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An introduction to Kailh switches, including Speed Switch

- Jul 19, 2018 -

What Kailh switches are there?

There are three main families of Kailh switches:

  1. Default: switches made to mimic Cherry’s original designs

  2. Speed: switches with shortened travel and actuation distances

  3. Box: switches with the stem surrounded by a box for protection

Like Cherry MX switches, different Kailh switches have different colours and corresponding characteristics. We’ll cover each of them in turn, explaining how their construction differs and what they’re like to use. After that, we’ll look at some other common questions and answers regarding Kailh switches.

Kailh produce switches that operate near identically to Cherry’s original designs; these are legal clones. If you’re familiar with Cherry’s switches, these Kailh alternatives require little introduction: Blue is a tactile and clicky switch, Brown is a tactile switch, and Red is a light linear switch. We’ll call these Default switches, in absence of any existing nomenclature.

According to testing by Input Club, there are some differences between the average Kailh switch and the average Cherry switch: the Red switches require a little extra force to actuate, the Blue switches require a little less, while the Brown switch is subtly different as it feels a little more… tactile. Despite these changes, the overall typing experience is quite similar.

2. Kailh Speed switches (Silver, Copper, Bronze, Gold)

As explained earlier, speed switches are essentially shortened versions of existing MX-style switches, allowing for faster actuation and intended for gaming. While Cherry produce a shortened linear switch, the Speed Silver, Kailh have produced four different shortened switches: Silver, Copper, Bronze and Gold.

The Kailh Silver switch is much like Cherry’s Speed Silver: an extremely light (27cN) linear switch with shortened travel (3.5mm) and actuation (1.3mm) distances.

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The Kailh Copper switch is a soft tactile switch, with a tactile bump and actuation point just 1.1mm into its 3.6mm travel distance. Combined with its light (40cN) actuation force, and you’ve got a switch that can handle both gaming and extremely rapid typing — definitely one to try.

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Kailh’s Bronze and Gold are clicky speed switches. That’s interesting because Cherry’s clicky switch, the Blue, is also one of its heaviest, requiring the most force to actuate. In comparison, the Bronze and the Gold switches provide that same audible clicky feedback, but they have the short actuation distances and minimal actuation force of other speed switches — cool!

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The Kailh Gold is more traditional in its construction, akin to a Blue switch but requiring less force and actuating faster to make it more suitable for gaming.

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The Bronze switch is more novel, with a second spring that provides the actual click sound effect. The resulting switch is somewhere between the Gold and the Blue when it comes to the force required (30cN, 40cN & 50cN) and tactile bump distance (1mm, 1.4mm & 1.5mm).

So, to sum up, here are the four speed switches, a brief description, their recorded actuation force, actuation point and tactile bump point (stats via Input Club).

  • Kailh Silver: soft linear – 27cN / 1.3mm

  • Kailh Copper: soft tactile – 30cN / 1.1mm

  • Kailh Bronze: soft clicky – 40cN / 1.25mm (bump: 1.4mm)

  • Kailh Gold: very soft clicky – 31cN / 1.5mm (bump: 1mm)