Mechanical keyboard switches have been popular for quite some time now, but with hundreds of switch options, it can become quite hard to choose the best keyboard switches for gaming. It has been a hot topic for debate for years. But you might be thinking, “It’s not that hard to choose a keyboard switch, right?” Well, you’re wrong about that! 

 

Every gamer out there is always looking for ways to get that competitive advantage in-game, but some may tend to overlook this underrated factor — what type of switches are you using on your keyboard?

 

There are several types of switches with different colors, all with different functions and behaviors. So, you might actually be surprised with how *hard* choosing the best one really is. But despite the number of switches you can choose from, it all comes down to personal preference.

 

So today, we’ve listed our top 10 best switches for gaming that you may want to try for your next gaming session! 

Our Choice

Cherry MX Red Keyswitch

Cherry MX Red Keyswitch

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Light and Quiet
  • Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes 

Cherry MX Speed Silver

Cherry MX Speed Silver

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 1.2 mm
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Total Travel Distance:3.4 mm
  • Feel and Sound: Smooth and Quiet
  • Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes

Cherry MX Brown

Cherry MX Brown

  • Type: Tactile
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 55g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Bumpy and Moderately loud
  • Lifespan: 100 million keystrokes

Kailh Speed Silver

Kailh Speed Silver

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 1.1mm
  • Actuation Force: 50g
  • Total Travel Distance: 3.5mm
  • Feel and Sound: Light and quiet
  • Lifespan: 70 million keystrokes

Cherry MX Black

Cherry MX Black

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 60g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Smooth and quiet
  • Lifespan: 100 million keystrokes

Gateron KS-9 Brown

Gateron KS-9 Brown

  • Type: Tactile
  • Actuation Point: 2.65mm
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Smooth with bump and moderately quiet
  • Lifespan: 60 million keystrokes

Gateron KS-9 Black

Gateron KS-9 Black

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 60g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Smooth and quiet
  • Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes

Cherry MX Blue

Cherry MX Blue

  • Type: Clicky
  • Actuation Point:  2mm
  • Actuation Force: 60g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Bumpy and loud
  • Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes

Gateron KS-9 Yellow

Gateron KS-9 Yellow

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 50g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Smooth and quiet
  • Lifespan: 50 million keystrokes

Kailh x NovelKeys Cream

Kailh x NovelKeys Cream

  • Type: Linear
  • Actuation Point: 2mm
  • Actuation Force: 45g
  • Total Travel Distance: 4mm
  • Feel and Sound: Solid and quiet
  • Lifespan: 20 million keystrokes

Top 10 Best Keyboard Switches

1. Cherry MX Red Keyswitch

1. Cherry MX Red Keyswitch
9.5/10 Our Score
  • It has a great feel
  • Does not produce too much noise
  • Quick inputs
  • Has no physical feedback

One top of our list is the Cherry MX red switches. They’re one of the top choices among gamers and even custom keyboard builders since they’re a lot quieter and smoother than other Cherry MX switches on the market. The Cherry MX red switches are a step up from your standard mechanical switches. 

 

Another thing that gamers like about this Cherry MX switch is that it requires less force to register a keypress in a much quicker sequence with minimal force. 

 

This switch type is ideal for faster-paced games like first-person shooting gaming and battle royale games like Fortnite. Since the Cherry MX red switches are relatively quiet— more so than your clicky and tactile type — so they’re also ideal for late-night gaming sessions.

 

To sum it up, the Cherry MX reds provide solid performance, making them very popular among gamers all over the world. 

What We Like About It

The cherry MX red is one of the most popular switches for gamers since it’s lightweight and has no tactile feedback. It’s ideal for fast-paced games and is our top pick among all the other mechanical switches for gaming.

2. Cherry MX Speed Silver

2. Cherry MX Speed Silver
9.4/10 Our Score
  • Smooth
  • Very consistent
  • Quiet
  • Harder to find at a cheaper price
  • Might be too sensitive due to its low actuation point

The Cherry MX speed silver was specifically designed for gamers with its shorter total travel distance. The Cherry MX speed silver — much like the Cherry MX reds — has the lightest and smoothest among all the other Cherry MX switch types. 

 

It has an actuation point of only 1.2mm and only needs 45g of pressure for it to actuate. With its lower actuation point than even the red cherry switches, the Cherry MX speed silver is able to register even faster inputs. 

 

This linear switch provides a great linear actuation that allows the switch to be extremely smooth and has no tactile bump that may distract you while you’re gaming. 

 

These switches are ideal for their swift responses, which is what you’ll need for faster-paced games, competitive gaming, or if you’re just a very fast typer. But every great product comes with even the slightest disadvantage, which in this case, is its sensitivity due to its low actuation point. 

What We Like About It

The cherry MX speed silver is the fastest cherry MX switch there is. This switch is very similar to the Cherry MX reds, the only difference is that the speed silver switches are more responsive and lighter than the red. It’s also springy enough to give you that mechanical feedback.

3. Cherry MX Brown

3. Cherry MX Brown
9.4/10 Our Score
  • Quiet
  • Smooth
  • Less sensitive
  • Great tactile feel
  • Requires more pressure

The Cherry MX brown is somewhat similar to the Cherry MX red switches as they are both non-clicky switches that have the same 2mm total travel distance. 

 

This switch type is tactile and has an audible sound that is not too loud. It provides a softer actuation which is great for response time and speed when gaming. 

 

With it being a tactile type of switch, it becomes a lot more enjoyable for typers and of course, gamers. It does need a lot more pressure when it comes to pressing it down. The need for more pressure makes the Cherry MX brown switches more precise in comparison with the Cherry MX red.  

 

With its similarity to the Cherry MX red, you’ll find that the Cherry MX brown switches are much more versatile as it’s ideal for both gaming and typing, unlike the Cherry MX red which is far better for gaming than typing.

What We Like About It

The cherry MX brown is significantly quieter than the cherry MX blue which is great if you’re gaming in an open environment or if you really just want quiet switches. They’re easy to use and almost as responsive as the cherry MX red switches. The MX browns help avoid fatigue with their low actuation point.

4. Kailh Speed Silver

4. Kailh Speed Silver
9.3/10 Our Score
  • Less expensive
  • Slightly faster
  • Light and quiet like the Cherry red
  • Not as durable 

The Kailh speed silver is practically almost the same as the Cherry MX speed silver but at a much more affordable price. 

 

Their biggest difference aside from their prices is that the Kailh speed switches have a slightly shorter actuation point. The Cherry ones have a high actuation point compared to the Kailh switches with 1.2mm and the Kailh with 1.1mm. So, in theory, the Kailh speed silver is slightly faster. 

 

But, Kailh speed switches are not vouched for their durability and performance, unlike Cherry MX. Cherry switches undergo intense testing for their durability and performance, which is why they last longer than other switches. 

 

Nonetheless, the Kailh speed silver is a great alternative to the Cherry MX speed silver if you’re on a budget.

What We Like About It

The Kailh speed silver is a lot smoother compared to the other Kailh switches. It also travels faster, perfect for gaming. They’re quite similar to the Cherry MX speed silver, however, the Kailh speed silver is a lot cheaper compared to the Cherry MX ones. 

5. Cherry MX Black

5. Cherry MX Black
9.3/10 Our Score
  • Durable with 100 million keystrokes
  • Precise
  • Smooth and quiet
  • Higher actuation force

If you’re a serious gamer with heavy fingers, then the Cherry MX black switches might be the best choice for you. They’re known for their durability and their slight similarity to the Cherry reds. 

 

The Cherry MX blacks are almost identical to the Cherry red, except for the fact that the Cherry black is more durable, has a stiffer spring, and it is color black.  It has 100 million keystrokes, so you won’t have to worry about them breaking for a long time. 

 

Although what sets the black switches apart from the red is that it has a higher actuation force than the red switches. This means that the Cherry MX black switches are not as fast. Nonetheless, they’re a great middle-ground between performance and comfort when you’re gaming. 

 

They’re precise and linear, overall, they’re ideal for gamers who play strategy games or also known as “Real-time strategy” games because speed is not the goal.

What We Like About It

The Cherry MX black switches are just like the Cherry MX red, just a lot heavier. It’s a linear type of switch with no audible feedback. It’s quiet and ideal for slower-paced games since it has a higher actuation force compared to the other Cherry switches.

6. Gateron KS-9 Brown

6. Gateron KS-9 Brown
9.3/10 Our Score
  • Offers tactile feedback
  • Swift
  • Quieter than the blue switches
  • Requires more pressure to activate

The Gateron brown is one of the best middle-ground switches available on the market. With red switches not having that satisfying tactile feedback and blue switches creating too much noise, these brown switches offer the best of both worlds. 

 

These brown Gateron switches offer you a great balance of quiet clicks with great tactile feedback. In addition, it’s faster than the blue switches, but not as sensitive as red switches. 

 

Not only do the Gateron brown switches offer a great balance of their red and blue switches, but the browns are also known to be smoother than the Cherry MX brown. Although the Cherry MX brown switches are much more durable than the Gateron browns.

 

So, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Cherry MX browns, then these Gateron brown switches will definitely do a great job.

What We Like About It

The Gateron brown is another of our top picks for gaming since it has a sharper keystroke and that tactile bump we all love. It has a louder click so it might be best to use inside your gaming room instead of in an open environment, but aside from that, it provides you with a smooth gaming experience. 

7. Gateron KS-9 Black

7. Gateron KS-9 Black
9.2/10 Our Score
  • Have smooth clicks
  • Consistent
  • Produces a low sound
  • Decently durable
  • Has a higher actuation force

Another great Gateron switch type is the Gateron black switches. The Gateron black switch is a linear type of switch that produces a nice low sound. They’re quite similar to the Cherry MX black switches, but these ones are slightly more quiet than the Cherry MX counterpart. 

 

But just like the Cherry MX black switches, the Gateron black requires 60g of actuation force. So, these switches may not be great for first-person shooting games like Call of Duty but are great for strategy games like the Crusader Kings III. 

 

They’re also very quiet, making these switches ideal for noise-sensitive environments. These black linear switches are also very smooth and have a fast response time. All things considered, the Gateron black switches are ideal switches for those who want a quiet and heavier switch.

What We Like About It

With the Gateron black, you get a similar feel to the Gateron red, but just like the cherry MX black, it’s heavier. It is not as sensitive and would require you to put more force when pressing down. They’re extremely smooth and have this nice quiet bassy sound when pressed down. Moreover, it is a great switch option for slower-paced games.

8. Gateron KS-9 Yellow

8. Gateron KS-9 Yellow
9.2/10 Our Score
  • Smooth
  • Consistent keys
  • Quiet
  • Decently durable
  • Affordable
  • Slightly scratchy

The Gateron yellow is another great linear switch that is smooth and consistent, perfect for gaming. This Gateron switch is very similar to the Cherry MX red switches. They’re both linear, quiet, and have a normal actuation force.

 

Color is their biggest difference and the 5g difference in their actuation force. The red Cherry has a 45g actuation force while the yellow Gateron switches have a 50g actuation force. This means that the Gateron yellow switches are less sensitive. 

 

The Gateron yellow switches are extra smooth and are affordable compared to Cherry MX. But despite them being the cheaper option, they work really well for both gaming and typing.  

 

Although they’re not made specifically for gaming, they’re still a solid switch choice if you want something you can regularly type with and game with. 

What We Like About It

The Gateron yellow switches are your best bet for linear switches for your mechanical keyboard. It’s quiet and extremely smooth — great for when you’re gaming in an open environment. Among the other Gateron switches, the yellow ones are the lightest. 

9. Cherry MX Blue

9. Cherry MX Blue
9.1/10 Our Score
  • Responsive feedback
  • Satisfying clicky sound
  • Has more resistance 
  • Loud
  • Not the best switch for fast-paced games

The Cherry MX blue is the clickiest and loudest among all the other Cherry MX switches. Some enjoy its clicky feel and sound, but some find them too loud or stiff — it’s all about personal preference. 

 

They’re very tactile and extremely responsive. In addition, the resistance they offer helps to minimize accidental keypress. This switch is great for MMORPG and MOBA games that require the gamers to have precise inputs. 

 

These switches are not really great for competitive gaming or fast-paced games due to their high actuation force, but if you’re not into that, then these switches are a great option. Even for typing, it helps you to have precise keypresses. 

What We Like About It

We all know that the blue switches are the “clickiest” out of all the colors and the Cherry MX blue — is almost everyone’s favorite “clicky” switch — is easily recognizable by its audible sound. The Cherry MX blue switches have a higher actuation force compared to all the other Cherry MX switches, so you would need more force for your PC to register the keypress. Thus, the Cherry MX blue is ideal for both typing and slower-paced games.

10. Kailh x NovelKeys Cream

10. Kailh x NovelKeys Cream
8.9/10 Our Score
  • Dust resistant
  • Water-resistant
  • Less stiff
  • Has a pleasant sound when pressed
  • Expensive
  • Less durable compared to other brands

The Kailh x NovelKeys cream mechanical switches are a step up from your regular mechanical switches. This linear switch is a great option for gaming as there is no tactile bump. 

 

It’s also easy to press down, which is great for fast games. They’re also less stiff than the Cherry MX red, so if you’re looking for something less stiff, then this is the switch for you. These switches also have a pleasant sound that isn’t too loud. 

 

We would be lying if we said that these switches are the best among all the other switches we’ve listed so far. However, these Kailh x NovelKeys switches offer a new experience and are definitely a must-try in our opinion.

What We Like About It

The Kailh x NovelKeys cream switch is a decent option for gaming as there is no tactile bump which makes it easier to press down on a key. They’re softer and have a nicer sound than most linear switches. They’re also dust and water-resistant which is an added plus for durability.

Terms You Should Know

Actuation Point – is the point at which the computer receives the signal from the key switch.

Actuation Distance – is the key indicator of a keyboards’ responsiveness when clicked. It is the distance each key has to travel before it makes contact with your computer to register it as an input.

Actuation Force – is the amount of force or pressure that is needed in order to activate the switch and for your computer to register the input commands

Reset Point – is the distance at which the key switch needs to rebound in order to reset.

Total Travel Distance – is the distance between the key switches’ resting position from the position when it is fully clicked. It is also how far down you can click on the keys. 

Bottom-out – is pressing or pushing the key all the way down.

How to Choose The Best Keyboard Switch for You?

There are a lot of things to consider when choosing the best mechanical keyboard switches for gaming since there are a lot of different types with different sounds, feel, etc. 

 

So, whether you are building a custom keyboard from scratch or just wanting to change your mechanical keyboards’ switches, the kind of switches are always an important feature to consider.

 

We’ve listed the basics about mechanical switches that you should know about to help you choose the best keyboard switch to enhance your gaming experience.

Types of Switches

Clicky Switches – A clicky switch is the best for typing. They’re quite similar to a tactile switch since they provide the same tactile feedback. The difference between them is that they create more noise and provide an audible click compared to tactile switches. This can be problematic if you use clicky switches in an open environment since they’re very noisy and could be a distraction to other people.

Tactile Switches – Meanwhile, a tactile switch is the most popular type of switch on the market. They’re great for both typing and gaming since they offer great physical feedback and are not heavy to press (this depends on the brand, though). When clicking down on a tactile switch, you’ll feel a distinct bump and you’ll know you’re about to register a keypress, which makes them ideal for typing as it helps reduce typos. Compared to other switches, they’re quieter but may still create noise, especially if you bottom out the keys.

 

For a first mechanical keyboard, having a tactile switch is a great option. 

Linear Switches – A linear switch is entirely different from a tactile and clicky switch. They’re the best type of switch for gaming since they’re light to press and operate smoothly with no feedback and no pushback. There’s also no bump before its actuation point. Linear switches are also the quietest type of switch among the three.

 

The downside of this switch is that they’re the most sensitive so they’re not very great for typing. However, some brands offer linear switches with high operating force to make them not as sensitive. 

Other Types of Switches

Aside from the types of switches mentioned above, we also have other types of switches that behave a bit differently from the tactile, clicky, and linear switches that were listed above. 

Speed Switches – Speed switches are the best for gaming because they’re sensitive and register fast which is great for competitive gaming. 

Quiet Switches – As the name suggests, quiet switches make minimal noise. Quiet switches are typically linear switches since they’re naturally the quietest type of switch. However, some brands offer some tactile options to choose from.

Optical Switches – Optical switches have started to become popular. They’re like your typical mechanical keyboard, however, what makes them different is that when you click on a key, light beams and your PC then registers the keypress. Optical switches have a linear feel to them but with physical feedback.

Low Profile Switches – Low profile switches have the same function as regular mechanical switches, but they’re shorter and have a lower profile. Because the entire travel distance is substantially shorter than with regular switches, they bottom out much faster. A low-profile switch can have a tactile, linear, or even a clicky feel, depending on its production.

Meaning of The Different Colors

Most Common Switch Colors

Red or Yellow – Red and yellow switches are typically linear. They’re smooth and quiet. They’re the quietest switch color among the rest, so they’re great for an open working environment.

Blue – If red and yellow switches are the quietest switch color, then blue switches are the loudest and have the most clicky sound. They’re great for typing but only in closed working environments only since blue switches make audible clicking sounds that can be distracting for some.

Brown – Brown switches are in the middle of red/yellow and blue switches in terms of clicking sounds. They’re not exactly quiet, but they’re also not very loud. They’re usually tactile and provide physical feedback when you reach their actuation point.

Less Common Switch Colors

Green –  With green switches, they’re either clicky or tactile, thus their actuation force may vary from different brands.

Black –  Black switches are typically linear switches and they’ll need more force compared to other standard mechanical keyboard switches for your PC to register its keypress.

Silver – Like black switches, silver switches are usually linear switches. They’re built for speed, making them great for gaming since they’re a lot more sensitive and take less time for each keypress to be registered by your PC.

Actuation Force

Actuation force is the amount of force or pressure that is needed in order to activate the switch and for your computer to register it as an input. So to put it simply, the actuation force is the force your need to exert in order to activate the switch. As a result, it has a considerable impact on the overall typing experience of your mechanical keyboards.

 

So, what’s the best actuation force? For gaming, switches that have a lower actuation force are better for fast-paced games. A lower actuation force allows the user to activate the key faster which is ideal when you’re in a pinch. Not only will it be easier for gamers to activate the key, but it also helps to reduce fatigue during long gaming sessions. 

 

Meanwhile, for typing, switches that have a higher actuation force are much more ideal than the switches that have a lower actuation force. This is because a higher actuation force is less sensitive — you won’t have to worry about making a lot of typos since you would need to excerpt more force for your PC to register it as an input. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Is the Best Switch Color for a Mechanical Keyboard?

There’s no set “best” switch color since each color of a mechanical switch has specific features that are best for specific uses. For example, blue mechanical switches are best for typing because they will give you the best feedback in order to confirm your keypress and commands. 

 

Meanwhile, red mechanical switches are the go-to for gaming because they’re the lightest switches, they’re swifter and more practical. Red switches also typically have a light actuation force that requires less force to press when you’re in a bind in your game. These red switches are also more popular among gamers since they respond faster and are easier to click or press down. 

 

In general, you would need different switch colors for different purposes. But instead of focusing on the color, it would be better to decide which type of mechanical switches you want. Whether you want linear, tactile, or clicky switches, how fast do you want your switches to be, and what the actuation force should be.

What Is the Best Type of Switch for a Mechanical Keyboard?

Just like with the color, the type of switch depends solely on personal preferences and how you will be using your mechanical keyboard. 

 

For typing, tactile switches are the best since they give the best physical feedback. They’re also great for open working environments since they don’t create too much noise, unlike a clicky switch. Tactile mechanical switches are also most gamers’ go-to because they’re the middle ground between linear and clicky switches. 

 

But if you don’t want too much physical feedback, then a linear switch is also a great choice for gaming since they’re light to press and operate smoothly with no tactile feedback and no pushback — most pro pc gaming gamers choose linear because of this. Linear switches are also the quietest among the three main switch types.

 

What Is The Difference Between a Mechanical Keyboard from a Membrane Keyboard?

Since mechanical keyboards are preferable for gaming to membrane ones, they are best used as a gaming keyboard. Apart from that, mechanical keyboards utilize a spring-loaded mechanism to activate the switch, whereas membrane keyboards have rubber dome switches that, when pressed down, connect to a small electrical contact.

Do Membrane Keyboards Have a Keyboard Switch?

Membrane keyboards actually do have switches which are dome switches. Its switches are activated by pressing a tiny contact at the bottom of the switch against a receiver located along the keyboard’s base when clicking on the keycap. They are also a lot softer than a mechanical switch and don’t need a lot of force to activate, making them a lot cheaper.

What Is The Best Mechanical Switch Brand?

The Cherry MX is our top brand for switches. They are one of the leading switches in the world because, in terms of audible feedback and the force required to register a keypress, these switches find the right balance between clicky and linear switches. Gamers who value precision above speed appreciate them, as do gamers who enjoy the immediate key response.

 

Take note that Cherry MX switches are on the pricier side of the spectrum, so if you’re on a budget, then you might want to try out the Gateron switches instead. But, Cherry MX switches are more durable, which makes their price justifiable.

 

You can never really go wrong with Cherry MX switches, they’re very reliable and most of the peoples’ go-to switches. 

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, with hundreds of switch choices, the best keyboard switch solely depends on your personal preference and where you’re going to use it. They make all the difference in your gaming or typing experience, so you should buy one that suits your tastes.  

 

Aside from your switches, you should also look out for the best gaming keyboard because the best combo is a high-quality mechanical gaming keyboard and a switch that you enjoy using.

 

Happy typing, everyone!

Roel Mahalin
Roel Mahalin

Roel Mahalin is the founder of Techzumo. His hobby is playing video games. He’s always on the lookout for new deals to share with his readers, so he can make sure they don’t miss out on anything good! He decided to use his experience and what he has learned to provide individuals informative content about these new technologies.