What are keyboard o rings? Do keyboard o rings work? I’ve installed them on my mechanical keyboards and I’m happy with them. Here’s why.
Why use keyboard o rings?
Keyboard o rings are designed to make mechanical keyboards more quiet. They dampen the impact from typing and reduce vibration. Reducing vibration reduces noise.
Since mechanical keyboards are a niche item, keyboard o rings aren’t something you can buy everywhere. I buy mine off Ebay. They aren’t expensive. $5 for a bag of 100 is reasonable. If you can wait for a slow shipment from overseas, you can get a bag for around $1. Most mechanical keyboards have 105 keys but certain keys, like the space bar enter key, and shift keys, may have more than one post. A bag of 120 is adequate for most keyboards, but will leave you fewer spares than you think.
Do keyboard o rings work?
Nothing will completely silence a mechanical keyboard. Spring-loaded switches attached to a steel plate are always going to make a little bit of noise. For that matter, any keyboard worth using is going to make some noise. But hey, they’re quieter than typewriters used to be.
Keyboard o rings do make a keyboard noticeably quieter, but how much difference they make depends on the switch. They’ll do more for a Cherry MX Red switch than they will for something like a Cherry MX Blue, which clicks. Keyboard o rings don’t do much to reduce the sound of the click. They mostly reduce the clang from the key bottoming out.
They do affect key travel, since they keep the keys from bottoming out. But it doesn’t take long to get used to them. You can put two rings on a key to quiet them a bit more, but two rings does affect travel more noticeably than one.
Using two rings per key will require you to buy two bags, or potentially not put rings on certain seldom used keys. I find an inconsistent feel distracting when I type, so I definitely prefer to put the same number of rings on all the keys if at all possible.
Mechanical keyboards at work
Most people consider using mechanical keyboards at work rude, but you can get by with it if you’re careful what kind you use. Of the clicky types, brown switches are the quietest type and the type you’re most likely to get away with. But some people still consider even brown-switch keyboards too loud.
I switched to a red-switch keyboard after a couple of coworkers complained about my brown-switch model. I can still hear my red-switch board, but with o rings in place, it’s barely louder than a membrane keyboard would be. No one has complained about my red-switch keyboard, even after 18 months.
If I had my druthers I’d use an IBM Model M keyboard all the time, but a red-switch keyboard is an OK compromise. It feels better than the best membrane keyboards I’ve used. I’d say it’s half as good as a Model M, and is perhaps 10 percent louder than a membrane keyboard.