A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Mechanical Keyboard Switch

Are you looking for guidance on choosing the perfect mechanical keyboard? Understanding the intricacies of keyboard switches is the first step towards making an informed decision. Unlike membrane keyboards, where the keys are pressed down on a single membrane, mechanical keyboards feature individual switches for each key, commonly referred to as "switch".

The switch, comprising components like the shell, switch center, spring, and elastic piece, facilitates the key's movement. When a key is pressed, the switch center moves, causing the elastic pieces to make or break contact, thus completing or interrupting the circuit. The most prevalent switch structure, the "MX structure," was pioneered by the German Cherry Company, and remains widely used today.

With a grasp of switch fundamentals, let's explore the array of mechanical keyboard switch available today. While Cherry switch were once dominant, domestic switch have surged in popularity, offering a multitude of options. From colorful designs to varied names, the sheer variety can be overwhelming for beginners. However, understanding the distinction between tactile and linear switch provides a solid starting point for navigating the diverse landscape of mechanical keyboards.

Mechanical keyboards have gained immense popularity among enthusiasts and professionals alike due to their durability, tactile feedback, and customizable features. However, with the wide array of mechanical keyboard switches available in the market, selecting the perfect one can be a daunting task. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision when choosing a mechanical keyboard switch.

Understanding Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Anatomy of a Mechanical Keyboard Switch

Mechanical keyboard switches consist of several components, including:

  • switch: The central component that facilitates the key's movement.
  • Spring: Provides resistance and returns the key to its original position after being pressed.
  • Elastic Piece: Makes or breaks contact to complete or interrupt the circuit.
  • Shell: Encases the internal components and provides stability.

When a key is pressed, the switch center moves, causing the elastic pieces to make or break contact, thus completing or interrupting the circuit.

Types of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Mechanical keyboard switches can indeed be categorized into various types based on their behavior and mechanism of operation. Here's an expanded list:

Tactile Switches:

  • Cherry MX Blue: Known for a distinct tactile bump and audible click, preferred by typists for the tactile feedback.
  • Cherry MX Brown: Offers tactile feedback without the audible click, making it suitable for both typing and gaming.
  • Cherry MX Clear: Similar to Brown switches but with a heavier actuation force, providing more resistance.
  • Razer Orange: Provides tactile feedback without the click, suitable for both typing and gaming.
  • Gateron Brown: Comparable to Cherry MX Brown but with a smoother keystroke.

Clicky Switches:

  • Cherry MX Green: Similar to Blue switches but with a heavier actuation force, producing a louder click sound.
  • Razer Green: Offers a tactile bump and audible click, ideal for typists who prefer a clicky response.

Linear Switches:

  • Cherry MX Red: Smooth and linear with no tactile bump or audible click, favored by gamers for rapid key presses.
  • Cherry MX Black: Similar to Red switches but with a higher actuation force, providing more resistance.
  • Cherry MX Silent Red: A variant of Red switches designed to minimize noise during key presses.
  • Gateron Red: Comparable to Cherry MX Red, providing a smooth linear feel.

Silent Switches:

  • Cherry MX Silent Black: Features a linear feel with reduced noise during key presses, ideal for quiet environments.
  • Cherry MX Silent Red:A variant of Red switches with dampened noise, suitable for both typing and gaming.

Hybrid Switches:

  • Logitech Romer-G: Combines aspects of tactile and linear switches, providing a soft tactile bump with a smooth keystroke.
  • SteelSeries QS1:Offers a shallow key travel distance with a linear feel, suitable for fast-paced gaming.

Specialty Switches:

  • Topre: Utilizes a combination of rubber dome and spring mechanisms, providing a unique typing experience known for its smoothness and tactile feel.
  • Alps: Utilizes Alps mechanical switches known for their durability and tactile feedback, commonly found in vintage and niche keyboards.
  • Buckling Spring: Utilizes a spring-over-membrane design, providing a tactile feel with a distinctive "click" sound, popularized by IBM Model M keyboards.

Additionally, "Magnetic Switch," and "Optical Switch are alternative technologies to traditional mechanical switches:

Magnetic Switches:

  • Utilize magnets and hall-effect sensors to register key presses, offering a smoother and potentially more durable typing experience with reduced debounce time.

Optical Switches:

  • Use light sensors to detect key presses, offering faster response times and potentially longer lifespan compared to traditional mechanical switches. They can also be more resistant to dust and debris.

Choosing the Right Switch for You

Factors to Consider

When selecting a mechanical keyboard switch, consider the following factors:

  • Actuation Force: The amount of force required to register a keypress.
  • Tactile Feedback:Whether you prefer a tactile bump or a smooth keystroke.
  • Noise Level: The audible sound produced by the switch during typing.

Recommendations for Different Uses

  • Gaming: Linear switches like Cherry MX Red or Black are popular due to their smooth keystrokes and rapid response times.
  • Typing: Tactile switches such as Cherry MX Blue or Brown offer satisfying tactile feedback, with the Brown switch being quieter and suitable for office environments.
  • Versatility: Opt for switches like Cherry MX Brown or Red if you require a balance between gaming and typing performance.

Overview of Popular Keyboard Switches

Overview of Mechanical Switches:

  • Type: Mechanical switches are a type of key switch mechanism commonly used in mechanical keyboards, offering a tactile and audible feedback with each keystroke.
  • Actuation Force: The actuation force varies among different switches, affecting the force required to register a keystroke.
  • Features: Mechanical switches come in various types, including linear, tactile, and clicky, each providing a different typing experience. They often feature specifications such as trigger pressure, trigger stroke, total travel, and durability.
  • Recommendation: Choosing the right mechanical switch depends on individual preferences for typing feel, noise level, and gaming needs. Consider factors like actuation force, tactile feedback, and durability when selecting the ideal switch for your keyboard.

Here's a breakdown of some popular Mechanical Switches:

  1. TTC Venus/Neptune Mechanical Switches: Linear switches with trigger pressures of 45gf (Venus) and 41gf (Neptune), offering smooth keystrokes and a durability of 100 million keystrokes.
  2. Kailh Prestige Series Switches (Silent/Light/Daisy L):Linear or light switches with operating forces ranging from 35gf to 42gf, providing different levels of typing resistance and featuring factory lubrication for smoother keystrokes.
  3. Gateron Melodic Mechanical Switches:Linear switches with an operating force of 60±12gf, offering a smooth typing experience with a light pink stem and pre-lubrication for reduced friction.
  4. Kailh Box Marshmallow Switches: Available in linear, tactile, and clicky tactile variants, with operating forces ranging from 38gf to 50gf, providing different tactile feedback options with consistent performance.
  5. TTC Flaming Pink Linear Switches: Linear switches with a unique pink color design, offering smooth keystrokes, a solid build structure, and compatibility with RGB lighting for an enhanced visual experience.
  6. KTT Silent Linear Switch: Linear switches with a tactile force of 43±5gf and a bottom force of 43±5gf, providing a silent typing experience with reduced noise levels and consistent performance.

Overview of Magnetic Switches:

Magnetic switches use magnetic fields to register keystrokes, offering unique features such as adjustable pre-travel and consistent actuation force.

  1. Gateron Magnetic Jade Switch Set:Linear switches with an operation force of 30±7gf, featuring adjustable pre-travel and a magnetic flux mechanism for consistent keystrokes and a long lifetime of 100 million keystrokes.
  2. Gateron Dual-Rail KS-20U Magnetic Switches:Linear switches with an operating force of 30±7gf and a bottom force of 50gf, featuring dual-rail design for stability and compatibility with various keyboard brands.
  3. Gateron KS-20 Magnetic Hall Sensor Switches: Available in white and orange variants with operating forces ranging from 30gf to 38gf, featuring a hall effect sensor for precise actuation and compatibility with optical keyboards.

Overview of Low Profile Switches:

Low profile switches offer a slim design for compact keyboards, with options for linear, tactile, and clicky feedback.

  1. Lofree X Kailh Customized Low Profile Switches: Available in ghost linear, phantom tactile, and wizaed clicky tactile variants, offering different tactile feedback options with low operating forces and a slim profile design.
  2. TTC Mini Low Profile Mechanical Switches: Linear and clicky tactile switches with operating forces ranging from 42gf to 45±10gf, providing a compact and responsive typing experience for slim keyboards.

Overview of Optical Switches:

Optical switches use light signals for actuation, offering fast response times and durability.

  1. Gateron KS-15 Optical Switches: Available in brown and silent brown variants with tactile feedback and an operating force of 55g, featuring a clear design for RGB illumination and a durable construction for long-lasting performance.

These switches offer a range of options catering to different preferences in actuation force, sound profile, and customization, ensuring a personalized typing experience for users.

The Rise of Optical Mechanical Switches

Innovation in mechanical switches has led to the emergence of optical switches, offering advantages over traditional metal-based switches. Developed by Li Jianping, the optical switch breaks free from the constraints of metal structures, enhancing durability and performance.

Advantages of Optical Switches:

  • Durability: Optical switches are less prone to issues like oxidation and fatigue, ensuring prolonged longevity.
  • Waterproofing and Dustproofing: Optical switches exhibit superior waterproofing and dustproofing capabilities, enhancing reliability in various environments.
  • Customization: Manufacturers are continually innovating optical switches, offering customization options such as spring adjustments and lubrication for personalized experiences.

Navigating the Market

As the market continues to evolve, the naming conventions for switches have become more diverse, often based on color or abstract names. Leading domestic switch manufacturers like Kailh, TTC, and Gateron offer a plethora of options, each with its unique characteristics.

To make an informed decision, thoroughly research the parameters of each switch offered by manufacturers and compare them based on your preferences. Additionally, consider purchasing a switch sampler kit to experience firsthand the feel and sound of different switches before making a purchase.


With an understanding of mechanical keyboard switches and their characteristics, selecting the perfect keyboard becomes a more straightforward process. Whether you prioritize gaming performance, typing comfort, or versatility, there's a switch that suits your needs. By exploring the options available and considering your usage scenario, you can confidently invest in a mechanical keyboard that enhances your computing experience.

Finding the perfect mechanical keyboard switch involves considering factors such as tactile feedback, actuation force, and noise level, along with exploring unique options available in the market. By understanding your preferences and usage requirements, you can select the ideal switch that enhances your typing or gaming experience. Whether you prefer the classic Cherry switches or opt for innovative optical switches, there's a mechanical keyboard switch out there to suit your needs and preferences.

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