Review sample provided by Cherry
Retro coolness applies to mechanical keyboards as well.
The 80’s versions of Cherry MX Blacks, known as Nixies are highly sought after switches by mech keyboard enthusiasts.
The hype and rarity has resulted in ridiculously high prices, at around $7 per switch, you have to love the Nixie feel to commit to that kind of price point.
In a surprise move, Cherry has become a lot more interested in the enthusiast community.
As such, they’ve announced a retro revival, the Cherry MX Black Clear-Top is a revival of the classic Nixie with all of its desired original characteristics intact.
New Nixies will be available for purchase from Novelkeys at a much more sane price, $21.60 for 36 switches.
Why are Nixies so desired?
The 80’s Nixdorf produced MX Blacks are slightly different from modern day Cherry MX Blacks.
The main differences are in keyfeel, the Nixies are slightly heavier, coming in at 63.5g actuation force to the MX Blacks 60g.
Most notably, the Nixies are a lot smoother and sound better than modern MX Blacks. The Nixies are a lot more desirable because of these characteristics.
Do the new Cherry MX Black Clear-Tops replicate this key feel?
The Clear-Tops have a milky white housing that’s unique amongst Cherry’s switch line up. The switch is not as transparent as their RGB varieties and not opaque as their standard switches.
The bottom Clear-Tops have a 5-pin configuration with a small cut out for LED shine through.
Cherry MX Black Clear-Top Disassembled
Even in the unlubed version, the bottom of the spring comes factory lubed with Krytox GLP 205 Grade 0 Grease to help with spring ping.
Performance and Key feel
I’m happy to report that the Black Clear-Tops do feel better than standard Cherry MX Blacks.
As promised, they’re slightly heavier and significantly smoother. The scratchiness experienced with most of Cherry’s switches is barely present in the Black Clear-Top.
While the MX Black Clear-Top is much smoother than the MX Black’s, I wouldn’t place them above the Durock or Alpacas, the best linear switches.
The stem on the Black Clear-Top is much sturdier, with way less X and Y wobble compared with the modern MX Black.
Spring ping is non-existent on the Black Clear-Tops, while the MX Blacks produce quite a noticeable noise.
With a bit of lube on the stems, I’d expect the Black Clear-Top to lose a bit of that remnant scratchiness.
The spring ping is gone! This is the largest improvement over other Cherry MX switches.
In comparison to other high end linears the Cherry MX Black Clear-Tops sound a little thinner than the top tier switches.
The slight scratchiness also comes through a little bit as well, making it a tier below the absolute thoccers.
60 cents a switch is a great price for something that is fetching $7 aftermarket.
If Cherry can scale up production and maintain quality, the MX Black Clear-Top have the potential to be a mainstay in both the enthusiast and mainstream keyboard crowds.
I’m loving the direction Cherry is taking as the OG in the switch space, I feel confident that they’ll carve out a share in the enthusiast switch space.