Mechanical keyboards are defined by their switches. Even if you take two keyboards of the same brand and the same product range with different types of mechanical switches, the typing experience will not be the same. Here is a list of the most common switches used in mechanical keyboards so you can compare them to find one of your own personal preference.
There are different types of keyboards available. Rubber dome keyboards are the most common non-mechanical keyboards. When one of the keys of the keyboard is pressed, the dome underneath the key presses two membranes together to connect the circuit traces on the inner circuit board of the keyboard to register the key press.
Mechanical keyboards are more complicated and use individual mechanical switches below the individual keys of the keyboard. These switches use a spring mechanism and a metal contact to register a key press without the requirement to press the key down to the bottom of the keyboard.
Different types of mechanical switches
There are a lot of different keyboard switches, but there are three types of switches. Linear switches have the simplest design. These mechanical switches move up and down without any additional tactile feedback or clicking noise. Tactile switches provide a form of tactile feedback when you reach the actuation point.
The last type of mechanical keyboard switches are the clicky switches. These switches add an additional click sound when you hit the actuation point. The benefit of both tactile and clicky switches is that you feel or hear when your key press has been registered.
Cherry and Kailh switches
There are two larger manufacturers of mechanical keyboard switches. Cherry is often viewed as the gold standard of mechanical keyboard switches and Kailh is considered as the closest competitor to Cherry. Even though the mechanical switches of Kailh feel different, they offer an alternative for most types of Cherry switches.
Most common linear switches
The linear switch is the most basic mechanical switch. The most popular version is the Cherry MX Red. These switches do not offer tactile feedback or additional click sound. This makes them quieter than other mechanical switches.
Compared to the Cherry MX Black series of linear switches, the force required to reach the actuation point of the Cherry MX Red switches is lower. This means that each key press reaches the actuation point faster and registering each press will be easier on your fingers.
The Kailh Red switch is essential the same as the Cherry MX Red switch, but Kailh Red switch requires a little bit more force to reach the actuation point to register a key press. The Kailh Black switch is comparable to the Cherry MX Black switch and requires more force to register key presses and feels heavier than the Kailh Red and Cherry MX Red switches.
Most common tactile switches
A tactile mechanical switch offers a certain tactile feedback when pressed. The Cherry MX Brown switches are quieter than most other tactile switches in this list. You feel a physical response once you reach the actuation point, but there is no additional click sound. The Cherry MX Brown switches feel as light to press as the Cherry MX Red switches.
The Kailh Brown switches are comparable to the Cherry Brown switches and offer the same kind of tactile feedback when pressed without the additional click sound. This makes them as usable in a professional environment as other linear or tactile switches.
Most common clicky switches
If you are looking for mechanical switches with an additional click sound when pressed, the Cherry MX Blue switches are a good option. They offer a tactile feedback and a click sound when the actuation has been reached. Compared to the Cherry MX Brown switches, the Cherry MX Blue switches are heavier to press.
The Kailh Blue switches are the best alternative to the Cherry MX Blue switches. Seen the Kailh Blue switches offer a tactile feedback and additional click sound. Blue switches are louder than other mechanical switches and not ideal for use in quieter professional environments.
Less common mechanical switches
The mechanical switches mentioned earlier in this post are common switches, but there are also lesser known switches. The Cherry MX Silent Red switches are one of them. These switches are quieter versions of the linear Cherry MX Red switch with rubber pieces inside that dampen the sound of the switch.
If you are looking for a Cherry MX Black switch with an additional click sound, the Cherry MX Green is a good choice. These Cherry MX Green switches are similar to the Cherry MX Blue switches, but even harder to press down.
Experiment with different switches
Seen the number of different mechanical keyboard switches, there is no best switch on the market. Each person will have their own personal preference. Of course, this is not a complete list of the available mechanical keyboard switches. Experiment with different keyboard designs and switches to learn your own preference.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from the Corsair K60 Pro, mechanical keyboard developed and produced by Corsair. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.