The Guide To Kailh Mechanical Keyboard Switches
- Jul 10, 2018 -
Kailh, also known as Kaihua, first appeared in 1990 and is the closest rival to Cherry. Kailh switches are made in China and grew its presence by offering cheaper alternatives to Cherry MX. Since then, Kailh has gone on to strike manufacturing deals with other keyboard makers, including Razer. For this section though, we’ll be focusing on Kailh’s in-house designs.
If you ever see a keyboard being marketed with mechanical switches and no mention of Cherry, then chances are, Kailh is what is being used under the hood. Kailh has an alternative for each of Cherry’s major switch types, they do feel slightly different, but in recent years the quality gap shrunk significantly.
Just like Cherry switches, every Kailh switch has a 2mm actuation distance and a total travel distance of 4mm. This is with the exception of Kailh’s own ‘Speed’ switches, which have an actuation distance of 1.3mm.
Kailh linear switches:
Kailh Red- Kailh’s red switch type is ever so slightly heavier than the Cherry equivalent, requiring 0.50 N of force to actuate. Aside from that 0.05 N difference, the switch is essentially the same.
Kailh Black- Just like Cherry MX blacks, Kailh’s alternatives require 0.60 N of force to actuate and feel heavier than Reds.
Kailh Speed Silver- This is Kailh’s linear equivalent to Cherry MX Speed. The actuation distance is reduced to 1.3mm versus Cherry’s 1.2mm, and force matches Kailh Red switches at 0.50 N.
Kailh tactile switches:
Kailh Brown- Just like Cherry Browns, Kailh’s alternative is tactile without the click. The switch actuates at 0.50 N of force, matching Kailh Reds but with added tactile feedback.
Kailh Blue- The blue switch is tactile and features the click. To actuate, Kailh Blues require 0.50 N of force, but the click kicks in after 0.60 N of force has been applied.
Kailh Speed Bronze- The tactile and clicky alternative to Kailh Speed Silver. It has the same actuation distance as Speed Silver and the same actuation force requirement.
Kailh Speed Copper- Another tactile ‘Speed’ switch. This one removes the clicky element but other aspects remain the same. It is essentially a brown switch with a quicker actuation point (1.3mm versus 2mm).
Razer has been around for years, and used to utilise Cherry MX switches for its keyboards. That changed in 2014, when Razer designed its very own slate of mechanical switches and tapped Kailh to manufacture them. All of Razer’s switches focus on gaming over anything else, and over the years, new flavours have been added to the line-up fairly consistently.
Razer’s switches differ from Cherry and Kailh in terms of default actuation point. Razer’s switches actuate at 1.9mm rather than 2mm. This is with the exception of the Razer Yellow switch, which is the ‘Speed’ equivalent. Razer Yellow switches have an actuation point of 1.2mm. The other thing setting Razer’s switches apart is life span- Razer switches were developed to be longer lasting, with each switch being rated for 80 million keystrokes.
Razer linear switches:
Razer Yellow- This is Razer’s only linear mechanical switch to date. It features an actuation point of 1.2mm, matching Cherry MX Speed. It also has a lower travel distance compared to every other mechanical switch on this list so far, bottoming out at 3.5mm rather than 4mm. Razer Yellow switches require 0.45 N to actuate, making them lighter and swifter than most other switches available today.
Razer tactile switches:
Razer Green- This is Razer’s equivalent to Blue switches. It is tactile and clicky, with an actuation force of 0.55 N.
Razer Orange- This is Razer’s equivalent to Brown switches, featuring a tactile bump but without the click. It has the same actuation force of 0.55 N, making the lack of audible click the only major difference.