If there’s one constant when it comes to mechanical keyboards, it’s always feeling late to the hottest new drop or group buy.
C³Equalz and TheKey.Company’ — two names well known to the discerning enthusiast — have collaborated recently on the kinds of switches everyone seems to always be hunting down: Banana Splits, Tangerines, Kiwis, and Dragon Fruits. Of these four, Banana Splits and Tangerines have proven to be the most popular, having sold out, gone through a group buy, and are now fetching high prices in the aftermarket.
As the first entry in their “Snack Time Switch Line” series, Banana Splits are a 62-gram linear switch produced by JWK, with lavender and purple housings and a yellow stem. The housings, which C³Equalz and TKC said are made using new, proprietary molds, are made from a blend of nylon and polycarbonate, with the stems made from POM (a higher quality plastic called Polyoxymethylene).
Why are they so popular?
Banana Splits are a switch produced by JWK, the manufacturers behind Durocks, Everglides, and EV-series switches, and designed by C³Equalz in collaboration with TheKey.Company. As a fairly well-known site that appeals to mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, TKC has gained a reputation online primarily for creating keycaps and desk mats, but has also offered keyboard kits and, more recently, unique switches from time to time.
Because of TKC’s popularity as a brand, with their limited-run switches often selling out almost immediately, and demonstrations/reviews from YouTubers like Filled Types, Brandon Taylor and Too Much Tech showing off their smooth feel and deeper sound, the switches gained a good bit of notoriety after their initial release in late 2020 and became a favorite in the community. Since then, the following group buy has sold through and many have been left unable to find the switches outside of the aftermarket.
How do they sound and feel?
These switches are made from proprietary tooling and are lubed in-factory by JWK. Because of this custom tooling, the switches have a deeper sound profile than most other linear switches, and the factory lubing creates a smoother stock experience.
The spring is a typical 62-gram spring, much like those found inside of other JWK switches, with a middle-class weight that’s on-par with quite a few other popular switches. Of course, springs are the easiest (and cheapest) part of a switch to replace, so actuation force isn’t something to stress about, relatively speaking.
Overall, the switches (and their factory lubing) seem to be well-received. Often compared to other JWK-made switches like Alpacas, Banana Splits have the same smoothness and lack of key wobble that the manufacturer is known for.
How can you get them?
The real issue is getting your hands on these — TKC has had a direct sale and a group buy for Banana Splits, and they haven’t been available since. Originally priced at $0.65 per switch, aftermarket listings frequently ask around $1 per switch, a price nearing something closer to the retail price of ZealPC’s Tealio v2 or some frankenswitches.
At the moment, the best way to get a set of Banana Splits is for resale online: eBay vendors and users on Reddit’s r/mechmarket frequently sell them, but they will likely cost around double the original price.
Besides that, the only option is to wait for TKC to open up another group buy or start stocking the switches normally again.
Can’t find banana split switches? Here’s the next best thing
If you’re impatient, not a fan of the group buy model, are wary of the secondhand market, or have issues with some aspect of the Splits, there are other options:
Alpaca linears, another JWK-made switch, are often compared to Banana Splits as they’re both made by JWK, have 62-gram springs, and come pre-lubed. Between the two switches, the choice is down to personal preference more than anything else, with the main differences being the switches’ sound profile — something affected just as much by board and keycap choice as the switches — and their color scheme.
As a non-factory-lubed option, Novelkeys’ Dry Series linear switches afford full control of the switches’ lubing while still using JWK’s tooling and materials. While they don’t use the same housings as Banana Splits, they do use similar materials and come from the same factory, and they do have a 63.5-gram spring available in the yellow option.
Looking outside of JWK-made switches, Gateron-made switches are always an option, with generic Gaterons, Inks, and ZealPC’s Tealio v2s all being fairly smooth and easy-to-find linear switches. While specific material information is scarce for Gateron’s switches, it’s commonly assumed they use polycarbonate for their clear housings and POM for stems. While they aren’t factory-lubed, these switches are fairly smooth stock and can be lubed just as easily as any other switch.
And if your main interest in Banana Splits is their unique design, another interesting option is the Dangkeebs Blue Velvet switch, a 68-gram linear which uses a proprietary plastic called PME for its housings. While not comparable in a technical sense, they are a unique switch that, like the Banana Splits, have some unusual traits and potential promise.
Overall, finding an alternative is about weighing pros and cons: Some switches might have different materials, housings, or anything else, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be better or worse. The key is to think of them not as a substitute, but as a way to try out something else. If you expect them to be the switch you can’t have, you won’t like them. But if you expect them to be a different experience, you might end up happily surprised.