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Plate vs PCB Mount Switches: Which are Right for your Keyboard?

PCB-vs-Plate-Switches-2

When building your own keyboard, you’ll have to pick between two types of switches: ones that go on a plate and ones that attach directly to the keyboard’s circuit board (PCB). As hot-swap keyboards become more common place, knowing which switch to choose becomes more important.

Plate-Mounted (3-Pin) vs PCB-Mounted (5-Pin)

Plate-Mounted Switches (3-Pin)

Plate mounted switch

These are the switches that fit onto a metal plate in your keyboard. The plate mount switches have a center plastic pin and the 2 metal pins. The rest of the support for the switch comes from the keyboard’s metal plate.

PCB-Mounted Switches (5-Pin)

PCB mount keyboard

These switches hook up directly to the keyboard’s circuit board and don’t need a plate. They have two extra plastic pins compared to the 3-pin ones, which helps them stay stable. They’re easier to swap out if you want to try something new.

PCB Mount Switches Are Usually the Better Choice

PCB Mount Switch

5-pin switches are pretty flexible. You can use them in keyboards with or without a metal plate. If your keyboard has a plate, you can just trim off the extra parts on the 5-pin switches, and they’ll fit. But 3-pin switches? They always need a plate to work right.

I’ll almost always choose the 5-pin switches over a 3-pin option, it gives me the most compatibility with hot swap or soldered boards and the conversion to a plate mount 3-pin is super easy.

5-Pin to 3-Pin Conversion

Clipping PCB 5-pin switch to be 3-pin

If you’ve got a 5-pin switch and need it to fit a plate, it’s easy. Just carefully clip off the two extra plastic parts (not the metal ones) with something like nail clippers, and you’re good to go.

Raymond Sam

Raymond Sam

Raymond is the founder and editor TheGamingSetup.com. He's has reviewed hundreds of mice, keyboards, controllers and other gaming peripherals over the last decade. He's been gaming for even longer, playing all kinds of games on all systems with a several thousand hours of DOTA 2, Starcraft , Street Fighter, Smash Bros, Overwatch, Apex Legends and Call of Duty under his belt with the intention of adding several more thousand going forward.

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