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Choosing the Right Mechanical Switch for Your Keyboard: A Buyer’s Guide

by sophiajames
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Mechanical keyboards have gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to their tactile feedback, durability, and customizable typing experience. One of the key factors that can significantly impact your typing or gaming experience is the choice of mechanical switches. With a wide variety of switches available, it’s essential to understand their characteristics and your personal preferences before making a purchase. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll explore the different mechanical switches on the market and help you make an informed decision.

What Are Mechanical Switches?

Mechanical switches are the individual mechanisms underneath each key on a mechanical keyboard. Unlike the rubber dome switches found in most standard keyboards, mechanical switches use physical components to register key presses. These switches are known for their distinct feel and sound, and they’re favored by many typists and gamers alike.

Key Characteristics of Mechanical Switches

Before diving into the various switch options, it’s crucial to understand some key characteristics that differentiate them:

  • Actuation Force: This is the amount of force required to register a keypress. Lighter switches may be preferable for fast typists or gamers, while heavier switches can reduce accidental key presses.
  • Tactility: Some switches provide tactile feedback, meaning you can feel a slight bump when the key actuates. This tactile feedback can enhance typing accuracy and speed.
  • Audibility: Mechanical switches produce different levels of sound when pressed. Some users prefer the audible click of certain switches, while others opt for quieter options to avoid disturbing coworkers or household members.
  • Actuation Point: The actuation point is the distance a key needs to be pressed before a keypress is registered. A shorter actuation point can lead to faster typing or gaming, as the keys register with less effort.
  • Durability: Mechanical switches are known for their durability, with most switches rated for tens of millions of keypresses. This longevity ensures your keyboard will last for years.

Now, let’s explore some common mechanical switch types:


1. Cherry MX Switches

Cherry MX switches are among the most well-known and widely used mechanical switches. They come in various flavors, each denoted by a color:

  • Cherry MX Red: Light and linear with no tactile bump, making them ideal for gaming.
  • Cherry MX Brown: Slightly tactile with a light actuation force, suitable for both typing and gaming.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Tactile and clicky, with a distinctive sound. Great for typists who enjoy the audible feedback.
  • Cherry MX Black: Heavier and linear, preferred by gamers who want to avoid accidental keypresses.

2. Razer Switches

Razer offers its line of mechanical switches, including:

  • Razer Green: Tactile and clicky, similar to Cherry MX Blue, with an audible click.
  • Razer Orange: Tactile but quieter than the Green switches, suitable for both typing and gaming.
  • Razer Yellow: Linear and lightweight, ideal for gaming due to its fast actuation.

3. Gateron Switches

Gateron switches are known for their smooth keystrokes. Some popular options include:

  • Gateron Red: Lightweight and linear, perfect for gaming.
  • Gateron Brown: Tactile and less noisy than clicky switches, making them versatile for various tasks.
  • Gateron Blue: Tactile and clicky, akin to Cherry MX Blue, with a distinct click sound.

4. Kailh Switches

Kailh is another manufacturer offering a range of mechanical switches:

  • Kailh Red: Light, linear, and suitable for gaming.
  • Kailh Brown: Tactile and versatile for typing and gaming.
  • Kailh Box White: Tactile and clicky with a focus on water and dust resistance.

5. Other Switch Manufacturers

Besides the brands mentioned above, there are many other manufacturers and switch types available, such as Outemu, Zealios, and more. Each has its unique characteristics, so it’s worth exploring them if you’re looking for something specific.

Choosing the Right Switch for You

The ideal mechanical switch for your keyboard ultimately depends on your preferences and intended use:

  • Typing: If you type frequently, tactile switches like Cherry MX Brown or Gateron Brown may be your best bet. They offer a satisfying bump without the noise of clicky switches.
  • Gaming: Gamers often prefer linear switches like Cherry MX Red or Gateron Red for their fast actuation and smooth keystrokes.
  • Both Typing and Gaming: If you need a versatile switch for both tasks, consider tactile switches like Cherry MX Brown, Gateron Brown, or Razer Orange.
  • Quiet Workspace: In shared or noise-sensitive environments, opt for quieter switches like Cherry MX Silent Red or Razer Yellow.


Choosing the right mechanical switch is a highly personal decision that can greatly impact your typing and gaming experience. Consider your typing style, noise preferences, and whether you’ll be using the keyboard in a shared space. Don’t hesitate to try out different switches if you have the opportunity to get a hands-on feel for them. By understanding the characteristics of various switches and aligning them with your needs, you can ensure that your mechanical keyboard enhances your productivity and enjoyment. Happy typing and gaming!


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