Types of mechanical keyboard switches
There are three types of mechanical switches, and these define the keyboard, as well as who will want to use it (and why).
A linear switch is the simplest mechanical switch because the stem travels up and down without being impeded in any way — hence the name. The key registers the stroke, or actuates, when it bottoms out at the end of its travel. Gamers tend to prefer this kind of switch because it allows for fast and unambiguous control within a game when fractions of a second count.
While there are a number of brands that sell mechanical keyboards, Cherry is the best known. The Cherry MX Red is a very common linear switch, so much so that gamers tend to refer to “red switches” as a shorthand for linear.
This is similar to a linear switch but there is a bump in the middle of its downward travel. This bump lines up with the actuation point, which happens before the key bottoms out. This does a few things. It enables faster typing because each key doesn’t need to travel as far to actuate. At the same time, it’s quieter than linear switches because touch typists don’t need to bottom out the keys. And they have a feel that many typists prefer, thanks to the noticeable tactile bump.
For all those reasons, this is generally the switch of choice for typists who don’t also play games. Cherry’s Cherry MX Brown is a common tactile switch.
A variation of the tactile switch, a clicky switch makes a noticeable click at the bump. As you can imagine, these are the loudest of the mechanical keyboards, because every stroke results in a clicking sound. They’re reassuring for beginners who aren’t yet comfortable behind a keyboard and need additional feedback while typing. Some typists simply prefer the sound of clicky keyboards as well.
Keep in mind, though, that these are loud keyboards and can be distracting if you’re working around other people. The Cherry MX Blue is perhaps the best-known clicky switch.
Switch Color Options
There are a lot of options when it comes to tactile feedback and audible click. Mechanical keyboards are generally classified according to their switches, and switches are classified by color which embodies different design principles. Black, Red, Brown, and Blue switches feature different audible clicks and a tactile bump.
Blue Switches – Clicky with a Medium Bump
Blue switch has the most noticeable mechanical feel, with clicky sound and the distinct sense of operating, it’s ideal for gaming or typing, delivers a very comfortable feeling and a sense of rhythm. However, people may find Blue switch has an input latency issue if they prefer a highly responsive switch, so the Blue switch may not be the best option for high-speed typing and long hours typing.
Brown Switches – Tactile with a Medium Bump
It is a relatively modest switch and barely tactile, its sound is not as crisp as the Blue switch. The blue switch also has the lightness of the Red switch, a tactile feel that is close to a membrane keyboard. Brown switch is ideal for those who are new to a mechanical keyboard.
Red Switches – Linear Without Bump
Red switch requires less force to actuate and light. It is very popular when typing. It will feel like flying between your fingers. It is very suitable for long-time typing and high-speed input. At the same time, the red switch triggers fast and can also take care of it well. To the game, the red switch is also very suitable for novices to buy.
Green Switches – Clicky, Stiffer
Similar to the Blue switch, but the spring is stronger which makes it rebounds higher and more powerful. In other words, the Green switch is designed for gaming.
Black Switches – Linear, Stiffer
It is a kind of power mechanical switch, it neither tactile nor clicky. The black switch can come across as stiff. This type is thus less suitable for the kind of nimble key work most speed and touch typists depend on, it is not recommended for novices to try the black switch.
Silver Switches – Linear, Lighter
It is called the switch of speed, you can trigger it by just pressing it down a distance of 1.2mm. As a result, the delay between pressing down a key and performing an action is kept to a minimum, making Speed Silvers a refreshed favorite for gamers. However, because it is too sensitive, it’s easy to accidentally touch more than one key when typing or playing games.