Mechanical keyboards, although popular, can be a pain in the neck due to their noisy clicking. Thankfully there are ways to make them quieter.
The key to the loud clicking sounds of mechanical keyboards is their switches and the vibrations created whilst typing. The switches are the mechanisms under the keyboard’s keycaps.
These switches come in various color categories, each with a different type of clicking sound.
One of the ways to quieten the clicking of a mechanical keyboard is to change its switches to a more silent type, such as Razor Orange switches.
This is not the only way to dull down the noise of a clicky keyboard.
Other methods include modifying the keyboard by adding rubber ‘O’ rings or fitting foam inside of it.
You could also make use of a desk mat to reduce the sound of your mechanical keyboard or simply lubricate its switches.
Let's take a look at some of the best ways to reduce noise and make your mechanical keyboard quieter.
The type of surface your mechanical keyboard is on will affect the sound it produces. Surfaces such as wood or glass are known to be noisier as they amplify sound.
If you do not want to make any modifications to your actual keyboard, you may consider getting a desk mat with a rubber base.
Adding a rubber desk mat to your working surface will aid in reducing the sound of your keyboard. Rubber material has excellent sound-absorbing capabilities.
It absorbs the vibrations created whilst typing and therefore reduces the overall noisiness of your keyboard.
‘O’ rings are small cushions made out of thick rubber which can be slid under your keycaps.
These have been designed to reduce the sound of mechanical keyboards.
They work to make the sound of the clicking less audible by reducing the impact between the switch and the stem of the keycap.
Essentially, the rubber ‘O’ ring acts as a shock absorber.
Installing rubber ‘O’ rings onto your keyboard is simple. All that is required is to remove your keycap and slide the ‘O’ ring on.
It should sit on the stem of the keycap.
The downside of this method is that it may become a tedious task to fit an ‘O’ ring underneath each individual keycap.
Fortunately, it only has to be done once although they might eventually wear out from extensive use.
Fitting foam inside of your mechanical keyboard works similarly in reducing the sound created whilst typing as using a desk mat.
Filling the interior of your keyboard with foam will aid in absorbing the sound and vibrations produced by clicking the keys.
This method of quieting your keyboard, although simple, requires modifying your keyboard.
There are several viable types of foam on the market that will reduce the noise made by your clicky keyboard. The types of foam available for use are:
Shelf-liner foam is the cheapest option available.
It has a decent noise absorption capability but can be difficult to evenly full your keyboard.
Packing foam is cheap and readily available at stationery or hardware stores.
It is easy to use and works fairly well in filling the spaces on your keyboard.
Neoprene is most commonly found online and is just as reasonably priced.
This type of foam is highly effective in absorbing sound vibrations.
Lastly, Sorbothane is a more costly option but the best in absorbing sound and vibrations. It is often found for sale online.
To to do this modification, you will need to remove the back of your keyboard.
Unscrew the body of your keyboard and place the foam of your choice between the bottom case and the PCB.
Some clips that hold the body of the keyboard together may need to be loosened during this process.
Then, simply replace and tighten the screws on your keyboard.
Although the keycaps you use on your keyboard cannot be truly silent, there are models available for purchase that are less noisy than others. This has to do with the type of material that the keycaps are made out of.
PBT keycaps, which are made from Polybutylene Terephthalate, are known to be much louder when typing than ABS keycaps, which are made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene.
Other types of keycaps that are quieter still are rubber keycaps or brass keycaps.
These types of keycaps are not as readily available as plastic keycaps but can still be found for purchase online. The more common of the two types would be rubber keycaps (as seen above) these are commonly used on quiet gaming keyboards.
To change your keycaps, you will need to remove your current ones from the body of your keyboard first.
Most keyboards come with a keycap removal tool that can be used to grip onto your keycaps and make removing them much easier.
Set the keycap removal tool over a keycap so that it hooks the bottom of it and pull gently to remove it.
Replace it with your new keycap by lining up the switch and firmly pressing the keycap down so that it clicks into place.
Some keycaps, however, may not make a clicking noise once they are in place.
The best way to tell if they are pushed in properly is to test tap them a few times to make sure they are reactive and not sticking anywhere.
The switches on your mechanical keyboard are oftentimes the noisiest part of the whole thing.
This is because some switches are created specifically to be loud, and most keyboards come standard with loud switches.
The simple and most effective way to make your mechanical keyboard quieter is to change out the switches and replace them with a quieter type.
Mechanical keyboard switches come in three main types:
There are many different variants of these switches available, each with its own type of sound output and overall feel. In the Linear category of switches, one of the most silent types on the market currently are the Cherry MX Silent switches.
Choosing a new type of switch is a fun process. It is best to get a switch tester so you can test out a wide range of switches and find one that best suits your preferences.
If you have a keyboard with hot-swappable switches, this process will be incredibly easy and for some people, even relaxing.
If your keyboard does not have hot-swappable switches the process can become a little tiresome and tedious. This is because you will have to desolder your existing switches and then resolder the new switches.
One of the best ways to reduce the clickety-clack sound of your keyboard as well as improve the feel of it is to lubricate the switches.
If you have a keyboard with hot-swappable switches, this is incredibly easy to do. However, if your keyboard’s switches are not hot-swappable, the process is a bit more complicated as it involves desoldering them.
Remove your keyboards switches, either with a switch pulling tool if they are hot-swappable or by desoldering them.
Next, you will have to open each switch and lubricate it. Finally, you will need to put the switch back together again and return it to its spot on your keyboard.
Lubricating your keyboard’s switches is a time-consuming and tedious process but the smooth feel and soft sound are well worth all the effort.
Another way to quieten your mechanical keyboard is by modifying the key stabilizers. This is by far the most difficult method of reducing the sound your keyboard makes but it is not impossible and effective, nonetheless.
To modify your key stabilizers, you will need band-aids, lubricants, and clips.
The stabilizers in your keyboard are the parts that are in place to keep the larger keys, such as your space bar, steady. They are there to reduce the rattling and shaking of them.
Modifying your keyboard’s stabilizers will result in the rattling being even quieter.
To do this follow these steps:
Band-aids can be used to absorb some of the sounds of your keystrokes and quieten the overall sound of your mechanical keyboard.
The band-aids should be trimmed into small strips, large enough to accommodate the size of the stabilizer pad, and stuck onto the PCB.
If the band-aid is very thin, two layers may be applied. By placing the band-aid onto your keyboard’s PCB, you are creating a barrier between the stabilizing pads and the PCB. This barrier dampens the bottoming-out sound of the stabilizer.
Noisy mechanical keyboards can be a real pain in the neck, but they do not have to be.
There are a few solutions to dampening the infuriating clicky noises mechanical keyboards are notorious for.
With a simple modification or even a combination of a few, you too (and those around you) can enjoy a peacefully silent keyboard.
From some of the simplest adjustments, like placing a desk mat under your keyboard or installing some rubber ‘O’ rings to some slightly more complicated fixes, there is a solution for everyone.
If one modification does not quieten your mechanical keyboard enough for your liking, you could even try a combination of a few to get the result you desire.
One of the best ways to quieten a noisy keyboard is to purchase quieter switches for it. Whether you have a keyboard with hot-swappable switches or not, there is a simple solution to your noisy keyboard situation.
Having hot-swappable switches can be a bonus, especially if you are considering swapping out your keyboard’s switches, but they are not imperative. Even without
hot-swappable switches, the switches can be changed, the process just requires slightly more time and patience.
Whichever method you choose, you can be sure that it will reduce the sound of your keyboard.