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The Best Mechanical Keyboard Switches in 2024

Is your current keyboard lacking that special something? That clicky responsiveness and instant feedback that lets you know your key inputs are hitting the mark? If so, you’re missing a vital component in your gaming arsenal: a mechanical keyboard equipped with the best mechanical keyboard switches.

Sure, you may have an ergonomic mouse, high-def display, and an overclocked CPU ready to burst out of your PC case. Your current keyboard may even be decked-out with customizable RGB lights and a built-in wrist rest. But none of that matters if your current set of keys is holding you back.

Now, you could go with a pre-built keyboard complete with top-notch mechanical switches. Or you can be adventurous and build your own. Either way, this guide will take you through the top switches for a competitive edge. Ready to begin? Let’s press the advantage.

Zoom In: 7 Best Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Now that we have some knowledge regarding what to look for in the best mechanical switches, let’s scope out the options.

1. Cherry MX Red

Cherry MX Red

The best mechanical keyboard switches overall

Brand: Cherry | Type: Linear | Actuation Force: 45g | Travel Distance: 4mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰

The Cherry MX Switch family is the grandaddy of mechanical switches. They’ve been around since the invention of the mechanical keyboard and serve as the basis for almost every keyboard switch out there. But which are the best Cherry MX switches? Well, that title would have to go to the Cherry MX Red.

These linear and lightweight switches are the best mechanical keyboard red switches and are designed for rapid actuation. They set the standard for minimal feedback, silent typing, and responsiveness thanks to the low-level spring force and mid-tier travel distance. You won’t have to worry about keys resetting, so you can easily double or triple-tap at a moment’s notice.

If you already have a keyboard or are looking to build your own, MX Reds are your best option. Virtually every manufacturer uses them in at least a few keyboard models, and they provide a great jumping-on point for those looking to upgrade their gaming setup. The only real drawback is that the brand is not specifically designed for gaming, and due to its popularity, it can be challenging to acquire.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Lightweight and springy keys
  • Smooth and satisfying keycaps
  • No distracting audible feedback
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Not designed strictly for gaming
  • Difficult to purchase due to popularity
  • Lack of bump feel for registered presses

2. Cherry MX Speed Silver

Cherry MX Silver

The best Cherry MX switch for gaming

Brand: Cherry | Type: Linear | Actuation Force: 45g | Travel Distance: 3.4mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰

If you’re asking what Cherry MX switches are best for gaming, look no further than the MX Speed Silver. These switches serve as the next iteration of the tried and true Reds, maintaining much of the same design but focusing on improving actuation timing. They’re fast, lightweight, and quick to press thanks to the shorter travel distance and consistent spring force held over from the MX Red.

Basically, these switches are sensitive to the touch. You won’t have any problems accurately executing commands as you glide your fingers across the keyboard. While Cherry isn’t known for creating keys specifically for gaming, this comes pretty close.

Just be aware that this increased sensitivity does come with a learning curve. If this is your first foray into linear mechanical keys, you may struggle with missed keypresses or double taps. Those familiar with the key type will love these switches’ quick and immediate nature. But, they can be a struggle for beginners.

  • USERS LIKE
  • The best low-noise Cherry MX switches
  • Lightest and fastest Cherry MX switches
  • Improved actuation requires lighter key presses
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Can be difficult to master
  • Least durable Cherry MX switches
  • Increased chance of missing keystrokes

3. Logitech Romer-G Tactile

Logitech Romer G Tactile

The best lightweight mechanical keyboard switches

Brand: Logitech | Type: Tactile | Actuation Force: 45g | Travel Distance: 3mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰💰

Logitech’s foray into mechanical switch development has been mostly a hit, thanks to their back-to-the-drawing-board approach. Unlike most hardware manufacturers, Logitech didn’t merely replicate and iterate on Cherry’s design. Instead, they set out to make a switch that improves actuation, durability, and accuracy as somewhat of a hybrid between tactile and linear switches.

Yes, they technically have tactile and linear versions, but the Romer-G Tactile isn’t designed as a traditional switch. The drastically decreased travel distance makes rapid key presses even easier, while retaining accuracy. And the actuation point works so naturally with the slider that any lag found in other models is virtually non-existent.

Overall, Logitech’s Romer-G switches are an impressive representation of what mechanical switches can be. Rather than sticking with the tried-and-true Cherry design, they focused on drastic and noticeable improvements that blur the lines between key types. Unfortunately, these switches are difficult to acquire and may only work with specific Logitech keyboard models, severely hampering their potential.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Actuation and reset work well together
  • Minimized travel distance increases speed
  • Provides a slight bump and audible feedback
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Durability varies
  • Not compatible with all mechanical frames
  • Difficult to get switches outside of Logitech keyboards

4. Cherry MX Brown

Cherry MX Brown

The best mechanical keyboard brown switches

Brand: Cherry | Type: Tactile | Actuation Force: 45g | Travel Distance: 4mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰

If you’re looking for key switches that help you find a middle ground between gaming and typing, the MX Brown switches are right for you. These hybrid switches serve as the bridge between the MX Red and MX Blue switches. Sure, they still allow for rapid typing, but they also include responsive and audible feedback.

It’s that feedback that differentiates these keys from Cherry’s other tactile offerings. You get the bump along with a minimal click to let you know a key was pressed. Unfortunately, this does mean sacrificing a bit of speed with increased actuation and heavier keys, but it’s worth it if you need that responsive bump.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Retains rapid actuation
  • Heavier keys pronounce the bump
  • Perfect middle ground for typing and gaming
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Minimal audible feedback
  • Not designed strictly for gaming
  • Keys have been known to stick over time

5. Razer Yellow

Razer Yellow Switch

The best mechanical keyboard switches for FPS titles

Brand: Razer | Type: Linear | Actuation Force: 45g | Travel Distance: 3.5mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰💰💰

Razer is no stranger to gaming hardware. They’ve dominated the space over the last few years and produce literally everything you could ever need for a gaming setup. But it wasn’t until 2014 that they released their first switch alongside the BlackWidow series. And only recently have they perfected the craft and introduced their best switch yet: the Razer Yellow.

It’s no secret that these key switches are competing directly with Cherry. Like almost every other model, they function basically the same. That said, most reviews state that the Razer keys, specifically the Yellow, are more durable and comfortable than Cherry.

That may be because the keys are explicitly made for Razer products, or it may be due to Razer’s knack for peripheral design. Regardless of the reason, they serve as reliable options. They’re so good that they could have chipped away at Cherry’s top spot. That is, if the keys weren’t locked into Razer hardware.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Rapid actuation built for FPS play
  • Highly durable and comfortable keycaps
  • Works perfectly with Razer designed keyboards
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Durability varies
  • Easy to miss key presses
  • Locked into specific Razer products

6. Matias Quiet Click

Matias Quiet Click

The most responsive keyboard switches

Brand: Matias | Type: Clicky | Actuation Force: 60g | Travel Distance: 3.5mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰💰

In general, clicky keys are not ideal for gaming. You’re often sacrificing speed and agility for assured key presses and sensory response. But that’s not the case with the Matias Quiet Click.

In reality, the Quiet Click functions less like true clicky switches and more like hybrid tactile switches. Similar to the MX Browns, they sit somewhere in the middle of speed and responsiveness, while minimizing audible feedback. But unlike the Brown, the Quiet Click still retains higher actuation thanks to the minimized travel distance.

That said, you’ll still see some lag in your keys. The sound and responsiveness aren’t top-tier like you’ll find with Cherry. But for a middle ground switch that pushes closer to being a tactile option, it’s a great choice.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Long-lasting
  • Quieter than Cherry keys
  • Rapid key presses thanks to a minimized travel distance
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Somewhat laggy inputs
  • Not a specialized option
  • Somewhat difficult to acquire in the US

7. Kailh Speed Silver

Kailh Speed Silver

The best bargain mechanical keyboard switches

Brand: Kailh | Type: Linear | Actuation Force: 50g | Travel Distance: 3.5mm | Sound: Quiet | Price: 💰

While mechanical keyboard switches aren’t exactly expensive, purchasing a full set (plus replacements) can begin to add up. Or, if you opt for a pre-built mechanical option, you’ll quickly find that keyboards utilizing Cherry or proprietory switch types don’t come cheap. That’s precisely why Kailh stepped into the picture.

They’re basically clones of Cherry MX switches, and in many ways, they kicked off the practice of replicating Cherry’s design. In other words, these switches work incredibly well — they just aren’t premium options. 

Take the Speed Silver, which competes with the MX Speed. On paper, it looks virtually the same. But, while the Cherry MX will last for up to 70 million clicks, the Kailh will likely begin to degrade much more quickly. The only tradeoff is that they are much cheaper to purchase, meaning that the durability for the cost may be a wash. 

We’d recommend trying these if you aren’t sure what switch type is best for you. Once you have an idea of what you want, upgrade to a premium model.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Inexpensive compared to competitors
  • Some reviewers find Kailh keys more responsive
  • Speed and accuracy are comparable to Cherry MX switches
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Better key models locked into peripheral partners
  • Much less durable than other switches on the market
  • Force and actuation tradeoffs don’t always complement one another

What Is a Mechanical Switch?

Unlike traditional rubber dome switches (which have three to four parts), a mechanical key switch comprises the following seven pieces:

  1. The Keycap. The plastic or metal cap located at the top of a key. Typically printed with letters, numbers, and other characters, it’s the part of the key that you see. It’s also responsible for noise generation.
  2. The Stem. The keycap is mounted onto the stem, which varies the actuation and travel distance of each keystroke. Each stem differs from switch to switch, and defines the switch type.
  3. The Upper Housing. The upper housing, or case, simultaneously holds all the components together while acting as a base for the key. It protects the stem while serving as the backboard for each press.
  4. The Spring. Wrapped around the base, this coil spring brings each key back to its’ upright position. It also defines the necessary pressure required to execute a keystroke based on the coil’s resistance.
  5. The Slider. The slider interrupts the connection between the spring and contact leaves. This is what helps designate individual and separate keystrokes.
  6. The Lower Housing. The other half of the case where the upper housing is mounted and where the slider is attached.
  7. The Cross-Point Contact Leaves. This is where the electricity flows within your keyboard. When a key is pressed, the slider interrupts the contact points and closes the circuit, delivering a keypress.
Keyboard Switch Parts

Types of Mechanical Switches

You now understand a mechanical key’s anatomy and how the stem is the starting point for determining key type. But what types of mechanical switches are there, and what makes them different?

Every switch falls under one of the following categories. To put it simply, they represent varying levels of speed, compromise, and responsiveness. 

Linear

Linear switches are built to provide smooth, consistent, and quiet key presses, with little to no tactile feedback. They are perfect for gaming, where you are required to input accurate and rapid key presses continually. However, if you’re transitioning from a traditional keyboard, linear does make for the steepest learning curve and can lead to finger pain.

Tactile

Tactile switches provide a noticeable actuating bump upon each keypress. They serve as the middle ground between linear and clicky, providing responsive feedback without being too distracting. It serves as the perfect introductory switch type without specializing in a specific area.

Clicky

Clicky switches are built to produce a tactile bump and loud responsive clicks upon each input. They serve as a satisfying reminder that everything is working, but can wear out more quickly in the process. Another solid introductory option, it works for those that enjoy the traditional clicking sound and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of speed.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Mechanical Switch

One of the Best Mechanical Keyboard Switches

The different switch categories listed above are helpful for understanding the broad differences between mechanical switches. But there are a few key elements you should keep in mind when deciding on which new keys are right for you.

1. Speed and Force

The necessary force required to execute a keypress directly correlates with speed. The less force required, the less energy you have to exert. The more force, the more effort it takes. 

Be sure to pay attention to the registered resistance of each switch type. While you may want the least resistance to achieve the greatest speed, less resistance offers tactile feedback that ensures each keypress is registering. Consider what you want most and lean that direction.

2. Auditory and Tactile Feedback

While the other elements mentioned here relate to feedback, it’s still a distinct point to consider. How much do you care about the physical jolt of a keypress? Is the auditory clicking essential to you?

Decide how much of an impact each of these types of sensory feedback make on your playstyle. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of speed or even a few months of longevity to feel that each key is successfully actuating, then prioritize this feature.

3. Durability 

You’ll want to be sure you check the guaranteed key presses for each switch. Depending on functionality, type, and brand, your keys can last for 50 million-plus clicks or give out after just a few million. Pay attention to the quality and the registered feedback to find durability you’re comfortable with.

Our Process

For this guide on mechanical keyboard switches, our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular keyboard switches from 15 brands and manufacturers big and small. After comparing this data, we then read over 125 user reviews (both positive and negative) and narrowed our list down to the top 7 keyboard switches on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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Related Reading

We hope this guide gives you a better understanding of mechanical key switches and helps you find the perfect option for your playstyle. If you enjoyed this article, stay in the know and subscribe to our email list. And if you want to read more about the best keyboard options for gaming, check out our write-up on the best gaming keyboards on the market.

 

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