Mechanical keyboards are fun to use and they are best when it comes to increasing the performance in any particular task you want to do. I have been using different types of mechanical keyboards for years and they are so addictive that I don’t like to use membrane keyboards anymore.
The first mechanical keyboard I bought was with the Blue switches and it was very noisy but at the same time, it was premium in feel. I also wanted to try other switches such as Red and Brown, therefore I bought some of these keyboards from different manufacturers. But using all of them simultaneously gave me the answer to which keyboard is the best for gaming.
I posted an article on membrane vs mechanical switches for those who never used a mechanical keyboard before and there I have explained the mechanism of a mechanical switch which doesn’t need to be explained here again. So, go and check that out if you want to know the basics.
But what I am going to explain here is the basic functioning of each type of mechanical switch. I won’t be taking the rare mechanical switches which are uncommon amongst the users and also very rare in the market. But I am going to list the difference between the Cherry MX switches and other mechanical switches that are common in mechanical keyboards.
Some of the manufacturers have their own custom mechanical switches like Logitech has RomerG and Razer has its own custom mechanical switches. They generally use the same mechanics but with some modifications in their designs. The switches use the plastic switch along with a spring that is in direct contact with a metal clip which puts some hindrance when you press the key. These parts are covered inside a small box except that the Kailh switches have a bigger box than the Cherry MX.
Cherry MX switches are widely used and thus are the most common in high-end gaming keyboards but it doesn’t mean that other switches from Logitech, Razer, and Kailh are not good. They have their own mechanism and have good reliability just like the Cherry MX Switches.
We are not going to discuss the types of mechanical keys but rather their principles of working which is aimed at the performance. These basics will let you know if the mechanical keys you are buying will be worth the money for your work or not. In simple words, no mechanical switch is bad but it depends on the user whether he likes the way it works or not. That’s why companies make variations in the switches which serve different purposes at the best.
Linear vs Tactile
Linear mechanical switches use a simple non-angular design that makes direct contact with the metal clip but due to its slope design, it doesn’t face any hindrance and goes straight to the bottom for actuation. On the other hand, Tactile mechanical switches use an angular design that faces hindrance while going down and lets you know that the key has been registered. Although, it might seem that this mechanism makes you use more force but it’s not always true.
In the Linear design itself, we have switches that need different forces for actuation. The Cherry MX Black switches which use linear switches need more force which is around 60cN for actuation. While the Cherry MX Brown switches only use a force of 45cN. In pressing a tactile mechanical key, you will feel a little bump that makes a satisfying impact on your finger while a Linear switch lacks this feedback.
Related- Best One-Handed Gaming Keyboards
- Cherry MX Black, Red, and Speed Silver
- Kailh Silver Speed
- Romer G Linear
- Gateron Red, White, Yellow, and Black
- HyperX Red
- Cherry MX Brown
- Kailh Gold, Bronze, and Copper
- Romer G Tactile and GX Blue
- Gateron Brown
- HyperX Aqua
Non-Clicky vs Clicky
Clicky switches make noise when you press them and provide tactile feedback. They will let your far-away sitting roommate know that you are pressing keys on your keyboard. These switches generally require more force than the non-clicky ones except the Cherry MX Black ones. The clicky switches are made up of two parts that complete the mechanism while the non-clicky switch is generally comprised of only one plastic component that registers the key when pressed.
Non-Clicky switches are my favorite although most of my friends like the clicky ones because they give a premium feel. Cherry MX Blue switches are the most widely used clicky switches while the non-clicky ones include the Linear switches from Cherry MX and Kailh. Other brands like Logitech have Romer G Tactile and Romer G Linear switches that are non-clicky while the GX Blue is the clicky one.
Speed and Force
For Gaming, particularly in FPS games where you need to react as fast as possible, it’s best recommended that you use the fastest mechanical keys that take less time to register otherwise your player will die. In Games like CSGO, you shouldn’t be going for a Cherry MX Switch even though it will fulfill the purpose. However, the noisy sound accompanied with more time and more force will lead to poor performance as compared to a Cherry MX Red switch.
Brown switches on another hand, are in between but they are still fast as they don’t take more than 45cN of force which is exactly equal to that of Red switches but with tactile feedback which feels great.
Cherry MX Speed Silver and Kailh Speed switches are the best choices for gaming as they are one of the fastest available switches that take a lot less time for actuation than the standard mechanical switches. Cherry MX Speed, for example, takes only 1.2mm pre-travel and a total of 3.4mm in total travel while the Cherry MX Red switch takes 2mm pre-travel and a total of 4mm in total travel. So, that makes the MX speed a better option in a fast response.
Similar is the case of Kailh Speed switches in which there are varieties but its Speed Silver is the fastest having a similar spec in traveling but a lot less force required sitting at only 27cN as compared to the 45cN of MX Speed. Other Kailh Speed switches are also great for gaming as they are faster and require less force for actuation.
Then comes the Romer G mechanical switches which are present in the Logitech G910 Orion mechanical keyboard which take only 1.5mm pre-travel and are nearly equivalent to the Cherry MX Speed switches for fast actuation. Yes, it’s expensive but also comes with RGB backlighting and several other features.
Which Switch To Buy?
In conclusion, if you analyze everything, two things matter the most:-
- The switch should not require a lot of force
- The switch should actuate as early as possible
Along with that if the keys have a little tactile feedback, then it will be much better as you can also feel the actuation. For me, my favorite switches are Brown which is almost equivalent to the Cherry MX Red and requires the same force but if you are a professional gamer and want no compromise then the Kailh Speed switches are even better.
Best Mechanical Switches for Gaming
Cherry MX Speed Silver
Cherry MX Speed Silver is a near-perfect gaming switch for every gamer whether the game is MMO or FPS. It’s smooth and sounds nicer than most linear switches. With an actuation force of 45cN and a short travel distance of only 1.2mm for registration, you can expect faster performance in gaming. Cherry MX is pretty much the most popular for years and its Speed Silver is its best switch for competitive gaming.
Best Keyboard with Cherry MX Speed Silver
Corsair K100 RGB
Corsair K100 RGB mechanical keyboard is a premium choice for enthusiast gamers who are looking for great competitive performance. It uses Cherry MX speed silver switches and RGB lighting that shines through the high-quality keycaps. It uses a multi-functional iCUE control wheel that allows multiple operations as well as a volume scroll wheel that is easier to use than pressing multiple buttons for volume control.
Kailh Speed Silver
Kailh Speed Silver is a direct competitor of the MX Speed Silver and is similar in operation. However, it has some minute differences in its specs and working. The force required to actuate the switch is 50cN and the pre-travel distance is 1.1mm which is just 0.1mm less than the MX Speed Silver. It is also a Linear switch therefore, the mechanism is simple and the feel is super smooth. Smoother than the MX Speed Silver.
Best Keyboard with Kailh Speed Silver
EVGA Z15 RGB
Apart from making amazing graphics cards, coolers, and motherboards, the company also has a few decent peripherals for gamers. EVGA Z15 RGB is a fantastic premium mechanical keyboard with Kailh Speed Silver switches for quick operation. It features a full N-key rollover operation and media keys with a volume scroll wheel at the top. For long comfortable working, it comes with a magnetic wrist rest that can be detached as per the need and RGB lighting that can be customized using EVGA RGB software Unleash.
Romer G Linear
It’s a hard choice between Romer G Linear and Romer G Tactile because both are identical to each other in specs. I prefer going with the Linear one as it is smooth and fluid in operation. It requires 45cN of force for actuation and registers the click at 1.5mm of distance. So, it’s not as fast as the Cherry MX and Kailh Silver Speed switches but still ideal for gaming. If you love the tactile feedback, then consider going with the Romer G Tactile. Its specs are similar to the Linear switch but it has tactile feedback at 55cN of force.
Best Keyboard with Romer G linear
Logitech G512 Carbon
Romer G switches are exclusive to Logitech keyboards. The best mechanical keyboard with Romer G Linear switches is the G512 Carbon. It is available in both Tactile and Linear editions but the design and looks are identical. It looks simplistic with its design but it uses a solid brushed aluminum body with RGB lighting that can be controlled using Logitech G Hub software. For more multimedia features and elegant design, you can go with the G910 Orion Spectrum keyboard that comes with the Linear G Tactile switches.
Gateron switches started getting more popular recently even though the company is two decades old. Gateron has several different mechanical switches just like Cherry MX. Gateron’s best gaming mechanical switch is Red. It requires only 45cN of force and has a 2mm travel distance for actuation. It is a linear switch that won’t make you exhausted even after several hours of use. While Gateron also has a White switch but its actuation force is too low i.e., just 35cN which is not practical for gaming as a little press is enough to register the entry. Therefore, the Red switch is preferable.
Best Keyboard with Gateron Red
Cooler Master CK552
There are a few brands that use switches from Gateron and the most reliable of them is Cooler Master. The CK552 gaming keyboard uses the Gateron Red switches and has a simple layout. It uses RGB lighting for aesthetics and a brushed aluminum body for reliability and a premium look. Compared to most mechanical keyboards, it is much cheaper and hence, can fit the budget of most enthusiast gamers.
HyperX also makes a few mechanical switches namely- Red, Aqua, and Blue. Aqua and Blue provide Tactile and Clicky feedback respectively whereas Red is a linear switch. Both Red and Aqua are equal in the specs and require the same amount of force for actuation i.e., 45cN. Even the travel distance for actuation is the same at 1.8mm. So, it is a little faster than the Gateron Red. HyperX Red switch provides up to 80 million strokes and is definitely one of the best to be used for gaming.
Best Keyboard with HyperX Red
HyperX Alloy Elite 2
HyperX switches are exclusive to HyperX mechanical keyboards. Currently, there are a total of four mechanical keyboards that use HyperX switches. All four models are customizable and users can opt for any switch on these models. The flagship keyboard is the Alloy Origins but it does not provide the best value for its price. Instead, I recommend going with the Alloy Elite 2 which has multimedia buttons and is $20 cheaper. It features RGB Lighting under ABS pudding keycaps and a solid steel frame that won’t break easily. It’s one of the best gaming keyboards for under $100 that won’t disappoint.
What is the most popular Cherry MX Switch?
It’s difficult for us to know exactly which is the most popular Cherry MX switch but most of the users generally buy Blue, Brown, and Red Switches because they are the most known switches.
Are Blue switches good for gaming?
I have been using blue switches for gaming for several years but I find Red and Brown switches better than Blue. In short, a faster switch that uses less force is better but there is no problem in using Blue switches for gaming.
Are linear switches better for gaming?
They are great for games where you have to tap keys repeatedly in succession. These are great for MMO and action games.
Is Cherry MX Red loud?
No, they are silent.
What is better Cherry MX brown or red?
Cherry MX Brown provides tactile feedback but Red switches don’t. Personally, I prefer using Cherry MX Brown over Red.