Here at Switch and Click, we’ve created an ultimate guide on common mechanical keyboard switches.
Do not fear, everything you need to know is here.
When you first think of a mechanical keyboard, you think they’re very clicky and audible for each key press. Well, that can sometimes be true. But there are other kinds of switches, the part of the keyboard that registers your press and sends it to your computer.
Unlike a membrane keyboard, which is what you feel when typing on a typical commercial keyboard, a mechanical keyboard has a higher quality feel.
They are typically spring activated and each individual key on your keyboard has its own separate switch.
In this article, we look at the most common ones, Cherry MX switches, which are renown as the gold standard for mechanical switches.
First, we’ll start with discussing the three common types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky.
Linear switches are what they say they are. It has a linear mechanism.
These switches move straight up and down with no bump or click when they actuate, which means they are smooth as butter to press.
Typically, these are used by gamers who need a quick and response keyboard with light presses to ensure quick reactions during gaming.
Common switches here are the Cherry MX Reds and Blacks.
Tactile switches are bumpy. They provide feedback when you type on them.
These switches are relatively quiet. When you press on these switches, you’ll feel a bump in the middle somewhere.
This makes this kind of key great for typing since you get to feel when the button registers and that lets you know that you can let go now and move on.
Common switch types here are the Cherry MX Browns.
Clicky switches are just like the tactile switches, but they provide an audio feedback as well, in the click. This is what you typically think of when you hear “mechanical keyboard.”
If you love the clicky sound, this is for you.
Common switch types here are the Cherry MX Blues.
Cherry MX Switches
Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Red switches are linear switches, which means that when you press on them you do not feel a bump or a click when you actuate the switch.
The distance of these switches is 4mm with an actuation point at 2mm.
These switches are very light to press, requiring only 45g of force.
They are typically used by gamers who need to press keys quickly and responsively to react within a game. For typing, these switches are not considered the most optimal since there is no tactile feel when a key is registered.
One pro about the red switches is that they are extremely quiet, which is beneficial when typing in a household or workplace where you don’t want to distract others. The only sound you’ll be hearing is when the switch bottoms out.
Cherry MX Black
The Cherry MX Blacks are a heavier version of reds with the force of blues.
These switches are linear and quiet. They require 60g of force and have the same distance and actuation point as the other Cherry MX switches as well.
On these switches, it gets heavier as it bottoms out. When typing a lot, these tend to cause finger fatigue due to their actuation force.
They make a good combination between reds and blues.
Cherry MX Brown
Cherry MX Browns are tactile, yet quiet. This means that you get the feedback from typing and feel when the key registers without the clicky noise.
Like other Cherry MX switches, they have a travel distance of 4mm with an actuation point at 2mm. These are relatively light switches, also requiring 45 of force.
Cherry MX Blue
Cherry MX Blue switches are what you think of when you think mechanical keyboard.
These are very loud and clicky. They have a travel distance of 4mm and actuation is at 2mm. These are heavier than the other switches and require 50g of force.
I don’t recommend bringing these switches to your workplace to type on. I’ve done it before, and you can clear the clicky-clacky from another room away. It’s almost embarrassing to type on these at work.
On a side note, there is not much that can dampen the sounds of these clicks, especially if you’re streaming on Twitch or Youtube. The audience will hear every single click. Not even O-rings will save you here.
In summary, Cherry MX switches are the gold standard to mechanical keyboard switches.
We’ve looked at the general characteristics of the most popular Cherry MX switches: reds, blacks, browns, and blues.
If you’d like to learn more about Cherry MX switches, I would recommend going to their website (not affiliated) to have a closer look at each one.
When you are shopping around for your first mechanical keyboard, try different keyboards with different switches.
You might want to feel the feedback when you type, or you want to hear it. On the other hand, you might be gaming and want a linear switch.
Try different switches out and see what works for you. Everyone is different in the way that they type and game.
There is no holy grail switch to rule them all, so don’t worry about getting the best switch.
It all depends on your preferences.
Here are some questions that may help you find the answer to “Which one should I get?”
- Are you typically going to use your keyboard for typing or gaming?
- Do you like to hear the clicking sounds when you press the keys?
- Do you type lightly or press the keys until they touch the bottom?
- Do you like the tactile feedback when typing?
While there are tons of other switches out there from different brands and manufacturers, this is a basic overlook of the most common types of switches that Cherry MX offers.
Hopefully, this article helped you out. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post it in the comments below! Thank you for reading and have an awesome day.