With the group-buy for Nolive Cream switches currently open, I figured it would be helpful if I give my thoughts on the Cream Switch. In short, I was not impressed.
The all-POM NovelKeys Cream Switch did not have the smoothest (heh) entry into the keyboard market. Early review units suffered from stem stick/slip issues which resulted in the switch having a quote-on-quote ‘leathery’ feel. Lubricants also seemed to wear off the switch extremely quickly, with TaehaTypes stating his 3204-lubed review unit creams had their lube wear off in just one week. The switches also have the smell of rotten fish for whatever reason.
Since then, NovelKeys has resolved most of these issues by using an all-new plastic compostion for the Creams. The stem no longer sticks to the housing, eliminating any unintended keyfeel, and lubed Creams seem to have a natural ‘lubed-switch’ lifespan. Interestingly, the stinky fish odor seems to have stayed, yucks.
What separates the Creams from every other linear is the plastic it is made of. The housing and stem of the Novelkeys cream is entirely made of polyoxymethylene, better known as POM plastic. POM’s friction coefficient is substantially lower than that of nylon and polycarbonate, the two plastics that most other brand’s switch housings are speculated to be made out of. This means that on paper, Cream Switches should be the smoothest linear switch based on its material properties. Something interesting to note is that NovelKeys advertises the Cream Switches as ‘self-lubricating’. What this means I am not exactly sure, and NovelKeys refuses to go into much detail about it, but they assert that the switches do indeed lubricate themselves.
First impressions of the Creams were positive. Stock Creams are very smooth for a stock switch, and I found them well weighted. I was most impressed with how ‘clean’ the switches sounded, there was very little friction noise. Typing on stock creams sounded like I was typing on lubed linears, very impressive. That is pretty much all the good things I have to say though, only criticism follows.
My first major issue is how little lubricating the switch helps. After breaking them in for a week, I lubed most of my Creams with Tribosys 3204 and a small batch with Krytox GPL 205g0 for comparison, and they barely got smoother – barely. The key feel remained so similar in terms of smoothness that it was honestly a waste of time lubing them at all. And since the Creams already have such little friction noise, the lube didn’t do much for them sound-wise. To clarify, I am not saying the Creams were so smooth the lube barely improved it, lubed Creams just aren’t that smooth. Comparing them to lubed retooled MX Blacks (a decent batch), lubed Gateron Yellows and lubed Gateron Black, lubed Creams are on the same level of smoothness as lubed MX Blacks, scratchier if the batch of MX Blacks is good, and scratchier than lubed Gaterons.
My second major issue is the sound. I filmed my creams with a polycarbonate switch film. In my experience, filming any switch has always improved the sound profile of the switch to a noticeable degree, but not for the Creams. NovelKeys Cream switches produce a tinny, high-pitched, plasticky sound when bottomed-out that I do not find particularly pleasant, and this remains the case even after the switches were filmed. I still feel Cherry housings provide the thickest, bassiest bottom-out sound, despite some people claiming the Creams sound bassier. Of course, this entire paragraph is entirely my opinion, sound is very subjective and I cannot write with much authority on it. Below is a sound test of my SkoG TKL built with lubed and filmed Cream Switches so you can hear them for yourself.
My final thoughts on the creams are as follows: If you do not tune your switches, Creams would make a great choice. They are a very smooth stock switch, with little friction noise, and weighted neither too light nor too heavy. If you tune your switches, look somewhere else. I feel that Creams do not provide the best in key feel or sound, your time and effort would be better spent on other switches.
Nevertheless, I am happy to see NovelKeys’ continued innovation in their products. While the Cream Switches were disappointing to me, they are by no means bad. Priced at USD$0.65 per switch (now $0.6 as there is a sale going on), it’s a little more expensive than MX Blacks. I do not like the Creams, but I would still recommend you try them out if you are searching for an ‘endgame’ linear for your ‘endgame’ board (as if it actually exists…).