Are you looking for a cheaper alternative to expensive Cherry MX?
Kailh and Gateron are two of the best Cherry MX dupes. It is obvious that they cannot outweigh the legendary Cherry MX but given the cheap price, you have a real bargain here.
The problem is – what will be your choice now? Gateron? Kailh? Or a mix of both? To make things easier for you, we have here a full explanation of Kailh vs Gateron switches’ pros and cons, and also bonus guidance on how to choose the suitable switches for your mechanical keyboard.
Have fun reading!
Gateron Switches Review
Let’s sneak a peek at Gateron first before comparing Gateron and Kailh switches.
Coming from China, Gateron has gradually swept through the switch community with its top-notch products. The company began with the first main line-up which was the exact copy of Cherry MX and then steadily added more from there.
Thanks to that, currently, they have about 10 mechanical switch series, one low-profile lineup, and a popular launched optical switch line. By listing them, we believe it is adequate to illustrate the huge potential of this brand.
Main families of Gateron switches
The Main Line-Up
One special thing about the Cherry MX-clone line is it has more variants than the original Cherry.
Besides the usual Blue, Black, Brown, Red, you can choose the mega-heavy Green or the mega-light switches White and Clear.
Gateron Silent Switches
The Gateron Silent lineup is also a dupe of Cherry MX Silent but with more switch types.
Thanks to damping rubber, they are almost no sound. However, typing becomes quite mushy.
Gateron Milk Switches
The milky transparent color of the housing is for diffusing the RGB saturation, making the lights that hit your eyes will be softer. Moreover, the stem is large for wobble reduction.
Gateron Ink Switches
Gateron Box Ink is a premium switch with beautiful smokey-transparent housing.
Moreover, they further improved the smoothness performance, making it desirable for fast typists.
Gateron Low-Profile Switches
Gateron came up with the Low-Profile series to keep up with the popularity of the low-profile keyboards. Short but rapid so an ideal for gamers.
Besides this short summary, we have a full article about Gateron, so don’t forget to take a look at it.
Pros of Gateron Switches
- The smoothness of most Gateron switches can beat up the legendary Cherry MX.
- Quick response switches with a 2 – 4 mm key travel distance. And, there are mega-fast Gateron Ink Yellow switches (1.2 mm – 4 mm).
- They are compatible with Cherry MX and easy to customizable such as lubing or changing the keycaps.
- The Gateron name has gained trust from mechanical keyboard enthusiasts with its standard durability. They may not have a long life cycle like Cherry MX or Kailh, but many have experienced little-to-none troubles with Gateron.
- They have a lot of series and variants to choose from.
- They are one of the most stable Cherry MX clones.
Cons of Gateron Switches
- The sound could be too loud for some people.
- The longevity is mostly 50 million keystrokes and 60 million at best.
Kailh Switches: A Sneak Peek
Kailh is a product of Kaihua electronic co., a company that is based in China. It is not wrong to say they have one of the longest lineups, so there are many for you to choose from.
Same as Gateron, they first started with making Cherry MX fakes before designing their own switches. The thing is, unlike Gateron, their regular switches do not have high praises as their signature lines.
Kailh’s quality is superb. They have some problems for sure but in general, they are really great to try out, especially their clicky switch collection.
Main families of Kailh switches
There are three main mechanical switch families of Kailh. They are Kailh Default (or Kailh Regular), Kailh Speed, and the most prominent Kailh BOX.
The design is similar to Cherry MX. However, the quality cannot come near as they are scratchier and less durable.
But, at that cheap price, they are still a good choice for your keyboard.
Unlike Cherry MX, Kailh has more than linear switches in their Speed lineup. You can have your preferred switch type for your rapid gaming keyboard at a low price.
Thanks to adding a protective square box, Kailh BOX switches tackle the wobbling issue of the default line and add a layer of protection against harmful dust and moisture.
There are more cool switch lineups from Kailh than what we have mentioned. You can explore them in detail with our article ‘A Comprehensive Overview of Kailh Switches’
Pros of Kailh Switches
- Their clicky switches have a unique tactile response and one of the best ‘clicky’ sounds due to the click bar method.
- BOX lines are IP56 rating.
- The activation time is standard short. Moreover, the lineups like Speed or Pro switches can be placed at the top in terms of speed.
- Kailh offers a lot of options for keyboard lovers with different purposes and preferences, including competing in games.
Cons of Kailh Switches
- In general, Kailh switches have scratchiness-related problems when typing.
- The signature BOX lines are difficult to mod due to the box stem.
Now, we put Gateron vs Kailh switches in the competition. Guess who will stand last.
Before going into each category, we will say this first. Kailh has better clicky products that make them famous while the buttery smoothness is the signature of Gateron. So, you may get a gist of what to choose between Kailh or Gateron switches.
Kailh vs Gateron switches: In-depth comparison
Comparison of Tactility
In terms of clicky feedback, Kailh switches are different from Gateron and Cherry MX. The response from Kailh is clear, sharp, and strong. They do not wobble much like Gateron and the distinct ‘clicky’ sound of them is a bit nicer.
Talking about the tactile response, we think Kailh and Gateron switches are much the same, good and clear. However, there is a tiny crunchy feeling from Kailh that Gateron does not have.
That is also the same for linear type. Gateron’s smoothness indeed goes far beyond Kailh’s. But, Kailh’s tactility is clearer and stronger.
In our conclusion, Gateron vs Kailh switches – Kailh wins
Comparison of Durability
Regarding longevity, Kailh switches can last from 60 to 80 million keystrokes according to their laboratory test, while Gateron’s life cycle is between 50 and 60 million activation keys.
In terms of dustproof, every Kailh switch that has a cover box receives an IP56 rating.
However, it seems like Gateron shows stronger durability since people respond that they have fewer issues with Gateron switches despite using them for a long time.
That is why, between ‘Gateron vs Kailh’ switches, we think Gateron performs better in reality.
Comparison of Key Activation Force
Actuation force has a significant impact on the overall typing experience of your mechanical keyboard. Regarding the lightest switches, both Kailh BOX Silent Pink switches and Gateron Clear/White linear switches have a 35 gf actuation force.
Nonetheless, while the heaviest-weight switch of Kailh is BOX Navy, at 75 g, Gateron Green Clicky requires a stronger force of 80 g. But, despite being heavy switches, those of Gateron can execute rapidly.
Due to that, we conclude that Gateron gains the winning title in the competition between Kailh vs Gateron.
Comparison of Key Travel Distance
Between Gateron and Kailh, Gateron has a wider range of key travel distances. Their shortest actuation peak is 1.2 mm and their longest starting point is 2.4 mm.
Of course, Kailh has a big number of fast switches like the Kailh Speed or Kailh Pro, but Gateron has a more precise response and better bottom-out performance.
That is why, Kailh vs Gateron, Gateron is the winner.
Gateron tends to have a ‘thocky’ sound and high pitch while Kailh is like ‘clicky’, ‘clacky’ whenever you type. The former is generally louder than Kailhs because Gateron has more loud linear switches.
Well, when it comes to sound, it is more of a personal preference because some people enjoy hearing sounds while typing or gaming, while others appreciate a silent experience. As a result, there is no clear winner here. We’ll let you make your own decision, and in order to make that easy, here are videos to help you compare.
- Kailh’s sound
- Gateron’s sound
We think their prices are within the same range They are both way cheaper than Cherry MX, and a little bit more costly than super budget options like Outemu.
Gateron’s prices are slightly lower than Kailh’s in the regular lineups, whereas, in the premium versions (Gateron Milky Switches, Gateron Ink Black vs Kailh Box Pinks, Kailh Box Jades), they are quite higher. In the end, the cost difference isn’t significant, but it’s worth noting.
Kailh vs Gateron: another drawn
Majors factors to consider when buying a switch
Here is a buying guide we have mentioned at the beginning of this article. By considering each aspect of Gateron and Kailh switches and comparing those to what you desire, you can find it easier to make a decision.
Undoubtedly, you will want mechanical switches that can work with you for a long time. So, you must check their life cycle which is represented by ‘million keystrokes’. Switches that do not provide you with that figure – you might want to skip them.
Right now, Cherry MX has the highest number of 100 million keystrokes. But, the number of 50 million key activations is not bad at all. This means they can last for more than 12 years (with our rough calculation)
Travel distance normally goes with how fast the switches are. The shorter the actuation point is, the higher speed the switches have. Gateron and Kailh switches have a number of 2 mm, a standard fast-enough figure.
For gamers, you may want to look for a smaller number to gain advantages in speed. But, you also need to consider the feels of your fingers to find which works best for you.
Kailh and Gateron switches both have the three main actuation types, which are clicky, tactile, and linear.
Clicky and tactile both produce a noticeable bumpy response which should be strong and crispy. That comes with a discernable sound, being high pitch or deep.
The difference is that clicky’s tactile feeling is much stronger and clearer. But, basically, they are nearly the same so some brands produce only clicky or tactile in their switch lines.
Regarding linear, typing on them is almost transparent. There is no clear bouncing feeling like the other two. That is why the smoothness is over the top.
Spring Force refers to the hardness of the spring. Therefore, you need a similar weight force from your fingers to press the spring/ the whole switch down.
50 gf is the middle level. Lightweight switches have a spring force of less than 50 gf, while heavy-force switches have a spring force greater than 50 gf. To choose the switches, you need to consider your preferences, accuracy, and hand fatigue.
Typing on light switches is surely soft but it is easy to accidentally type on the wrong keys. On the other hand, heavyweight asks for more attention so you can prevent mistyping, but for a long time, your hands are likely to feel weary.
You should see what is your preferences and conditions.
Do you enjoy the fun ‘clicky, clacky’ sound? Or do you want something that sounds like ‘thacky’ or ‘thocky’?
Or do you hate noises so a silent switch would do you a favor? Or maybe you need a muted-audible keyboard in your workplace?
Try to think carefully about what you like and what you need. Those will help you make the right choice.
If you want to know more about mechanical switches, here we have an article that unfolds the mystery behind mechanical switches. Hope it is helpful for you.
To conclude, Gateron vs Kailh are some of the great mechanical switches in the market that you cannot go wrong with. Nonetheless, we think Gateron is slightly better than Kailh overall.
But, if you prefer the linear feels, please pick up the Gateron switches. If you enjoy the fun bumpy feedback of the clicky type, step on Kailh’s side.
We hope this comparison will help you choose between Kailh vs Gateron switches your most suitable ones.