Holy Panda mechanical switches have become very popular in the mechanical keyboard community in recent years. But what exactly are Holy Pandas and what makes them so sought after?
Introduction to Mechanical Switches
Mechanical keyboards use individual switches under each key instead of a rubber dome membrane like typical consumer keyboards. Each switch contains a stem that attaches to the keycap, a spring that provides the tactile resistance or “bounce”, and metal contacts that are triggered when you press a key.
There are several types of mechanical switch designs that provide different feels and sounds. The most common are linear switches that press smoothly, tactile switches with a bump feedback, and clicky switches with an audible click. Popular switch brands include Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, NovelKeys, and more.
The Holy Panda Switch
The Holy Panda is a hybrid tactile switch first created in 2018 by a community member who goes by the handle ‘Quakemz’. It combines the panda housing from BSUN/YOK switches with the famous stem from Halo True switches made by Drop (formerly Massdrop).
The result is a highly tactile switch with a large rounded bump that you can feel but without the loud click noise of clicky switches. This makes Holy Pandas excellent for typing while not being disruptive in office or gaming environments.
Unique Housing and Stem Design
So what makes the Holy Panda housing and stem special? Here are some key design elements:
- The panda housing has thick, strong walls that help reduce wobble when pressing keys off-center. This makes for a more stable, precise keypress.
- The long two-part POM plastic stem is very tactile. POM plastic also makes a deeper, fuller ‘thock’ sound signature.
- The Halo True stem has two sharp circular bumps that engage the contacts for a noticeable tactile feedback without being harsh.
- When paired together, the panda house rounds off the Halo stem bump for a smoother large tactile bump right at the top of the keypress.
Popular with Enthusiasts
Holy Panda switches have become very popular for custom mechanical keyboards. Reasons include:
- Their highly tactile feel and signature ‘thock’ sound profile. The tactility is noticeable but not fatiguing.
- Their smooth but responsive feel for gaming and typing. The tactile bump helps avoid accidental presses.
- The high quality and durability from combining two switch designs from respected manufacturers.
- Their uniqueness and custom community-driven origins as a ‘Frankenswitch’.
- The fun name which fits the distinctive panda color scheme.
Due to popularity and limited production runs, Holy Panda switches can be difficult to find in stock and tend to be more expensive than mainstream switches. But for keyboard enthusiasts seeking a premium tactile experience, the extra cost and effort to acquire Holy Pandas is well worth it.
Where to Get Holy Panda Switches
Here are some tips on where you can find Holy Panda switches:
- Check upcoming group buy sales on keyboard forums and Reddit. These limited productions are your best chance to get Holy Pandas.
- Follow restock announcements from vendors like Drop,mechkeys.ca, and Kono. Supplies sell out quickly when they are available.
- Browse aftermarket and secondhand sales on /r/mechmarket on Reddit. You’ll pay a premium but can often find Holy Pandas.
- Consider Panda switch alternatives from Everglide, C^3Equalz, and Glorious which use a similar color scheme and tactile feel.
- Buy a prebuilt keyboard like the Drop Shift or Ctrl which come with Holy Pandas installed. This route avoids the hunt for individual switches.
Experiment with Holy Panda Sounds and Feel
One of the joys of mechanical keyboards such as popular model GMK67 keyboard is customizing the sound and feel exactly how you like. Here are some ways to tailor your Holy Panda experience:
- Lubricate the sliders and springs with a thick grease like Tribosys 3203/3207 to enhance smoothness.
- Film the switches with plastic sheets to make the sound deeper and reduce housing wobble.
- Spring swap to lighter or heavier springs based on your preferred weighting.
- Try different keycap profiles like Cherry, OEM, SA, and MT3 to vary the acoustics.
- Use keyboard plates made of different materials like aluminum, brass, polycarbonate, or POM. Each imparts unique sound characteristics.
- Case mods like packing foam, shelf liner, and silicone can slightly dampen and alter the sound.
With some DIY modifications, you can really make your Holy Pandas sing. Experimentation is part of the fun of custom mechanical keyboards!
Holy Panda switches live up to the hype within the enthusiast keyboard community. Their tactile bump, signature ‘thock’ acoustics, and smooth but responsive feel make typing and gaming a sublime experience. The fantastic panda colorway also makes them one of the most stylish switches out there. While availability and cost can be drawbacks, Holy Pandas remain highly sought after and a true endgame switch for many discerning mechanophiles.