North-Facing vs South-Facing Switches
Mechanical keyboards are the true pinnacle of technology for improving your typing and gaming experience. They’re durable, customizable and are even incredibly comfortable to use. Yet, one hot topic that definitely creates debates and confusion is: which way should my switches face? North-Facing vs South-Facing switches (and North-Facing vs South-Facing PCB for hot-swappble fans) are the only two choices out there.
So, which is the best? We will discuss the difference between the two below because there are pros and cons to each. No matter if you prefer North-Facing or South-Facing, both have their merits!
Whether you're typing, gaming or just getting into keyboard enthusiasm, we've got you covered.
North-Facing vs South-Facing Switches - Differences
When choosing a mechanical keyboard, it is important to know "what is the difference between North-Facing and South-Facing switches"! If you're new to keyboard enthusiasm, this becomes even more important as you could easily waste a lot of money on PBT keycaps or switches and face compatibility issues.
Below is an exact breakdown on the differences between each. Even hot-swappable keyboards are affected by this too, so it is important to keep in mind if you're looking to maximize your typing experience.
As you can see, there are a few differences between the two types. Let's break it down. It is worth noting that PBT or ABS keycaps have no differences regarding this.
What are North-Facing Switches?
North-Facing switches are when the LED (that usually shines through the switch into the keycap) is located on the top (north) part of the PCB. Mechanical keyboards with north-facing switches are incredibly common and make up the majority of keyboards on the market.
- Incredibly common
- Provides excellent lighting (the light will shine through the keycaps)
- Great for usage at night time or in dark environments
- May cause a “scratchy” feeling or sound, depending on keycap
- Not so good when used with Cherry keycap profile due to interference (hits the keycap)
It is worth noting that you can technically use Cherry keycaps with a mechanical keyboard that features North-Facing switches. However, the general incompatibility may give you a less-than-desired typing experience.
What are South-Facing Switches?
South-Facing switches are when the LED (that usually shines through the switch into the keycap) is located on the bottom (south) part of the PCB. Mechanical keyboards with south-facing sockets are much less common on the market but are becoming more increasingly popular.
- Compatible with pretty much every keycap type
- Premium sound and feel when typing
- RGB won’t shine through the keycap so well, and instead will soak up the space between keycaps (this can be a good thing too!)
What is Hot-Swappable “South-Facing PCB”, “North-Facing LED” etc?
These terminologies may seem confusing, but they’re actually the same as the standard north or south facing switch terminology that non-hotswappable keyboards use. There isn’t an industry standard on what to call a hot-swappable keyboard with a PCB that has LEDs that face north or south yet, so brands may interchangeably use the terms.
Are South-Facing Switches Better Than North-Facing Switches? Verdict...
To be honest, this is all something that comes down to preference, what type of switches or keycaps you have, as well as the general look and feel that you want on your keyboard. If you want maximum switch compatibility and a smooth-typing experience, go with South-Facing switches/PCB/LED (all terminologies mean the same). If you want your keycap legends to illuminate at night, then go with North-Facing.
If you're interested to try our a keyboard with South-Facing LED design, take a look at our hot-swappable keyboard below!
Our award-winning MAXFIT67 includes Cherry Profile keycaps, and has spare keycaps in the box as well! Perfect for enthusiasts and gamers alike.
RGB MECHANICAL HOTSWAP KEYBOARD
- Highly Recommended by TechPowerUp!
- 65% Form Factor
- South Facing PCB
- Rotary Encoder Knob
- Wireless (BT + 2.4ghz) & Wired
- Gateron Hotswap Sockets
- Kailh Box White / Pre-Lubed Gateron Milky Yellow Switches
- DYE-SUB PBT Keycaps
- Includes plate foam & tray foam