Mechanical keyboard switches are the crown jewel of any typist or gamer’s keyboard. A laptop’s flimsy rubber dome membrane just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the feel of mechanical switches. To the average computer user, mechanical keyboard switches are structures that register keystrokes when you press the keycaps on a mechanical keyboard.

Unlike rubber membranes, mechanical switches offer a unique typing experience that can be altered depending on what brand and type of switch you use. However, all mechanical switches offer more travel distance and tactile feedback than membrane-based keyboards. Tactility is one of the most noticeable benefits of these switches since there’s no need to press the keys all the way through.

In this article, we will look at different key switch manufacturing companies and compare what they offer. There are around eight well-known brands in the world of mechanical keyboards, and this comprehensive review will cover all of them! Keep reading to find the answers to the following burning comparison: Cherry MX vs Gateron vs Kailh vs Outemu vs Razer switches!

Cherry MX Switches – The Leading Mechanical Switches Brand

Cherry switches types | Das keyboard
Cherry switches types | Das keyboard

Cherry is arguably the most popular and well-established brand that has been manufacturing mechanical keyboard switches since the 1970s. Cherry MX switches are the golden standard for all other brands and consistently set trends for rivals to follow. You might have seen color-coded switches if you’re a mechanical keyboard enthusiast. You can thank Cherry for them. The company manufactures different keyboard switches, ranging from clicky and tactile options to linear and silent switches

Here’s a table summarizing the most popular Cherry MX switches to date:

Color Description Usage

MX Red

Smooth. Light resistance. No bump. Relatively quiet. Gaming

MX Black

Smooth with heavy resistance. No bump, and relatively quiet. Gaming

MX Brown

Bumpy. Medium resistance. Moderate sound level. Typing/Gaming

MX Speed

Linear with light resistance. Relatively quiet.

Typing/Gaming

MX White Clicky and tactile. Moderate sound level.

Typing/Gaming

MX Blue Clicky, bumpy. Medium resistance. Very loud.

Typing/Gaming

MX Green Clicky, bumpy. Heavy resistance. Very loud.

Typing/Gaming

As you can see, Cherry MX switches are color-coded and differ from each other in terms of sound, feedback type, and usage. Here are the switch specifications:

MX Red

Cherry MX Red Vs Blue Switches (Source: NZ Caps)
Outstanding feature of Cherry MX Red switches (Source: NZ Caps)
  • Type: Linear
  • Feel/Sound: Smooth and Quiet
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 75g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

The Cherry MX Red mechanical keyboard switches are one of the most popular linear switches in the market. Linear switches are famous for offering less resistance and being relatively quiet. They’re the preferred choice for gamers because the light spring force allows lightning-fast responses, letting players make quick decisions. If you’re a heavy typer, you might want to steer clear of the MX Reds because they have a light bottom-out force.

MX Black

Cherry MX black switches
Cherry MX black switches
  • Type: Linear
  • Feel/Sound: Smooth and Quiet
  • Actuation Force: 60g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 85g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

The MX Blacks are also an ideal switch option for heavy typers and boast a high actuation force and stiff spring coil. They’re similar to the MX Reds in quiet feedback and a smooth typing experience. The MX Blacks are the preferred choice for button smashing games with a 60g actuation force and 85g bottom-out force. Keyboard enthusiasts and collectors worship the vintage MX Blacks, claiming to offer a smoother experience than newer designs.

MX Brown

Cherry MX Brown Switches
Cherry MX Brown Switch
  • Type: Tactile
  • Feel/Sound: Bumpy, Moderately Loud
  • Actuation Force: 55g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 60g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

The MX Browns are a commonly available tactile Cherry switch. They’re decent for gamers and typists and offer an actuation force lower than the linear MX Reds and Blacks. However, this switch is not for you if loud auditory feedback is your pet peeve.

Unlike the Red and Blacks, the MX Browns offer bumpy tactile feedback upon actuation, which helps you avoid bottoming out. An audible bump and adequate feedback are perfect for loud office settings.

If you’re torn between Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Brown, this article will help you decide easily.

MX Blue

Cherry MX Blue Switches
Cherry MX Blue Switch
  • Type: Clicky
  • Feel/Sound: Bumpy and Loud
  • Actuation Force: 60g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 60g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

The MX Blues are part of the third important category of mechanical keyboard switches: clicky switches. They offer louder auditory feedback and a more pronounced, borderline irritating clicking sound on every keystroke that will never fail to make your co-workers hate you. They’re equally distracting in gaming sessions, although the bumpy tactile feedback does help limit bottoming out; in our opinion, keep them for home usage if you like them.

MX White

Cherry MX White switches
Cherry MX White switches
  • Type: Clicky
  • Feel/Sound: Bumpy and Moderately Loud
  • Actuation Force: 80g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 90g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

The Cherry MX White is a famous yet rare switch in the Cherry MX clicky series. They’re not as loud as the blues and offer moderate auditory feedback when typing. If you can find these bad boys, they’re perfect for getting feedback without the sound being too loud or irritating. Coupled with a heavy actuation and bottom-out force, the MX Whites are beloved by typists and button-smashing gamers alike.

MX Green

Cherry MX Green switches
Cherry MX Green switches
  • Type: Clicky
  • Feel/Sound: Bumpy and Loud
  • Actuation Force: 80g
  • Bottom-Out Force: 90g
  • Actuation Distance: 2mm
  • Travel Distance: 4mm

Like their white counterparts, the MX Greens are a part of Cherry’s clicky switch series. However, they’re considerably louder compared to the MX White. Their heavier build sets them apart from the blue ones, which offers our lead-fingered friends the perfect Cherry switch for typing with pronounced keystrokes without bottoming out the keys. These are not for you if you prefer a light feel and no auditory or tactile feedback.

Gateron Switches – Direct Clones of the Cherry MX 

Gateron Switches
Gateron Switches

Gateron switches came from humble beginnings and were famous for being exact replicas of the Cherry MX switches. However, they’ve made a name for themselves owing to their performance and consistency. Today, Gateron is arguably the most popular company for mass-producing the smoothest switches in the market – the smoothest! 

Like Cherry, Gateron manufactures many different types of switches, including specialized versions reminiscent of Cherry’s Silent and Speed series, and they all offer different user benefits. Here’s a table listing the different Gateron switches:

Color Description Usage

Gateron Red

Smooth. Light resistance. No bump. Relatively quiet.

Gaming/Office

Gateron Black

Linear with moderate resistance. No bump and relatively gentle sound. Gaming/Office

Gateron Brown

Tactile with medium resistance. Gentle sound level. Gaming/Office

Gateron Yellow

Linear with medium-moderate resistance. Relatively quiet. Gaming/Office
Gateron Clear Linear and incredibly light resistance. Quiet sound.

Gaming/Office

Gateron Blue Clicky with medium-to-heavy resistance. Loud, clicky feedback.

Typing

Gateron Green Clicky with heavy resistance. Loud, clicky feedback.

Typing

Here’s an explanation for Gateron’s different switches. There’s a switch type for everyone!

Gateron Red

Gateron Red Switch
Gateron Red Switch
  • Actuation force: 45g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Linear
  • Pressing feeling: Vertical, light pressing force, soft rebound
  • Scene: Game, typing, daily work
  • Sound: Quiet

The Gateron Red is the most commonly used mechanical keyboard switch in the series. Being linear in design, it is incredibly quiet, and the keystroke feel is buttery, smooth, and light. Therefore, the Gateron Red is famous as an all-rounder, perfect in all scenarios, and does not tire a person out.

Gateron Black

Gateron Black Switch | Epomaker
Gateron Black Switch | Epomaker
  • Actuation force: 60g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Linear
  • Pressing feeling: vertical, strong pressing force, hard rebound
  • Scene: Game, typing
  • Sound: Medium

The Gateron Black is the heaviest of all linear switches with a high actuation force, which offers a smooth but heavier feel. Heavy types who prefer strong mechanical pushback and medium feedback love these switches since they help reduce the frequency of wrong key presses.

Gateron Clear

Gateron Clear Switch | Shopee
Gateron Clear Switch | Shopee
  • Actuation force: 35g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Linear
  • Pressing feeling: Vertical, very light pressing force, soft rebound
  • Scenario: Typing, daily work (all scenes)
  • Sound: Quite

The Gateron Clear/White rocks the lightest actuation force among all linear switches. With a 35g actuation force, it’s as light as a feather and offers a smooth and effortless typing experience. The sound is also very quiet. However, the Gateron Clear is not for you if you don’t like quiet, light, and sensitive switches. It’s the best switch for typing and daily work!

Gateron Blue

Gateron Blue Switch | Alexnld
Gateron Blue Switch | Alexnld
  • Actuation force: 60g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Clicky
  • Pressing feeling: Clicky, moderate pressing force, clear rebound
  • Scene: Game, typing
  • Sound: Clicky

The Gateron Blues is a clicky switch type and provides loud, clicky feedback when the key actuates. However, the switches are incredibly smooth and lightweight. The Gateron Blue offers bumpy tactile feedback to prevent your keys from bottoming out if you’re not one for loud, clicky noises. It’s ideal for gaming and typing but not for office settings.

Gateron Green

Gateron Green Switch | Alexnld
Gateron Green Switch | Alexnld
  • Actuation force: 80g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Clicky
  • Pressing feeling: Clicky, strong pressing force, hard rebound
  • Scene: Typing
  • Sound: Clicky

The Gateron Green is the upgraded version of the Gateron Blue, offering a heavier actuation force of nearly 20g more than its blue counterpart. If you’ve got lead fingers and are looking to relive the days of robust typewriters, this is the perfect mechanical key switch for you!

Gateron Yellow 

Gateron Yellow Switch | Mac8
Gateron Yellow Switch | Mac8
  • Actuation force: 50g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Linear
  • Pressing feeling: Vertical, moderate pressing force,  clear rebound
  • Scene: Games, typing, daily work (all scenes)
  • Sound: Relatively quiet

Gateron Yellow has soared in popularity in recent years because it challenges the comfort of the Gateron Red. Rocking a similar design and linear structure, the yellow mechanical keyboard switches offer a slightly higher actuation force, allowing a smooth yet rigid-like feel. However, the switch is not rigid enough to require a heavy force for actuation but enough to offer users a sense of pressure. The Gateron Yellows have a fast rebound and are perfect for people not happy with the Gateron Reds being too light.

Gateron Brown

Gateron Brown Switch | Epomaker
Gateron Brown Switch | Epomaker
  • Actuation force: 55g
  • Travel distance: 2mm
  • Structure: Tactile
  • Pressing feeling: Bump, moderate pressing force, clear rebound
  • Scene: Games, typing, daily work (all scenes)
  • Sound: Medium

The Gateron Brown is considered a hybrid of the Blue and Reds. It offers a smooth vertical press yet tactile bumpy feedback upon successive keystrokes. The auditory feedback is quite gentle and not disturbing in any environment, which makes it a reliable all-rounder.

Kailh Switches 

Mechanical keyboard switch by Kailh
Mechanical keyboard switch by Kailh

Kailh mechanical keyboard switches are manufactured by the Chinese electronics company Kaihua. Like all other mechanical switch companies, Kailh switches started as replicas of Cherry MX switches, following a similar stem design and color-coding scheme. Over time, though, the company began manufacturing its designs and cooperated with several popular keyboard manufacturers, making the brand popular among gamers and tech enthusiasts.

The Kailh Switch BOX and Switch Speed are some of the most popular series launched by the brand and include stable and durable keyboard switches that are perfect for competitive gaming. Being fast and responsive, they offer an immersive gaming experience that does not tire out the player.

Here’s a table highlighting the different types of Kailh mechanical keyboard switches:

Kailh Switches

Specifications

Blue

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
2 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

Brown

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.45N
2 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

Black

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.60N
2 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

Red

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.50N
2mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

Green

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.60N
2 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

BOX White

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance
Dust resistant

BOX Thick Navy

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.77N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance
Dust resistant

BOX Thick Jade

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.66N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance
Dust resistant
Speed Silver

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.1 mm actuation distance
3.5 mm travel distance

Speed Copper

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.1 mm actuation distance
3.5 mm travel distance

BOX Red

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance
Speed Bronze

Clicky and Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.1 mm actuation distance
3.5 mm travel distance

BOX Heavy Burnt Orange

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.60N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance

BOX Heavy Dark Yellow

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.70N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance
Kailh Speed Gold

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.4 mm actuation distance
3.5 mm travel distance

Kailh BOX Black

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.60N
1.8 mm actuation distance
3.6 mm travel distance

Outemu Switches

Outemu Switches In Different Versions
Different Versions of Outemu Switches

Outemu manufactures some of the cheapest mechanical keyboard switches in the market, which some consider cheap Cherry MX knock-offs. However, they’re plenty helpful if you’re on a budget. Many readymade keyboards use Outemu switches to bring product prices down. However, these are not ideal for competitive gamers and keyboard enthusiasts, as they’re unreliable and unstable switches. 

In addition, there’s no proof or evidence that these switches can even last the advertised 70 million keystrokes like their competitors Cherry, Gateron, and Kailh. If you still plan on buying them, we suggest the Blues and Reds. Here’s a table highlighting the specification of the limited choice of switches that Outemu offers.

Outemu Switches

Specifications

Blue

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.60N
4 mm travel distance

Brown

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.55N
4 mm travel distance

Red

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.50N
4 mm travel distance

Black

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.65N
4 mm travel distance

Razer Switches

Keyboard switches by Razer
Keyboard switches by Razer

Razer is one of the world’s leading gaming peripherals manufacturers. It produces custom keyboards, key switches, headphones, and numerous other equipment specifically for the gaming community. Although the company uses its own switches on its keyboards, Razer switches don’t add more value than Kailh switches. In fact, rumors suggest they just rebranded a Kailh switches design. Although we cannot verify this, Razer switches are not unique or superior in performance to their rivals. However, Razer Green is a decent switch and a good option if you’re a Razer fan.

Razer Switches

Specifications

Green

Clicky and tactile switch
Actuation force 0.50N
1.9 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance
Orange

Tactile switch
Actuation force 0.45N
1.9 mm actuation distance
4 mm travel distance

Yellow

Linear switch
Actuation force 0.45N
1.2 mm actuation distance
3.5 mm travel distance

Other Mechanical Switches

Zealpc Switches 

ZealPC mechanical keyboard switches
ZealPC mechanical keyboard switches

Zealpc switches have recently exploded in popularity after the keyboard components manufacturing company teamed up with Gateron to launch the famous Zealios key switch series. The transparent mechanical keyboard switches took off with the community for being unique, fast, lightweight, and exceptionally smooth. Generally, there haven’t been any negative comments regarding the Zealios key switches or any of Zealpc’s other offerings.

Logitech Switches 

Keyboard switch components on Logitech website
Keyboard switch components on Logitech website

Logitech, like Razer, is a famous computer peripheral manufacturing company. It is most famous for mass-producing keyboards, which used to rock the Cherry MX switches. However, Logitech started manufacturing its line some time ago. Its signature mechanical keyboard switch, the Romer-G, is exceptional in performance and is used in the company’s latest keyboards. However, you cannot purchase them separately since they’re exclusively produced for Logitech’s keyboards.

Topre Switches

Topre mechanical keyboard switch
Topre mechanical keyboard switch

If Topre started selling individual switches, we reckon it would quickly surpass Cherry as the world’s leading authority on everything about keyboard switches. Switching from a keyboard using Topre’s line of switches feels like moving from a seven-star hotel to a cheap rundown motel. They are markedly different from traditional mechanical keyboard switches and are directly connected to the PCB circuit, which is why you cannot buy them separately in hot-swappabe options. Topre switches rely on beveled, rounded tops connected to electric circuits via sensors that use non-contact electrostatic capacitance technology. The keyboards can be costly but offer a premium feel and minimal key bounce.

Cherry MX vs Gateron vs Kailh vs Outemu vs Razer: Which Is the Best Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

Although Gateron gives Cherry a run for its money, it still sells an inch short of its rival. Cherry MX switches are just more reliable and durable and offer so much variety in their products. Some of the best mechanical keyboards in the market use Cherry MX keyboard switches to attract enthusiasts, master typists, influencers, and, most importantly, competitive gamers.

Here are the best mechanical keyboard switches ranked in descending order:

  1. Cherry MX
  2. Gateron 
  3. Outemu
  4. Kailh
  5. Razer

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mechanical Keyboard Switch

Although the manufacturing company is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a switch, there are plenty of other factors. The actual structure and design of the switch are more important than the brand since it defines how optimized a switch is for your particular needs.

Actuation Type

There are three main actuation types: linear, clicky, and tactile.

Linear switches are light and soft. They offer a smooth typing experience and have no feedback. The auditory feedback is also quite gentle. These are best for people who prefer light keystrokes and typing in silence.

Clicky switches offer the loudest feedback and have a very loud sound. Most people do not like clicky switches since they’re annoying and distracting.

Tactile switches can be moderately heavier to press and offer bumpy tactile feedback, letting the user know a key has been actuated. They’re outstanding if you don’t want the keys to bottom out.

Spring Force

Spring force or actuation force is the pressure required to activate a key. The higher the spring force, the heavier the typing experience. Tactile and linear switches are easy to press, while clicky switches require a heavier touch.

Travel Distance

Travel distance is vital to consider when purchasing switches. If you’re looking for lightning-fast response times and faster typing, aim for mechanical switches that have short travel and even shorter actuation distances. Many people dislike short travel distances since they can make the keys bottom out more frequently. It all depends on your preference.

Lifespan

Mechanical keyboard switches have different lifespans, which are measured as n-million keystrokes. For instance, many Cherry MX switches feature lifespans ranging from 50-100 million keystrokes. Usually, 50 million keystrokes are more than enough for a durable switch and will last you several years. However, steer clear of brands that either doesn’t mention the key switch life cycle or fail to offer at least a life cycle of 50 million keystrokes.

Price 

Price is an important thing to consider when purchasing key switches. Cherry MX and Gateron switches are the most expensive ones in the market. However, cheaper options like Outemu and Kailh are also decent options. Keep your budget in mind when choosing a particular brand.

Durability

Switches with a higher spring force tend to be more durable. The stiffness of the spring is an essential factor in determining durability. Other factors include the addition of O-rings and dampeners, which prevent the wear and tear of switches when the keys bottom out.

Conclusion

When comparing top brands Cherry MX vs Gateron vs Kailh vs Outemu vs Razer switches, it’s undeniable that despite being more expensive than their competitors, Cherry MX switches are still the best. Although this doesn’t mean the other options are inadequate. Many gamers prefer Gateron switches over the Cherry MX series because of their smoother keystroke feel. However, when you combine typing experience with the overall build, design, quality, and durability, there’s no better option than Cherry!

FAQs

Q. Which mechanical keyboard switches are better for typing: Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, or Razer?

A. Cherry MX key switches are best for typing and daily use purposes.

Q. Which mechanical keyboard switches are better for gaming: Cherry MX, Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, or Razer?

A. Gateron switches are preferred over other types by gamers due to a smoother keystroke experience and a lighter touch.

Posted by: Hirosart_Support
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