Cherry MX vs Gateron Switches: Which is Better?


Cherry MX and Gateron switches are some of the most popular switches currently on the market. The question is, which switch type is better? Let’s compare the two switches and break down the overall price, performance, and durability of each switch.

When comparing Gateron and Cherry MX switches, the main difference is the feel. Gateron switches are smoother, which make them feel better than Cherry. Cherry MX switches last longer than Gateron switches but are pricier. If you’re on a budget Gateron switches are the way to go, while Cherry can be better for a higher-end keyboard.

Let’s look at the different switches and compare them based on a variety of factors. We’ll also go over the specifications for both switches to see how they differ on a technical level.

Cherry MX vs Gateron: Which is Better?

Cherry MXGateron
ScratchierSmoother
Longer lastingShorter lifespan
More expensiveBudget-friendly
Slightly louderQuieter
Less varietyMore options
Easier to findHarder to find

Overall Feel: Winner = Gateron

When looking at overall feel, we’re determining which feels better to use and would be the best for an enjoyable gaming and typing experience. From our experience testing out dozens of switches from both Gateron and Cherry, we’ve concluded that Gateron switches feel better overall.

Gateron switches, especially the linear switch variation, feel extra smooth to use. The switch design has a smaller stem which allows for a smoother keystroke. Cherry switches are toleranced more precisely which makes the stem fit more tightly.

When looking at switch variations other than linear, however, the playing field is a bit more even. Cherry MX tactile and clicky switch variations such as the Blue and Brown switches are comparable overall to the Gateron switch variation.

The winner for overall feel is Gateron because their linear switches are smoother than Cherry MX, but if you’re looking at other switch types it’s tied.

Price: Winner = Gateron

When looking at the price between both switches, Gateron wins hands down as they are significantly cheaper than Cherry MX switches. Cherry MX switches are produced in Germany and undergo extremely strict temperature and stress testing to make sure they have a long lifespan.

Gateron switches on the other hand are produced out of a factory in China and it’s unclear about what sort of testing is done on the switches. With Cherry MX you are getting an extremely reliable (albeit expensive) switch. With Gateron, you don’t really know what you’re getting out of the box.

Gateron switches are also considered a clone switch, which means they copy the design of the original Cherry MX switch. The patent for the Cherry MX switch expired a while ago, so now there are dozens of clone switches being produced from companies such as Gateron, Kailh, and Outemu.

Gateron takes the design of the Cherry MX switches and produces them in a cheaper way by slashing the expensive costs of producing parts in Europe and the strenuous testing of Cherry MX switches. Instead they are made out of a factory in China.

Overall Gateron wins in price, but there is a definite trade-off when choosing the cheaper option in this situation.

Durability: Winner = Cherry MX

As mentioned in the previous section, you can’t beat Cherry MX when it comes to quality standards, so Cherry MX destroys Gateron in this area.

Cherry MX switches are rated for a lifespan double that of Gateron. Cherry MX switches can last 100 million keystrokes before deviating from factory conditions. After the limit is reached, the switch can still work perfectly fine, but it will no longer follow the ideal force curve.

Instead the switch will feel slightly different, but some keyboard enthusiasts find the worn-in feel to be incredibly enjoyable to use and prefer that over stock.

Gateron switches are rated for 50 million keystrokes, which is still an insanely high number. Mechanical switches are incredibly durable in general and a Gateron switch will last you a long time. They just don’t quite meet the same quality standards as Cherry MX.

Cherry beats Gateron in terms of quality, but you do have to question how big of a difference that makes when most people won’t wear in their current keyboard to the 50 million keystroke mark.

Noise Level: Winner = Gateron

Being more smooth and less scratchy, Gateron switches produce slightly less noise than Cherry MX switches.

The smoother keystroke means that there is less friction and rubbing which leads to a lower sound output.

If you compare the general sound level of Gateron switches to Cherry, Gateron switches should be quieter accross the board, however in a few switch color variations, Cherry MX might be louder.

Gateron switches win this section because they are quieter, but since some people prefer a louder switch, it ultimately comes down to preference.

If you’re looking at clicky switches, a loud noise is ideal, in which case Cherry would be the winner.

Both Cherry and Gateron have their own ilent switch variations, which significantly reduce the noise level when typing and gaming. The silent switches have small bits of rubber to dampen the impact of the switch on each keystroke. Gateron has options for Red, Black, and Brown switches while Cherry MX has options just for Red and Black.

Variety: Winner = Gateron

Both Gateron and Cherry have a ton of different switch options available. Both manufacturers offer the normal lineup, silent switches, low-profile, and more.

If you look at the pure number of different switch options available, Gateron actually wins. They have more silent switch variations, the entire Gateron Ink lineup, and switches that have a milky housing for better LED light dispersment.

Cherry does offer their own speed switch, which Gateron does not, so if you need a speedy switch for gaming, that could be a good option. It ultimately comes down to what you need for your setup and which switch options fit those needs.

Gateron does have some truly unique switches, they are not all just Cherry MX clones. The Gateron Ink switches are a unique design that focus on producing a smoother keystroke by using a different type of plastic. They are pretty well-recieved in the mechanical keyboard community, and our experience with the Ink switches has been enjoyable.

For purely the number of switches available, Gateron wins the variety category in this comparison.

Easier to Find: Winner = Cherry MX

If you’re brand new to mechanical keyboards and trying to pick out your first keyboard, you’ll most likely be directed to a keyboard with Cherry MX switches.

Cherry MX switches are the most popular switch variation available and you can find them on most mid-range to high-range keyboards. Keyboard manufacturers that build their keyboards with Cherry MX switches will usually market that aspect of the design because it is attractive to the buyer that the switches will be durable and long-lasting.

Gateron switches are a bit harder to find. You usually can’t find a mechanical keyboard with Gateron switches if you get if from a big box store such as Best Buy or Microcenter. Instead, you’ll need to look at online stores such as Amazon to find the right keyboard.

Since they are cheaper, you’ll usually find Gateron switches on the lower-priced keyboards which makes them an awesome option if you’re trying to save money on your next keyboard.

Overall, keyboards with Cherry MX switches are much easier to find as most of the popular brands use their switches.

Easier to Mod: TIED

Modding your switches can be an excellent way to improve the sound and feel of your switch, such as lubing or filming. But which switch is easier to mod?

If you look at the overall bones of both switch designs, they follow a very build. The switches are held together with four small plastic clips that you unclip to take the switch apart.

You can take apart a switch with a switch puller or a small screwdriver, which you can read more about how-to do it in this article.

But in general, the overall design of both switches is too similar to crown a winner for which one is easier to mod. For that reason, this category comes down to tie between Cherry MX and Gateron.

Switch Specifications

Now that we’ve gone over the which switch wins in each category, let’s look at the switch specifications so we can see if there are any major differences between the individual switch colors produced by both companies.

We’re looking for a difference in travel distance, actuation type, and actuation force to see how it may affect the feel and sound of each switch.

Cherry MX Switches

COLORTYPEOPERATING FORCEACTIVATION POINTNOISE LEVEL
ClearTactile65cN2mmLow
RedLinear45cN2mmLow
SilverLinear45cN1.2mmLow
BlackLinear60cN2mmLow
BlueClicky60cN2.3mmLoud
GreenClicky80cN2.4mmLoud
BrownTactile55cN2mmMedium

Gateron Switches

COLORTYPEOPERATING FORCEACTIVATION POINTNOISE LEVEL
ClearLinear35cN2mmLow
RedLinear45cN2mmLow
YellowLinear50cN2mmLow
BlackLinear60cN2mmLow
BlueClicky60cN2.3mmLoud
GreenClicky80cN2.4mmLoud
BrownTactile55cN2mmMedium

As you can see from the table above, the main difference between the Gateron and Cherry MX switch lineup is the Clear switch.

The Cherry MX Clear is a heavy tactile switch, while the Gateron Clear is a super-light linear switch. While neither switch is especially common, it could be a mistake to think they’re the same and accidentally get the wrong type of switch.

Another difference, is the Cherry MX Speed Silver. The Speed Silver is a linear switch with a shorter travel distance which in theory is supposed to decrease the reaction time and make you more competitive in game.

From our experience, Speed switches have no impact on overall reaction time, which leads us to believe the gaming advantage is mostly marketing.

Gateron does not currently have their own speed switch available, so if you are interested in trying out a shorter travel distance switch, you’ll need to get the Cherry MX Speed Silver.

There are many other switches that are not included in these tables as well, but they are much less common, so we did not include them. If you want a more detailed overview of every switch offered by both companies, you’ll need to check out the respective guides for Gateron and Cherry.

Explaining the Different Switch Terms

In the tables above, we went over all of the different switch metrics such as travel distance and actuation force. To somebody from the outside, this may seem a little overwhelming, so we included a quick glossary below.

  • Actuation Type – This indicates the behavior of the key and whether it is linear, tactile, or clicky. Whether the keystroke is smooth, bumpy, or loud will determine its classification.
  • Actuation Force – this refers to the force required to make the key press down and register the keystroke to the computer. I.e.: how hard you must press the key. This measurement of (g) refers to grams.
  • Actuation Distance – this indicates at which point the switch is pressed down hard enough to translate information from keyboard to computer. Most switches will have an actuation point of around 2mm unless the switch is low-profile or speed, in which case the activation point is shorter. This pressure point is measured in millimeters (mm).
  • Travel Distance – the travel distance of a switch is the distance from the top of the key (un-pressed) to the bottom of the key (when pressed all the way down.) The point at which the switch is fully bottomed out is the end of the travel distance. It is also measured in millimeters (mm).
  • Lifespan – this refers to the number of keystrokes that can be made before the switch deviates from its factory conditions. Most switches will actually last longer than the lifespan, and many prefer the feel of a well-used switch to a brand new one. A well-used switch will often have a less scratchy feel and will have a better sound.

Conclusion

Ultimately, choosing between Cherry MX and Gateron switches comes down to preference. Some may prefer a smoother feeling switch, others may want a switch that will last until the day they die.

If you’re looking for a really good budget-friendly option that won’t dissapoint, look no further than Gateron switches. They are quite cheap, super smooth, and have a ton of variety. Gateron switches don’t have the best durability, but for the price, you can’t complain too much.

If you need a switch that will last your entire lifetime that is super durable and consistent, Cherry MX switches are your best bet. While they may be a little scratchy and pricey, they do make up for it in the overall quality of the switch.

We recommend trying out both switch types before committing to a purchase, because you may find that Cherry MX switches feel better, or some other niche switch is what you really want. A switch tester is a great way to test out a ton of different switches, or you can go to a local Microcenter and test out all of the different keyboards there.

You can find a switch tester on Amazon with a ton of different switch options available.

Happy Typing!

Jake Harrington

Jake has been an avid mechanical keyboard user for the past six years. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and wants to apply his expertise to break down how mechanical keyboards and other tech work to show the world all of the cool aspects of the hobby.

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