Custom Keyboard Spotlight: KeBo Arctos Switches

By Ryan Whitwam

A new option for high tactility.

I make no secret of how much I like Zealio switches from Zeal PC, but many people in the keyboard community complain that Zeal's switches are too expensive. And admittedly, they do cost several times more than many other switch options. Naturally, there have been various new players trying to offer a refined tactile experience for less money. The latest is KeBo with its new Arctos switches. They look a bit like Zealios, but there are few interesting differences.

The Arctos switches use a standard Cherry-style housing like many newer switches including the Gateron-manufactured Zealios. They are also transparent like Zealios, allowing underlighting and SMD LEDs to shine up from underneath the switch. They support through-switch LEDs as well. The bottom of the housing doesn't have mounting pins, so Arctos switches are only suitable for plate-mount keyboards at this time.

KeBo sells the Arctos switches in two different weights: 65g and 72g. Both are tactile switches with the same internal design, but the stem color varies to tell the two apart. As you can see in the photo to the right, Arctos switches have a much sharper bump on the stem than Zealios. Thus, you end up with an abrupt and pronounced bump while typing.

There's around a millimeter of preload before you hit the ramp up to the bump. It takes a fair bit of force to get over that bump, but the switch actuates just on the other side, about halfway to the bottom. There is a potential problem on the return that I've seen in a few switches previously. As you release, the key, the spring has to push the stem back up over the bump, and it almost can't do it. The lighter 65g switch hesitates a little on the return, but the heavier 72g spring feels a little faster.

I probably wouldn't use the Arctos switches for gaming, but the typing experience could be quite nice. They are very tactile and pleasant to use, as long as you don't mind the bump feeling a bit rough. That comes from the steep and pointy shape compared to other switches. The switches apparently have Krytox lube already inside to smooth out the motion, and the rails on the side of the stem have a scallop shape to reduce the amount of contact with the housing. While you won't spend a lot of time looking at the inside of the Arctos switches, the designer does point out the spring is rose gold.

Arctos switches are available now starting at $0.75 each, but you can get a discount if you buy more. If you're not sure about them, there's a sample pack for just $1.50.