Since the market is saturated with a variety of switches, choosing the right ones for your mechanical keyboard can be overwhelming. Tactile, linear, or clicky – what does this mean exactly and which brand should you trust when purchasing the perfect set of keyboard switches?
Clearly, that will depend on your personal preferences. But you can start with this list of switches that will make your life easier:
|Cherry MX Black||Cherry||black||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Red||Cherry||red||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Dark Gray||Cherry||gray||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Silent Red||Cherry||red||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Silent Black||Cherry||black||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX RGB Red||Cherry||red||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX RGB Black||Cherry||black||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX RGB Brown||Cherry||brown||tactile||Link|
|MX Low Profile RGB Red||Cherry||red||linear||Link|
|MX Low Profile RGB Speed||Cherry||gray||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Blue||Cherry||blue||clicky||Link|
|Cherry MX Speed Silver||Cherry||silver||linear||Link|
|Cherry MX Green||Cherry||green||clicky||Link|
|Cherry MX Clear||Cherry||clear||tactile||Link|
|Cherry MX Brown||Cherry||brown||tactile||Link|
|Cherry MX Gray||Cherry||gray||tactile||Link|
|Cherry MX RGB Blue||Cherry||blue||clicky||Link|
|Cherry MX White||Cherry||white||clicky||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 Black||Gateron||black||linear||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 White||Gateron||white||clicky||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 RGB Brown||Gateron||brown||tactile||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 Red||Gateron||red||linear||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 Yellow||Gateron||yellow||linear||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 Silver||Gateron||silver||linear||Link|
|Gateron KS-15 Blue||Gateron||blue||clicky||Link|
|Kailh BOX Black||Kaihua||black||linear||Link|
|Kailh BOX Red||Kaihua||red||linear||Link|
|Kailh BOX Brown||Kaihua||brown||tactile||Link|
|Kailh BOX White||Kaihua||white||clicky||Link|
|Kailh BOX Pink||Kaihua||pink||tactile||Link|
|Kailh Bronze (Speed)||Kaihua||bronze||clicky||Link|
|Kailh Silver (Speed)||Kaihua||silver||linear||Link|
|Kailh Copper (Speed)||Kaihua||copper||tactile||Link|
|Kailh Gold (Speed)||Kaihua||gold||clicky||Link|
|Kailh Pink (Speed)||Kaihua||pink||tactile||Link|
|Kailh Pro Burgundy||Kaihua||burgundy||linear||Link|
|Kailh Pro Purple||Kaihua||purple||tactile||Link|
|Kailh Pro Light Green||Kaihua||green||clicky||Link|
|The BOX Heavy Dark Yellow||Kaihua||yellow||linear||Link|
|The BOX Heavy Burnt Orange||Kaihua||orange||tactile||Link|
|The BOX Heavy Pale Blue||Kaihua||blue||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys BOX Navy||Kaihua||navy||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys BOX Jade||Kaihua||jade||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Cream||Kaihua||cream||linear||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Berry||Kaihua||berry||linear||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Plum||Kaihua||plum||tactile||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Sage||Kaihua||sage||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Low Profile Choc Dark Yellow||Kaihua||yellow||linear||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Low Profile Choc Burnt Orange||Kaihua||orange||tactile||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Low Profile Choc Pale Blue||Kaihua||blue||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Low Profile Choc Navy||Kaihua||navy||clicky||Link|
|NovelKeys x Kailh Low Profile Choc Jade||Kaihua||jade||clicky||Link|
|Kailh Low Profile “Choc” Red||Kaihua||red||linear||Link|
|Kailh Low Profile “Choc” Brown||Kaihua||brown||tactile||Link|
|Kailh Low Profile “Choc” White||Kaihua||white||clicky||Link|
|TTC Gold Pink||TTC||pink||linear||Link|
|TTC Bluish White||TTC||blue||tactile||Link|
|TTC Green Axis||TTC||blue||clicky||Link|
|TTC Red Shaft||TTC||red||linear||Link|
|TTC Tea Shaft||TTC||brown||tactile||Link|
|TTC Golden Tea Axis||TTC||brown||tactile||Link|
|TTC Golden Red Shaft||TTC||red||linear||Link|
|Matias Quiet Click||Matias||gray||tactile||Link|
Mechanical Keyboard Switches Brands
There’s no need to scour the internet to find out which switch brand is best. Read about switch companies and how they started all in one place bellow.
Nowadays, we link the Cherry brand to its popular line of switches – Cherry MX. However, this German switch maker with US roots has not always been the leading brand of mechanical switches in the world.
The company started by manufacturing various products, ranging from sensors to automotive modules in the United States. In 1984, Cherry patented its first switch which allowed the company to sell the product directly to consumers.
Cherry is a trusted brand due to its long history of making keyboards and keyboard switches. After Cherry’s switch patent expired in 2004, other switch brand started to use it to make Cherry switch clones and find their own place in the rising switch market.
Regardless of other options, Cherry is still a major go-to brand for any mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Also, any new switch manufacturer is compared with this company.
Visit Cherry’s official page to find out more about the company and its products.
Established in China in 2000, Gateron is the brand notable for its switches, i.e. Cherry alternatives. Their switches are made by the company Huizhou Gateron Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. that produces and manufactures plastic hardware parts and sensors as well.
Their switches are direct clones of the Cherry MX line, and you can use Gateron counterpart to replace Cherry. Some even prefer Gateron switches over Cherry.
The major complaint on Cherry switches has been their “scratchy” keystroke feel, and Gateron managed to take care of that flaw. Besides being more affordable and lighter, Gateron switches have softer keystrokes which make them more favourable for gaming.
Check out Gateron’s website to find out more.
Manufactured by the company Kaihua Electronics based in China, Kailh is another brand that offers affordable clones of Cherry MX switches.
They started making switches in 2009 and at the time were known for the poor quality of their materials and production. People would be reluctant to buy them since they were knockoffs of the established Cherry brand.
The quality of their switches improved over the years, along with their reputation. Some would even argue that their switches are better than Cherry’s, but all can agree that Kailh contributes something different and innovative to the world of mechanical keyboards.
Besides manufacturing Kailh branded switches, Razer trusted the company with their switches as well.
Visit Kailh’s official site to see what they have to offer.
Razer Inc. established its brand firmly within the world of the professional gaming industry. Their products include any technology that a reputable gamer might need – including the switches. Similarly to their other products, switches used in their keyboards are specifically designed for the best performance for gaming and typing alike.
According to the brand’s official site, Razer took over the entire process of making the switch in 2014. However, it is known that other companies such as Cherry, Kaihua, Greetech, and TTC manufactured switches for Razor keyboards since 2014. That does not mean you get off-brand switch because partner-manufacturers make Razer switches based on Razer’s specifications and blueprints.
Razer doesn’t offer a wide array of switches and they aren’t commercially available. The only way to get them is by purchasing one of their gaming keyboards.
Opinion on the Razer switches are divided – you will either love them or find them too expensive considering the questionable quality control because of its multiple manufacturers.
Visit Razer’s official website for more information.
Logitech is another well-known name in the electronics industry. The company manufactures computer peripherals, but they have their signature switch as well.
When it comes to switches, Logitech is best known for its Romer-G model introduced in 2014. Omron manufactures Logitech’s switches as we speak. However, you could find Cherry MX switches in their first mechanical keyboard before that.
Like Razer’s, Logitech’s switches aren’t commercially available and you can get them exclusively in their keyboards.
Their switches are well received in the mechanical keyboard community since people generally do not have issues with them. The only complaint is that they aren’t compatible with Cherry MX switches.
For more info, visit Logitech’s official website.
Dongguan Gaote Electronics Co., Ltd. is a China-based manufacturer that provides components for Matias switches. Also, they have their own series of Cherry MX clone switches branded as Outemu.
Outemu switches are generally perceived as a cheaper alternative to Cherry MX.
This is Gaote’s official website.
Huizhou Greetech Electronics Co., Ltd. is another switch maker based in China. They’ve been perfecting switch production since 2007.
Greetech switches are a less expensive alternative to Cherry MX switches. The common complaint is that they can feel scratchy.
As mentioned, they make Razer switches as well.
Check out Greetech’s official website.
Zeal PC company specializes in providing top parts for mechanical keyboards. They partnered with Gateron to make the line of switches called Zealios they introduced in 2015. Gateron manufactured this unique line featuring transparent casings specifically for Zeal PC.
Zeal PC company was founded by a fellow member of keyboard community enthusiasts. That is visible in their great customer service and insider approach to switch-making. Therefore, customers are generally happy with their products even though they lean more on the expensive side.
Visit Zeal PC’s official website to check out what they have in store.
Established in 1998, a China-based company Huizhou Trantek Electronics Co., Ltd. makes a wide range of electronic products for household and offices. Better known as TTC, the company also manufactures switches for mechanical keyboards.
They are regarded as cheap clones of Cherry MX line.
Read more on their switches on TTC’s official website.
Matias Corporation is a Canadian based company founded in 1989 that specializes in keyboard manufacturing. They used the Alps switches in their keyboards till the end of the 90s, i.e. until the Alps discontinued their production.
Considering there wasn’t another product to replace Alps switches, Matias designed their own simplified version. As mentioned, Gaote manufactures Matias branded switches.
Matias switches are known for their quality. However, since their switches are Alps clones, the only issue people have with it is that they have unique stem and design that does not allow standard keys.
Visit Matias’ official website.
Drop is an American e-commerce company founded in 2012. The site sells a variety of products for mechanical keyboards – including the switches you can buy exclusively on their site. Furthermore, they created a community with common interests and use their input to develop or find wanted products.
As of recently, they sell hybrid switches marketed as Holy Panda that are manufactured by Kaihua. Holy Pandas are hybrid of Halo True and Invry Panda switches.
Glorious is an American company founded in 2014 by PC gamers. The focus of the company is to make high-quality hardware and gaming accessories at a reasonable price point. Glorious creates mouse pads and wrist supports, but they dabble in switches as well.
They are on the list because of their new Glorious Panda switch. Similarly to Holy Panda, Glorious Panda is the hybrid they created by integrating Invry and Glorious technology.
Visit their glorious site to see what they’re up to.
Mechanical Keyboard Switch Types
You can buy three kinds of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. The key difference between the types is in their behaviour – the sound and feel of the keystroke.
Let’s start with the quietest and the least tactile switch – a linear switch. Mechanics of a linear switch are straightforward – the harder you press the key down, the faster it returns straight up.
A linear switch is popular with competitive gamers since reliable keystrokes allow them fast and precise movement. Regardless, this switch type is also great for people who get easily distracted by loud keys or want rapid, consistent, and smooth typing feel.
This switch features tactile keystrokes with audible feedback mid-travel. True, a tactile switch is not the loudest of the three, but you will hear and feel the bump midway when you press the key.
Just by the sound and feel of typing on the keyboard with the tactical switches, you can be sure everything works as it should. Hence, this switch type is popular because it reduces the chance of mistakes while typing –making the typing experience even more enjoyable.
Clicky is the loudest switch of the three. Its recognizable click sound signals you’ve reached the actuation point, i.e. pressed the key with enough force to activate it.
Depending on the brand, clicky and tactile might sound similar – mainly because they operate in the same way. However, have in mind that they feel entirely different when you press it since tactile switch feels like a smooth bump.
Clicky might not be the right fit for gamers, fast typists, or those who don’t like noisy keyboards in general. Nevertheless, it’s ideal for people who enjoy the distinct sound that indicates actuation of the key.
Still searching where to buy parts for your unique keyboard? Check out the article on top sites that provide parts for mechanical keyboards.