You have been using normal switches for a long time and find them too boring for a keys enthusiast like you? Then try switching to low-profile switches. Low-profile switches are a compact and improved version of regular mechanical switches. They are 30%-40% shorter, making them faster and easier to activate. Compared to a standard switch, […]
Are Low-Profile Switches Better? (2023 Guide)
You have been using normal switches for a long time and find them too boring for a keys enthusiast like you? Then try switching to low-profile switches.
Low-profile switches are a compact and improved version of regular mechanical switches. They are 30%-40% shorter, making them faster and easier to activate.
Compared to a standard switch, a low-profile switch provides an entirely different typing experience. Few manufacturers of this type of switch are available on the market, including Cherry, Kailh, and Gateron.
If you're looking for a fresh feel from low-profile switches, here's an ultimate guide to help you understand them better and find the finest ones that meet your needs.
What are Low-Profile Switches?
The low-profile switches are a concept that has been around for a long time. Actually, ever since mechanical keyboards became popular in the 80s of the 20th century, the term "low-profile" started to come into play.
Although they are less common than normal switches, they still occupy a certain position among a number of key enthusiasts.
So, what are they exactly?
Simply, low-profile switches are smaller, improved versions of standard switches. They have a relatively shorter overall travel than standard switches and typically activate in half of the time.
If you are interred in our top pick of the best low-profile keyboards and learning how they benefit you, check out this article.
Should you buy Low-Profile Switches?
Most people will surely wonder whether low-profile switches are worth your money or not, you should consider whether they are suitable for you and the purposes that you use them. To do so, let’s see what pros and cons they offer.
Pros of Low-Profile Switches
Thanks to the reduced height, low-profile switches offer a variety of benefits in several aspects.
Make your keyboard more compact and portable
Better portability is one advantage offered by the switches' lowered height. Keyboards with smaller switches are much more portable and compact.
They fit in backpacks made for laptops; therefore, it is easy to take them everywhere. With the lighter weight of these small switches, the keyboard's overall weight can be slightly reduced.
Thanks to the advantage of compact design, a keyboard with low-profile switches free up more space on your desk for decoration.
Help enhance ergonomics
You don't need to raise your hands so high since the switches are shorter. Ergonomics may therefore be enhanced.
There will be less wrist fatigue since the angle your wrists are at is less intense than it would be if you use regular switches.
With that advantages, low-profile switches are great for gaming. Several low-profile switches, like the Cherry options, were designed specifically for gaming.
Improve typing speed
The decreased height helps the total travel reduce. Actuation points are also decreased by half, which might provide gamers a competitive advantage by helping them to react to fast-paced environments such as intense shooting battles.
Besides, low-profile switches are also helpful for typing. You could experience a boost in your typing speed thanks to their quick actuation. If you are in trouble with report deadlines, this perk from low-profile switches will not disappoint you.
Cons of Low-Profile Switches
At first glance, low-profile switches seem to be more innovative than their standard counterparts. However, there are some downsides to consider as follows:
Hard to find
Low-profile switches are generally harder to find than the standard ones. There aren't many online stores that sell low-profile switches or keyboards. Even some well-known websites like Mechanical Keyboard and Keyboardio do not have low-profile switches and keyboards.
Fewer customization options
Another significant drawback is that low-profile switches do not allow for much customization. This is a clear dealbreaker for custom keycaps fans. For example, if you want customized keycaps with different stems, they have fewer options, and even if they do, most of the profiles will collide with the case plate.
As low-profile switches are more difficult to modify, custom keycaps fans may turn to using regular switches.
Difficulties with filming and lubricating
In case your keys are faulty and need to be opened up for repair, low-profile switches, unfortunately, may not allow you to do that since their structure is hard to modify as mentioned above.
Take time to get used to it
We’ve come to the last downside!
It will take a little amount of time to get used to the low-profile switches if you are familiar with the conventional mechanical switches. The advantages that low-profile switches offer, however, could make this more than worthwhile.
Due to their lower height, low-profile switches are less impact-resistant than normal switches. Generally, most low-profile switches have a lifespan of from 50 to 70 million keystrokes while that of normal switches can be up to 100 million keystrokes.
Consequently, they often don't last as long as their standard counterparts. Yet, they still gain high reliability from many users due to the above-mentioned outstanding advantages.
So, are low-profile switches a good investment for you?
The answer to this question relies entirely on your needs and taste. Consider some situations as follows:
- If you desire a more ergonomic feeling
- If you are a gamer and want the keys to activate more quickly
- If you travel frequently and want to use a portable keyboard
then a keyboard with low-profile switches will be a great choice for you.
Popular Low-Profile Switches
Have you already mastered the information about low-profile switches?
If you do, now it’s shopping time! We will review three well-known brands for this type of switch for you.
Cherry MX Low-Profile Switches
In terms of height, Cherry MX Low-Profile Switches is the tallest (11.9 mm) in this list; however, it provides the fastest actuation.
As you can see in the image above, the height of Cherry MX low-profile switches is much lower than standard switches. According to Cherry manufacturers, they have reduced the height by 35% to allow for a slim and comfortable keyboard design.
|Type||Activating Point||Operating Force||Total Travel||Noise Levels|
|Ultra Low-Profile Silver||Linear||1mm||45g||3.2 mm||
Moreover, their travel distance is a maximum of 3.2mm; however, depending on the switch you buy, they start to run at 1mm or 1.2mm. This is due to the combination of linear switching characteristics and low spring resistance helping direct trigger.
As a result, while lower switches are shorter than normal switches, they still maintain a substantial amount of travel distance to ensure a satisfying user experience.
On condition that no interference is involved with the case or plate, these Cherry switches can be used with the majority of custom keycaps because they feature the regular Cherry stem.
However, Cherry MX low-profile switches are, unfortunately, not really durable. Its lifespan is only up to 50 million keystrokes while the regular ones have a lifespan of 100 million keystrokes.
Watch this video to see what do others think of this low-profile switch:
Gateron Low-Profile Switches
Gateron low-profile switches with a height of 8.3mm are the next option for this list of common low-profile switches.
|Low-Profile Blue||Clicky||1.5mm||50g||2.5 mm||
|Low-Profile Brown||Tactile||1.5mm||55g||2.5 mm||
This type is regarded as a great Cherry MX alternative at a low price. Even so, Gateron low-profile switches still offer benefits that are not inferior to Cherry.
A unique-shaped stem and a considerably shorter actuation and movement distance are highlight features of Gateron low-profile switches.
Moreover, this switch type makes mechanical keyboards more compact and reduces actuation distances. However, some users find the shorter actuation more uncomfortable when tying on, while others prefer this style since a compact keyboard may rest their wrists.
Thanks to their 2.5mm total travel distance, they are the smallest switch on our list altogether. They are excellent for users who like a shorter form factor with a mechanical feel.
Nonetheless, if you desire the switches best suited for your gaming feel, Gateron low-profile switches are not really a good idea.
Not to mention, even though it has the superior features of low-profile switches, Gateron is rated as less durable than the others with a lifespan of fewer than 50 million keystrokes.
Here is the typing test for Gateron low-profile switches on Keychron K1 ultra-slim wireless mechanical keyboard.
Kailh Low-Profile Switches
The last low-profile switches brand for you to consider is Kailh with low-profile Choc switches series.
|Color||Type||Activation Point||Operating Force||Total Travel||Noise Level|
This series of low-profile switches come in three small types: Red, Brown, and White. The only difference among Choc switches is their sound level (just like the Gateron brand).
In general, these three types of switches have a 3mm overall travel range and activate at 1.3mm. Due to its lower stem and comparable height to Gateron low-profile switches, they are much smaller than their Cherry counterparts.
However, the stem of these switches is non-standard, just as the Gateron switches. This indicates that there is only limited compatibility with customized keycaps.
Kailh offers up to 70 million keystrokes which surpass the Cherry. This rivals the reliability of even common switches.
Check out the video below for a detailed review of Kailh Choc switches:
Yet, the decision is entirely up to you!
Cherry is the brand to prioritize if you prefer authenticity.
Gateron and Kailh, on the other hand, are excellent (if not superior) alternatives to Cherry. They are less expensive while still providing you with an excellent typing experience.
Low-Profile Switches vs Normal Switches: What’s the difference?
The spring is a key element of the switch which distinguishes between low-profile and standard switches.
In general, low-profile switches have a considerably smaller spring.
Additionally, while standard switches provide a wide range of switch weights, low-profile switches have a limited number of spring weights.
The shape of the stem on a low-profile switch is not a universal standard design. Besides, low-profile switches feature the stem which is modified to be much shorter than normal switches.
On the contrary, the majority of common switches employ the standard Cherry stem style, making them flexible.
Therefore, the compatibility between the switch and the keyboard needs to be carefully checked before choosing the switch.
To achieve the best effectiveness, the low-profile switches are designed to reduce the height quite significantly compared to the normal ones. Therefore, there are very few or even no keycaps suitable for the low-profile switch.
Yet, there is an exception. Low-profile switches designed with stem according to Cherry's standards can be used with some other custom keycaps. Nevertheless, this type of keycap must also be low-profile so that it does not touch the plate when pressed down.
Meanwhile, Kailh and Gateron low-profile switches have almost no choice for custom keycaps since their stem is designed with its own standards.
Regular switches, on the other hand, provide you access to a huge variety of keycap customizations.
In comparison to standard switches, low-profile switches have redesigned housings that are much more compact. Low-profile switches require shorter housings to handle these changes since their internal components are smaller.
The height of low-profile switches is often roughly 2/3 that of standard switches. Similarly, the housings of the most popular low-profile switches are essentially just mini versions of their most popular standard switches.
Besides, no new feeling or sound is generated by the housing. The size of the switch is the only factor affecting noise or feeling; the housing has not been changed.
As mentioned above, this is the weak point of low-profile switches. It is obvious that low-profile switches have much fewer options available. Regular switches are often more in demand, and as a result, there are a lot more options.
Low-profile switches are also far less common than standard switches in the custom market. The majority of switches offered to keyboard fans are standard switches.
So if you love the uniqueness and prefer custom keycaps, this type of switch is not the best choice for you.
Price perhaps is the first priority factor when buying any item. As for low-profile and normal switches, there is also a big difference in the price between them.
For example, if you compare the prices between the two Kailh Low profile and Normal Profile, it is easy to see that the low profile is almost 2-3 times higher than the normal profile.
The normal switch series may only cost $2 to $3 when buying a pack of 10. Whereas, low-profile switches can price from around $5 to $7 for a pack of 10.
Because of their noticeably superior innovation, low-profile switches are even costed similarly to some of the more expensive key switch choices.
If you are interested in enhancing your typing speed with low-profile switches, consider Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh. These brands are well-known to make excellent low-profile switches that will bring to you the most comfortable typing experience.
When choosing your best-suited low-profile switches, there will several things that you should keep in mind such as customizations, availability, price, and so on.
Follow our guide and you will find out the best one that is the most beneficial for you ever!
Make your smart choice!
Are Low-Profile Switches good for gaming?
Yes. Low-profile keyboards are preferred for games because they require less key travel to activate a switch, allowing them to respond more quickly in games.
Are Low-Profile Switches good for typing?
Yes. Although typing with low-profile switches seems to be less satisfying than with other mechanical switches, they offer a shorter travel distance which helps speed up your typing. Yet, when you type quickly, you are more likely to mistype.