What Is a Scissor Switch Keyboard?

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Updated August 16, 2022

Consumers searching for the best keyboards often overlook an essential element: the switches. Keyboard switches come in various options, and each type provides a different experience. So, if you’re wondering just what is a scissor-switch keyboard, stick around as we explain.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The scissor-switch mechanism is commonly found on laptop keyboards because of its low-profile design.
  • Although scissor switches are a form of standard keyboard technology, their unique design creates a more ergonomic and tactile experience.
  • Scissor switches are known for their short actuation point, fast key travel, minimal feedback, and quiet sound.

Alternatively, we also offer a hand-wired keyboard guide and many other articles on the keyboard universe for those looking for more custom options. For more on this, you can check out our article exploring what is a mechanical keyboard. Also, remember that a crucial part of keyboard maintenance is to perform routine cleanings, so make sure you know how to clean a laptop keyboard after a spill if you often eat at your desk.

Insider Tip

Even though scissor switches are great at preventing debris-based damage, you should still clean your keyboard frequently with compressed air.

What Is a Scissor Keyboard?

Scissor switch key mechanisms are commonly found on laptop keyboards. A scissor keyboard gets its name because of how the mechanism is designed. Below each keycap, there are plastic stabilizers that form an “X” shape. When pressed down, this creates slight resistance. Once bottomed out, it presses a rubber dome that registers the command to the circuit board underneath.

Remember that even though they offer a different typing experience than a standard membrane switch, scissor switches are still a form of a membrane keyboard. Unfortunately, this means they’re subject to some of the same faults, like the inability to perform many key combos.

Benefits of a Scissor Switch Keyboard

Scissor switches are thin, portable, and have a fast typing speed. Most scissor keyboards have an actuation distance of about 1mm. Such a short key travel allows users to perform typing tasks quickly.

Many people like that scissor switches are quiet and offer minimal tactile feedback. While some typists prefer an audible switch, scissor switches are a good choice if you work in a public space and don’t want to disturb others.

Warning

While great for office and casual use, scissor switches aren’t great for gaming, so you’ll want to look elsewhere if that’s your goal.

Finally, scissor switches are stable, meaning they don’t come loose or wobble. They’re also designed to prevent debris from getting through to the electronics. However, if you’re facing any problems with your scissor mechanism, read up on how to fix a laptop keyboard.

STAT: Although most scissor switches are rated to last about 5 million keystrokes, higher-end models claim to last up to 10 million. (source)

What Is a Scissor Switch Keyboard FAQs

Why did Apple discontinue the butterfly keyboard design?

The butterfly design allowed Apple to manufacture slimmer computers. However, butterfly switches allowed debris to become trapped in the electrical components more easily, which led to widespread issues. As a result, they discontinued the butterfly switch in 2019.

How long do scissors switches typically last?

Scissor switches are known to last for about 5,000,000 keystrokes. Compared to mechanical switches, this lifespan is relatively short.

Can you use scissor switches for gaming?

While any type of switch is possible to game with, serious gamers tend to look for a mechanical keyboard. Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical switches are individually connected, making it easy to perform complicated key combos.
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