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 have recently 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 the mechanical keyboards.
Some of the manufacturers have their own custom mechanical switches like Logitech has RomerG and Razer has their 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 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 as 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 which makes direct contact with the metal clip but due to its slopy 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 which 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 actually it’s not true.
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 which makes a good satisfying impact on your finger while a Linear switch is simple and straightforward.
- Cherry MX Black
- Cherry MX Red
- Cherry MX Speed Silver
- Kailh Silver Speed
- Romer G Linear
- Cherry MX Brown
- Cherry MX Blue
- Kailh Gold
- Kailh Bronze
- Kailh Copper
- Romer G Tactile
- GX Blue
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 typing. These switches generally require more force than the non-clicky one except the Cherry MX Black ones. The clicky switches are made up of two parts which 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 favourite 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. Romer G Tactile and Romer G Linear are the non-clicky switches from Logitech while the GX Blue is the clicky one.
Speed and Force for Gaming
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 takes less time to register otherwise your player will die. In Games like CSGO, you shouldn’t be going for a Cherry MX Switch although that will fulfil the purpose but the noisy sound accompanied with more time and more force will lead to poor performance as compared to 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 fast response.
Similar is the case of Kailh Speed switches in which there are varieties but the Speed Silver is the fastest having a similar spec in travelling 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 is 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.
So, What should you 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 would be a great thing as you can also feel the actuation. For me, my favourite switches are Brown which are almost equivalent to the Cherry MX Red and require the same force but if you are a professional gamer and want no compromise then the Kailh Speed switches are even better.