H1 Switches by HHHH

H1 Switches by HHHH

H1 Switches

Alright boys and girls, today I've got an honest review of the H1 switch. Before I begin, I want to express my greatest thanks and appreciation to Shin of Infinity Key who was kind enough to send out a batch for reviewing purposes.

I'll start with a little background, H1 switches are designed by HHHH, the man who brought the Salamander board to market. It is a JWK linear, but it is not an Alpaca clone. It uses a modified mold. Unfortunately I don't know exactly how it was modified, but it's important to note that HHHH's goal was to recreate the feel of vintage Cherry MX Blacks. Vintage Cherry MX Blacks are touted for their extreme smoothness due to the long term break in of the switches. They also come in a single spring weight, 78g. The top housing is Polycarbonate, bottom housing is Polyamide (aka Nylon), the stem is POM. These switches retail for right around the $6/10 mark.

I used these switches for a total of two weeks. The first week I used them bone stock. It wasn't unpleasant by any means. For all intensive purposes these are a great stock switch. There was a very small amount of scratch that I could feel within the switch. In my opinion you can’t truly appreciate or get a true feel for lubing a switch until you’ve used it stock. I could definitely tell that they were unlubed, but the keypress was not noticeably scratchy when using it for everyday typing. For reference, I generally use a 62-65g spring in my daily use boards. 78g was definitely noticeably heavier, but I didn’t really feel any added finger fatigue using these switches. Had these been tactile instead, I definitely would have had some fatigue in my hands.

After using them for a week, I broke out my switch opener and took a look inside. The small amount of lube that was used from the factory seemed pretty even and well distributed on my set of switches. It should be noted that when I lube, I do not clean off the factory lube, I just lube over it, making sure that my lube is evenly spread. I did a standard linear lubing for these switches (any contact that is made in the switch, I lube, including the legs of the stem), I also lubed the spring lightly. I used my preferred lube overall, 205g0. After lubing, these switches became incredibly smooth. In the linear subsection of switches, the current top linear, in my humble opinion is the Alpacas switch. While both of these switches are made by JWK, the Alpacas still remains the smoother switch. This could be due to the change in the mold made by HHHH, or the heavier spring in the H1 which would accentuate any scratchiness in the switch itself. After lubing the H1 switch had a noticeable deeper thock to it. The typing experience on lubed H1’s is phenomenal. Although not as smooth as the Alpaca, the H1 is definitely still a top tier linear. I would put it in the same tier as Tangerines and Tealios, what I call Tier 2. At the time of writing this review, the only linear switch in Tier 1 is the Alpaca. I have not tested enough JWK recolors to confirm that the recolors have the same level of smoothness as Alpacas. Until I can confirm this to be true, my tier list stands with a sole switch in Tier 1. I do think that the lubed H1 does a great job replicating the feel of vintage Cherry MX Black switches, which are still some of my favorite switches. I understand wanting to recreate that feel as not all vintage Cherry MX Blacks are made equal. It’s difficult to confirm before purchasing that you are truly buying worn-in switches. Often new old stock is advertised as vintage Cherry MX Black. Unfortunately it’s not the age of the switch which makes it desirable, it’s the hundreds of thousands of keystrokes that have worn down any friction points between the stem and the slider. The H1 does a great job replicating that worn-in feeling. I can appreciate the heavier spring as that emulates the spring weight of vintage Cherry MX Blacks, even though I do prefer a slightly lighter spring. I think that the H1 switch achieves what it was set out to do.

An interesting thing to note about the H1 switch is that upon filming the switch, something I generally do with JWK linears, the pitch of the switch sound went up instead of down. In the past, I’ve noticed that when filming switches, you can generally expect the pitch and overall tone of the switch to deepen. I think that this unique phenomenon should be noted.

Overall, I highly recommend the H1 switch to anyone who is searching for a feeling similar to Vintage MX Blacks and doesn’t want to play the lottery of getting a truly used batch. I think that the H1 switch is sold at a great price point for the quality of switch that you receive. The feel of the switch is greatly improved with lubing, and to an extent filming. I believe the sound is superior to other Tier 2 switches. It’s not as deep of a thick as a Novel Keys Cream switch, but it still resonates well with me.

Once again, I’d like to thank Shin for sending these switches out for review. I encourage you to shop with confidence once his website goes live again this fall. He truly goes above and beyond for this community, and has a goal of making the community a better place. I’d also like to thank Winter and the rest of the MGB Team for supporting not only myself, but an excellent community that is open to users of any experience level. Lastly, thank you to the Mechanical Keyboard Community for being such a welcoming and supporting place. Please stay tuned for more reviews, and my upcoming mega-document that will help serve as a guide and wiki-esque resource for both newcomers and veterans in the hobby. My next full review will be of the Pinoko switch. This should be coming in the next few weeks as I transition my testing board from H1s to Pinokos.