Mechanical keyboards have been a part of PC computing long before many of us were born and still have a place in the market today. With laptops becoming hugely popular in that time, many of the technologies found in full-sized PCs are making its way to the laptop space, including the mechanical keys many prefer to use due to the tactile and aural feedback. As time went on, technologies have improved and so have the number of choices consumers have in the mechanical keyboard space.

In the past, it was either Cherry MX or membrane-based keyboards. Today, however, the market has many switches offering a wide range of characteristics from multiple sources. One of the biggest challenges is trying to fit mechanical keys into smaller devices. In comes Kailh with its PG1232 Mini Chocolate mechanical keyswitch.


The PG1232 has a lower height than its regular mechanical switches and offers a pretravel of 1.2mm (±0.5mm) with an actuator/total travel of 2.4mm (±0.5mm). Compared to the original Chocolate key switches, which are set up with a total travel of 3mm and an actuation point at 1.5mm using 50g actuation force, this reduces the total travel height by 0.6mm (~ 20%). Meanwhile the PG1232 is also a bit smaller overall, measuring 14.5mm(W) x 13.5mm(D) x 8.2mm(H) versus the 15mm x 15mm x 11mm on the original chocolate key switches. This downsizing aims to make the switches more practical for use in laptop keyboards while still maintaining that tactile feel and aural feedback user want from a mechanical switch.

The White PG1232 switches are the ‘clicky’ type. There wasn't a mention of different types for the Mini, however, Kailh already has a presence in this space with its low-profile PG1350 Chocolate keyswitch range which comes in three flavors; Red (linear), Brown (tactile) and White (clicky), all with 50g operating force. We expect to see the same options in this lineup. 

Current mini mechanical keys can be a mixed blessing in the laptop space, as the few laptops which have them really border on actually being portable. For example, MSI’s GT80 2QE Titan SLI and Acer’s Predator 21 X feature mechanical keys and are both ultra-high-end gaming machines, with double-digit weights to match. This makes it easy to see how lower-profile mechanical keys can help, as while they don't eliminate the space needs of a mechanical keyboard, they can help bring the size of such a keyboard down to something a bit more suitable for a truly portable laptop.

No release date has been announced but we expect to see these on the market on keyboards in coming months. 

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  • Cliff34 - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    I look forward the day when keys like these are found in laptops.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    The key travel distance is still rather long for most modern laptop designs. There's possibly a market for them as they stand in the desktop replacement and fairly chunky high end gaming segment where such a key travel depth won't be a detriment in engineering a thinner computer. They'll need to develop something with an even shorter travel depth and make mechanical switches thinner in general before they'll have a chance to find their way into mainstream offerings. Still, options are good and this is a step toward more keyboard options for mobile users.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    it won't be going in normal laptops though. Just the subset of gaming (or workstation????) laptops thick enough due to massive cooling that their designers don't care about adding even taller conventional switches.
  • Drumsticks - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    It's nice to see them being downsized. How do these smaller mech keys compare to the rubber dome switches in a regular laptop right now? I assume they're still much bigger? Or is it theoretically possible to get a mechanical keyboard into a laptop without compromising too much on size now?
  • Inteli - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    These look quite similar to the Cherry's ML switch, although this has an extra millimeter of travel compared to the ML, and is slightly larger in all three dimensions. The key fastening mechanism also looks very similar, although I doubt the keys from an ML keyboard would be compatible with these switches.

    I kind of wish Cherry ML made a comeback now that mechanical keyboards are in vogue.
  • Mobile-Dom - Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - link

    whilst at IFA I saw a fair few keyboard manufacturers using Kailh low-profile switches, not sure if they were PG1232 or PG1350 either way, i know I want a keyboard with them, simple as, they felt great to type on.
  • speculatrix - Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - link

    50g of activation force? Surely you can't meant grams because that's mass, do you must mean that you have to subject this keyboard to 50 times the acceleration of gravity to activate the keys?
  • AnnonymousCoward - Sunday, October 1, 2017 - link

    It's the force applied from 50 grams toward Earth. The CAD drawing more accurately says "gf" for gram-force.

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