed the switches to be both easy to press and quiet. According to the vendor, the switches require 35g of force to actuate, and noise is kept to under 30dB. Noise reduction purportedly occurs in each switch’s glass fiber-reinforced base.

In terms of materials, the switches are also working with copper alloy static and movable plates, a POM slide and a POM/TPE stem, a PA66 base and cover, a stainless steel spring and a buffering rubber mat.

With a transparent casing, the switch is also RGB-ready. Kailh recommends pairing the switches with a keyboard using SMD LEDsdirectly mounted onto the circuit board. They certainly had no problem illuminating my Glorious Modular keyboard. As far as I could see, the RGB was just as bright compared to the keys using Gateron Brown switches.

Typing Experience

These Kailhs are equipped to fight fatigue. Since they require a very small amount of force to actuate, your fingers should be able to press each key with less work than when typing on Cherry MX Silent Reds or even regular Cherry MX Reds.

With a mere 35g of force (give or take 10 grams) needed to reach their 1.8mm actuation point, Kailh’s pink switches feel much different than Cherry MX Reds, which need 10 more grams of force. And if you’re being detailed, Cherry MX Silent Reds actuate further, at 1.9mm. Like our review subject, Gateron Clear switches also require 35g, but actuate at a further 2.2mm. Long story short: These may very well be the lightest mechanical switches you’ve ever used.

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