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Which Mechanical Switch should I get?

 

Choosing the right switch for your keyboard shouldn't have to be rocket science.

Let us break it down for you to make an informed choice.

The mechanical switch is what makes a keyboard mechanical.

Depending on how you use the keyboard, you can determine what switch suits you best!

Factors like gaming or typing for long hours may help you make a better decision.


Why Mechanical Switches instead of traditional Membrane Switches?

Every keypress that you make on a mechanical keyboard provides a distinct feedback, which makes typing less taxing for your fingers over time.

The sound of a keypress on a mechanical keyboard might affect your typing speed as you do not have to look to ensure that the button is registered. (We know, it sounds exaggerated. But trust us.)

These factors help to improve your typing speed, accuracy and gaming experience over time.


Components of a Mechanical Switch


 

1. Top Housing

The top housing protects the stem and guides it along its travel path. It is also the first contact point whenever you press down on each keycap.

2. Stem

The stem determines the switch type – Linear, Clicky or Tactile. The actuation, travel distance and overall typing feel will vary according to the shape of the stem.

3. Contact Leaf

The contact leaf is a minuscule metal or gold piece where the electricity flows. Whenever you press a key, the mechanism in the contact leaf hits the PCB (power circuit board) and closes the circuit, registering a keystroke.

4. Spring

The tension and resistance level of the coiled spring will determine how much force is needed to register the keypress. It also enables the switch to rebound back to its original top position.

5. Bottom Housing

The bottom housing acts as the feet of the switch, attaching and mounting onto the PCB.



Linear Switches vs Tactile Switches

Linear Switches

For Linear switches, you would have to press down the key fully for it to register. (“bottoming out”)


Tactile Switches

For Tactile switches, there is a noticeable ‘bump’ with every keypress. Once the ‘bump’ is felt, you can continue and move on to the next keypress.


Actuation Point

Actuation point refers to the distance where the key has to travel before it is being registered. This is generally measured in millimeters (mm).

 

Actuation Force

Actuation force refers to how much force (generally measured in grams) is needed before the keypress is registered (Where it reaches its actuation point). The higher the amount, the more force is needed.



Linear Switches

Cherry MX Red

 

With its incredible response times and smooth operation, CHERRY MX RED’s linear feel, combined with minimal spring force, is ideal for fast typists and action gamers.

  • Linear switching characteristics
  • 45 cN Actuation Force
  • 2.0 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 4.0 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • No audible click

Gateron Yellow

 

With just a 5g difference in actuation force, fans familiar with Cherry MX Reds and the velvety smoothness of linear switches will enjoy the weightier Gateron Yellows as their daily driver for gaming and typing.

  • Linear switching characteristics
  • 50 cN Actuation Force
  • 2.0 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 4.0 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • No audible click

Tactile Switches

Cherry MX Brown

 

This keyswitch is quiet with tactile feedback, making it perfect for accurate typing.

  • Tactile switching characteristics
  • 55 cN Actuation Force
  • 2.0 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 4.0 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • No audible click 

Novelkeys x Kailh Box Royal

 

Box Royals are exclusively custom-made switches featuring a redesigned contact leaf, making them one of the most tactile MX switches in the market. If you love to feel the defining bump of a tactile switch, this is for you.

  • Tactile switching characteristics
  • 40 cN Actuation Force
  • 1.8 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 3.6 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • No audible click 

Clicky Switches

Cherry MX Blue

 

Ideal for people who like to hear and feel a click when they press a key, these tactile keyswitches help ensure accurate data entry.

  • Tactile and audible switching characteristics
  • 60 cN Actuation Force
  • 2.2 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 4.0 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • Audible click

Kailh Box White

 

The Kailh Box Whites produce a resonant click upon every keypress that is satisfyingly crisp without being overly loud. Perfect for those who have a passion for old school typewriters!

  • Tactile and audible switching characteristics
  • 50 cN Actuation Force
  • 1.8 mm pre travel Actuation Point
  • 3.6 mm total travel Actuation Point
  • Audible click


While mechanical keyboards generally offer exceptional durability and peak performance, the choice of which mechanical switch to go for depends entirely on your preference.

There is no “one switch” to rule them all.

A gamer who mainly plays fast-paced FPS titles such as Counter Strike or Overwatch can swear by using Clicky switches like Cherry MX Blues.

We all have that friend with natural talent who just dominates at every game, equipped with a stock membrane keyboard.

At the end of the day, we recommend for you to try out different switches to discover the one that suits you best.