Topre switches have a special place among the mechanical keyboard community. These unique switches made by Topre, a company from Japan, technically aren’t mechanical switches. They follow a different design than most other keyboard switches. Despite this difference, these switches feel very similar to some other mechanical switches. Cherry MX Brown for instance.
The unique design of Topre switches makes them very expensive. Topre switches are the most expensive keyboard switches on the market, one of the reasons why keyboards with Topre switches are few and far between. Nevertheless, there are enough models for almost everyone to find their favorite. Since Realforce, Topre’s keyboard manufacturing brand, manufactures most models with Topre switches, most Topre keyboards tend to offer similar features packed inside similar casings that have excellent build quality.
Overall, most Topre keyboards don’t have extra features or stuff like RGB lighting or a ton of extra buttons, but they do offer excellent typing experience and that’s what should matter the most. But, before we present the best Topre keyboards, let’s explain the design of Topre switches in detail.
Best Topre Keyboards – Our Picks
|Best Full-Sized Topre Keyboard||Topre Realforce 104UB|
|Best TKL Topre Keyboard||Topre Realforce 87UB|
|Best Alternative Full-Sized And TKL Topre Keyboards||Realforce R2 PFU Limited Edition|
|Fujitsu Realforce R2|
|Best 60% Topre Keyboard||Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2|
|Best RGB Topre Keyboard||Realforce R2 RGB|
|Best Affordable Topre Switch Alternative||EPOMAKER NiZ Plum x87|
|EPOMAKER NiZ Plum Atom66/68|
What Are Topre Switches?
Topre switches are “electrostatic capacitive non-contact keyboard switch(es)”. Their design consists out of a rubber dome (like in membrane keyboards), which houses the system that utilizes a phenomenon called capacitance. This phenomenon allows the circuit board to detect a keypress without any physical contact between the switch and the circuit board. On the other hand, every mechanical switch works by closing a circuit between two wires during each keypress, which always includes physical contact.
The system housed inside the rubber dome contains the plunger along with the switch housing. The switch also includes the buckle responsible for the tactile feeling when pressing the switch. Finally, there’s the coiled spring. Once you press the key, the switch will bend the spring until the PCB registers the keypress. Quite different from the Cherry MX mechanism where a keypress closes the circuit thus registering the stroke.
This non-contact way of registering keystrokes makes Topre switches more reliable and longer-lasting than any other mechanical switch on the market. But since the rubber dome housing provides most of the feedback upon the keypress, many users see Topre switches as glorified rubber dome switches.
The truth is, Topre switches may feel a bit mushy. On the other hand, they have light actuation force (ranging from 30 to 55 grams) and tactile feedback that’s more pronounced, and thus more satisfying than on Cherry MX browns. Typing on Topre switches is also much quieter than on Cherry MX switches. Also, the key travel is much smoother than on other switches. This is the reason why Topre switches are highly regarded as the best keyboard switches for typing. Now, let’s see those Topre keyboards.
Best Full-Sized Topre Keyboard
First of our list is a full-sized keyboard that comes from Realforce, Topre’s keyboard manufacturing brand. While the keyboard looks plain, like millions of cheap keyboards found in offices around the world, the magic resides under the hood.
While plain-looking, the body is made of quality plastic and it’s very hard to flex. Overall build quality is excellent, and that stands for every keyboard model made by Realforce. The keycaps are made out of PBT plastic and should last for a long time. Further, the keyboard doesn’t have any extra keys or functions. It’s pretty basic in its design.
But once you start typing on it you should either start to love it or hate it. The typing feel is great and while a bit mushy, the keys are more silent than the Cherry MX and the tactile feedback is more pronounced. Overall, this should be a great choice for all who need a keyboard for long typing sessions on a daily basis. As typing goes, this should be a better choice than most other mechanical keyboards.
When it comes to downsides, the one that first comes to the mind is the dark grey lettering on black keycaps. If you don’t touch type, you might have trouble finding the right key after dark, or even during the day if you’re inside a poorly lit room. There’s no backlighting on this keyboard and Topre switches have unique keycap stems so replacing default keycaps with custom ones (which are in most cases designed to fit Cherry MX stems) is out of the question.
Finally, the Realforce 104UB includes different Topre switches, varied by their actuation force. This should reduce strain in fingers. But varied switches take some time to get used to. Some people prefer when all keys have switches with the same actuation force. In the end, if you don’t mind the plain design, no backlighting, very high price, and variable switches, this keyboard is a breeze to type on.
Best TKL Topre Keyboard
The Realforce 87UB is completely the same as the full-sized model aside from it not having the numeric part. That means superb typing experience combined with the top-notch build quality. It also means plain design, grey letting on black keycaps, no extra features, switches with variable actuation force, and very high price. But if you’re looking for a Topre TKL keyboard, this is the best choice on the market. It offers a better typing experience than most TKL mechanical keyboards.
Best Alternative Full-Sized And TKL Topre Keyboards
If dated design and switches with variable actuation force aren’t your thing, check out the R2 version of the Realforce Topre keyboard. This one features an updated design that looks much better. That wide border on top is no more, making the keyboard look like a modern office piece. You also get a white version of the keyboard, where the letters are actually easy to read. But still no backlighting.
The build quality is superb as with any other Realforce keyboard. Keycaps feel superb and the keyboard is very quiet when typing when compared to other mechanical keyboards. Finally, this version offers 45g switches instead of variable ones, which is excellent for users who don’t like having switches with variable actuation force.
Overall, the R2 version is a major improvement over the original one. If you need something cheaper, check out the Realforce R2 keyboard, but with Fujitsu branding. It looks the same as the R2 limited edition, but it’s cheaper and available in 55g switches instead of 45g. That means a bit more strain on your fingers after long typing sessions but the noticeably lower price may be worth it.
When listing negatives, the lack of backlighting is the first to notice. Next, we have the good old dark grey letters on black keycaps. Finally, the placement of the cable is on the side of the keyboard, which may be an issue for some users.
Best 60% Topre Keyboard
Now, if you’re looking for a compact, 60% keyboard based on Topre switches, the Happy Hacking keyboard is basically the only choice. Its unique key layout isn’t targeted towards typists, but gaming and programming should feel great on this keyboard. 45g switches mean less finger strain during long typing sessions. And yeah, these keycaps are also black, with dark grey lettering. At least you can opt for the white version, which looks even better than the black one.
Or you can pick the blank keys version if you are ready for an adventure. When it comes to build quality, this keyboard’s built like a tank. It has very little flex, its sturdy, quite heavy for its size, and with PBT keycaps on top of it that feel excellent when typed on. The keyboard includes a removable cable along with a USB hub on the back, which is nice to see. Overall, this is an excellent keyboard but only for those who don’t mind the irregular key layout.
Now, if you want something with a classic layout that also includes Topre switches, check out the Leopold FC660C. This is a 65% keyboard featuring 45g Topre switches that looks and feel amazing. Top-notch build quality and PBT keycaps along with removable cable are great. But the keyboard also includes dark grey lettering on black keys (at least you can get the blue and grey version) and it doesn’t come with any backlighting. On the flip side, the Leopold FC660C is noticeably cheaper than the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional2.
Best RGB Topre Keyboard
Those looking for a Topre keyboard with RGB (or any) backlighting are out of luck. The only model that features RGB backlighting is the Realforce R2 RGB, and that’s not a great keyboard. First of all, RGB lighting is average. It isn’t very bright but at least the colors look nice. Next, instead of PBT plastic, Realforce used ABD plastic, which is of lower quality. It has that cheap shine when used for some time, and it isn’t as pleasant to type on. Also, the keyboard is very loud when typing, mostly thanks to the ABS keycaps.
The build quality is pretty good, and 45g switches are a joy to use. The design even includes volume control keys, something you don’t see often on Realforce keyboards. Luckily, you can replace default keycaps with any keycaps with regular, Cherry MX stems. Realforce decided to equip this model with special Topre switches that have Cherry MX stems, which was the best thing they did. Now you can just replace keycaps and you’ve got yourself a great RGB keyboard that’s a joy to type on. And since the full-sized version is much cheaper than the regular keyboard, even with swapped keycaps the RGB model should end up cheaper than the one without backlighting.
Best Affordable Topre Switch Alternative
Last but not least, we have an affordable alternative to Topre keyboards in the form of the NlZ Plum x87 and NiZ Plum Atom66/68. These keyboards use Topre clones that feel pretty good. The feeling is very similar, but we don’t know anything about longevity. Further, these keys’ actuation force is 35g, meaning they are even easier to press, creating even better typing experience. On the flipside, keys are pretty wobbly, far from the perfectly stabilized keys found on Realforce keyboards.
Also, while the Topre clones used on this keyboard are very close to the real thing, they don’t have the firm tactile feedback found on original Topre switches. These are more in line with Cherry MX Browns when it comes to the feedback. Next, the keyboard features a removable cable, which is always a plus. The PBT keycaps feel great but if you don’t like them you can replace them with any regular keycaps since these clone switches use Cherry MX stems.
Overall, both the TKL and the 60% model look and feel excellent. These NiZ switches are a great substitute for Topre switches. Next, the build quality is great, and PBT keycaps are of high quality. Finally, these two keyboards are about half the price compared to other Topre keyboards, and the 60% model features a version with RGB backlighting.
If you still want a keyboard with original Topre switches but don’t want to pay the full price, check out the Topre Type Heaven. It’s very hard to find nowadays but it’s much cheaper than other Topre keyboards and it features original Topre switches, not some clones. But be warned: the build quality’s not great, keycaps feel much worse than on Plum keyboards, and the keyboard looks cheap. On the other hand, at least the typing experience is great if you somehow manage to replace the keycaps.