June 06, 2024

What is Magnetic Switch?

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What is Magnetic Switch?

June 6, 2024 | 4 min read | Words by NuPhy Studio

In the gaming world, whether you're a casual player or a competitive gamer, the quest for keyboards offering higher responsiveness and superior performance is unending. This pursuit has driven the emergence of Hall Effect keyboards (also known as magnetic switch or rapid trigger keyboards), and it's one of the reasons behind the introduction of our Field75 HE.

Unlike traditional mechanical gaming keyboards that use mechanical switches, Field75 HE keyboard employs magnetic switches, also known as Hall Effect switches or rapid trigger switches. This is a highly anticipated innovative technology, but what exactly are Hall Effect switches? The earliest magnetic switches date back to 1969, when Honeywell applied for a patent on magnetic switches, forming the basis of modern magnetic switch designs. Building on this, Gateron and SteelSeries jointly designed the first MX-structure magnetic switch, which was used in Apex Pro gaming keyboard released in 2019.

Understanding Hall Effect Switches
Hall Effect switches are a type of electronic switch that utilizes the Hall Effect to detect the presence of a magnetic field. The operation principle of magnetic switches differs significantly from that of mechanical switches. Magnetic switches rely on analog signals, which generate continuous signals based on changes in the magnetic field to determine keyboard actions. In contrast, mechanical switches operate based on digital signals, relying on physical contact to transmit signals and trigger switch actions.

In the context of keyboards, Hall Effect switches replace traditional mechanical contacts with magnets and sensors. When a key is pressed, the magnet moves closer to the sensor, triggering the Hall Effect and registering the keystroke. This design offers several advantages over conventional mechanical switches.

Wider Actuation Range & Adjustable Actuation
Compared to the 1.2 to 1.6mm actuation range of mechanical switches, the 0.1 to 4.0mm actuation range of Hall Effect switches is much wider.

But what does actuation range mean? The actuation range refers to the distance range required before a key is triggered. More importantly, traditional mechanical switches have a fixed factory-set actuation, which users cannot change, while the actuation of Hall Effect switches is adjustable. Its minimum actuation distance is only 0.1 millimeters, meaning a keyboard action can be triggered with just a 0.1 millimeter key press. To cater to users' preferences for different key depths, a larger actuation range can also be provided, up to a maximum of 4.0 millimeters. This design ensures that the keyboard provides rapid trigger while retaining options for various key depths to accommodate different user needs and habits.

Rapid Trigger
The popularity of magnetic switches owes much to Wooting's pioneering launch of rapid trigger technology, along with the widespread popularity of VALORANT and various rhythm games. Compared to mechanical switches, the main advantage of magnetic switches lies in their rapid trigger ability, offering ultra-fast response times that allow users to activate keys again immediately after pressing them once, without waiting for them to fully reset to their initial position. This feature completely revolutionizes traditional gaming mechanical keyboards, earning Hall Effect keyboards the nickname "physical cheat codes" and prompting more gamers to explore and start researching this type of keyboard.

Smoother Typing Feel
Traditional mechanical switches rely on contact between a stem and a metal leaf to transmit signals, often resulting in pressure inflection points during keypresses. In contrast, magnetic switches offer a simplified solution. They transmit signals by the variation in distance between a magnet and a Hall sensor, eliminating the need for physical contact between stem and metal leaf as seen in mechanical switches. This design allows keys to move linearly up and down, ensuring a consistently smooth typing experience.

Durability
Hall Effect switches boast exceptional durability. Unlike mechanical switches, they have no metal leaf, pins or other hardware to wear out, ensuring over 100 million key presses without key chatter or failure. Additionally, their sealed design minimizes the impact of dust, dirt, and moisture, enhancing longevity and consistent performance. However, it's crucial to avoid exposing them to high temperatures and strong magnetic fields, as these conditions can compromise their functionality over time.

Conclusion
Hall Effect switches revolutionize keyboard technology with unmatched durability, reliability, and precision. Embraced by gamers, programmers, and professionals, they promise a superior gaming experience and are poised to define the future of high-performance gaming keyboards.