Cherry MX Black Clear Top (Nixie) Review & Sound Test

cherry black clear top review nixie

The mechanical keyboard community is funny…

The Cherry Black Clear Top switches (called “nixies”) were around in the 1980s, and somehow developed a fun cult following among keyboard enthusiasts…

But the old “nixies” were expensive and hard to find.

Thankfully, Cherry decided to do something fun for the community and officially release the Cherry MX Black Clear Top switches are part of their switch lineup!

My overall review: The MX Black Clear Tops are surprisingly fantastic. They feel similar to “normal” Cherry MX Blacks (heavy and smooth), but with less switch wobble and scratchiness. They sound a bit more “solid” and “firm” than MX Blacks, and with noticeably less spring ping!

At $0.60 per switch, I sincerely think these “new nixies” will be a community favorite in the keyboard world!

Let’s dive in to the details 👇

What are Cherry MX Nixies?

“Nixie” is the name referring to Cherry MX Black Clear Top switches (which were produced in the 1980s, and officially re-released late in 2022). The Clear Top “Nixie” switches are a heavy linear switch (63.5g operating force) with semi-transparent clear “milky” top housing.

Cherry Black Clear Top Sound Test

Definitely less scratchy & pingy than their Cherry MX Black cousins.

I think they’re also a tad bit louder, but still softer than your standard tactile or clicky switch.

MX Black Clear Top Switch Details:

cherry mx black clear top spring and housing

I’m generally a Cherry MX fan anyways (is anybody NOT a big fan of most Cherry switches? They’re the OG brand of switches)…

And as a big fan of the MX Blacks, I’m happy to announce that the MX Black Clear Top Nixies are still PRETTY similar:

Both the Clear Tops and the standard Blacks:

  • They’re both linear switches
  • They’re both heavy
  • They’re both manufactured using some of the best tooling in the world (i.e. they’re consistent & smooth & tight)

However, the MX Black Clear Tops have a few upgrades:

  • A gold spring that’s slightly longer (and therefore heavier)
  • A semi-transparent milky top housing
  • SLIGHTLY different top & bottom housing designs.

The difference in housing shape is TINY, but every little bit of improved tooling will help these switches be more smooth and more consistent!

Here are the MX Black Clear Top Details:

TypeLinear (meaning there’s no tactile bump in the keystroke. It’s smooth all the way down and back up).
Operating Force63.5 (that’s heavy! slightly heavier than the medium resistance)
Bottom-out force80g (heavy!)
Travel Distance2mm pre-travel, and 4mm total travel
PriceAround $0.60 per switch, available on Novelkeys for pre-order only (at the time of this writing)
SoundDeeper, softer, “solid and firm”
FeelHEAVY, but really smooth. Less scratch and wobble than standard MX Blacks

It’s worth noting that the semi-transparent milky top housing doesn’t really let that much more RGB light through.

It’s the same as most other Cherry switches (except the completely clear top switches, which DO let more RGB though).

Cherry Nixies: Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Heavy, smooth, consistent linear switch
  • Less scratchy & spring ping than normal MX Blacks
  • They’re manufactured really, really well (the tooling appears flawless)
  • Affordable (or at least not uber-expensive)
  • MIGHT come pre-lubed

CONS

  • Not publicly available (as of January 2023)
  • Will probably need lube if you buy them stock (unlubed)
  • Some people might not like the deep, heavy feel

These are probably not the best switches for long periods of typing (linears switches in general might become uncomfortable for long typing/work sessions, and the MX Clear Tops are no different).

Although–I’m literally typing this blog post on the MX Nixies–and they’re still fairly comfy. 😎

Cherry MX Black Clear Top Pricing:

At the time of this review, the MX Black Clear Tops are ONLY available for pre-order on Novelkeys.

They cost roughly $0.60 per switch.

Compare that price with…

  • Standard Cherry MX Reds: $0.55 per switch
  • Gateron Milky Yellow: $0.50 per switch
  • Akko Silvers: $0.40 per switch

It’s not a budget switch, but the Nixies are certainly affordable.

MX Black Nixies Sound & Feel

If you enjoy a heavy linear switch, my overall recommendation is that you will approve of the way these sound and feel.

Sound:

  • Solid but soft
  • Very little ping
  • Low-pitch

They’re less “tappy” sounding (like Cherry Reds or Akko Silvers), and more similar to deeper linears like Gateron Milky Yellows or Ink Blacks.

I personally think that the improved “tooling” in the manufacturing process leads to a more “solid” sound. (But honestly, I’m no expert in switch manufacturing).

When the switch parts fit together better–you get a smoother, more consistent keypress with less wobble, scratch, ping, etc.

That’s definitely the Clear Tops! They SOUND like they’re made well.

If you want to use the term “thock” to refer to the lower-pitched linear switches, the Black Nixies would go with that 😉

Feel

  • Heavy & stiff
  • Solid (as in ‘not wobbly’)
  • Buttery Smooth

They’re not QUITE as smooth as Gateron Milky Yellows–but more so than the standard Cherry MX Blacks.

I personally prefer something a bit lighter & tappier (like the Akko Silvers), but that’s personal preference. If you LIKE heavier switches, I think the MX Black Clear Tops are for you.

A note on lubing: The sample that Cherry sent me (thanks, Cherry!) did come pre-lubed from the factory–but the Cherry rep informed me that they will NOT necessarily come pre-lubed when shipped to the public.

However, it isn’t clear yet whether they’ll be pre-lubed or not.

I personally don’t think they SHOULD ship out pre-lubed, as lubing yourself with some Krytox 205g would likely sound and feel better! Here’s our guide to lubing switches FAST.

A history of the Cherry Black Clear Top switches

Back in the 1980’s, Cherry actually made the Black Clear Top switches for a company called Nixdorf Computers.

nixdorf computer nixies

It was likely the appearance of the switch, as well as its heaviness (63.5g of actuation force is no joke) that led to a following in the mechanical keyboard communities, even decades later.

These “old nixies” could still be purchased and traded in various keyboard forums, though their prices skyrocketed in the days of the 2020 pandemic (up to $10 PER SWITCH according to some).

Luckily, Cherry decided to take matters into their own hands and re-release the switch to the consumer market!

I’m glad they did 😉

Alternatives to the Cherry MX Black Clear Top Nixies

There are a few other deeper, heavier switches that still compete with the Nixies in terms of performance.

Gateron Milky Yellow

kutethy Gateron KS-3X47 Milky Yellow Switches Keyboard MX 5 pin Switches Suitable for Mechanical Keyboard RGB Lamp...
  • The Gateron Yellow switches are regarded among the mechanical keyboard community as the budget king of linear switches.
  • Gateron yellow switch: linear feel (straight up and down) 50+15GF operating force, operating force is between the black shaft and the red shaft, the familiar strength can hit the ground with a touch...
  • These switches are 5-pin and will fit on any PCB-mount board.

Read our review here.

The Gateron Milky Yellows are another legendary linear switch, which is equally smooth with a deep “muted thocky” sound–and they’re a bit cheaper as well.

And of course, these also have semi-transparent milky top housing!

Cherry MX Black Hyperglides (the “normal” MX Black)

Pack 10 Original Cherry MX Black Switches and Switch Puller for Mechanical Keyboard
  • Totally 10 Pieces : Originally made by Cherry in Germany and Repacked by Granvela in China. For DIY Replacing Mechanical Keyboard Switches, or Trial Use.
  • Black Switches Features: Heavy and Linear.
  • Package Includes: 10 Switches, 1 Switch puller, 1 clear protective plastic case.

Here’s our review and sound test 👇

Yes, they do have a bit of scratchiness and spring ping (but I kinda enjoy the scratchy sound & feel)–but they’re still a classic heavy linear from Cherry.

I prefer the MX Blacks to the MX reds, for sure!

Click here to read our full guide to Cherry MX switches

Gateron Ink Black V2

Custom Switch Gateron Ink 5 pin V2 Switches Transparent Smokey Housing Black Red Blue Silent Black Yellow for...
  • This link only has switches,does not include other extras.
  • These switches are made of a new type of plastic.
  • These switches are made of a new type of plastic.

Since we’re on the topic of heavy linear switches, the Gat Ink Blacks are also legendary.

They’re more expensive and can be hard to find–but they’re a lovely MUTED & deep linear (but you’ll need to lube them and MIGHT need to film them. They tend to suffer from some switch wobble).

Bottom Line: Should you buy the Cherry MX Black Clear Top Nixies?

If you enjoy deep, smooth linear switches for gaming (or work, really), the MX Black Clear Tops are consistent to type on, sound better than most other heavy linears, and are reasonably affordable!

All in all, I think these switches are fantastic and are totally worth trying!

Happy thocking, friends 😉

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