- Pricing is far lower than most other Panda switches on the market
- Factory lubing is well done, not overzealous like many switches
- Minimal key wobble and pleasing sound profile
- Opaque cases will dampen RGB lighting on some boards
- 67g weight is a bit heavier than many gaming-focused switches
- Packaging could be better at preventing bent pins
Panda switches have a lengthy backstory. What started out (like most things in the mechanical keyboard world do) as a DIY, cobbled-together switch was eventually made available via small-batch group buy purveyors and, ultimately, larger manufacturers. Today, those wanting to buy one of the most famous tactile switches of all time have several mass-produced options.
We’re looking at one of the most successful options: Glorious’ self-titled Glorious Panda switches. The little white and yellow components launched when Glorious was first making it clear that it intended to dive deep into mechanical keyboards and the modding thereof, and they remain one of the company’s most high-profile products.
|Bottom shell material||nylon|
|Tactile bump position||Top of key press|
|Factory lubed||Available lubed or unlubed|
|color||Ivory white shell with orange stem|
sound and feel
Tactile switches, like the Glorious Panda switch, provide a noticeable, tactile (hence the name) bump located at the point in their travel where they actuate. This, at least in theory, should help you type faster by removing the need to bottom out on every keystroke to ensure actuation. In actual practice, most of us still tend to mash our boards hard enough to make Mavis Beacon cringe.
Grade: For those unfamiliar with key switch types, I’d recommend checking out my full guide to mechanical keyboards.
Whether you can actually take advantage of the potential typing speed acceleration of tactiles, or you just like the feel of them, they’ve definitely grown since the early days of only but Cherry MX Brown switches being available. Now, you can find variants with the tactile bump higher or lower, models with smooth, barely noticeable or sharp bumps, and a variety of different actuation heights, spring weights, and other tweaks.
For the most part, the Glorious Pandas tend to stay toward the middle of the range of those variables. This broadens the appeal of the switch by avoiding any niche aspects of its operation. Things like the 67g spring weight, relatively neutral white and orange colorway, and moderate strength of the included tactile bump are unlikely to disqualify them for anyone’s use.
I found the Glorious Pandas smooth and consistent in my own personal testing. I tested out the lubed models initially but also stripped the lube from a few to test how the unlubed variants feel as well. In both cases, the switches had that slightly textured-feeling glide most models with POM stems tend to produce.
Also: Glorious Aura keycaps review: What pudding caps should be like
I will say lube does even out that textured feeling slightly. So, if you’re typically a fan of ultra-smooth switches, or you’re coming from linears, I’d opt for the lubed model or lube them yourself. Those that prefer the slightly grittier feel of older tactiles might feel more at home with the unlubed option.
What stood out to me most about the Glorious Pandas was the height of its tactile bump. This is going to be what makes or breaks this switch for most users. It’s at the very top of the key travel. This means you feel additional initial resistance that suddenly gives way to easier travel below it. This provides the switch with an almost trigger-like feel. I found this particularly confidence-inspiring in keyboard-heavy games like League of Legendsas it always let me know instantly when I’d actuated the spell or skill I’d intended to, even in the heat of team fights.
The sound all this produces will, of course, vary on the board the switch is inserted in and what caps are used on them. In my testing, I found the Pandas produce a mid-range sound, not sharp, but not the heavy “thock” some enthusiasts seem to be perpetually seeking. Personal preference plays a huge part here, but everyone will likely appreciate the lack of spring whine (especially in the lubed versions) and the consistent sound profile across each switch.
You can hear the switches for yourself below, in the video from our review of the GMMK Pro board. It also includes a comparison with Glorious Fox linear switches as well.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: mechanical keyboard modding can be an incredibly expensive hobby to get into, but it doesn’t have to be. Glorious made a name for itself by taking on big gaming peripheral brands with cheap-but-good takes on mice and keyboards that stood toe to toe with the big boys for half the price. It’s attempting to do the same thing here with key switches.
Glorious Pandas comes in packs of 36 switches for $25, though you can sometimes find them on sale for as little as $20. This means you’re paying about $0.70 per switch, far cheaper than most of the other Panda variants out there that generally stray over $1.00 per switch. Despite that lower cost, I can find nothing inferior with these Pandas when compared to several other modern versions I’ve tried, and only slight differences from one of the original runs of Holy Pandas that I’ve still got a few of in a switch tester.
So: Drop DCX keycap set review: Clean lines for a mid-range price
The only variations I did come across were the neutral sort, mostly centered around the exact placement and feel of that tactile bump I referenced earlier. Depending on your preferences, you may like Glorious’ design a bit less or a bit more than competing Pandas, but the differences are slight in either case.
For those wondering, you might be able to get away with two 36-switch sets for a 60% board, depending on its exact layout, but most users will likely need three sets for a 65% or TKL-sized keyboard and either three or four for anything larger.
Some mech key snobs turn their noses up at anything a “big” company starts producing. That’s unfortunate. Sure, huge corporations are out there trying to take advantage of consumers by producing inferior copies of small-batch products. But, in that same vein, there are dishonest small-batch and group buy sellers shoveling overpriced garbage too. The size of a company selling something, even in the mech key space, doesn’t directly correlate to that product’s quality.
If you like very tactile yet smooth switches, and if you prefer the tactile bump on those switches to feel like a trigger giving way under your fingertip, you’ll be a fan of Panda-style switches. If I were building a board or replacing its full switch set and wanted a complete set of Pandas, I’d go with Glorious’ take on them. Sure, you can pay more for what’s essentially the same switch from other makers if you want to. But why would you?
Alternatives to consider
Essentially the linear version of Glorious Pandas. The Lynx uses the same materials and same construction but swaps the tactile stem of the Pandas for a smooth, linear stem and a slightly lighter 60g spring. An option for gamers that want something similar but faster.
The switch that pretty much defined the tactile category. The bump is lower than the Pandas, providing more pre-travel before actuation, and the feel is a bit grittier — $10 for 10 switches.
Drop’s take on the famous switch is considerably pricier, and it’s only sold in packs of 70 or more. But, if you want the closest thing on the market today to the feel of the original Holy Pandas, this is it.