Accessory, PC

PC Hardware Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Mechanical Keyboard Switch (For You)

There are a wide variety of mechanical keyboards in the market now, and it can be difficult to find the right one for you. There are clicky keyboards, silent keyboards, and some are even a hybrid of sorts.

But the bottom line is, mechanical keyboards offer a lot of benefits over standard, conventional keyboards. If you’re ready to make the jump, we’re help to help you find the best mechanical keyboard for yourself.

In this article, we will outline three main types of switches found on mechanical keyboards – these influence the typing experience the most. Along the way, we’ll mention some hybrid keyboards here and there too.

Clicky Switches

This is perhaps the switch that most consumers associate mechanical keyboards with. Basically, clicky switches are both tactile and…well, clicky. Every time you press down on a clicky key, you’ll get a tactile feedback and an audible click. Needless to say, this is the noisiest switch of the lot.

Switches that fall into this category include the very well-known Cherry MX Blue, Razer Green, and Razer’s relatively new Opto-Mechanical switch, which takes advantage of optical technology for actuation. Unlike the former two, the Opto-Mechanical switch feels “lighter” to type on – it requires less force to actuate.

Razer also introduced a hybrid keyboard that implements the mechanism of a clicky switch in a membrane keyboard. Of course, we’re talking about the Razer Ornata with the “Razer Mecha-Membrane” switch. Simply put, the Ornata is a membrane keyboard that feels a lot like a mechanical one with clicky switches. Personally, despite the fact that the Ornata is a membrane keyboard, I really like its typing experience; it’s also much quieter than, say, a conventional Cherry MX Blue keyboard.

If you do a lot of typing, and you love the clickiness of a mechanical keyboard, look out for these switches. However, do note that clicky switches, in general, can get really loud. This is especially the case with more affordable mechanical keyboards. 

Tactile Switches

In more ways than one, tactile switches are very similar to clicky switches; the main difference is the absence of any audible clicking. You still get the tactile bump when the keys actuate, so if you don’t want your keyboard to be too noisy, tactile switches are the next best thing.

Some well-known tactile switches include Cherry MX Brown, Razer Orange, and if you’re into more premium keyboards, Topre switch. What makes Topre switch particularly unique is its hybrid construction. While it uses rubber domes like membrane keyboards, there’s a spring underneath each dome, lending to a very unique typing experience.

Not only is the Topre switch quieter than MX Brown and Razer Orange switches, the typing experience feels a lot more refined too. While the tactile bump of a Topre switch is more subtle, the keys feel much more solid when actuated.

What’s the downside of the Topre switch? Cost. Keyboards with Topre switches are a lot more costly than MX Brown or Razer Orange keyboards. But if you ask us, there’s a good reason Topre keyboards are more expensive – the typing experience is really something else.

Linear Switches

And finally, we have linear switches, which – more often than not – are made for gamers. Typically, switches of this kind require very little actuation force, and they don’t have any tactile or audible feedback either. The logic behind this is to provide the fastest response time, which is important for gamers to get their inputs registered as quickly as possible.

Cherry MX Red and Black switches are some examples of linear switches, and the only thing that differentiates these two switches is the actuation force. MX Black switch is “heavier” than MX Red, in the sense that the former requires more force to actuate. Besides that, the Razer Yellow is also a linear switch.

Just because linear switches are meant to appeal to gamers doesn’t mean they’re not great for other purposes either – it all comes down to individual preferences. If you want a mechanical keyboard that doesn’t have any tactile bump or click, linear switches are for you.

Conclusion

There are more to mechanical keyboards than what we’re covering here, and these three distinct switches only cover the essentials. If you’re still on the fence whether or not you should get a mechanical keyboard, perhaps you can look into a more affordable one – prices of mechanical keyboards have gotten down quite a bit compared to the past.