Gold-Plated vs. Standard Keyboard Switch Springs: Must-Know Facts
- Gold-plated springs can be reinforced with several types of gold. 18K gold is standard, but 24K can also be used.
- Gold-plated springs are typically around 30% more expensive than standard springs on average.
- JWK’s switches come pre-outfitted with gold-plated springs.
- Gold plating was used in springs to help them resist corrosion.
- Gold-plated springs are often incompatible with certain switches because of their relative rarity.
Gold-Plated vs. Standard Keyboard Switch Springs: Full Comparison
Mechanical keyboards have many moving parts, and one part of the keyboard switch that we rarely think of when upgrading is the springs. There are several types of springs that you can use when outfitting your keyboard with new hardware.
One spring type that is gaining a lot of traction is gold-plated. But even many keyboard enthusiasts don’t know the difference between gold-plated and standard springs.
Here’s everything you need to know about gold-plated springs in keyboard switches.
Side-by-Side Comparison of Gold-Plated Springs and Standard Springs
|Gold-Plated Springs||Standard Springs|
|Materials Used||Stainless Steel, Gold||Stainless Steel|
|Included in Switches||JWK Durock||All switches not listed as gold-plated|
|Notable Use Issues||Plating breaking or flaking off, Spring Ping||Spring Ping, Corrosion|
Gold-Plated vs. Standard Keyboard Switch Springs: What’s the Difference?
There are several differences between gold-plated springs and the standard. The most notable difference between the two is corrosion resistance, but aesthetics, spring ping, spring feel, and price vary between the two as well. These are all factors you should consider before cracking open your switches and replacing the springs.
The first difference between gold-plated and standard springs is the color. Of course, the color and texture will be determined by the quality of the gold used in the plating. Still, generally, they’re going to be shiny and yellow like, well, gold.
While it may not sound like a huge difference, it can be quite different when you’re in the process of switching your keyboard springs out. You’ll typically be doing 60–110 changes when swapping keyboard springs. So it can be helpful for the springs to be different colors—a simple but advantageous difference.
While most computer parts have been standardized over time, keyboard parts haven’t seen as much standardization. While many switches are just clones of the MX series, there is a number of unique switch designs. The problem with this variance is that the switch designs aren’t universally compatible; not all parts from one switch will fit inside another.
Most spring sets you purchase will be compatible with standard MX- and Gateron-type switches. But you’ll want to ensure that you’ve selected a compatible spring. Some springs are only compatible with their designated switch, such as Durock springs.
You might be able to squeeze a non-compatible spring into a switch with a little bit of finesse, but this will dramatically change how the spring feels when depressed.
If you are unsure of a spring’s compatibility with your switch, contact customer support for the spring’s manufacturer. They will be able to elucidate the spring’s compatibility with your specific switch. In addition, you may need to provide technical specifications, which can usually be found on the switch manufacturer’s website.
Perhaps the most important feature to those who swear by gold-plated springs is the corrosion resistance that gold plating provides to the springs. Gold is a non-reactive metal, and when compared to stainless steel (the typical material used for producing switch springs), you’ll see a lot less corrosion over time.
Corrosion of the keyboard springs isn’t typically the first reason a keyboard gets serviced or replaced. Still, this can be a crucial consideration when purchasing a new keyboard for people who live in humid climates.
Another option for corrosion-resistant keyboard springs is PVD-coated springs, which provide superior corrosion resistance compared to plain stainless steel and degradation resistance compared to gold-plated springs.
One of the most destructive kinds of corrosion, rust, is common in keyboard springs. Often, suppose the springs in a keyboard haven’t been replaced in several years. In that case, the springs will start to rust, even if you don’t live in a particularly humid climate. When the springs begin to rust, they become porous and may break or fall apart from the corrosion.
Outfitting your keyboard with gold-plated springs can help stave off rusting and keep your keyboard working without needing servicing for longer.
Gold-plated springs are generally considered more durable than standard ones because they resist corrosion.
The overall durability of standard and gold-plated springs, though, is actually similar. You’ll want to check the manufacturer specifications for durability when you buy your springs to see how long it will take you before you need to replace them.
Most springs are rated to retain their elasticity for up to 50 million key presses. Still, several go higher to upwards of 100 million key presses before the springs, and other switch components, start to degrade.
So, suppose you’re looking to upgrade your keys for durability. It may be more cost-effective to use your current springs until they wear out and become defunct than replace them before they wear out. Check reviews and manufacturer information to see whether your keyboard needs to be replaced entirely.
If your keyboard needs to be replaced, the manufacturer may have a program to help you get a new keyboard. Additionally, this research may reveal that you don’t need to open your keyboard up at all and that there is a different error causing your struggles.
Spring ping might sound like a latency issue, but it’s much more straightforward. Springs within your keyboard switches can become warped inside the switch. When the spring is warped, it will make a loud “ping” sound when pressed.
When used correctly, gold-plated switches don’t typically have significant spring ping — many enthusiasts claim they are immune to it. It’s crucial to remember to lube your springs before installing them, though.
Lubrication will help the spring depress and actuate properly without warping, avoiding the issue of spring ping altogether.
Plating Issues: Flaky Plating
Unfortunately, anyone who’s ever owned a gold-plated piece of jewelry will know that gold plating can sometimes break away from the metal to which it’s attached. While gold plating is generally non-reactive and won’t cause a short circuit, it will still gum up the works of your keyboard switches and make them less responsive.
If you’re unwilling or unsure whether you’d be ready to replace a spring that starts to flake (usually requiring a replacement of the whole switch, no less!), it’s probably best to avoid getting gold-plated springs.
This factor is probably a more important consideration to make than the plating. There are several different types of springs that provide different feels when typing and have additional features. The main types of springs are short, long, complex, and progressive.
Long springs are typically the standard springs included with mechanical keyboards and switches. Most keyboard enthusiasts prefer shorter springs than the usual 15mm spring, because the long springs cause additional, unnecessary finger strain.
A longer spring requires more compression force to actuate the key, as the spring has to be pushed further down to reach the switch height. This means you can lower your actuation force by switching out your keyboard’s springs and reducing the strain on your fingers when typing.
Short springs don’t have any additional features beyond being shorter. Therefore, they are available in the same variations as long springs.
Complex and progressive springs change the force needed to actuate the switch in the middle of pressing it. An excellent example of these switches is the Gateron Black switches, which have a lower actuation force that ramps up as the spring nears its bottom-out level.
This means that as the spring goes past the point of actuation and toward bottoming out, it becomes more difficult to press down, making it harder to bottom out your keys.
Since complex and progressive springs tend to be more expensive, it may be worth getting them in either gold plating or PVD coating to help protect them from the elements and preserve their function for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, replacing these springs is going to come at a premium, so you’ll want to get the most possible use out of them.
This is the most crucial factor you want to consider when purchasing springs. While the corrosion of the spring is vital, you also want to ensure you’re getting springs of the right weight. Gold-plated springs don’t typically differ too significantly from standard springs.
Still, you can find gold-plated springs in almost every weight class. Ensure that the springs you’re purchasing are rated for the proper actuation force, or your typing will get messed up when you’re unsure of how hard the keys must be pressed.
- DUROCK Original 55g Gold Plated Springs.
- Made of imported Stainless Steel with Real Gold Coating, good-looking and oxidation resistance.
- MX and MX-Clone Switches Compatible.
- 55g Spring Weight rated in Bottom Out Force.
- Comes in pack of 110pcs.
Gold is generally more expensive than stainless steel. Even gold-plated metals come at a premium that stainless steel doesn’t have. For example, gold-plated keyboard springs are usually more costly than their non-plated counterparts.
A quick search on Amazon brings up a package of Durock Gold-Plated Springs, which go for $12.99 for a packet of 110 springs (enough to outfit a full-sized keyboard.) On the other hand, standard stainless steel springs are as low as $8 for 110; that’s a difference of 30% in price!
While these numbers may be small potatoes compared to other computer components, it’s still a noticeable price increase.
You’ll also want to consider whether you have the energy and knowledge to lube your springs. Some companies can and do provide pre-lubricated springs, but most you purchase will need to be lubed. Lubricating the spring allows it to move fluidly and reduces destructive friction as the spring moves in the chamber.
Lubrication will be especially important for a plated spring due to the aforementioned flaking issue that can occur with the plating. You don’t want that plating exposed to too much friction, or it will break off.
If you’re new to replacing keyboard springs, it may be better to purchase pre-lubed switches that you can hot-swap into your keyboard instead of buying the springs separately.
While you won’t learn to lube your springs without trying, it may be good to have the switches on hand in case something goes awry.
Gold-plated springs are not as common as standard ones; few premium-alternative products are. Despite that, several types of springs can still be used when replacing your old set, even within the gold-plated subset.
SPRiT and TX are some of the most prominent keyboard part manufacturers with lines of springs. TX doesn’t sell gold-plated springs.
The most accessible manufacturer for gold-plated springs is JWK, makers of the Durock switch series. JWK produces all of its switches with gold-plated springs and sells them separately, with compatibility options for standard switch setups.
Replacing your keyboard switch springs is an arduous task that takes a lot of time. Still, it can be worth preserving the function of a keyboard if you’re particularly attached to it.
For example, upgrading to gold-plated springs can be an excellent way to protect keyboard function when you live in a humid climate.
In addition, you can change how your keyboard functions in many ways; the springs are just one component!
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