Polishing a turd? Turning a budget mechanical keyboard into a Cadillac with a Gateron switch transplant

Several months ago I ordered my first mechanical keyboard, a budget Aukey from Amazon, an Aukey KM-G3. It’s got some crazy RGB lighting that nobody wants, and OUTEMU Blue switches. It was love at first type, but the honeymoon was soon over. As we spent more time together I grew to hate the click and clack of the keys, even fearing some evenings it would wake my sleeping toddler. 

The Aukey KM-G3

I really wanted to use this keyboard, maybe I could take it to the office? Not a chance in hell you could use this keyboard in an office without your coworkers wanting to strangle you. Overall it’s a fair keyboard the base is plastic, and the switches seem to sit on a metal plate. It’s got a good weight to it, and I would love to use it more but I just despise the blue switches.

Since the honeymoon ended I’ve had this keyboard in the closet; I was toying with the idea of building a keyboard but all of the builds out there are without a 10 key. These work great at home but I wanted a keyboard I could use at work. I thought about the possibility of removing the switches from the Aukey and replacing them with some Cherry MX or Gaterons. 

Would the switches in my Aukey be replaceable? Are they PCB mounted or plate mounted? I didn’t have anything to lose so I started pulling the Aukey apart, all of the screws that hold the plate to the housing are on the keycap side. Pull the keycaps and remove the 17 or so screws and the two halves will separate. Inside you’ll find a swanky red PCB and plate mounted switches. The cord connects via four pin switch on the back of the PCB. 

Keycaps Removed
Keyboard Housing
 

Reviewing the PCB it looks like the switches should be able to be desoldered and replaced. With this information I started looking for some new switches. After some research I decided on Gateron Browns. I prefer MX Clears but can’t seem to find them in stock anywhere. I went with Gateron instead of Cherry as several reviews comparing browns mention that the Gaterons have a more noticeable tactile bump which I like. I placed an order tonight at Mechanicalkeyboards.com for my switches and in part 2 we will continue the tear down and start installing the new switches. 

Part II

PCB Shot
PCB Close Up
Part II

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