The best mechanical keyboard switch for gaming, typing, or any given task is the one that you prefer. That may seem like a silly answer, but we promise it isn’t. Keep reading this page to find the best mechanical keyboard switch for your needs -- not someone else’s opinion about what you should use.
Random people on the internet will pass along all sorts of advice about the best Cherry MX switch for a given task. Some of them are knowledgeable, but none of them have your fingers or exact typing preferences. Our customers and kailh switch enthusiasts will help you develop your own opinion and act on it. We’ll also list some of our favorite switches (sorted by type) at the end of this article.
Cherry MX Switches Aren't The Only Good Options
Cherry MX switches aren’t alone in the market. Objectively competitive alternatives from Kaihua (Kailh) and Gateron went mainstream in the past few years. In fact, our measurements show competing switches outperforming Cherry MX models in a number of ways. Cherry makes solid switches, to be clear, so there’s nothing wrong with buying into their brand.
How To Choose A Mechanical Keyboard Switch
Choosing the right switch for your needs doesn’t need to be complicated. You can pick the best switch for your needs by following the steps below:
Identify What You Like
Pay attention to your keyboard use for a day (or less -- we won’t judge). Answer the following questions:
Do you like clicky noises? (Consider your coworkers / family too.)
Do you like feeling a "bump" while you're pressing down a key?
Do you like pressing keys all the way down?
Mechanical keyboard switches fall into three categories: linear, tactile, and clicky.
Certain switches are tougher to press down all the way, or bottom out. Typists who want to avoid bottom out may want switches with special springs (like Hako Trues and Clears) and / or stronger springs. Most common Cherry switches fall into a light resistance range that encourages bottom out. There are also a few special switch models with features like early activation points and sound reducing pads. You can learn more about individual switches and their weight ratings by viewing the Input Club Comparative Switch Guide.
Try Switches And Buy A Switch Tester
It’s best to try switches in a full keyboard. Some stores, like Fry’s Electronics, have keyboard samples out. You can also meet with keyboard forum members, go to keyboard meetups, and try out mechanical keyboards that belong to people you know.
Buy A Switch Tester
Kailh switch testers provide a solid base, translucent keycaps, and a variety of switches. They’re an excellent way to get a general feel for your likes and dislikes. It can be hard to get a good read on individual switches, though. They aren’t soldered in or exposed to your typing style, so a full keyboard could feel very different. If the Kono Switch Tester doesn't have the options you want we recommend buying one from NovelKeys, as they offer immense variety and customization.
Buy Multiple Keyboards / Keypads And Gift / Resell The Ones You Don't Like
If you have lots disposable income, buying multiple keyboards is an option. Mech enthusiasts tend to collect a stable of keyboards, which make great collectibles and gifts. Resale is also common on keyboard forums.
Find And Buy The Best Mechanical Keyboard For Your Needs
A standard full size keyboard or tenkeyless compact model is fine for most people, but those options may not fit your typing style perfectly. Read our “How to Choose a Mechanical Keyboard” page (once it's published) to learn more.
Linear - Light - Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Red switches are the marketplace standard for light linear switches. Learn more at this link.
Linear - Light - Kaihua Box Red
Kaihua Box Red switches use a different slider design and contact system to improve several performance metrics. Learn more at this link.
Linear - Medium - Kaihua Box Black
Cherry MX Black switches are a heavier version of the MX Red switch.
Linear - Heavy - NovelKeys Box Heavy Dark Yellow
Box Heavy Dark Yellow switches are a heavier version of the Box Red switch. .
Tactile - Light - Input Club Hako Violet
Hako Violet switches (which use the Kaihua Box architecture) are Input Club's flagship light tactile switch.
Tactile - Medium - Input Club Hako Clear
Hako Clear switches (which use the Kaihua Box architecture) are Input Club's flagship medium-heavy tactile switch.
Tactile - Heavy - Input Club Hako True
Hako True switches (which use the Kaihua Box architecture) are Input Club's flagship heavy tactile switch.
Tactile Clicky - Light - Kaihua Box White
Kaihua Box White switches use an improved slider and a revolutionary click bar mechanism.
Tactile Clicky - Medium - NovelKeys Box Pale Blue
Pale Blue switches use an improved slider and a revolutionary click bar mechanism. Medium-heavy clicky switches are rare.
Tactile Clicky - Heavy - NovelKeys Box Navy
Box Navy switches use an improved slider and a revolutionary extra-thick click bar mechanism. They are extremely tactile. Learn more at this link.