How to choose or make a quiet mechanical keyboard
Noisy mechanical keyboards are a blast to use, but they can cause serious issues in the office. Your coworkers might not appreciate the “ear splitting noise levels” produced by mechanical switches. That’s how it will be presented to HR, anyways. Thankfully there are a number of ways to combat click, clack, and thock.
If you don’t want to do DIY work, choosing a quiet switch is your best bet. Non-clicky switches are clearly superior in terms of noise performance, but some switches have special noise dampening materials built in. Few options exist, but that shouldn’t discourage you from checking out the market.
Cherry MX Silent
MX Silent switches have downstroke and upstroke damping. They’re only produced in linear and tactile variants, which means that you don’t need to worry about additional noise from a click mechanism.
The Matias Quiet series offers great performance, but sketchy keycap compatibility. The switches use Alps mount sliders.
Keyboard selection is limited to the Matias brand. If you don’t mind the limitations, Matias switches are present in keyboards like the Matias Quiet Pro.
Topre, an expensive hybrid design, stays fairly quiet during use due to its rubber domes. Its signature “thock” noise can be further dampened, but many won’t find the additional work necessary. Topre upstroke dampeners exist in aftermarket and factory installed formats.
Topre’s newest release, the Realforce RGB, is compatible with Cherry keycaps. Other Topre boards use a proprietary mount.
DIY sound reduction
If those limited options don’t appeal to you, don’t despair. A couple of DIY options exist, though they have their own quirks. They can only provide downstroke damping. In addition, switch travel (or how far the switch can be pressed down) is reduced by DIY silencers. Many typists have mixed feelings about such modifications, but gamers can benefit from reduced travel distance.
Sometimes keycap injection molding supports prevent proper fitment, though compatibility is very likely.
Dampening clips are the “new thing” in MX Switch silencing. To prevent fiddling with keycap stems and O-rings, the dampeners clip directly onto the switch body. Their functionality is otherwise identical.
That covers the main ways to quiet down modern MKs. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.