Purchasing your first mechanical keyboard can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to deciding on the right switch to use. With a plethora of options from numerous brands, each with its own unique feel and features, the choice can seem overwhelming.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the mechanical keyboard switches from leading peripheral brands to help you navigate through the options. Although there are several differences between keyboard switches, the right one for you ultimately depends on personal preference. If you find it difficult to make a decision after reading our guide, we suggest investing in an inexpensive mechanical keyboard switch tester to determine the best fit for your needs.
When examining different switch types, it’s helpful to understand the terminology and specifications. Here’s a helpful list of terms to better comprehend the implications of each switch.
Actuation point: Each switch has a specific height where pressing a key registers with your PC.
Actuation force: This measures the pressure required to press a key down and is typically measured in grams.
Clicky: Some switches produce a light or audible click when pressed.
Tactile: Certain switches have a tactile bump to indicate when the actuation point is reached.
Linear: These switches lack a click or tactile bump, making them ideal for gaming.
Silent: Designated as “Silent” switches, they are quieter due to additional sound dampening within the switch.
Speed: These switches usually have a shorter actuation point, allowing for faster actuation.
RGB: Refers to multicolored backlighting offered by some keyboards, with certain switches offering improved features for lighting dispersion.
Switch type: Identifies the specific type of mechanical switch, with newer standards such as optical and magnetic switches introduced.
Cherry MX is a revered switch manufacturer that offers a variety of switches, such as Red, Black, Brown, Blue, and Speed. These switches are known for their durable construction and are widely used by mechanical keyboard manufacturers.
Logitech, in partnership with Omron, has developed Romer-G and GX switches, which feature shallower actuation points and redundant contacts for extended durability, making them ideal for gaming and typing.
Razer, a prominent gaming gear brand, manufactures its own switches with options like Green, Yellow, and Orange, in addition to the unique Opto-Mechanical switches, which employ an optical sensor for faster actuation and higher durability.
SteelSeries has worked with Kaihua Electronics to design its QX2, Optipoint, and OmniPoint switches, with the latter being magnetic switches that offer adjustable actuation distance, catering to gamers’ preferences.
Roccat, a relatively new player in the custom switch space, offers the Titan switch known for its reduced keypress detection time and fast actuation.
Kaihua Electronics, similar to Cherry MX, offers a range of switches, also known as Cherry MX clones, including clicky, tactile, and linear options with off-center LED backlighting. The company also has niche switches called “Box” and “Speed” switches, as well as “silent” switches for additional sound dampening.
Gateron, another long-standing switch manufacturer, offers switches similar to Cherry MX, including Red, Black, Brown, Blue, Clear, and more, making them a popular choice for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
With our guide and understanding of the various mechanical keyboard switches, you’re better equipped to make an informed decision when selecting the right switch for your needs. Whether it’s for gaming, typing, or a combination of both, finding the perfect switch is essential for a satisfying keyboard experience.