Having a wide selection of key switch types to choose from has made mechanical keyboards extremely popular among gamers. Besides the fact that they are very easy to maintain and can easily be swapped out, they also offer a unique avenue for customization to suit one’s own personal style. This is especially true for those that use hot-swap switches, which allow them to replace the current switches with new ones without having to shut down or reboot their computer.
However, many users are unaware that the switches they have now can be swapped out while the computer is still running. While this isn’t a feature that can be applied to every type of switch, there are quite a few that do support it. This allows you to change the feel of your keyboard or replace a defective switch while the computer is on and operating.
The technology behind hot-swap switches is based on a specialized connector that has staggered pin lengths. This means that the ground pins are longer than the others, ensuring that they connect first and prevent sensitive circuitry from being powered on before a reliable system ground is established. Short power and signal pins then make contact, with the soft-start circuit applying the required voltage in a few milliseconds.
Most modern computers are designed to allow for this kind of functionality, as well as the ability to swap out a failing component with a spare while the computer is still operating. This is particularly important for applications that require zero downtime such as data centers and cloud computing services.