How To Replace And Re-Solder A Mechanical Keyboard Switch

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2024 by

Mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular among gamers and typists due to their durability, tactile feedback, and customizable options. However, like any other electronic device, mechanical keyboards can experience issues over time, such as a malfunctioning switch.

A mechanical keyboard switch is the mechanism that registers a keystroke when pressed. When a switch becomes faulty, it can result in missed keystrokes, double keystrokes, or even a completely unresponsive key. In this article, we will discuss how to replace and re-solder a mechanical keyboard switch to get your keyboard back in working condition.

Why Replace a Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

Mechanical keyboard switches are designed to last for millions of keystrokes, but they can still wear out over time. This is especially true for frequently used keys, such as the spacebar or the WASD keys for gamers. Additionally, spills or debris can cause a switch to malfunction.

Replacing a faulty switch can save you from having to purchase a new keyboard, which can be costly. It also allows you to customize your keyboard with different types of switches, such as linear, tactile, or clicky switches, to suit your typing or gaming preferences.

Types of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Before replacing a switch, it’s important to understand the different types of mechanical keyboard switches available. The most common types are Cherry MX switches, which come in various colors denoting their characteristics:

  • Red: Linear switch with a light actuation force and no tactile feedback.
  • Blue: Clicky switch with a tactile bump and an audible click.
  • Brown: Tactile switch with a tactile bump but no audible click.
  • Black: Linear switch with a heavier actuation force than red switches.
  • Green: Clicky switch with a heavier actuation force than blue switches.

There are also other types of switches, such as Gateron, Kailh, and Topre switches, which have their own unique characteristics. It’s important to research and choose the switch that best suits your needs before replacing a switch.

Tools and Materials Needed

To replace and re-solder a mechanical keyboard switch, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Desoldering pump or wick
  • Replacement switch
  • Tweezers
  • Screwdriver (if necessary)
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wire cutter (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Before starting, make sure you have a clean and well-lit workspace. Lay down a towel or a soft cloth to protect your keyboard from scratches or damage. It’s also a good idea to have a container or a tray to hold small screws or other parts that you may need to remove.

Step 2: Remove the Keycap

Using a keycap puller or your fingers, gently remove the keycap from the faulty switch. If the keycap is difficult to remove, wiggle it back and forth while pulling up to avoid damaging the switch or the keycap.

Step 3: Remove the Switch

If your keyboard has a plate-mounted switch, you will need to remove the plate to access the switch. This can usually be done by removing a few screws on the back of the keyboard. If your keyboard has a PCB-mounted switch, you can skip this step.

Once the switch is exposed, use a soldering iron to melt the solder on the switch’s pins. You can use a desoldering pump or wick to remove the excess solder and make it easier to remove the switch. Once the solder is removed, use tweezers to gently pull the switch out of the PCB.

Step 4: Clean the PCB

Before installing the new switch, it’s important to clean the PCB to ensure a good connection. Use isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to clean the area where the switch was removed. This will remove any remaining solder or debris that may affect the new switch’s performance.

Step 5: Install the New Switch

Using tweezers, carefully insert the new switch into the PCB. Make sure the pins are aligned with the holes on the PCB. If necessary, you can use a wire cutter to trim the pins to the appropriate length.

Step 6: Solder the New Switch

Using a soldering iron, apply a small amount of solder to the pins of the new switch. Make sure the solder is evenly distributed and there are no cold joints. Cold joints occur when the solder doesn’t fully melt and create a solid connection.

Step 7: Test the New Switch

Before reassembling your keyboard, it’s important to test the new switch to ensure it’s working properly. You can use a key tester or simply plug in your keyboard and test the switch by pressing it. If the switch is working correctly, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 8: Reassemble Your Keyboard

If you removed the plate in step 3, reattach it to the keyboard using the screws you removed earlier. Then, place the keycap back onto the new switch and press down firmly to ensure it’s properly attached.

Step 9: Repeat for Other Faulty Switches

If you have multiple faulty switches, repeat the process for each one. It’s important to test each switch before moving on to the next one to ensure they are all working correctly.

Conclusion

Replacing and re-soldering a mechanical keyboard switch may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and materials, it can be a simple and cost-effective solution to a faulty switch. By following these steps, you can get your keyboard back in working condition and even customize it with different types of switches to enhance your typing or gaming experience.

Gulrukh Ch

About the Author: Gulrukh Ch

Gulrukh Chaudhary, an accomplished digital marketer and technology writer with a passion for exploring the frontiers of innovation. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology, Gulrukh seamlessly blends her technical prowess with her creative flair, resulting in captivating insights into the world of emerging technologies. Discover more about her on her LinkedIn profile.