What Are Topre Switches? Are They Better Than Cherry?

Topre switches
Image from Xahlee.info

Recently, we went to a Seattle Mechanical Keyboard meetup. There were so many different switches to try there, most of which we’ve heard but some we haven’t. A special switch that we didn’t know much about was the Topre switch, which someone told us a mix between a rubber dome and a mechanical switch. Interesting, so we did a lot more research about what it is and if they’re better than Cherry switches. What are Topre switches, and are they better than Cherry switches?

Topre switches 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 keys. Topre switches are similar to Cherry MX browns with more “thonk” and a crispier tactile feedback. It is difficult to compare Topre vs. Cherry because there is a large variety of Cherry switches, and it is up to personal preference in the end.

Topre switches are only available in certain keyboards and have a unique feel. Some love them, and others don’t feel that they’re worth the premium price.

History of Topre Switches and What are They?

Topre switches are made by TOPRE Corporation. They are a Japanese manufacturer and are the only people that make Topre switches. TOPRE Corporation started making mechanical keyboard switches in 1983. Topre switches were first patented in 1986.

They are electrostatic capacitive non-contact keyboard switches. What does this mean? When you press a Topre switch, the first thing that moves is the plunger, it gets pushed down. This compresses the rubber dome, and a spring lives inside of the dome. When the electrical capacitance between the spring and the PCB (printed circuit board) reaches a certain amount, it registers a key press. Each rubber dome and conical spring is easily replaceable if one happens to break as they are all their separate parts.

Here is TOPRE’s patent for this kind of switch for more information.

These are also some of the most expensive switches on the market. Many Topre keyboards are over $200.

How do Topre Switches Feel?

Topre switches are comfortable and snappy to type on. They were designed with the primary goal of being a typing keyboard.

When typing on a membrane keyboard, the keyboard feels very mushy due to the membrane. Topre keyboards have a rubber dome that can be adjusted to change the tactile feedback. This enables Topre switches to not feel mushy when bottoming out or pressing the key until it’s at the very bottom.

Many feel that due to Topre’s special design, these switches must be tried out before committing to one due to its high price point. However, because of this, they also resell nicely without suffering much of a loss.

If you’re used to Cherry Browns, Topre switches can be described as similar, but with a better sound that’s less rattly or noisy and a crisp tactile feedback. Typing on it is very smooth. Some say it’s like “typing on pillows.”

They come in different force options, ranging from 35g to 55g. These are average forces because it doesn’t have a homed in actuation force or point.

There are many differing opinions on Topre switches. Some say that it’s just an overpriced rubber dome keyboard. Others feel that Topre switches are the smoothest switches in the world to type on.

What do Topre Switches Sound Like?

As for what they sound like, here is a sound clip of a comparison of different Topre switches vs. Cherry Browns and another sound clip of Topre switches. And another sound clip.

If you’re going to buy a Topre keyboard, it probably will be for the sound. It has a low-pitched bumpy sound and does not bother the ears while you’re typing.

There is no springy or clangy sound that you may hear in Cherry MX switches. It’s a mellow and soft sound.

What Mechanical Keyboards Have Topre Switches?

There are a limited number of keyboards available with Topre switches. It’s not possible to trial Topre switches by themselves like MX style switches such as Kailh or Cherry because you need a special PCB, housing, spring, rubber dome, and plunger. To get Topre switches, the only option is to cannibalize a pre-assembled mechanical keyboard with Topre switches.

A big benefit for Topre switches is that you can replace the individual rubber domes if one starts feeling mushy or different than the others. You can also get higher force rubber domes or lower force ones if you want. For the keyboards below, the “actuation” force ranges from 35g to 55g of average force.

Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB)

HHKB
Image by u/brianlzf

The Happy Hacking Keyboard (HHKB) is legendary within the community for its design and Topre switches.

HHKB makes several different keyboards, all of which are relatively similar. The Happy Hacking keyboard’s design first emerged in 1992 by Professor Eiiti Wada. The HHKB is light and compact with a 60% layout with 60 keys. It easily fits in your bag for easy transportation and saves space on your desk.

The HHKB is primarily all plastic. It is a light and compact 60% keyboard. It has two open spaces on the bottom left and bottom right spaces with the brand being on the bottom right side. It has a clean design in stealth black or grey.

The bottom of the keyboard has two rubber feet and 2 flip-out feet with 2 different angles. The back of the keyboard offers 2 low-powered USB drives, which you can connect mice or USB ports. However, being low-powered, it won’t be able to power headsets.

There are six DIP switches on the back as well. The bottom of the keyboard explains exactly what each DIP switch does.

The layout of this keyboard is non-standard with the FN key being on the same row as the Shift key. It may be difficult to get used to this layout. The backspace is also lower than it normally is by one row, so it sits right above the Enter key.

A downside is that there are empty spaces on the bottom of the keyboard that are unused. Why not add 2 keys there instead of empty space? The CapsLock is also not a dedicated key. Instead, it exists on another layer. Where the CapsLock currently is, there is a Control button instead.

Overall, it takes time to get used to this layout. However, once people have gotten used to this keyboard, others were not able to switch back to the regular layout without feeling disadvantaged.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S model and the Pro Hybrid can connect to PCs wirelessly via Bluetooth or via a USB-C cable. The Pro Classic is only able to connect via USB-C.

The Pro Hybrid Type-S and the Pro Hybrid both are fully programmable. You can make your own custom keymaps using their keymapping software. The curvature and layout of the keyboards reduce hand and finger fatigue because you leave the home row keys much less often due to the closer Backspace.

The keycaps are PBT plastic with dye-sublimated key legends that never fade. You can also choose to have blank keycaps rather than printed.

Now for the price: The HHKB ranges from $190 to $280, depending on which model you pick.

Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Mechanical Keyboard

The Cooler Master Novatouch TKL Keyboard has hybrid capacitive switches.  It has N-key rollover, only for Windows. This keyboard is not compatible with Mac computers. It’s also a TKL keyboard with 87 keys.

It also has a repeat rate modification, which changes what happens when a key is held down, ranging from 1x to 8x. I’m not sure why this would be super useful other than for gaming.

There are two kickstands in the back with 4 rubber feet. The Cooler Master branding is super subtly in the back of the keyboard. It has a Micro USB cable which is detachable.

It has a black case with white laser-etched legend keycaps. Unlike other keyboards that may not let you switch out your keycaps due to its non-standard stem, this keyboard does. It has a MX-stem, which is compatible with custom keycap sets.

The keyboard comes with O-rings to make the keyboard quieter if necessary. However, the keyboard is very quiet in the first place.  The switches have 45g of force for actuation and 4mm of travel distance.

One downside is that the Cooler Master Novatouch is not available in most retail stores, not even Amazon. It is available after-market, however.

Leopold FC660C/FC980C

The Leopold FC660C is a 65% mechanical keyboard, while the Leopold FC980C is a full-sized keyboard.

The base price of the FC660C is $239 on MechanicalKeyboards.com, and the FC980C is $259. Both come in different colors, such as black, blue and gray, white, and gray. They come with two switch options, the Topre 45g and the Topre Silent 45g (for $10 more).

Here is a sound clip of the Leopold FC660C with Topre 45g switches with the stock factory lubrication. The stabilizers have been lubed.

Here is a sound clip of the FC980C. They sound very similar. The only difference in them is size. The full-sized version differs from other full-size keyboards in the fact that it’s a compact version. The arrow keys are positioned in a cut-out area between the number pad and the alphanumeric keys. The browser buttons such as Home, Delete, PgUp, and PgDn are on top like the function row. The image below shows this.

Leopold FC980C
Image from MechanicalKeyboards.com
Leopold FC660C
Image from u/commontao

Both keyboards come with dye sublimated PBT keyboards with black/white legends depending on which keyboard color you go with. They have a detachable cable design with a mini-USB port. It also has four DIP switches on the back to swap key functions like Ctrl, Alt, Fn, etc.

Topre Realforce

The Topre Realforce is available in different varieties. There is a full-sized black keyboard with RGB version with ABS keycaps, a full-sized white PBT keycap version, a full-sized black PBT keycap version, a TKL Dye Sub PBT white and gray version, a TKL Dye Sub PBT black version, and then the variable Topre versions in black or white.

They have cable management built into the back of the keyboard. There are 4 DIP switches on the back. There are four rubber feet with 2 kickstands for some typing angle adjustability. The typing angle without the kickstands are already slightly inclined.

The variable Topre keyboards have 4 different weights on the keyboard: 30g, 45g, and 55g. The Esc key has 55g of force. All of the keys have 45g of force except the following: 1, Q, A, Z, 9. 0, -, +, O, P, [, ], L, ;, “, >, and ?. Mechanicalkeyboards.com has this in visual form on their product page.

The prices of all the versions are over $200. They range from $209 to $259. The switch options range from Topre Variable, Topre 55g, and Topre 45g.  

Mechanism Behind Why Mechanical Keyboards Can Be So Loud (with Sound Clips)

hyperx mechanical keyboard switches
Photo by Shrimay Dash on Unsplash

When I first started typing on a mechanical keyboard, the only switches available, at least I thought, were the clicky and loud switches. I started to wonder exactly why mechanical switches can be so noisy. So, I did some research, and this is what I found out. What makes a mechanical keyboard switch so loud?

Clicky mechanical switches such as Cherry MX Blues have a mechanism within each individual switch that produces a high-pitched clicking noise when the key actuates. Inside a switch is a stem, a plastic bottom and top housing, a spring, a slider component, and a leaf switch. When the key is pressed, the slider component builds up force on the leaf switch as it slides down. When the slider releases, it hits the housing, causing the clicky sound. Other switches that are also clicky have followed the Cherry MX Blue model, and most companies have kept the same color with some exceptions.

In addition of the mechanism of the switch itself, there are other sources of sounds that can make a mechanical keyboard make extra sounds such as rattles and echoes.

Why Do Clicks Matter?

There are two important factors to consider when picking a keyboard switch. They are sound and feel. For many, sound is a crucial element to consider because it’ll be something that you’ll listen to everyday as you’re typing.

For many, having a clicky mechanical keyboard makes them feel as if they’re typing super-fast. When people think of mechanical keyboard, the thought of clicks instantly enters their mind.

If you plan on doing things such as recording videos, live-streaming gameplay, or bringing your keyboard into your workplace, it may be a good idea to avoid getting these loud clicky switches. We have a guide on the top 5 quietest switches. But since you’re here, you probably want a clicky switch.

What Are Some Other Sources of Sounds in Your Mechanical Keyboard?

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.

The material of the keyboard also makes a difference when it comes to sound. A plastic case will create more sound for each key press. An aluminum case or acrylic is denser and will dampen the sounds more, causing less ringing.

Another factor is the stabilizer. Stabilizers can make rattling sounds when they are not effective at reducing the shakiness, especially the space bar. For different techniques and strategies to make your keyboard more silent, we wrote a thorough guide on how to do so. This could also help with clicky switches because you want to only hear the switch click, not the stabilizer rattle or the spring clang in the background after each press.

white meechanical keyboard
Photo by wang kenan on Unsplash

Guide to Clicky Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Now that we know why these switches make their clicks, let’s look at some animations to see exactly what happens.

Input Club has an animation that shows the blue stem being pressed, the slider building up force, releasing and then hitting the bottom housing, producing the clicking sound.

There is a YouTube video that visually shows the movement of these switches happening. He cut out a cross-section of the switch housing so that the inside is visible, and the switch remains fully functional.

There are many different clicky switches out there. The mechanism above only applies to clicky switches. Tactile switches have a tactile bump, but they do not have the second slider mechanism that produces the sound.

Clicky Mechanical Switches, What They Sound Like, and More Information

Switch NameActuation ForceTotal DistanceActuation DistanceSound Clip
Kaihua Gold31g3.5mm1.5mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=185  
Kaihua Bronze*40g3.5mm1.4mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=169  
Kailh Box White50g3.6mm1.8mmhttps://youtu.be/n89OaleL2cg?t=312  
Kaihua Blue50g4mm2.2mmhttps://youtu.be/a4-XclsIcX0?t=61  
Cherry MX Blue55g4mm2mmhttps://youtu.be/lAmiYr0GjaY?t=22  
Cherry MX Green52g4mm2.3mmhttps://youtu.be/ECK1Ym5V8Xw?t=25  
Kaihua Box Pale Blues42g3.7mm1.93mmhttps://youtu.be/eZuHJGoJQSs?t=173  
Kaihua Box Jade30g3.7mm1.95mmhttps://youtu.be/vKnH_SZbT1A?t=354  
Kaihua Box Navy40g3.5mm1.82mmhttps://youtu.be/93PCro8hB_A?t=14  
Gateron Blue45g4mm2.2mmhttps://youtu.be/gLWon7edBNI?t=377  
Oetemu Blue46g4mm2.7mmhttps://youtu.be/kmcz7qBVaQY?t=265  
Razer Green50g4mm2.3mmhttps://youtu.be/CcZhehmVRbs?t=74  
Gateron Green65g4mm2mmhttps://youtu.be/kbBvMQK9jBQ?t=12  

*Kaihua Bronze switches are also known as Thick Gold or Platinum switches.

Another thing that may be confusing is that some people say Kaihua or Kailh. They are basically the same company and the same switches. Kaihua is a brand under Kailh.

The table above covers most clicky switches that are available right now. If we are missing any, please let us know and we’ll fix the list with updated information.   

What Are BOX Switches?

Kailh/Kaihua makes BOX switches. These switches were initially created to be used in gaming cafes, cafes with rows of computers that people can pay to use and play games on, in primarily Asian countries.

The Kailh BOX switches are rated IP56, which we learned about in our article about waterproof keyboards where we also explained IP rating. IP56 means that the switches are dust-protected, permitting only little dust, and is protected against high pressure water jets from any direction.

They’re easily recognizable with their box design around the switch stem. These were designed to prevent food dust and water/drink spills from people using them within gaming cafes. Due to their IP56 rating, they’re much more durable and protected than regular switches. They keep food, crumbs, dust, and liquids away from the keyboard PCB.

These BOX switches cost $3.00 10 switches, making them 30 cents each.

Where to Try These Switches

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the sound of your keyboard, including the case material, stabilizer quality, and the keyboard switches (of course). We listed out all the clicky mechanical switches available on the market right now, including the actuation distance, actuation force, total travel distance, and a sound clip of each switch type for your reference and convenience.

As always, it’s better to personally test each switch prior to filling up your entire keyboard with it and then realize that you don’t like it after all.

Some places to get switch testers include NovelKeys and MechanicalKeyboards.com. NovelKeys offers different size switch testers, ranging from 4-slots to 49-slots. They are acrylic with clear keycaps. You get to choose your choice of switches. Below are all their options for switches. YES, there are a LOT of options.

novelkeys switch tester options
novelkeys switch tester options
novelkeys switch tester options

MechanicalKeyboards.com provides a 6-slot switch tester for $15. You have the option of including different switch sets, including Cherry MX, Gateron, Greetech, Kailh, and Outemu.  

Amazon also has a few options as well. This Glorious MX Switch Tester includes 14 different switches of Gateron and Kailh brand along with O-rings. They do not come with a testing board or keycaps unlike the two above.

This 4-slot Cherry MX switch tester allows you to try the basic Cherry MX switches (Red, Blue, Brown, and Black) with a minimalistic case and clear keycaps. They also have one with 9 slots and includes additional Cherry MX switches (Green, Grey-brown, Grey-black, Clear, and White, as well as the original four).

Another good option for experimenting with Kailh BOX switches is this Kailh BOX switch tester kit with clear keycaps, an acrylic testing board, a keycap puller, and 9 BOX switches (Navy, Jade, White, Red, Black, Brown, Yellow, Blue, and Orange).

There are many places to try out different switches prior to getting them. If spending money is not possible, you can also look for mechanical keyboard meetups where people will bring and showcase their custom-made keyboards for people to try out and type on.

Many switches that are interesting to explore include the ZealPC switches and the panda switches, which are a combination of one part from one kind of switch and the other parts from another kind of switch.

As always, happy typing!

Comprehensive list of every single keyboard switch on the Planet

Comprehensive list of every keyboard switch on the planet

If you’re new to the world of mechanical keyboards or even an enthusiast then you must know looking at hundreds of different switch types can get a bit overwhelming. 

No matter where I looked on the internet, I could not find a comprehensive list that had all of the switches. Whether it’s Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh or any other type of switch it’s quite difficult to sort through all these brands and find the switch that has the right feel for you.

The purpose of this post is to compile a list of all the different types and give a brief description of each switch. Search below to find info on every single switch you can possibly find.

Tip: If you’re looking for a switch in particular, CTRL + F is your friend.

Ace Pad Tech 

  • Hall Effect Linear
    • Linear contactless switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60N
  • Hall Effect Clicky
    • Clicky and tactile contactless switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60N
  • Hall Effect Tactile
    • Tactile contactless switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60N

Cherry MX

  • Red 
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.45N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Silent Red 
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.45N
    • 1.9 mm actuation distance
    • 3.7 mm travel distance
    • Sound dampened
  • Low Profile Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.45N
    • 1.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.2 mm travel distance
    • Shallow profile
  • Low Profile RGB Speed
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.45N
    • 1.0 mm actuation distance
    • 3.2 mm travel distance
    • Shallow profile
  • Speed Silver
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.45N
    • 1.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.4 mm travel distance
  • Nature White
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.55N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Silent Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60N
    • 1.9 mm actuation distance
    • 3.7 mm travel distance
    • Sound dampened
  • Linear Grey
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force of 0.80N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • Tactile force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Clear
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • Tactile force 0.65N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Tactile Grey
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.80N
    • Tactile force 0.80N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • Tactile force 0.60N
    • 2.2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • White
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.70N
    • Tactile force 0.80N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Green
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.70N
    • Tactile force 0.80N
    • 2.2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Viola
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • Tactile force 0.75N
    • Cheaper
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance

Flaretech (Wooting)

  • Red
    • Optical and linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 1.5-3.6mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 1.8mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
    • Tactile and audible feedback at two points
  • Black
    • Linear and optical switch
    • Actuation force of 0.60-0.80N
    • 1.5-3.6mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance

ALPS Fuhua (Fukka)

  • Green
    • Tactile and clicky switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
  • White
    • Tactile and clicky switch
    • Actuation force 0.65N
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N

Fraly

  • Blue
    • Tactile and clicky switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N

Gateron

  • Clear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.35N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Green
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.80N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Yellow
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 4 mm travel distance

Greetech

  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance

IBM

  • Buckling Spring
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.65N

Kailh

  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 2mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Green
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • BOX White
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
    • Dust resistant
  • BOX Thick Navy
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.77N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
    • Dust resistant
  • BOX Thick Jade
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.66N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
    • Dust resistant
  • Speed Silver
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.1 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • Speed Copper
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.1 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • BOX Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
  • Speed Bronze
    • Clicky and Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.1 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • BOX Heavy Burnt Orange
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
  • BOX Heavy Dark Yellow
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.70N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
  • BOX Heavy Pale Blue
    • Tactile and Clicky switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
  • Kailh Speed Gold
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.4 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • Kailh BOX Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.8 mm actuation distance
    • 3.6 mm travel distance
  • Kailh ML Chocolate Red
    • Linear switch
    • Low profile
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.3 mm actuation distance
    • 2.8 mm travel distance
  • Kailh ML Chocolate Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Low profile
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.3 mm actuation distance
    • 2.8 mm travel distance
  • Kailh ML Chocolate White
    • Clicky switch
    • Low profile
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.3 mm actuation distance
    • 2.8 mm travel distance

KBT

  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance

Logitech

  • GL Tactile
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 2.7 mm travel distance
  • GL Linear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 2.7 mm travel distance
  • GL Clicky
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 2.7 mm travel distance

Matias

  • Click
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 2.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • Quiet Click
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 2.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
    • Dampened sound
  • Linear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.35N
    • 2.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance

MOD

  • H Tactile
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.62N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • H Linear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.62N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • L Tactile
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • L Linear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • M Tactile
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • M Linear
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance

Outemu

  • Blue
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.60N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Brown
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Red
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Black
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.65N
    • 4 mm travel distance

Razer

  • Green
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 1.9 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Orange
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 1.9 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Yellow
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 1.2 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • Clicky Optical
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.40N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance
  • Linear Optical
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.40N
    • 1.0 mm actuation distance
    • 3.5 mm travel distance

Topre

  • 30g
    • Tactile switch
    • Rubber dome
    • Actuation force 0.30N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • 35g
    • Tactile switch
    • Rubber dome
    • Actuation force 0.35N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • 45g
    • Tactile switch
    • Rubber dome
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • 55g
    • Tactile switch
    • Rubber dome
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • Silent 45g
    • Linear switch
    • Rubber dome
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 1.5 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance

Varmilo

  • EC Sakura
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.45N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • EC Ivy
    • Clicky and tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.50N
    • 2.3 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance
  • EC Rosery
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.55N
    • 2 mm actuation distance
    • 4 mm travel distance

ZealPC

  • Tiffany Blue Tealios
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.67N
  • Blue Zilents 62g V2
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.62N
  • Orange Healio
    • Linear switch
    • Actuation force 0.67N
  • Zealios 62g V2
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.62N
  • Zealios 65g V2
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.65N
  • Zealios 67g V2
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.67N
  • Zealios 78g V2
    • Tactile switch
    • Actuation force 0.78N
  • Blue Zilents 65g V2
    • Tactile and silent switch
    • Actuation force 0.65N
  • Blue Zilents 67g V2
    • Tactile and silent switch
    • Actuation force 0.67N
  • Blue Zilents 78g V2
    • Tactile and silent switch
    • Actuation force 0.78N

Why Mechanical Keyboards are Superior

For those of you out there who already use one of these magnificent keyboards, you already know why mechanical keyboards are superior to the typical membrane type keyboards.

For those of you who still use non-mechanical keyboards, I’ll present a convincing case for you to throw out your keyboard, drive down to your local Microcenter and pick out a beautiful mechanical keyboard. And trust me, you’ll never look back.

Membrane Style Keyboards

The typical style keyboard uses a membrane key system, which I’ll get more into. The keys are not individual, but instead are resting on a pressure pad and are activated when the membrane is pressed and activates an underlaying electrical circuit.

The main downside to this style is the lack of tactile feedback, which makes typing without mistakes incredibly difficult. It’s similar to typing on a waterbed and makes your fingers feel like they are lost at sea.

Membrane keyboards still enjoy widespread use despite their lack of tactile feedback, due to the fact they are incredibly easy to mass-produce and are very cheap. Over the past few years, however, there has been a resurgence in the usage of mechanical keyboards.

Mechanical keyboard search rate on google trends over the last 15 years

Ok, so why mechanical keyboards?

Each key on a mechanical keyboard contains a switch underneath. The switch is composed of spring inside of a housing. Upon pressing a key, the user receives some resistance from the spring and once the key is fully pressed, the keyboard will make a clicking sound!

It sounds simple, but this design provides the ultimate tactile feedback for the user. It is incredibly satisfying to sit down and click away, for every click is a letter typed. You can customize the clicking sound and spring resistance through a variety of different switch types, some louder than others.

If you want everyone in the office to hear how hard you’re working at your keyboard, there’s switch for that. If you want to be stealthily typing away in the corner of coffee shop, there’s a switch for you too.

If you’re more interested in the different switch types, you can read up on the different types of switches here.

Customized keyboard with a mix of yellow and white switches.
Photo complements of reddit user moarcoffeeplzzz

Mechanical keyboards also fix the issue of rollover, one of the common problems of a traditional keyboard. Rollover is the issue of keystrokes not registering when multiple keys are pressed at once.

You can look up the specs for each keyboard specifically by looking at the n-rollover, where n is the number of keys that can get pressed simultaneously.

This makes typing a whole lot smoother for gamers or people who type very fast.

On top of the benefits of tactile feedback, mechanical keyboards are also highly durable!

The switches have a much higher lifespan than a membrane keyboard. The switches are rated for over 50 million keystrokes, a membrane keyboard is only rated for 10 million, or one fifth of the number of keystrokes. That’s a good-looking cost benefit reason to buy a mechanical keyboard if I’ve ever seen one!

Whether you’re a gamer, blogger, programmer, or just a someone looking for an upgrade, you cannot go wrong with a mechanical keyboard. I would recommend checking out a variety of different keyboard and switch combinations to find out what works best for you. Happy typing!

Guide to Cherry MX Mechanical Keyboard Switches

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.

A picture of a membrane keyboard with a rubber dome.
What you see under the hood of a membrane keyboard. Ick.

They are typically spring activated and each individual key on your keyboard has its own separate switch.

Different parts of a mechanical keyboard switch.
Mechanical switches typically are made of more oomph and come with great feel, performance, and lifespan.

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

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

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

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

Switch board of different Cherry MX switches to test before buying.
A switch board of different Cherry MX switches for people to test before buying.

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

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.  

Blog title: guide to Common Mechanical Switches: Cherry MX Switches on Switch and Click.