The perfect tactile switch can be tough to find. We’re going to help you pick out a tactile switch by laying out a list of our favorites based on sound, feel, and performance. We have tested dozens and dozens of different switches to pin down that perfect tactile switch.
The Best Tactile Switches for your Mechanical Keyboard:
- Zealios by ZealPC
- Halo Clear
- Cherry MX Clear
- Kailh Speed Copper
We’ll dive deeper into why we chose each tactile switch and ranked them the way we did. We will also go over their specifications, how long they last, and include our opinions on the way they feel and sound, because with tactile switches it is incredibly important.
What Are Tactile Switches?
I’ll briefly explain some of the lingo commonly thrown around in the mechanical keyboard world because if you’re totally new it can get quite confusing. A mechanical keyboard switch refers to the switch under each key that supports your finger through the keystroke and registers each entry. On mechanical keyboards, each key has its own dedicated switch, which makes for some high quality and extremely durable keyboards that have some fancy features such as N-key rollover (being able to press multiple keys and once and everything will register).
Tactile switches are a type of switch that focus on producing a tactile bump and a relatively quiet audible click with each keystroke. There are other switch types as well (linear and clicky) but for now we will focus primarily on tactile. Tactile switches offer great feedback when typing, so you know by the sound and feel everything is working properly and all of your keystrokes are getting logged. Not to mention they are incredibly satisfying and fun to use.
Should You Get a Tactile Switch?
Tactile switches are fun to use and offer great feedback whilst typing, but there are some factors you should consider before purchasing a keyboard with tactile switches. Tactile switches are a great switch for beginners or anyone new to mechanical keyboards. They will be undoubtedly and upgrade from your normal laptop keyboard or membrane style keyboard. Anyone can pick up a keyboard with tactile switches and enjoy the satisfying bumps on each keystroke.
When typing tactile switches produce a bump of varying sizes (depending on the switch) and emit a small clicky sound. The tactile switches are not quite as loud as a clicky switch, so you should be able to use them in a public setting without drawing too much attention to yourself with the noise. We highly recommend a tactile switch for someone getting a mechanical keyboard the first time.
Our Picks for Best Tactile Switches
Now that we’ve explained a little bit about tactile switches, let’s dive into our favorite tactile switches and explore the details of each switch. Keep in mind some of the ranking is subjective, based our own opinions on what feels and sounds the best. That being said, we feel that choosing any switch on our list is a safe bet and will leave you with an awesome tactile keyboard.
1. Zealios V2 by ZealPC
When it comes to tactile switches, it’s hard to beat the Zealios by ZealPC. These tactile switches have an awesome bump, are incredibly quiet, stable, and are one of the best high-end switches on the market. Keep in mind they are quite pricey, as most products are from ZealPC. If you have a larger budget for your mechanical keyboard, we recommend checking out the Zealios switch. If you’re not convinced, you can compare the Zealios with the standard Cherry MX switches with this switch tester from Amazon.
The Zealios V2 are offered with several different actuation forces (how heavy the switch is): 62g, 65g, 67g and 78g. We recommend the 65g switch for those who type normally and the 78g switch for those who type with lead fingers. All of variations of the Zealios last for 50 million keystrokes. The Zealios might be best for a hobbyist or someone who has used a mechanical keyboard for a while.
2. Halo Clear
Halo Clears are another great tactile switch. The Clears have a focus on a “pre-loaded” spring. The pre-loaded spring puts the tactile bump at the start of the keystroke, so you can rest your fingers on the keys without the switches actuating. Once you get past the tactile bump, the resistance lowers and then increases towards the end of the keystroke. Compared to other tactile switches, the Halo Clears have a heavier feel to them with a 65g tactile force and a 78g bottom-out force.
The Halo Clears have a long lifespan of 80 million keystrokes and a travel distance of 4mm, which is pretty standard for a mechanical keyboard switch. You can either buy the Halo Clear switch separately on Amazon, or included in the Drop ALT which is one of our favorite mechanical keyboards of all time.
3. Cherry MX Clear/Brown
The Cherry MX Clear/Brown are the most standard tactile switch you can buy. The main difference between the Brown and Clear is the spring force, with the MX Clear switches being heavier than the MX Brown switch. Both switches have a nice, pronounced tactile bump and make a nice thud noise on each keystroke. Cherry MX Browns are one of the most common switches available so you should be able to find them on quite a few different pre-built keyboards. The MX Clear switches are a little less common, so you may need to buy them separately.
Cherry MX switches are the king when it comes to durability and reliability. They are rated for up to 100 million keystrokes and go through rigorous quality testing before reaching the customer. Both Cherry MX switches have a travel distance of 4mm which will give a very normal feeling keystroke. You can find the Cherry MX Brown and the Cherry MX Clear on Amazon.
4. Kailh Speed Copper
For those of you looking for a lighter, faster actuating tactile switch, the Kailh Speed Copper could be an awesome pick for you. The tactile bump is slightly less pronounced, but it still offers some great tactile feedback. These would be an excellent option for someone who does a lot of gaming, as the Speed Copper switch has a slightly shorter travel distance which can save you milliseconds in competitive games that require a lightning fast reaction time.
The total travel distance is 3.5mm as compared to the 4mm travel distance of the Cherry MX switches. The 0.5mm difference may not seem like a big deal, but the actual point at which it registers the keystroke is 1.1mm. So, there is a big difference in the distance travelled before activating the key. The Kailh Speed switches are rated for 70 million keystrokes, so while not at durable as Cherry MX, they are still quite long-lasting. You can find the Kailh Speed Copper through this link to NovelKeys.
5. Topre Switch
Topre switches are a little different than the normal tactile switch, instead they are electrostatic, capacitive keyboard switches that have the feel of a rubber dome keyboard with all the benefits of a mechanical switch such as more tactility, less noise, and a non-mushy bottom-out. They are available on a limited number of keyboards. Topre switches are similar to Cherry MX browns with more “thonk” and a crispier tactile feedback.
Topre switches can be a lot of fun to use and offer a very unique typing experience. You can find them on keyboards such as the Leopold FC660C or the Happy Hacking keyboard. If you’re interested, you can read more about them though this post.
All right, that does it for our list of favorite tactile mechanical keyboard switches. We went over what exactly a tactile switch is, what you should look for in a tactile switch, and our picks. Our favorite tactile switch is the Zealios V2, followed by the Halo Clear, Cherry MX Clear/Brown, Kailh Speed Copper, and then the Topre switch. Do you agree with this list?
Picking the right tactile switch can be difficult as there are just so many different options out there. We recommend ordering a switch tester and testing out several different switches at once because you don’t want to get stuck with a switch you don’t enjoy. You want a switch that feels amazing, sounds great, and doesn’t break your budget.
Thanks for reading and happy typing!