Mechanical keyboards have gained immense popularity among gamers, typists, and computer enthusiasts due to their superior performance and customization options. The key component that defines the feel and sound of a mechanical keyboard is the switch. In this article, we will explore the three most common types of mechanical keyboard switches offered by Cherry MX: the linear, tactile, and clicky switches. Each switch type has its unique characteristics, making them suitable for different preferences and use cases.
1. Cherry MX Red: The Smooth and Linear Experience
|Name||Cherry MX Red|
|Actuation Distance||2 mm|
|Actuation Force||45 cN|
The Cherry MX Red switch is a linear switch, which means it provides a smooth and consistent keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click. When pressing a key, it glides up and down effortlessly, with the only noticeable feedback being the spring inside. This makes it an ideal choice for gaming, where swift and continuous key presses are often required. The lack of tactile feedback allows for rapid key actuation, reducing any resistance that might hinder quick movements in gaming scenarios.
In terms of sound, the Cherry MX Red switch produces a medium noise level when typing. This makes it quieter compared to clicky switches, which can be an advantage for those who prefer a more discreet typing experience.
2. Cherry MX Brown: The Balanced Tactile Switch
|Cherry MX Brown|
|Actuation Distance||2 mm|
|Actuation Force||55 cN|
The Cherry MX Brown switch is a tactile switch, combining a smooth keystroke with a noticeable bump when pressing a key. This tactile feedback provides a subtle confirmation that the key has been actuated, which can be beneficial for typists who appreciate the feedback for improved typing accuracy. The Cherry MX Brown strikes a balance between gaming and typing, making it a popular choice for users who want a versatile switch.
Similar to the Cherry MX Red, the Cherry MX Brown also produces a medium noise level when typing. This means it is quieter compared to clicky switches, making it a comfortable option for shared workspaces or environments where loud typing sounds could be distracting.
3. Cherry MX Blue: The Clicky Enthusiast’s Choice
|Cherry MX Blue|
|Actuation Distance||2.2 mm|
|Actuation Force||60 cN|
The Cherry MX Blue switch is a clicky switch that offers both tactile feedback and an audible click when a key is pressed. The tactile bump provides a satisfying sensation when typing, and the loud click sound adds a level of excitement and nostalgia for enthusiasts. The distinct clicking noise can be rewarding for typists who enjoy the audible confirmation of each key press.
However, the clicky nature of the Cherry MX Blue switch can be a drawback for certain situations. The loud typing noise might disturb others in a quiet environment, such as an office or a recording studio. As a result, while the Cherry MX Blue switch is admired for its unique qualities, some users may opt for a quieter alternative for day-to-day use.
Choosing the Right Switch for You
The choice of a mechanical keyboard switch ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use. Gamers may lean toward linear switches like Cherry MX Reds for their smooth key actuation, while typists might prefer tactile switches like Cherry MX Browns for the satisfying feedback.
To find the perfect switch for your needs, consider trying out different switches before making a purchase. Some stores may have keyboards on display for testing, although this option can be hit or miss. Alternatively, you can invest in a switch tester that includes various switch types to gauge which one feels the most comfortable for you.
Beyond the Basics: Exploring Other Switch Options
While Cherry MX offers the fundamental switch types, the mechanical keyboard community is vast, with many alternative switch options available from various manufacturers. For instance, if you like Cherry MX Browns but desire a more pronounced tactile bump, switches like Glorious Pandas might be worth exploring. Similarly, if you find Cherry MX Reds too loud for your liking, you can consider switches like Cherry MX Silent Reds for a quieter experience.
Moreover, for those seeking the best performance, there are Optical switches that offer lower latency compared to traditional mechanical switches, as well as switches with shorter travel distances for faster actuation.
Choosing the Right Switch: Personal Preference Matters
The choice of keyboard switch ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use. While some people may find linear switches like Cherry MX Reds perfect for gaming, others might prefer the tactile feedback of switches like Cherry MX Browns for typing tasks.
Which switch is right for you, consider the following factors:
Usage: Determine whether you primarily use your keyboard for gaming, typing, or both.
Typing Style: Reflect on your typing style – do you prefer smooth and silent keystrokes or a satisfying tactile bump and audible click?
Noise Level: Consider your environment – if you share a workspace or need a quiet setting, clicky switches may not be the best option.
Trial and Testing: Whenever possible, try out different switches in stores or invest in a switch tester to get a hands-on experience before making a purchase.
Exploring Further: Low Profile, Optical, and Enthusiast Switches
Aside from the three main categories, there are other switch types worth considering:
Low profile switches: These shorter switches resemble laptop keys and are popular for better ergonomics and faster response times in gaming.
Optical switches: These switches use light for actuation, resulting in faster response times compared to traditional mechanical switches.
Enthusiast switches: Often purchased separately and customized by hobbyists, enthusiast switches offer unique typing experiences and come in various types, such as Gateron black inks, Kiwis, and Holy Panda Mechanical Keyboard Switches.
How to Determine Your Preferred Switch
While understanding the different switch types is crucial, determining your perfect switch requires experimentation:
In-store Testing: Visit stores that display mechanical keyboards and try out different switches to get a hands-on experience.
Local Meetups and Online Communities: Attend local meetups or join online communities where enthusiasts share their experiences and insights into various switches.
Switch Testers: Purchase switch testers with multiple switch types to try them out before committing to a full keyboard purchase.
Sound Tests: Listen to online sound tests of various switches to get an idea of their sound profiles, but keep in mind that sound can vary based on recording quality and listening devices.
Modding and Customization
For those seeking a tailor-made typing experience, consider modding your switches and stabilizers. Lubing switches and stabilizers can enhance smoothness and consistency during typing.
Popular Mechanical Keyboard Brands
As the mechanical keyboard community has grown, several brands have risen to prominence, offering high-quality switches and keyboards. Here are some of the most reputable mechanical keyboard brands:
A pioneering brand in mechanical switches, Cherry MX switches are widely recognized for their reliability, consistent performance, and availability in various switch types, including red, blue, and brown.
Gateron switches have gained popularity for their smooth keystrokes and competitive pricing. They are compatible with most mechanical keyboards, providing an excellent alternative to Cherry MX switches.
Known for catering to gamers, Razer keyboards often feature Razer’s proprietary switches, such as the Razer Green (clicky) and Razer Yellow (linear), providing options for gamers seeking specific typing experiences.
Another prominent brand, Logitech, offers Romer-G switches known for their quiet and tactile keystrokes, making them suitable for both typing and gaming.
SteelSeries keyboards frequently feature SteelSeries QX2 switches, which are designed to be responsive and durable, catering to gamers and enthusiasts alike.
Mechanical keyboard switches play a vital role in determining the typing experience, feel, and sound of a keyboard. The Cherry MX Red, Brown, and Blue switches represent the most common types, each catering to different preferences. Remember that the right switch for you is subjective, and it’s essential to try out different switches to find the one that best suits your needs. Whether you’re a gamer, a typist, or simply someone who appreciates a well-crafted keyboard.