NK Creams Review: Deep, Rich, And Sound

nk creams

Due to their full POM housing and self-lubricating stem, NovelKeys Cream switches are incredibly well-liked. Despite the fact that you can lubricate these switches to make them even smoother, they already offer one of the best linear switch experiences and are very smooth out of the box.

What Are Nk Creams?

Kailh produces an original linear switch called the NK Cream Switch. In addition, the NK Creams have self-lubricating POM for the housing and stem, marking Kailh’s entry into an MX-style housing.

What is Nk Creams Switch Background?

In reference to my earlier statement regarding the background of these switches, the Kailh Creams or Novelkeys Creams have not only had an odd trajectory recently, but they even got off to a slightly different start than most other switches.

Formally announced by Mike of Novelkeys in mid-August of 2018, the Novelkeys Creams were to be the first mechanical keyboard switch to be entirely made out of POM – top housing, bottom housing, and stem. These linear switches, which had an actuation weight of 55g and a bottoming out force of 70g, were scheduled to make their debut at a price of $0.65 per piece, which at the time fell into the mid-high tier of linear switch pricing.

However, these Novelkeys switches took a few more steps before going on sale, unlike the majority of them currently.

The community’s more well-known voices, such as LightningXI, Chrisswires, TopClack, TaehaTypes, and many others, received several sets of samples from Novelkeys around the end of September 2018, about a month after their initial announcement.

Before these switches were actually sold for the first time, these samples in turn gave rise to a flurry of reviews. The switches did have some initial drawbacks, the most notable of which was their odor, despite the majority of reviews praising some aspects in a relatively favorable manner.

Both switches from these initial sample reviews and the first small-scale production run after their announcement had a strong chemical smell to them that went away after a day or two if left out in the open to breathe, which had never been observed in switches before.

Future production cycles of these Novelkeys Creams, which are still being sold as of the date that this document is being written, stepped away from this problem. The name “Fish-stock Creams” refers to the original Novelkeys Creams because many people described the smell as having a “fishy” or “fish-oil” smell, despite the fact that the origin of the moniker is unknown.

nk creams

What is Cream Switches Feature?

  • 18 included in each pack
  • Linear
  • MX-Style Housing Latching
  • Self-Lubricating POM Housing and Stem
  • Actuation: 55g
  • Bottom Out: 70g
  • Operating: 2mm
  • Travel: 4mm
  • Price: $0.65 per switch

What is Cream Switch Performance?

In the spirit of breaking from traditional structure, which I’ve already done now a handful of times in this article, I’m going to discuss the performance of these switches both stock as well as with lube applied to them. The reason that I am specifically choosing to do this is that I strongly feel that these switches feel significantly better with proper lubrication and assembly. Simply lubricating the switch with a moderate amount of Krytox 205g0 was all that was required for the lubed switches I am using for this. (In case you were interested, this and Gazzew’s Blend #3 are my two preferred lubes for linear switches.)

Appearance

The lubricated appearance of these switches will not be discussed, completely refuting my earlier point.

These switches are easily distinguishable as an off-white, “cream” color, in contrast to some of the other mechanical keyboard switches that are named after things that already exist. Though they still have a generally light appearance, they sit slightly more yellow in tone than the Gateron Merlot and Mauve switches. The cream-colored top and bottom housings both have a mildly slick sensation that is similar to the smoothness of a Nylon switch housing but with less friction. These switches have a copper-colored leaf and an aluminum-colored spring inside.

Push Feel

I believe that these switches are fairly accurate in their representation when examining the switch’s overall linearity and the comparison to the force curve in general. Even at the slowest testing speeds, they exhibit no discernible pretravel, which closely resembles the force curve, which displays a small force increase of about 0.2 mm. A smooth increase in force along the stroke, devoid of jumps or other atypical increases in force, is also present in these, keeping with the force curve. These switches’ bottom outs are also some of the most solid switches I’ve tested; they have a strong, solid impact without significantly increasing spring weight or producing an unpleasant sensation.

Lubed with Krytox 205g0:

The problems I discussed with a scratch in the preceding paragraph were a major factor in my decision to include the lubed comparison point when I was writing this. On these switches, a little lubrication nearly completely eliminates the long, continuous scratchy sensation while retaining the sensation throughout the rest of the stroke. The only notable difference, besides the scratch reduction, is that it does result in a slight dampening of the bottom-out feeling and makes the overall stroke of the switch feel a little more “cushioned” than before. Testing has shown that a light lubricant application tends not to produce this difference but does not entirely eliminate the consistent scratchy feel of the stroke. On the other hand, a heavier application only makes the stroke feel more cushioned.

Wobble

nk creams

These switches wobble a little bit in both the N/S and the E/W directions, but not significantly. I doubt the noticeability at regular to fast typing speeds, though this might be noticeable at slower typing speeds with any profile keycaps on. In addition to the stem wobble, it appears that about half of the Cream that I tested for this review has a slight wobble to the top housing, as well. The advantages that movies would bring to these switches would be further increased by this in addition to the sound-based qualities I’ve previously discussed.

Sound

Both the default Novelkeys Creams sound and the constant scratch along the stroke are undoubtedly negative traits; they don’t render the switches completely useless, but they are unmistakably audible. The scratch is most obvious in the push feel, but it also makes a faint “sandpaper” sound, similar to when super-fine grain sandpaper is used to polish a surface. Additionally, the spring is audibly audible near the bottom of the stroke in the form of a tinny, metallic sound. However, despite rapid and repeated activation, the spring does not “ping” or produce any other high-pitched sound. No matter the activation speed, the bottom out of these switches doesn’t make any audible noise. While this switch doesn’t sound particularly bad overall, there are undoubtedly stock switches that sound superior.

Lubed with Krytox 205g0:

Similar to how these switches feel when being pushed, adding a small amount of lube lessens but doesn’t completely eliminate all of these undesirable sound characteristics. Under a moderate amount of lube, the metallic spring noise is barely audible and the scratch sound is muffled, though it is still present in a very slight way. These switches can be raised to a mid-high tier linear by simply lubricating them, improving their sound quality from mid-tier. While I don’t have any switches in my possession to test this with right now, I have a feeling that adding a switch film would only enhance and deepen the sound profile of these switches.

Other

Although I haven’t tried a variety of viscosities and grades of lube on these switches, I would assume that almost any density would work with the only variation being the amount applied to achieve the desired reduction in scratch and improvement in sound. For instance, I would guess that you might need to use more lubricant to achieve the same improvements if you used a lube that was thinner than 205g0.

Another interesting point within the Cream’s history is actually one that very few people may be aware of and contains implications rather than a hard fact or occurrence. Towards the end of 2019, I wrote a lengthy article outlining the background of Stelios and the fake Zealios controversy that contributed to JWK/Durock’s rise to prominence as switch industry manufacturers. When assembling this document, I was looking through the evidence and previous conversations when I came across a photo sent directly from a Durock sales representative that showed some of the switches stems that they had available at the time. Keep in mind that the sales representative sent this image about a month before Wei of KBDFans sent his apology letter and the controversy reached a wider audience.

Comparison Notes to Other Notable Linear Switches

Note – These are not intended to be exhaustive comparisons of all aspects of these switches because that would take too much space in this article. These are small interest-related notes that I made while contrasting these pieces with the Creams side by side.

Alpaca

nk creams

In terms of both the sound and push feel/scratch of these switches, the Alpacas have the impression of being “lighter” relative to the Cream switches.

The addition of lube to the Cream switches brings their smoothness on par with that of stock Alpacas, even though it is unfair to compare hand-lubricated switches to factory lubrication because hand lubrication can be adjusted and is essentially unique to each individual.

Similar to Cream switches, alpacas make a tinny, low-pitched metallic spring noise that is audible.

Gateron Merlot

These switches sound almost exactly like the Novelkeys Cream switches when they scratch.

Comparing the Novelkeys Cream switches to the Merlot switches, you can see that the Merlot switches wobble a little bit more in both the N/S and E/W directions.

Compared to the Novelkeys Cream switches, which have a much more quiet and more solid sound, the bottom out of the Gateron Merlot switches feels and sounds much more hollow and bouncy.

Gateron Ink V1

These switches have a smoother overall feel than stock Novelkeys Creams, and they are unquestionably competitive with the moderately lubricated Creams I tested.

When compared to the bottom-out sound of the Cream, the Gateron Ink V1s’ bottom-out is jarringly loud and plasticky.

If you are a person who is sufficiently experienced in the hobby that you would be lubing and/or filming your own switches, these are pretty comparable to Creams in terms of cost per quality.

Tealio V2

The Tealios V2 switches have a similar, albeit significantly less severe, “consistent” scratch to the Creams throughout their stroke. The Creams were brought to a nearly identical level of scratch by my moderate application of Krytox 205g0 to them in this case.

The Tealios have much less E/W wobble than the Novelkeys Creams, despite having a similar N/S wobble.

The Tealios do, however, have a ping-like spring noise to them, which is particularly audible at high levels of activation, unlike the Creams.

Milky Gateron Yellow

Actually, in the current, heavily linearized mechanical keyboard community scene, Milky Gateron Yellows are one of the most underappreciated and underutilized linear switches.

While the scratch sound is generally less noticeable in the Milky Yellow switches, the bottom-out noise is very loud and plasticky, much like the Ink V1 switches.

Comparing the stock and lubed Novelkeys Cream switches, the stock Milky Gateron Yellows have a much deeper overall sound.

nk creams

C3 Equalz Tangerine V2 (67g)

The Tangerine V2 switches are significantly smoother than the stock Novelkeys Creams, which should come as no surprise. The Tangerine V2s are comparable in smoothness to the hand-lubricated Novelkeys Creams. (Additionally, I did a fantastic job of lubrication.)

The Tangerine V2s and Creams wobble in the same amount in the N/S direction, but the Tangerine V2s wobble a little less in the E/W direction.

Similar to several other linear switches on this list, the Tangerine V2 bottom-out noise is much louder and more hollow sounding than the bottom-out of the Cream switches.

How Good Are NK Creams?

The NK Creams have a deep, rich, and aggressive sound. Aggressive here refers to the bottom out, which is quite loud and sharp. Its almost piercing sound blends surprisingly well with the space’s inherent deep and rich acoustics.

Should You Lube My NK Creams?

Due to the nature of both the stem and the housing, the switch will lubricate itself and has been marketed as not needing to be lubed at all. However, I believe it would benefit from being lubricated, particularly the springs, just like any switch.

Conclusion on Nk Cream

The NK Creams are an intriguing option on their own because of their relatively distinctive feel and sound, but they could be made even better with a few tweaks. In addition, I’ve seen a lot of people successfully combine the housings and stems with other linear switch components to create Franken switches. In this regard, I’ll put my money where my mouth is and admit that I frequently use a build that includes UHMWPE Stems in Cream Housings and 70g springs, and I’d definitely think about desoldering those components to use them in a future build.

The Novelkeys Cream switches have undoubtedly established an indisputable legacy in the community so far, regardless of whether or not they disappear into obscurity as new switches continue to flood the market.