The Black Inks offer a premium experience and I think they’re well worth the price tag
Today we’re looking at the Gateron Black Ink v2. This is a highly regarded linear switch due to its smoothness and thocky sound. Ctrl.Shift.Esc ran a group buy on these a while ago which I missed, but luckily they had some extra stock. The v2 version features a new housing that helps to keep the contact leaves secure. This was an issue that plagued the original version, and in extreme cases they would actually fall out of the switch.
The Black Ink has that characteristic translucent smoky housing and the spring is coated black to match the housing aesthetic and reduce metal ping. These really are fantastic looking switches, and although it isn’t the most important feature, a good-looking switch enhances the overall experience. The Black Ink v2 features a custom housing material, and I couldn’t find much information other than it being a new type of plastic. We have a bottom out of 70g with a total travel of 4mm. You can get these switches for $52.50 per 70-pack on NovelKeys, which amounts to 75 cents per switch.
The stock performance was pretty good, especially in comparison to the Creams I reviewed recently. There is some minor scratchiness and I felt a small scrape at the bottom of the press. This should improve once the switches are broken in. I didn’t pick up any spring crunch, but there is some marginal metal ping which isn’t uncommon for a Gateron switch. The ping noise can easily be eliminated with lube.
Although the stock performance is reasonable, Gateron Black Inks really start to shine once modded. I’d recommend using Krytox Grade 0 or TriboSys 3204. I only had Grade 2 on hand, but I’ve always been satisfied with the results so I don’t see it as a compromise at all. As always, be careful of overlubing with the thicker Grade 2. The housing on the Black Ink is pretty tight, but nonetheless I feel that it’s worthwhile throwing some films on here. Luckily I still had some of my 0.15mm PC films from a previous mod, so I just used those. There is a fair bit of stem wobble on the East-West line, but it didn’t have a noticeable impact on the overall experience. Finally I did a spring swap with the Durock 63.5g gold plated springs, and the only reason for this was to make the switches lighter, as the 70g stock springs are too heavy for me. On a side note, these Durock springs were quite pingy, so I just lubed the tips of the springs on both ends.
I was absolutely blown away by the Black Inks after the mod, and they felt incredibly smooth. No linear switch I’ve tried to date matches the smoothness! The smoky housing offers a satisfyingly bassy and thocky sound. I also enjoyed the softer bottom out feel in comparison to something like NK Creams. Black Inks feel equally good on metal and polycarbonate plates, while I feel that NK Creams are more suitable on PC as it softens the bottom out.
If you’re wondering how these shape up against the more budget-friendly Gateron Yellows, there is definitely a perceptible difference when we look at the stock performance. The Black Inks are superior in terms of smoothness and sound, which is to be expected considering the price. However once these switches are lubed the difference is much less pronounced, and the sound is also very similar. To me the Black Inks have a lower pitched sound, but you have to listen very attentively to hear the difference.
So to summarise, the Black Inks offer a premium experience and I think they’re well worth the price tag. Once lubed and filmed, there aren’t many linears that can match the smoothness and soft feel.