How Do I Choose Switches For My Mechanical Keyboard?

How Do I Choose Switches For My Mechanical Keyboard?

Choosing the right switches for your mechanical keyboard is crucial for ensuring a comfortable and efficient typing or gaming experience.

Mechanical switches are the heart of any keyboard, and they come in various types, each offering a unique feel and performance.

In this article, we'll explore the three primary types of mechanical switches and focus on the importance of weight and touch feel over their auditory feedback.

Understanding the Three Types of Switches

1. Linear Switches

Linear switches provide a smooth and consistent keystroke from start to finish. They do not have a tactile bump or audible click, making them ideal for those who prefer a seamless keypress.

Characteristics:

  • Smooth Keystroke: No tactile bump or click.
  • Consistent Force: Requires the same amount of force throughout the keypress.
  • Popular Choices: Gateron Yellow, Gateron Oil King, Akko Cream Yellow
  • Recommend: HMX (anything really), MMD Princess V3, Gateron Vermilion Birds

Best For:

  • People Who Chase Sound: Unlike tactiles/clickies, linears have the least variables that could affect sound. Allowing for cleaner, and more consistent sounding typing experience. 
  • People Who Type Alot: Due to the lack of a tactile event, the fatigue that comes with typing does build up slower over time. 

2. Tactile Switches

Tactile switches offer a noticeable bump in the middle of the keypress, providing feedback to the typist without an audible click. This tactile feedback helps in understanding when the key has been actuated.

Characteristics:

  • Tactile Bump: Provides a noticeable bump when the key is actuated.
  • Quiet Operation: Typically quieter than clicky switches.
  • Popular Choices: Boba U4T, Akko Cream Blue, Gateron Baby Kangaroo

Best For:

  • New-Comers: Due to most membranes falling into the tactile switch category, the swap to tactiles often feels more familiar whilst still allowing for a significantly elevated typing experience.
  • Gamers: Contrary to common belief, we believe that a lighter tactile is better for gamers. The tactile bump reduce errors even in the most hectic of situations.

3. Clicky Switches

Clicky switches are similar to tactile switches but include an audible click sound at the point of actuation. This provides both tactile and auditory feedback.

Characteristics:

  • Audible Click: Produces a click sound when the key is actuated.
  • Tactile Bump: Provides a tactile bump along with the click.
  • Popular Choices: Cherry MX Blue, Gateron Blue
  • Recommend: Kailh Box Jade/Navy, Gateron Melodic

Best For:

  • Feedback Lovers: Those who enjoy aural and truly distinct confirmation of their keypresses, such as writers or programmers who type a lot and appreciate the distinct feedback.

 

The Importance of Weight and Touch Feel

When selecting switches for your mechanical keyboard, focusing on the weight and touch feel is paramount to ensure comfort and efficiency.

Weight

The weight of a switch refers to the amount of force required to press the key down. This is measured in grams (g).

Lightweight Switches (35g - 50g):

  • Examples: HMX Hyacinth V2, K.techs S3
  • Best For: Users who prefer a light touch and or appreciate the feel of bottom out.

Medium Weight Switches (50g - 65g):

  • Examples: MMD Princess V3, Gateron Oil King, Gateron Baby Kangaroo
  • Best For: Those who want a balanced feel that offers both feedback and ease of pressing.

Heavyweight Switches (65g and above):

  • Examples: JWK H1, HMX Hanami Dango
  • Best For: Users who prefer a firmer feel and more deliberate keypresses, which can help prevent accidental keystrokes.

Touch Feel

Touch feel is subjective and varies from person to person. It’s crucial to choose switches that align with your typing style and comfort preferences.

Beyond the wider classification of linear and tactile switches, comes factors such as: tactile bump stye and spring weights.

Tactile Bump Style

  • Shape: 
    Tactiles typically break down into P-bump or D-bump.

    P-bump tactiles have a portion of linear travel pre or post the tactile event itself whereas D-bump tactiles entire key-travel is one big bump.

  • Peak Weight
    Beyond the bump shape, the size of the bump also is independent from other factors as well.

    These both are usually identified in the travel graph of the switch.


Spring Weight

  • Spring Curves
    Before the numbers itself, it's important to put the actuation/bottom-out weights in context of the entire keypress.

    For the longest time, spring weights were all conventionally linear, the only differentiation being whether the starting point was higher or lower.

    However in recent times, experimentation on switch springs with various aspects such as length, stage and curve.

    Briefly broken down:
    > Length -  Affect Starting Weight
    > Stage - Mainly to assist with spring-ping and acoustic consistency
    > Curve - Manner in which the weight increases, either linearly or increasing at a increasing rate.

  • Actuation/Bottom-Out Weight
    With that context in mind, the actuation and bottom-out weight help give an idea on what the weight of the switch would be in comparison to each other. 

    We believe that bottom-out weight is more important than actuation, but it's important to keep the curve in mind as it that also affects the weight perceived.

 

Conclusion

Selecting the right switches for your mechanical keyboard is a personal choice that should be based on your specific needs and preferences.

While the sound of the switch might be a factor for some, the weight and touch feel are more critical in ensuring a satisfying and comfortable experience.

By understanding the characteristics of linear, tactile, and clicky switches, and considering the weight and touch feel, you can find the perfect switches that align with how you use your board.