Upon entering the world of mechanical keyboard switches, most people are first attracted to mechanical keyboards due to the loud, satisfying clicking noises that some switches make. These sounds open their eyes and ears to the possibilities that mechanical keyboards offer.
However, after the honeymoon phase ends, the keyboard owner is left with a loud keyboard that they can’t use at work or around other people. The loud clicking noise that used to bring such joy to their life, now echoes in the background when attempting to play video games and chatting with friends. The clicks have become a curse that follow you everywhere.
A change is needed, it’s time to change your switches to a quieter option. But with so many silent switch options available, which one is the best?
The top five most silent mechanical keyboard switches are:
- Cherry MX Silent Red/Black
- Matias Quiet Linear
Upon creating this list, we did not rate the switches solely on what was the most silent. We also looked at overall quality and feel, along with the switch type. Whether you are looking for a silent switch for gaming, typing, or streaming, the other factors will help guide you in making a more informed decision and can impact which switch is ideal for you.
Why does Sound Matter?
The sound of a keyboard switch is one of the biggest factors when picking out a switch for your new mechanical keyboard. The other factor is typically the feel of the switch.
If you plan on recording videos, streaming, talking over a microphone, or working in a public space, it’s a good idea to stay away from the loudest and clicky switch types.
The loud switches will create more background noise and microphones will pick up the sound of each keystroke. It’s also good to keep in mind, most people don’t enjoy the sound of your loud keyboard, especially in an enclosed area packed with people.
Avoid these loud switches:
- Cherry MX Blue, Green, and White
- Kailh BOX White, BOX Navy, and Kailh BOX Jade
Not All Sounds Are Created Equal
The pure decibel output of a keyboard switch is not the only factor when it comes to deciding which switch is the best pick for you. While certain switches may be quieter than others, a switch that emits a higher-pitched sound tends to be get picked up more on microphones and is more disturbing to those around you.
A deep, low-pitched sounding switch on the other hand, will be less intrusive and tends to not get picked up by microphones as much, even if it’s louder. The lower-pitched sound is generally much more pleasing on the ears and is a sound most keyboard switch manufacturers and enthusiasts attempt to go for when buying a keyboard.
Other sound factors include the amount the switch rattles and shakes. Rattling is when the switch is not fully secured or machined to a tight tolerance, this makes the moving components inside the switch bang against each other instead of smoothly sliding up and down.
The rattling increases the noise output of the keyboard and makes the sound output much more unpleasant. Because of this, we considered this factor when making our top five list.
Your Keyboard Case & Stabilizers Matter
It’s important to note that the switch is not the only factor that determines the sound of the keystroke. The overall build material of the case can change the overall feel and sound of each key.
For example, the lighter and more flexible materials such as plastic, tend to create more noise and dampen the sound less. The flexible material allows the vibrations and sound to travel through the keyboard, instead of reducing the overall decibel output.
Case materials such as aluminum, steel, and acrylic are heavier and sturdier. Because of their denser build material, they can dampen the sound of the keystrokes more effectively, creating a quieter and deeper sounding switch.
The stabilizers are also a big factor in determining the overall sound output of your keyboard. Stabilizers are placed under your larger keys, such as your spacebar, and reduce the amount the key shakes when pressed. Therefore, stabilizing it.
By reducing the amount the keys shake, stabilizers can lower the overall sound output of your keyboard. There are several ways to make your stabilizers more effective at reducing shakiness and ratting of your keys, but we’ll get into that later.
Switch type matters: Tactile vs Linear
#1 Pick: ZealPC Healios
Our first pick is the Healios, a silent linear switch made by ZealPC. This is the quietest linear switch available on the market, and an excellent option for those who want to keep their typing sounds low.
The Healios have a silencing bumper to dampen not only the bottom out sounds, but also the up-stroke sounds. This means that the switch is silenced when pressed and released.
The switch also has a 67g bottom out force, which is slightly on the heavier side. Most mechanical keyboard switches have a bottom out force of around 50-60g.
Keep in mind these switches are on the pricier side, coming out to $1.20 each. It’s hard to beat the quality and sound of these switches though, so the price may be worth it for you.
#2 Pick: ZealPC Zilents V2
Second up on our list is the ZealPC Zilent V2.
The Zilents are very similar to the Healios, but they are tactile instead of linear. The Zilents have a big smooth bump to provide tactile feedback to the user, and unlike other switches the bump starts at the very start of the key press with no pre-travel.
This means the keystroke does not happen unless you press hard enough to clear the bump, which removes user error from “half-pressing” a key. Coming in four different bottom-out forces, each Zilent variation offers its own feel and resistance. The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g.
At a price of $1.20 each, these are not cheap switches but similar to the Healios, the quality is great.
#3 Pick: ZealPC Zealios
Third on our list is the ZealPC Zealios. Notice a trend here?
While very similar to the Zilents, the Zealios are also a tactile switch that are slightly louder. The main difference is the overall tactility is more prominent. They have a slightly larger bump and because of that make more noise. I have personally used the Zealios and prefer the feel to them over the Zilents, although they are slightly louder.
The different weights include 62g, 65g, 67g, and 78g for the bottom-out force.
Coming in at $1.00 each, the price is more affordable than the first two options on the list. Making it a better pick for those trying to keep their costs low.
#4 Pick: Cherry MX Silent Red/Black
The Cherry MX Silent switches are linear with a 3.7mm total travel distance. They are slightly quieter than the other Cherry MX linear switches with a similar feel.
Cherry attributes the dampening to “patented technology”, and I believe they achieved this by making a heavier duty switch housing that vibrates less and produces less noise.
The Silent Reds have a 45 g bottom-out force and the Silent Blacks have a 60g bottom-out force.
The Cherry MX Silent switches are ranked number four because they produce a slightly louder and higher pitched noise than all of the ZealPC switches listed above.
#5 Pick: Matias Quiet Linear
The Matias Quiet Linear is a truly quiet switch made for court stenographers and anyone else working in a environment where they need to keep the typing sounds low.
The spring has a unique design where there is more resistance at the start of the keypress that gradually decreases as the internal spring is compressed.
The Matias Quiet switches are slightly louder than the other options on the list, but are still a great pick for anyone looking for a quiet switch.
These are the cheapest on the list by far, coming in at $50 for a box of 200 switches. Or about $0.25 each.
How to Make Your Keyboard Even Quieter
There are a lot of silent switch options out there, and we hope we’ve helped you narrow down your search. For some people, however, even with the silent switches, your keyboard may still feel too loud.
Do not fear! There are several other options you can do to lower the sound of your keyboard. Such as adding a dampener inside your keyboard case, lubricating your switches, adding O-rings, and other great options. Check out this post for a more in-depth write up on how to lower the sound output of your keyboard.
In general, there are a lot of factors that effect the overall sound output of your keyboard including the case, stabilizers, and switches. In this article, we went over our top five picks for the best mechanical keyboard switch to make your keyboard more quiet.
Our top pick was the ZealPC Healios with the Zilents in close second. Both of these switches are incredibly silent and have excellent build quality. While a bit on the pricier side, they are worth it if your budget allows it. If not, there are other great options on this list that are more affordable as well.
We also recommend ordering a sample pack to test out several different switch types to figure out the best switch for you.
We hope you found some helpful information in this post and are one step closer to getting your next keyboard.
And, as always, happy typing!