Home - Blog

Plate-Mounted Switches: Are they Better than PCB-Mounted Switches?

Does your project require Plate-mounted switches for mechanical keyboards? Then, you must know the mounting style before making your purchase.

Typically, the mounting type confirms the compatibility of your preferred switch with your keyboard.

Hence, you must choose between plated-mounted switches and their PCB-mounted counterparts.

Thankfully, this article compares plate-mounted and PCB-mounted switches to help you make the best choice to avoid compatibility issues.

Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

What are Plate-Mounted Switches?

Disassembled keyboard 

As their name implies, these switches have designs that allow mounting on a plate before installing on a PCB.

However, we don’t recommend using plate-mounted switches on a plate-less build. 


Because their structures are incompatible with direct circuit board mounting, plate-mounted switches typically have three pins consisting of two metal and a central circular knob pin.

Unlike their PCB mount counterparts, Plate-mounted switches don’t have two additional pins for stability. Rather, they depend on a plate for firmness.

Also, mounting these switches on plates helps reduce side-by-side key wobbling when gaming and typing. However, it only applies to high-quality plates capable of securing the switch tightly.

What are the Pros of Plate-Mounted Switches?


For high-quality performance, consider using plate-mounted switches. Placing them on a metal plate before installing them on a circuit board provides additional support for the keys.

Also, the extra support enhances stability and prevents flexing. But keep in mind that not all mechanical keyboards support their designs.

Non-Complex Conversion Procedure

Changing PCB-mounted switches to plate-mounted variants is an easy process. In truth, you can do it by cutting the switch pins and securing them to the metal plate. 

Then, you can reinstall the PCB, transforming your keyboard into a plate-mounted model. You typically use this conversion on large keyboards unless there are exceptional cases. Plus, you’ll get only high-quality results.

What are the Cons of Plate-Mounted Switches

If you use plate-mounted switches, you’ll encounter a significant drawback: the mounting plate becomes very hard to move after completing the process.

So, If any application requires moving the plate, you’ll have to desolder all the key switches and resolder them after completion.

What are PCB-Mounted Switches?

PCB-mounted switches 

PCB-mounted switches 

Unlike their plate-mounted counterparts, PCB-mounted switches have two extra pins for stability. As a result, you can also call them 5-pin switches.

Under the switch, you’ll see two plastic side pins, two metal pins, and one huge central pin. The metal pins allow the switch to work, while the plastic ones provide extra stability.

What are the Pros of PCB-Mounted Switches?


PCB-mounted switches are popular for their secure and wobble-free designs. Also, as mentioned earlier, they have 5-pin structures that provide extra stability. 

These switches are also the go-to for small keyboards. Why? Because they don’t flex as much and only need a little space to keep them firm.

Easy to Modify

Another advantage of PCB-mounted switches is how easy they are to change. Also, modifying them is cheap. And they offer enhanced keyboard flexibility.

Further, PCB-mounted switches provide more options for modifications and customizations.

Note: You can convert PCB-mounted switches into plate-mounted variants.

Plate-Mounted vs. PCB-Mounted Switches: What’s the Difference?

Man working on Mechanix keyboard 

Man working on Mechanix keyboard 

Plate and PCB mounting are the only techniques you can use for keyboard switches. So let’s examine the differences and see which one is better.

Installation Method

As hinted earlier, plate-mounting involves installing three-pin switches on a plate.

Then, you add the switch to a keyboard PCB. Then, after fixing the switches, you can solder them to the circuit board. Or snap them if you’re using a hot-swap keyboard.

But PCB-mounting keyboards don’t need plates. Instead, they have two extra pins with the same effect as adding a plate.

Keyboard Size

Plate-mounted switches are the go-to for large keyboards.

But, unfortunately, manufacturers don’t recommend them for smaller sizes because they have nothing to stick to, making them unsafe and less efficient.

On the other hand, PCB-mounted switches are perfect for smaller-sized keyboards. But you can also use them on larger variants.

However, the result will be a low-quality keyboard with a less-than-premium feel.

In addition, smaller keyboards with a 65% or less layout may produce similar results regardless of the mounting method.

As a result, the extra cost of adding a plate mount won’t be necessary.

Nevertheless, if the keyboard has a bigger layout, you can consider modifying it with mounting plates–only if it’s within your budget.

Keyboard Compatibility

Regarding keyboard compatibility, Plated-mounted and PCB-mounted switches are more similar than different.

You can use both mounting techniques on custom, pre-built, and hot-swap keyboards.

Moreover, some models have exclusive designs for PCB-mount switches, like the KBT Vortex.

On the other hand, here are some models that support plated-mounted switches.

Drop Custom Keyboards

Drop keyboards entered the market as the first purchasable enthusiast-grade keyboard kits.

You can get them in various sizes, including 65% keyboard layouts and TKL.

More importantly, they offer plate-mounted cherry stabilizers with an anodized aluminum case.

Unfortunately, drop’s keyboards don’t offer PCB-mount compatibility, making many consider them outdated.

Keyboard: Keychron K6

Keychron K6 is one of the best entry-level mechanical keyboards offering plate-mount compatibility.

In addition, it provides multiple features, like hot-swap switches and wireless functionality.

Working Style

Plate-mounted switches work with three pins beneath their housing. What’s more?

You have two metal pins that transmit electrical signals to the keyboard alongside one plastic knob that keeps the switch in its proper orientation.

Contrarily, PCB-mounted switches work with circuit boards possessing up to five holes for each pin.

In addition, two of the switch’s pins are metallic, allowing them to handle connections—while the other two are plastic.

Then, the last (and middle) pin serves as the mounting guide to help with the installation process. How does it help?

You can’t see the keyboard holes when inserting the switch. 

So, the guiding pin helps you get the correct position, making the process easier.


Plate-mount offers more rigidity than its PCB-mount counterpart.

Also, since you’ll attach it to a metal plate, the process will make the keyboard stiffer, securing all keys better than PCB mounting.

But that’s not all.

Plate-mount also tops the chart in durability as it can handle more stress and extended usage.


Can you use plate-mount switches with 5-pin hot-swap PCBs?

You can use plate-mount switches with 5-pin how-swap PCBs. But they won’t offer excellent sturdiness because of the two extra holes.

Nevertheless, hot-swap PCBs without a plate will have decreased typing quality, leading to an uncomfortable experience.

Why? Because the switches will have an unstable alignment.

Can you use PCB-mount switches with 3-pin hot-swap PCBs?

You can use plate-mount switches with 5-pin how-swap PCBs. But they won’t offer excellent sturdiness because of the two extra holes.

Besides, hot-swap PCBs without a plate will have decreased typing quality. Hence, it will lead to an uncomfortable experience.

Why? Because the switches will have an unstable alignment.

Rounding Up

Plate and PCB mounting methods are the only ones for mechanical keyboards.

Although plate-mounted switches are older, they provide more stability and durability.

Do you have more questions on the topic? Reach out for assistance.

Avatar photo
Emma Lu
Our professional engineering support saves our customers a lot of trouble and loss. >>>>>> After you place the order, our engineer will conduct technical reviews to make sure the parts can be mounted well/correctly on the boards. We will check if the component packages match well with the Gerber footprints, if the part numbers you provided match well with the descriptions, and if the polarity is clearly marked. >>>>> When your design is ready, please send your Gerber and BOM so we can quote and start!