Custom Keyboard Spotlight: NovelKeys Cream Switches

By Ryan Whitwam

A smoother plastic for a smoother switch.

Linear switches don't get as much attention as clicky and tactile ones because there's less to obsess over. While those other switches have tactile bumps, click jackets, and more to modify, linears are just about smooth up and down motion. There are still some cool things happening with linears. Now, NovelKeys has released an entirely new linear switch called simply the NovelKeys Cream Switch. It's a neat cream color, but that's the least exciting thing about it.

This switch was designed by NovelKeys and manufactured by Kailh. It doesn't look like a lot of Kailh switches we've seen lately. There's no Box stem or clickbar housing. This one uses a classic Cherry-derived design, but it's entirely cream in color. The top housing, bottom housing, and the stem are all cream, and they're made of a different plastic than we see in most switches. Instead of ABS, the NovelKeys Cream switches are composed of POM plastic.

POM, or polyoxymethylene, is a thermoplastic used in manufacturing. It's a highly desirable option because it's (incorrectly) known as a self-lubricating material. Of course, it's not lubricating itself, which would imply that it has some internal reservoir of liquid. What that really means is that POM has very low friction when in contact with itself. It can feel like two pieces of POM are lubed even though they're completely dry.

The upshot of using a POM stem in a POM housing is that the movement is incredibly buttery. I find the Cream switch quite smooth in practice, but I'm also pleased with the acoustics. The POM housing seems to produce a deeper clacking sound when you bottom out, which I find preferable to the high-pitched sound of some switches.

One potential issue is that POM has a lower melting point than the plastic used in some switches. It may be easier to accidentally damage the switch when soldering, but you should be fine if you're careful. For what it's worth, I tested the Cream switches in a hot-swap micropad, so I didn't solder them into a PCB myself.

The current run of Cream switches will bottom out at 4mm with 70g of force. They actuate at 2mm with 55g of force. So, that's a medium-heavy linear switch—red switches bottom out around 55g. Pre-orders for the Cream switches will go up in the coming days on the NovelKeys site. Pricing isn't available yet, but past custom switches have been around $3 for packs of 10.