The first thing you’ll notice about this switch is the fully transparent housing
Before we start today’s review, I want to give a shoutout to PCBWay. PCBWay specialises in PCB prototyping and CNC machining. A few months ago they sent me an acrylic plate for my GMMK Pro, which was very well made. They have an intuitive website where you can actually upload your own CAD files and instantly get a quote. If you take an open source keyboard like the Bakeneko, you could have all the parts manufactured by PCBWay. There is also a Shared Projects page on their website now, where you can freely access and use other people’s projects. They have some very interesting stuff in the keyboard category, and I saw some macro pads and ergo keyboards. So if you’re looking to do a keyboard DIY project, this is definitely a helpful service.
Today we’re looking at a linear switch from Gamakay, the Crystal. The first thing you’ll notice about this switch is the fully transparent housing, and this aesthetic is inspired by the Everglide Aqua King. Gamakay are better known for their prebuilts and build kits, so I was quite interested to see how their switches would perform. The Crystal forms part of Gamakay’s linear series, and it is joined by the Phoenix and Bumblebee switches. These switches come in different colourways and spring weights. The Crystal has a bottom out force of 65g, with the typical 2mm actuation and 4mm bottom out. It is a 3-pin switch and uses the Kailh housing style.
You can get a 70-pack of Crystals for $34 on Gamakay’s website, which puts it at just under $0.50 per switch. You’ll pay a little bit more on Banggood, but the difference is negligible. I wouldn’t really say $0.50 per switch is super budget, but in comparison to the Aqua Kings, it’s a fairly good price. Gamakay is running a special on their linear switches right now, and you can get a 35-pack for only $13.
I couldn’t find any information on the housing material, and Gamakay hadn’t answered my query at the time of review. These switches have more of a higher pitched and clacky sound, so it could be a full polycarbonate housing like the Aqua King. The Crystal comes with a box shaped stem, and the benefit of this is less stem wobble, especially when the switch is pressed down.
The Crystal switches do come factory lubed, which is always nice for users who aren’t looking to do their own modding. There is a very tiny amount of lube on the stem legs, and then we also have some lube on the stem pole. The stock performance of the Crystal was so-so. I picked up a pretty strong feeling of friction on the downstroke, however there were some switches that felt smoother, and these probably had a more thorough application of factory lube. But overall the Crystals were quite scratchy, and definitely not on the level of a JWK or Gateron. Around one third of the switches had fairly loud metal ping, which was audible when typing on the keyboard. So in terms of smoothness and metal ping, I do feel that the Crystal switches were pretty inconsistent, but you would get a more uniform feel and sound if you were to lube these yourself. The Crystal has a fairly bright and poppy sound profile, and they actually sounded really good on my KBD67 Lite. One thing I like about this switch is that it has a solid and thuddy bottom out feel, and I prefer this bottom out as opposed to the more cushioned feel of a Gateron. But all things considered, I do think you can get better stock performance at $0.50 per switch, and two cheaper linears that come to mind are the Gateron Yellow and Akko Matcha Green.
But of course this switch isn’t about performance only, and the aesthetic will be very appealing to many users. The Crystal features a fully transparent housing, so you can actually see the leaf mechanism and spring inside the switch. One benefit of this housing style is that you’re going to get very potent RGB shinethrough, so if that’s something you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the Crystal. If you pair this with a pudding or clear keycap set, it’s really going to light up. But apart from the RGB, this is a unique looking switch. It just looks different to anything else out there.
The Crystal comes in the Kailh housing style, however the dimensions are not the same. A Kailh switch has a width of 13.9mm, whereas the Crystal is bigger with a width of 15.6mm. Consequently I wasn’t able to open these switches with my Kailh opener, at least not with the metal one that I have. So I guess the best way to open these switches would be to pry open both sides with a flat head screw driver. This is obviously a very time consuming and arduous process, and I didn’t end up lubing these.
The box shaped stem results in very low stem wobble, especially when pressed down. I picked up a small amount of wobble on the East-West line, and virtually no wobble on North-South. The housing felt pretty tight for the most part, and there was some marginal looseness on the North-South line, but nothing major. In terms of wobble and housing tolerance, the Crystal was very solid.
So in summary, the Gamakay Crystal is a decent linear switch, however the stock performance doesn’t quite hold up against similarly priced or even cheaper offerings. But you are of course getting a very unique aesthetic with that fully transparent housing. I would only get this if looks are important to you.