Cherry MX Red vs Brown Switches: What’s actually the difference?

  • Keycaps 101
  • Posted by: carson-rutz
  • Jun 25, 2022

Welcome to the epic showdown: Cherry MX Red vs Brown switches! These are two of the most popular and iconic switches in the mechanical keyboard world, and they have their loyal fans and fierce critics. But which one is right for you? How do they differ in feel, sound, and performance? And what are the pros and cons of each switch? In this blog post, we will answer all these questions and more

Cherry's MX switches | The Gaming Setup
Cherry's MX switches | The Gaming Setup

Cherry MX Red vs Brown switches - Quick specs comparison table

Red and brown switches are both popular choices for mechanical keyboards, but they have some key differences in their tech specs.

Factors Cherry MX Red

Cherry MX Brown

Types

Linear Tactile

Actuation Force

45g 45g
Actuation Point 2 mm

2 mm

Total Travel Distance 4 mm

4 mm

Rated Lifespan > 100 million actuations

> 100 million actuations

In one corner, the Cherry MX Red switches, renowned for their lightning-fast actuation and smooth linear feel, perfect for gamers. In the other corner, the Cherry MX Brown switches, offering a subtle tactile bump and quieter operation, ideal for typists seeking precision.

  • Actuation force: Red switches require 45 cN of force to actuate, while brown switches require 55 cN. This means that Red switches are lighter and easier to press, while Brown switches are slightly heavier and more resistant.
  • Actuation style: Red switches are linear, meaning they have a smooth and consistent feel throughout the keypress, with no bump or click. Brown switches are tactile, meaning they have a bump that provides feedback when the keypress registers, but no click sound.
  • Sound profile: Red switches are quiet, meaning they produce little noise when pressed. Brown switches are also quiet, but they have a slight sound from the bump.

Red vs Brown switches: Which one is the better for you?

As with many products, the main choice lies in the purpose of use, your profession, and your personal preferences. So, with 2 lines of Cherry MX Red and Brown, the following differences will help you make a reasonable decision.

Feel

The feel of a switch refers to how it responds to your keystrokes, and whether it has a tactile bump or a click sound. Cherry MX Red switches are linear, meaning they have a smooth and consistent feel throughout the keypress, with no bump or click. Cherry MX brown switches are tactile, meaning they have a bump that provides feedback when the keypress registers, but no click sound.

Some people prefer linear switches for their buttery feedback and minimal resistance, while others prefer tactile switches for their precision and confirmation. Users familiar with the Brown series will take a relatively long time to get used to the Red because it is so smooth, sensitive and light that it is difficult to control your hands.

Sound 

In terms of sound, Cherry MX Red switches are almost silent, meaning they produce little noise when pressed. Cherry MX brown switches are also quiet, but they have a slight sound from the bump. Both switches are suitable for environments where noise is not desirable, such as offices or shared spaces. However, some people might enjoy the clicky sound of other switches, such as blue or green ones.

  •  Cherry MX Red Sound Test:

  • Cherry MX Brown Sound Test:

Actuation Point and Force

A similarity between the Cherry MX Red and Brown switches is the actuation force (45 cN). This is, in fact, the smallest actuation force parameter in all Cherry MX switches. This means that your wrists and fingers will be more comfortable when typing than with Cherry switches with a higher actuation force.

Regarding the actuation point, the difference between the Red and Brown lines is that the Red will not give you the feeling of key feedback while the Brown's keys have very good tactile contact. Both of these points have pros and cons. Cherry MX Brown will be suitable if you are a gamer or programmer who needs accuracy. And the Red line will be suitable for speed lovers.

Key travel

The key travel of the two lines of Cherry MX red and brown keys are the same - 2mm. This distance helps users not to get tired when typing. Each key press will not make you feel like your finger is missing.

Key travel of Cherry MX Red (Source: Redbubble)
Key travel of Cherry MX Red (Source: Redbubble)

Besides, the feeling of typing will be more comfortable because the shallowness is very low.

Key travel of Cherry MX Brown (Source: SteelSeries)
Key travel of Cherry MX Brown (Source: SteelSeries)

Longevity

Cherry MX switches are known for their high quality and long lifespan. Both red and brown switches have a rated lifespan of 100 million keystrokes per key. This means that they can last for years without losing their performance or functionality. However, the longevity of a switch can also depend on other factors, such as maintenance, cleaning, usage frequency, and environmental conditions.

Red switch vs Brown switch: Which is better for typing?

The typing experience of a switch refers to how comfortable and enjoyable it is to use for typing tasks, such as writing documents, emails, or code. Cherry MX red switches are good for typing fast and smoothly, as they have minimal resistance and quick actuation. But beware, they demand precision to avoid accidental keypresses.

 On the other hand, Cherry MX Brown switches embrace tactile feedback and resilience, boosting your accuracy and confidence. However, they can also cause fatigue or slowness if you are not used to the bump. The best switch for typing depends on your personal preference and typing style.

Red switch vs Brown switch: Which is better for gaming?

The most suitable keyboard for gaming is the Cherry MX Brown. Because this line gives you high accuracy, moderate sound, clear key bounce. These integrate the senses and help the player to concentrate more. You will easily be in control of your hand. 

However, if those are games that require sensitivity, and do not require too much accuracy, then Cherry MX Red is not a bad choice.

Cherry MX Brown is the perfect choice for gamers (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Cherry MX Brown is the perfect choice for gamers (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Cherry MX Red: In-depth review

Linear | 45g | 2mm actuation point

Cherry MX Red graph
Cherry MX Red graph

Officially launched in 2008, Cherry MX Red has quickly become a "hot" name for technology lovers. Especially for those who like to play games. The Cherry MX Red series mechanical typing gives users the best experience.

It is no coincidence that Cherry MX Red is popular with everyone. Because it not only has linear characteristics, but its actuation force is also 45g. This helps users feel a lot lighter and less tired than other models. 

Pros:

  • Cherry MX Red is a lightweight linear switch that makes almost no sound when tapped.
  • This is a key line that does not require a lot of force to press. You will not have to spend much effort typing on this keyboard.
  • The spring force of Cherry MX Red is enough for you to use the keyboard smoothly. So if it is used for gaming or needed speed, Red is a great choice.

Cons:

For those who do high-precision work such as programmers or gamers, it is not recommended because it will take time to get used to the fast speed of the keyline.

Cherry MX Red Switch (Source: M8 Computer)
Cherry MX Red Switch (Source: M8 Computer)

Cherry MX Brown: In-depth review

Tactile| 55g | 2mm actuation point

Cherry MX Brown graph
Cherry MX Brown graph

Officially launched earlier than Cherry MX Red, in 1994, the name Cherry MX Brown was announced by the firm to everyone. Brown is no stranger to technology lovers, and although it has been produced for a long time, Brown still retains its attraction.

Cherry MX Brown attracts users by the smooth feeling of typing and extremely good tactile feedback.

Pros:

  • With an actuation point of 2mm, Cherry MX Brown allows users to type quickly without having to press all of the 4mm keys. This is the basic difference with its "brother", Cherry MX Red. Because of such a feedback function, the Brown series gives users a very pleasant tactile feeling.
  • No need to use too much force to type on the keyboard. Therefore, Cherry MX Brown helps users feel comfortable on their wrists and fingers.
  • The typing accuracy of Cherry MX Brown is very high.

Cons:

  • The sound emitted when typing is quite loud.
  • The speed of typing is not optimized.
Cherry MX Brown Switch (Source: Reichelt)
Cherry MX Brown Switch (Source: Reichelt)

If you are interested in other Cherry MX Switches, check out this article.

Conclusion

Overall, the most obvious difference between the two lines of mechanical keys Cherry MX Red and Brown lies in the feel and sound when using them. Cherry MX Brown will have better haptic feedback, so it is suitable for playing games or doing tasks that require accuracy. And if you are a speed lover, Cherry MX Red was born for you.

Above is an article comparing the differences between the two lines of Cherry MX Red and Brown mechanical keys. Hopefully, this information will give you the most overview of the two famous mechanical key lines. For now, the choice is up to you.

FAQs

Are Cherry Red Switches quieter than Brown?

Cherry MX Red switches are quieter than Brown because they don't make a sound and don't have haptic feedback.

What switches are better for gaming: Cherry Red or Brown Switches?

Cherry Brown switches are better for gaming because it helps players integrate their senses and easily control their hands.

What switches are better for typing: Cherry Red or Brown Switches?

Cherry MX Red will be more suitable for typists because of its smoothness and quietness.

Are Cherry Red switches good for gaming?

No, because when playing the game you will need to have good control of your hands. So having the keys respond to your fingers will make you more focused. You should use Cherry MX Brown.

Are Cherry MX Reds linear?

Yes, this is its pros.

Are Cherry Brown switches loud?

No, its sound is both pleasant.

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