North Facing vs South Facing Keyboard Switches Comparison
North Facing vs South Facing Keyboard Switches Comparison

When you're typing away on your keyboard, have you ever wondered what's going on beneath those keys? Keyboards are more than just a bunch of buttons; they're complex devices with many parts, including switches. These switches determine how your keystrokes are registered and can affect your typing experience. Two common types of switches are North facing and South facing keyboard switches, and they play a significant role in how keyboards work. Let's delve into the world of switches and explore the differences between North facing and South facing keyboard switches.

What are Keyboard Switches?

Let's start by discussing what keyboard switches are. Keyboard switches are the mechanisms underneath each key on your keyboard. They're what you press down to register a keystroke. Unlike regular keyboards, which use rubber domes or membranes, mechanical keyboards have individual switches for each key.  There are different types of switches, each with its unique characteristics that affect how they feel and sound when you type. Now, onto the main topic: north facing vs. south facing keyboard switches. 

1. North Facing Keyboard Switches:

North facing switches are positioned in a way that the LED (Light Emitting Diode) sits at the top of the switch, facing toward the user. This orientation means that when a keycap is mounted onto the switch, the LED will be visible from the top side of the keycap. North facing keyboard switches are often preferred by users who want a brighter and more vibrant illumination from their keyboard.

Pros of North Facing Keyboard Switches:

1. Keycap Compatibility

North-facing mechanical keyboard switches are generally more compatible with a wider range of keycaps. This means you have more options to customize your keyboard according to your style and preference.

2. Smooth Keystrokes

The placement of the LED towards the top means there's less chance of interference with certain keycap profiles, especially those with thicker walls. This could lead to a smoother typing experience.

3. Enhanced RGB Effects

One advantage of North facing keyboard switches is that they can provide better lighting for keyboards with LED backlighting. Since the LED is positioned at the top of the switch, it directly shines through the legends on the keycaps, making them more visible in low-light conditions. This feature is particularly popular among gamers and enthusiasts who enjoy customizable RGB lighting effects on their keyboards.

4. Reduced Key Wobble

Since the stem is centered, north facing keyboard switches often have less wobbling when you type, giving you a more stable typing experience.

5. Reduced Shadowing

With the LED at the top, there’s less chance of shadowing caused by keycaps. This means that each key's lighting is more uniform and consistent, enhancing the overall aesthetic of your keyboard.

Cons of North Facing Keyboard Switches:

1. Inconsistent Lighting

Due to the placement of the LED, you might experience uneven or inconsistent lighting, particularly with certain keycap sets. This can be a drawback if you're aiming for uniform backlighting.

2. Potential for Keycap Contact

In some cases, the LED placement might cause interference with the bottom of the keycap, especially if it's a taller profile keycap. This can lead to a slightly different typing feel or even contact issues.

3. Stem Visibility

Some users find the stem of north facing switches visible when they look at the keyboard from certain angles, which might bother those who prefer a sleeker look.


2. South Facing Keyboard Switches:

On the other hand, South facing keyboard switches have their LED located at the bottom of the switch, facing away from the user. This means that when a keycap is mounted onto the switch, the LED is hidden underneath the keycap, facing towards the keyboard's PCB (Printed Circuit Board). South facing switches are often chosen for their compatibility with various keycap styles and their potential to mitigate issues related to interference with the LED.

One advantage of South facing keyboard switches is that they offer more uniform lighting distribution across the entire keyboard. Since the LED is positioned at the bottom of the switch, it illuminates the keycap legends indirectly, resulting in a more consistent and evenly lit appearance. This feature can be particularly appealing for users who prioritize aesthetics and want a clean and polished look for their keyboard setup.

Pros of South Facing Keyboard Switches:

1. Better Lighting Coverage

With the LED positioned towards the bottom, you're likely to get more consistent and uniform lighting across all keys, especially with RGB backlighting. This can result in a visually stunning keyboard setup.

2. Stability

South facing keyboard switches may offer slightly better stability, particularly for certain keycap profiles. Since the LED is located at the bottom, there's less risk of interference with the keycap, which can contribute to a more solid typing feel.

3. Minimal Light Bleeding

With the LED at the bottom, there’s less chance of light bleeding around the edges of the keycaps, which can create a cleaner and more subtle lighting effect.

4. Potential for Quieter Typing

Some users report that south facing switches produce slightly quieter keystrokes compared to north facing switches, which can be beneficial in shared or quiet environments.

5. Reduced Glare

Since the LED is positioned at the bottom of the switch, south facing switches generally produce less glare. This can be beneficial if you prefer a more subdued lighting effect or if you’re using your keyboard in a brightly lit room.

6. Uniform Keycap Design

South facing keyboard switches allow for a more uniform keycap design since the stem doesn’t stick out, giving the keyboard a cleaner appearance.

7. Less Visible Stem

Because the stem faces downwards, it’s less likely to be visible from certain angles, maintaining a sleek and minimalist look.

Cons of South Facing Keyboard Switches:

1. Dimmer Lighting

Compared to north facing switches, south facing keyboard switches may produce slightly dimmer lighting. While this might not be a significant issue for some users, it’s worth considering if you prioritize vibrant RGB lighting effects.

2. Increased Shadowing

With the LED at the bottom, south facing switches are more prone to shadowing caused by keycaps. This can result in uneven lighting and detract from the overall visual appeal of your keyboard.

3. Keycap Compatibility

South-facing switches may have limitations when it comes to keycap compatibility, particularly with certain thicker-walled keycaps or custom keycap sets. This could restrict your customization options.

4. Potential Interference

In rare cases, the LED placement towards the bottom might cause interference with certain keycap profiles, especially those with unconventional designs or shapes.

5. Increased Key Wobble

Because the stem is off-center, south facing switches may experience slightly more key wobbling compared to north facing switches, which can affect typing stability for some users.

The Difference They Make:

Now that we know what north and south-facing keyboard switches are, let's talk about the difference they make in your typing experience. One of the most significant differences is how they affect the lighting on backlit keyboards.

  • Lighting Effects: North facing switches generally provide better lighting effects because the light from the LED can shine through more evenly, creating a more uniform illumination across the keyboard. South-facing switches may cause shadows or uneven lighting due to the stem blocking the light.
  • Typing Feel: While the orientation of the keyboard switches may not directly impact the typing feel, some users have reported slight differences in the typing experience between north and south-facing switches. However, this can vary depending on other factors such as the type of switch and keycap material.

Choosing Between North and South Facing Keyboard Switches:

When deciding between North facing and South facing keyboard switches, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific requirements. If you prioritize vibrant RGB lighting and don't mind potential issues with keycap interference, North facing switches might be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more uniform and consistent lighting experience with greater keycap compatibility, South facing keyboard switches could be the better option.

It's essential to consider factors such as typing feel, aesthetics, and intended use when selecting switches for your keyboard. Whether you're a gamer, typist, or enthusiast, choosing the right switches can significantly impact your overall typing experience and satisfaction with your keyboard setup.


In the end, whether you prefer north facing or south facing switches comes down to personal preference and the specific requirements of your setup. Some users prioritize aesthetics and lighting effects, while others prioritize comfort and functionality.

Ultimately, both types of switches have their pros and cons, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to decide is to try out both and see which feels and looks better to you. After all, the most important thing is that you enjoy typing on your keyboard, whether it’s north facing, south facing, or somewhere in between!

Enhance your typing journey with Keychron's diverse range of north and south facing keyboard switches. Dive into the intricate craftsmanship and advanced technology of options like Keychron Kailh switches, Gateron switches, and Cherry MX switches. Explore their selection of north and south facing keyboards like the Keychron K2 Pro, Keychron K8 Pro (south facing), and Keychron S1, Keychron K3 Pro (north facing).

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