Benchmark Results & Final Analysis
As optical switches don’t suffer from the issues that give contact-based switches their limited rollover, the all-optical keyboards from Bloody’s catalog possess NKRO. However, being mostly rubber dome-based, the B188 is not. Bloody claimed that the B188 has 13KRO, but upon testing, it’s clear that this is not the case at all. Unsurprisingly, as the keyboard remains overwhelmingly membrane-based, the B188 has just 2KRO.
Being for the most part a simple rubber dome keyboard with a plastic case, the sound generally doesn’t differ much from a bog-standard office keyboard. The Light Strike switches, however, have a much more mechanical sound. Probably as a result of the thick, soft keycaps, and contact-less key action, the typing sound is relatively full and, in our opinion, appealing.
The charts below represent testing performed on the switches that are mounted on this keyboard. For a primer on the what, how, and why of this testing, read our explainer on how we test mechanical keyboard switches.
The lines on the charts are force curves showing the characteristics of the key travel, the distance and rebound of the key travel, the force required to depress the key, and the rebound force applied by the spring to reset the switch.
The squiggly line is the press, and the smoother line below it is the rebound.
The dotted gray lines show a given switch specification as provided by the switch manufacturer - they’re not a measurement, merely a reference. For the metrics we can measure, they’re present to show how closely the switch performance matches the manufacturer spec. Some specifications we cannot measure, but we’ve shown them here so you can see what they’re supposed to be, at least.
Usually, we break out our switch testing data into multiple charts to show different subsets of the data. However, in the case of the Bloody B188-8 Light Strike, there are only eight optical mechanical switches total on this keyboard. The rest are all membranes.
Thus, we really need only one chart, and it tells the tale of the LK Optic 1 switches well on its own. Here it is:
The first and most obvious thing you can see is that one ugly outlier that mars an otherwise nearly perfectly aligned set of switches. It’s the E key, for what it’s worth. The force starts dancing around the 2.3mm mark, reaches the end of its travel far too early compared to the other switches (~0.4mm too early), and then eventually settles back down partway through the rebound.
In addition to the fact that the force curve of the E key goes a little haywire, its rebound curve is different, too. Notice that although this is a linear switch, there’s a little bump right at the beginning of the rebound (~10gf) and one at the very end of it (~3gf). The wayward E key is missing that first bump entirely. You probably wouldn’t ever feel it because it is, after all, on the rebound, but the inconsistency is notable.
Otherwise, the Bloody LK Optic 1 shows a completely linear switch. The line from when the switch engages until it bottoms out is nearly straight as an arrow.
Furthermore, the delta between the initial operating force and the bottom out force is just approximately 25gf (~30-55gf). In other words, this is a fairly light switch with not much happening throughout the travel.
One particular oddity is that the stated actuation force of the LK Optic 1 switch is miles off. It’s listed as 60gf, but assuming the switch actuates where it’s supposed to, at 1.5mm, the actual actuation force is ~42gf. That means the manufacturer spec is off by a whopping 18gf. The switch doesn’t even get to 60gf before it bottoms out - we have that metric measured at approximately 55gf.
This falls right in line with the other bizarre claims Bloody has made about the B188-8 (which we discussed earlier in this article). The company made an inaccurate or misleading claim that masked something that isn’t bad at all - in this case, it’s the fact that these switches are quite light.
A sample size of eight switches is a little small to draw definitive conclusions about the consistency of Bloody’s LK Optic 1 switches, but going by the little data we have on the B188-8, it appears that they’re almost perfectly consistent, but with an occasional ugly outlier.
A good idea ruined by bad execution and flat-out ridiculous marketing, the B188 is a hard keyboard to love. Although cheap compared to Bloody’s more expensive all-mechanical alternatives, the inclusion of just eight optical switches means little to no flexibility with regard to key binding, an inconsistent keyfeel between the linear optical switches and tactile rubber domes, and massively reduced lifetime as the overall durability will be limited to the lifetime of the rubber domes rather than that of the optical switches. Moreover, the backlighting is too limited and cheap to look appealing, yet it’s necessary because otherwise the legends are illegible.
Moreover, the advertising is not just clearly untrue, but completely misses the point of the many virtues which the Light Strike switches do actually possess. Rather than citing clearly unrepresentative or false test results and droning on about extreme speeds this and screw-enhanced that, Bloody could have focused on the switches’ smooth keyfeel, consistent action, lack of contact bounce, immunity to key chattering, high resistance and extreme durability.
Bloody isn’t the only one thinking outside the box, with competing “Flaretech” optical switches in development by Adomax and more recently Gateron and Tesoro, and Hall effect switches being developed by Ace Pad Tech, both of which have teams behind them who understand the true virtues of their switches all too well.
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