Mechanical keyboard switches: An in-depth guide

Mechanical Keyboard Switches
Mechanical Keyboard Switches

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If you think of buying a keyboard, you will see two types of keyboards: Membrane and Mechanical. Membrane keyboards are cheaper but Mechanical keyboards provide good clicky feedback. Mechanical keyboards also come with different kinds of keyboard switches. So, you also need to understand mechanical keyboard switches before you select a mechanical keyboard. In this in-depth article, I will explain Mechanical keyboard switches, the types of keyboard switches, and what should you prefer.

Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

A mechanical keyboard switch is a type of switch that is used in mechanical keyboards, which are a specific type of computer keyboard that uses individual mechanical switches for each key. These switches are typically more durable and provide more tactile and audible feedback when pressed compared to traditional rubber dome switches used in most regular keyboards.

Mechanical keyboard switches are designed with a spring-loaded mechanism that provides resistance when pressed, and then “actuates” (or registers a keystroke) at a specific point. This allows for a more precise and consistent typing experience, as well as a longer lifespan for the switch. These switches are also often user-replaceable, which allows for customization of the keyboard to the user’s preference.

Types of Mechanical Key Switches

Linear switches, Tactile switches, and Clicky switches are the three main types of mechanical keyboard switches.

Linear switches: These switches have a smooth and consistent keystroke, with no tactile feedback or audible click. They have a consistent level of resistance throughout the keystroke, and the actuation point is not obvious. Linear switches are ideal for fast typists and gamers who want a smooth and consistent keystroke. Examples of linear switches are Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Black.

Tactile switches: These switches have a tactile bump or feedback when the actuation point is reached, which gives the user a physical confirmation of the keystroke. They don’t have an audible click, but they provide a more satisfying typing experience. Examples of tactile switches are Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Blue.

Clicky switches: These switches are similar to tactile switches, but they also have an audible click that gives an audible confirmation of the keystroke. They are louder than other switch types and may be less suitable for use in a shared work environment. Examples of clicky switches are Cherry MX Blue.

It’s worth noting that different switch types have their own characteristics, and the best switch for you will depend on your typing habits, usage, and personal preferences. Some people prefer the tactile feedback and audible click of the clicky switches, while others prefer the smoother, linear feel of the linear switches. Some people also like to use different switches for different keys on their keyboards, depending on the task they are performing.

Also see: Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard – Which One Should I Choose?

Cherry MX Switch

Cherry MX Switch is the most popular mechanical keyboard. It was created by Cherry in the 1980s and he patented it. Most mechanical keyboards use Cherry MX switches. There are also different Cherry MX switches named after their stem color. Different colors represent different characteristics.

Cherry MX Red: These are linear switches, which means that there is no tactile feedback, and the resistance is consistent throughout the keystroke. They have a low actuation force of 45g, making them easy to press. These switches are popular for gaming and fast typing.

Cherry MX Black: These are also linear switches, but with a higher actuation force of 60g. This makes them slightly harder to press, and they are often used for typing rather than gaming. They also have no tactile feedback and no audible click.

Cherry MX Blue: These are tactile switches, which means that there is a slight bump or tactile feedback when the actuation point is reached. They also have an audible click, which gives an audible confirmation of the keystroke. These switches have a high actuation force of 50g and are popular for typing.

Cherry MX Brown: These are also tactile switches, but with a lower actuation force of 45g. They have a slight tactile bump, but no audible click. They are popular for typing and gaming.

Cherry MX Speed Silver: These are linear switches, similar to the Cherry MX Red, but with a lower actuation force of 40g. They are designed for fast and accurate key presses, making them popular among gamers. They have no tactile feedback and no audible click.

In addition to the Cherry MX switches, there are other brands such as Kailh, Gateron, and Razer that produce mechanical switches as well. They also have different switch types and colors to indicate the type of switch like Cherry MX.

Which Mechanical Switch Should You Use? 

The type of mechanical keyboard switch you should prefer depends on your typing habits, usage, and personal preferences.

If you’re a fast typist or gamer, you may prefer the smooth and consistent keystrokes of linear switches. If you want a more satisfying typing experience, you may prefer the tactile feedback of tactile switches. If you like the audible feedback, you may prefer the clicky switches.

It’s also worth noting that some people like to use different switches for different keys on their keyboards, depending on the task they are performing. For example, you might use linear switches for gaming and tactile switches for typing.

It’s also important to try different switches to see which one you prefer. Some people prefer the tactile feedback and audible click of the Cherry MX Blue, while others prefer the smoother, linear feel of the Cherry MX Red. Some retailers and online shops offer switch testers, where you can try different switches before buying a mechanical keyboard.