Whether you're a writer, a gamer, or simply someone who's looking for a particular feel when typing, choosing the right mechanical keyboard switch can make all the difference.
Mechanical switches allow you to customize every aspect of typing, including the pressure needed to activate the key, travel distance, and tactile position. All these minute customizations add up to a totally different typing experience.
However, there is a wide range of hardware options out there, and knowing where to start isn't always easy. Use our guide to learn some of the basic types of switches.
Types of Switches
There are three types of mechanical switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. They each have a distinct feel when pressed and are made for different kinds of users.
Linear switches are the most straightforward option and offer smooth keystrokes without any feedback or click.
- Smooth key presses are easy on your fingers
- Silent operation is a must for some typists
- Keys can be pressed more quickly, making them a natural choice for gamers
Gateron yellow switches are one of the most popular options of linear switch and feature a smooth feel, high durability, and rapid key execution. They feature a longer activation point of 2 mm and a total travel distance of 4 mm. This allows the user's fingers to glide over the surface of the keyboard quickly.
However, Kailh's linear switches are worth considering for their enhanced lifespan or for those who want a shorter key activation distance.
Those who are looking for that satisfying feeling of a keypress should consider trying tactile switches. They offer a small "bump" sensation, allowing you to know when a key has been pressed without having to bottom-out your keystroke.
- Versatile use and beginner-friendly
- Offers a satisfying tactile sensation
- Perfect for typists who don't want to miss a keystroke
When looking for a good tactile switch to try, Gateron brown switches are a good place to start. They require a slightly higher operating force of 55 cN, which pairs well with the tactile sensation of the keypress.
Kailh brown switches are similar, but have the standard 50 cN operating force for a slightly easier press.
Clicky switches, as its name might suggest, are designed to provide a satisfying sound each time they hit their actuation point. They are fun to use and offer great feedback.
- Always lets you know when a key has been pressed
- You don't have to press the key all the way down to activate it
- Many people find them fun
In addition to their distinctive click, Gateron blue switches have a slightly different feel than the yellow and brown varieties. They require a full 60 cN of operation force and a longer activation point of 2.3 mm. This provides a longer, harder keypress that match the satisfying sound they make.
For a good alternative, Kailh pink switches have a slightly higher operation force of 65 cN but reduced activation points (1.8 mm) and total travel distance (3.6 mm).
Making Your Choice
Choosing the right mechanical keyboard switch comes down to its intended use and your personal preference.
However, there are a few desirable factors to watch out for no matter what kind of keyboard you're looking for. Choose switches with a lifespan of at least 50 million keystrokes, as well as ones that are easy to clean and care for.
Once you have figured out the basics, you can start customizing your keyboard with different materials, backlighting, wireless connectivity, and more.
At AZIO, we offer mechanical keyboards with a variety of mechanical switches. The Retro Classic comes with tactile Kailh Brown switches that are both clicky and responsive. The FOQO Keyboard features Gateron Brown switches for a smooth and tactile typing experience. For more information about mechanical switches, ask our AZIO experts or learn more at www.mechanicalkeyboards.com.