Keyboard, Opinion

Custom Keyboard – This Scratchy Switch Is My Favourite Linear Switch

Anyone who’s been in the custom keyboard hobby long enough would’ve probably heard of the NovelKeys Cream switch. With a housing and stem made out of “self-lubricating” POM, it’s marketed as a smooth linear switch with a unique typing experience.

Well, while the Cream definitely has some unique qualities, it is far from being a smooth switch. In fact, it is arguably one of the scratchiest linear switches out of the box, and mind you, this is not an affordable switch either. It sits in the same price range as other high-end switches like the Gazzew Boba U4T Thocky and SP-Star.

However, even though it’s a scratchy, expensive switch, I always find myself coming back to the NovelKeys Cream. Out of all the linear switches I’ve tried throughout my time in this hobby, the Cream is still my favourite. Keep on reading to find out why!

It Has a Unique Sound Profile

It may sound (excuse the pun) silly to some folks, but the unique sound profile of the Cream is really what I love the most about this linear switch. See, no other switches sound quite like it; even the Cobalt POM – which also has an all-POM housing – does not have the same sound signature as the Cream.

While the Cobalt POM has more of a thocky, “poppy” sound profile, the Cream is a decidedly “clacky” switch. Both the downstroke and upstroke have a pleasant, high-pitched clack, which are quite loud to boot. While there are other clacky switches in the market too – such as the aforementioned SP-Star – the pitch of the Cream is more…well, unique.

Of course, we can’t talk about the sound signature of the Cream without mentioning (arguably) the most popular custom keyboard on the internet: Tfue’s very own Keycult No. 1/60 commission built by Taeha Types. The keyboard was put together with Cream switches, and it sounds absolutely heavenly – well, to me anyway.

Granted, the Keycult itself is a nice, clacky board, but you can definitely hear the unique sound profile of the Cream in the sound test above, especially the loud upstroke of the switch. Personally, this is the sound profile that I want to achieve with my custom keyboards, which is one of the reasons why I’m fond of the Cream switch.

It Feels Great After Breaking in

There’s no denying that the Cream is very scratchy out of the box, even when compared to, say, the much more affordable Gateron Yellow linear switch. It has a gritty, “leathery” scratch throughout the downstroke, and given that it is not factory lubed at all, it’s not a great switch to use in stock form.

However, after a good amount of breaking in – I’m talking about hundreds of hours of use, which can span to a few months of heavy use – the Cream does get smoother. While it’s still nowhere as smooth as a stock JWK switch like the Cobalt POM, the scratch is far less pronounced.

Now, once a nicely broken in Cream switch is lubed, it definitely feels as smooth as any high-end switch. This, combined with the unique sound profile of the Cream, makes it an incredibly compelling switch for those that want a uniquely clacky, smooth linear switch.

It Doesn’t Need to Be Filmed

Another great quality of the NovelKeys Cream is its tight housing, so there’s no need to film this switch at all to remove housing wobble. In fact, the housing tolerance of the Cream is so tight, you will have a hard time installing switch films.

That being said, I was able to film the Cream by using a Deskeys switch film, thanks to its compressible nature. Doing so also lowers the pitch of the switch slightly, so if you find the Cream too clacky, you can always film it. Do note that even with the compressible Deskeys films, it will still be quite difficult to close up the switch.

But It’s Not for Everyone

If you want a no-nonsense linear switch that’s good to go straight out of the box, the NovelKeys Cream is not for you. In order to bring out the full potential of this switch, you need to spend a good amount of time breaking it in before you can even consider lubing it – some folks may not have the patience for this.

While it’s possible to just lube the Cream without breaking it in, you can still feel some of the scratchiness, even with a rather thick lube such as Krytox 205g0. I can personally attest to this…because I’ve tried it.

Nevertheless, I still absolutely love the NovelKeys Cream. If you’re new to the custom keyboard hobby, I’d recommend picking up a couple of this switch to see if you’ll like it or not. While it’s not the best linear switch in the market now, the Cream really is worth trying for its unique sound profile and feel.