Last Updated on December 2, 2023
In this post we will discuss in detail about the differences between Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky. Which type of switch is most appropriate for you to use on your mechanical keyboard?
You may be confused by the many types of switches on the market today, each switch manufacturer gives unique names for their switches. In essence, the name does not change the character of the switch. Because the different colors on the switch have their own identity and character. For example, Cherry MX Brown and Gateron Brown, these still have the same character, namely the switch has the same tactile character.
What then became a lot of questions was the existence of the terms Linear, Tactile, and Clicky. The three terms are groups for each switch with a different color. The following is a brief explanation of the switch groups based on their color.
- Linear: Red Switch, Yellow Switch, and Black Switch
- Tactile: Brown Switch and Clear/White Switch
- Clicky: Blue Switch and Green Switch
We will reveal the secret behind Linear, Tactile, and Clicky switch types in detail in this article. Hopefully after reading this article, you understand the different types and purposes of each color switch without having to read the manual again.
Linear Switches: Smoother Choice
What are Linear Switches?
Linear switches focus on smoother and more consistent actuation. For those of you who don’t want loud sounds, this type of switch is suitable.
For professional workers who need a keyboard with stable pressure to type or do coding work, this type of switch is highly recommended. However, this switch is still a suitable choice for gamers.
Why? Consistent key presses allow these switches to achieve greater precision in games. Overall, linear switches offer speeds that tend to be faster.
Currently, the most popular linear type is in red switches. This switch is indeed being favored by many mechanical keyboard users because it is considered not too noisy and multifunctional, it can be used for various typing activities.
You can experience linear type switches on Red Switches, Yellow Switches, and Black Switches
Should You Get The Linear Switches?
Linear switch is the type of switch for those of you who want smooth, responsive, light to operate, and produce a quiet typing sound.
In some cases people who migrate from membrane keyboards to mechanical keyboards are strongly advised to choose a keyboard with linear switches as their first mechanical keyboard.
Adapting to a linear switch keyboard is easy and you will slowly start to like the typing experience with a linear switch keyboard.
In its development, the linear switch was used as a product that was developed as a very reliable speed switch for playing games.
One of the main purposes of using linear switches is smooth, light, responsive, and very instant to send input to computers, therefore linear switches are very widely used by professional gamers to play in competitive arenas.
If your goal is to play games, linear switch is the best choice for you. In addition, the lienar switch is also very pleasant for ordinary daily use.
Tactile Switches: Bumpy and Satisfying
What Are Tactile Switches?
Translated simply, “tactile” means to bump or bounce. This mechanical switch type is designed to give a ball/bumpy effect when the key is pressed.
The bounce sensation is obtained because the stem or trigger switch is made straight straight against the spring down. Because the spring is under direct pressure, the spring will automatically provide thrust back up so that the finger feels like it is being hit back.
Tactile switches have a visible protrusion accompanied by a feeling of being held down when pressing (actuating) the key down. When the key is pressed down, the switch will close and produce a clicking sound.
Most gaming keyboard switches are tactile type. The loudness of the sound produced by this type of switch can vary. For the tactile switch with a loud sound, it can be found on the blue switch, while for the tactile type with a soft sound, it can be found on the brown switch.
Should You Get The Tactile Switches?
Tactile switches are known as one of the types of switches that have pleasant feedback and can be enjoyed when typing.
However, there are a few things you should consider before buying a tactile switch:
Tactile switches are very friendly for beginners because these switches can significantly differentiate between mechanical switches and ordinary membrane switches.
While you may have your first keyboard using a tactile switch, we can guarantee you’ll love the character of this switch right away.
Tactile switches produce bumps of various sizes (depending on the switch you are using) and make a low-pitched sound.
Most people choose tactile switches because some of them produce a very satisfying “Thocky” sound.
We’ve also rounded up the best tactile switches on the market today so you can find out which tactile switch is right for you.
Clicky Switches: Loudest And Bumpy
What Are Clicky Switches?
The clicky switch is a type of switch that focuses on loud tactile feedback and produces a very loud typing sound. at each keystroke.
The clicky switch offers a typing experience with pleasant feedback and produces a loud sound when pressed. For those of you who like the sound of typing on the keyboard, the clicky switch is the type of switch that you should consider.
Should You Get The Clicky Switches?
Clicky switches may be very user-friendly and can also provide the best typing feedback compared to linear and tactile switches, but you should consider a few things before deciding to choose a clicky switch.
The main factor you need to pay attention to is the typing sound produced by the clicky switch. Clicky switch is good for users but not necessarily for listeners because the typing sound produced by this switch is very loud.
Clicky switches are not very suitable for use in public spaces such as your office which is inhabited by many people or other public spaces occupied by many people.
Clicky switch is better to use in your private office and you can enjoy typing sound and feedback without disturbing the people around you.
If you are interested in clcky switches, we have also compiled the best clicky switches on the market today so you can find the best clicky switches according to your preferences.
Finding A Keyboard With Your Ideal Switch Type
Every mechanical keyboard product on the market today, almost all of them provide these three switch options:
Usually the mechanical keyboard provides the red switch (linear), brown switch (tactile), and blue switch (clicky).
Each keyboard already comes with a different type of switch option that we described above. Then what about the size or layout of the keyboard you want.
We hope our article below will help you find the best keyboard size to suit your preferences:
- Full Sized Keyboards
- 1800-Compact Keyboards
- TKL Keyboards
- 75% Keyboards
- 65% Keyboards
- 60% Keyboards
- 40% Keyboards
- Ortholinear Keyboards
What Other Features to Look for in a Switch?
When choosing switches for a mechanical keyboard, there are certain features that you should keep in mind and should take into account. But it will all depend on your preferences.
The biggest factor is how it feels and the typing experience provided by the switch when you use it, durability, build quality, price, travel distance, actuation force, can be lubricated or not, therefore we will explain in detail:
Of course, this is a consideration that you should prioritize. Choosing a switch that has good durability is one solution to save your expenses, you don’t have to spend money every year just to buy a switch set.
If you buy a switch, first check its durability whether it has a strength of up to 50 or 70 million presses.
This is something you have to remember, the higher the keystrokes guarantee number, the better the durability of the switch. Like the Switch from Cherry MX which can last up to 100 million presses.
The strength of the spring in a switch determines how long you can use the switch. As much as you type, so much spring is working on the switch.
If you have a habit of typing by pressing a bit hard, then a switch with a hard spring can be the right choice for you. If you have a habit of typing gently, a switch with a soft spring is your choice.
Heavy/hard springs have good strength and long durability, because hard springs do not bend easily.
Spring force is a measure of how light the switch is to operate. The lighter a switch is actually the more fun it is to use it, especially for gaming. But switches with light spring force generally use a rather thin spring and are not too strong. Spring force is usually replaced by the name actuation force which is measured in grams. Switches with an Actuation force of 45g to 60 grams are the most ideal for you to choose.
This is an optional choice, about a switch can affect the accuracy and speed of your typing. choosing a switch that you reach more quickly will certainly improve typing accuracy and speed.
It’s about the speed with which each keys reaches, as the switches are available with several different height profiles. Low profile is a type of switch profile that is easy to reach because it has a short profile, while this speed profile is not easy to reach but has a fast response when typed.
The low-cost switch is rather light to type, while the speed switch is a bit heavy, but has a faster speed than the lower switch. It all depends on your preference.
The shorter the actuation distance, the faster the switch reaction to send input to the computer.
What kind of typing feedback do you want? is it smooth? bumpy? or tactile?
Each switch provides different typing feedback so you can choose according to your taste. Generally people tend to prefer smooth feedback (linear switch) and bumpy tactile (tactile switch).
Linear switches are nearly silent when pressed, tactile switches are the type of switch that produce the most pleasant typing sound, and clicky switches produce the loudest typing sound.
It all depends on your preferences, switch with what kind of sound you want.
What do all of the Switch Colors Mean?
The following is a simple explanation of the meaning of the colors of each mechanical switch:
- Red Switches: Linear switch with light resistance.
- Yellow Switches: Linear switch with medium resistance.
- Black Switches: Linear switch with heavy resistance.
- Brown Switches: Tactile switch with medium resistance.
- Clear Switches: Tactile switch with heavy resistance.
- Blue Switches: Clicky switch with medium resistance.
- Green Switches: Clicky switch with heavy resistance.
On a mechanical keyboard, you will usually find a different color switch. There are red, brown, blue, yellow, white, black. So what does the switch color mean?
Usually this color is on the stem switch which is the identity of the switch itself.
Cherry MX is a brand that started to set the tone for switch colors such as Cherry MX Red which is a linear switch, Cherry MX Black which is a linear switch, Cherry MX Brown which is a tactile switch, and Cherry MX Blue which is a clicky switch.
In addition, the color of the switch pad can also be a differentiator in terms of the actuation strength of the switch itself. For example, Cherry MX Red with 45 grams of actuation force and Cherry MX Black with 60 grams of actuation foce even though these two switches are linear switches.
Until now, color determination standards have been applied to other brands such as Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, and other brands of mechanical switches.
Don’t forget to read the specifications of each switch to get more detailed specification information.
So each different color on the switch can represent the specifications on the switch, starting from the type of switch, actuation strength, actuation distance, to the speed of the switch itself.
Switches Brands You Should Know:
- Cherry MX
- Roamer G
One of the parameters to determine the quality of a mechanical keyboard is to know the type or brand of switches used by the keyboard.
Unfortunately, there are so many types and choices of mechanical keyboards that use various brands of switches on the market. Therefore, you must know the quality and characteristics of the types of keyboard switches.
Cherry MX is a “legend” as well as a reference for mechanical keyboard switches. Keyboard switches manufactured by ZF Electronics GmbH (Cherry Corporation), a German-American company, have been used by many high-end keyboard manufacturers around the world since 1983.
The Kailh brand switches are manufactured by Kaihua Electronics, a semiconductor company from China that has been operating since 1990. Initially, Kaihua cloned Cherry, but over time, the company made its own switch models and cooperated exclusively with several keyboard manufacturers.
Outemu is a switch brand produced by Gaote Corp, a well-known semiconductor company from China. Like Kaihl, Outemu draws heavily on the design and characteristics of the Cherry MX.
Gateron is one of the switches that is often used in various mechanical gaming keyboard products. Gateron switches are manufactured by Huizhou Gateron Electronic Technology Co., Ltd..a semiconductor company from China that was founded in 2000.
Romer-G is a switch that is the result of a collaboration between Logitech and Omron, an electronic equipment company from Japan. Initially, the Romer-G was designed and manufactured to supply Logitech keyboards. But, then, many non-Logitech keyboard manufacturers are also using this switch.
The hallmark of the Romer-G switch is a shorter press distance, about 25%, than the Cherry MX or Kailh. In the middle of the switch there is a space to enter the LED or vibration effect.
Why Get a Mechanical Keyboard?
The keyboard has become one of the necessities for playing PC games and doing tasks. The keyboard revolution is also growing rapidly which has three types, namely, chicklet, membrane, and mechanical.
Mechanical keyboards are currently the most in demand and suitable when compared to other types of keyboards. Here are the reasons why a mechanical keyboard is a must-have:
For very intense computer users or for hardcore gamers who can spend up to 8 hours per day in front of the computer, comfortable typing using the keyboard is a must. There are so many testimonials from gamers and regular users that after using a mechanical keyboard they will be lazy and don’t even want to use a membrane keyboard anymore. The reason is a matter of convenience.
With individual switches on each key that we can choose our own character, the mechanical keyboard becomes more customizable to what the user who uses it wants.
This is the biggest difference between a membrane dome keyboard and a mechanical keyboard. Each key on the mechanical keyboard has a kind of spring which when the key is pressed it will provide a back pressure that is felt on the fingers. In addition, the clicky sound will also sound louder on this keyboard, making it produce higher noise than the membrane dome keyboard.
This might make the keyboard louder and louder to use, but that’s not the case here. A company that is ZF Electronics makes several types of mechanical switches called CherryMX which have several types of color codes. Some of the famous colors include Blue, Black, Red, and Brown. Now this color code will determine the character of the mechanical keyboard. CherryMX Black and Blue have a hard and clicky character to press, CherryMX Red has a lighter character to press but still has a clicky sound, while CherryMX Brown also has a light character but eliminates the level of clicky noise generated.
The average computer user types more than 8000 characters every hour, for example, suppose we use our keyboard for 8 hours per day with 5 working days, so in a year we have typed keyboard keys 16,640,000 times. Here, keyboards that use membrane dome technology will begin to show a decrease in performance such as keys that sometimes don’t get input even after being pressed, keys that get stuck or even come off the keyboard to the keyboard keys that feel heavier to press.
We will not find this on the mechanical keyboard. Due to the design that uses individual switches with direct contact between the keys and the onboard circuit, each key on the mechanical keyboard can last up to more than 50 million beats while in the membrane dome it may only be up to 10 million beats before the problems mentioned above arise.
Have you ever tried to clean between the keyboard? If so, surely all of you know how difficult it is to reach the dirt between the keys on the keyboard. Moreover, the material used by the membrane dome is a type of silicon rubber which is very easy to attract dust and other impurities. In addition, the rubber also decreases its flexibility over time, making it yellow and sticky, thereby reducing the comfort of the keyboard.
We also can’t just remove one keyboard keys to clean the dirt underneath, cleaning it means disassembling the keyboard as a whole and reassembling it when it’s finished cleaning. Time consuming job. We will not find this on a mechanical keyboard because each keycaps on this mechanical keyboard can be removed and cleaned easily. No need to disassemble the entire keyboard to clean it, simply remove the keycap keys on the part you want to clean and put them back on when finished cleaning.
This feature is often referred to in the abbreviation N-KRO, and refers to the keyboard’s ability to register multiple keys being pressed at the same time. High-priced gaming keyboards – over $500 – usually feature True (or Full) N-Key Rollover specifications. But you can still find keyboards that list the X-Key Rollover specs.
What you should know is the number that is usually used instead of the “X” in X-Key Rollover writing. The True N-KRO type is a keyboard device that can input correctly, no matter how many keyboard keys are pressed at the same time. So, for example, if you press the letter “JIKAHEINEA” at the same time, a keyboard with the True N-KRO feature will receive the input properly and can execute it perfectly.
But if you find the words ‘6-Key Rollover’, then surely the keyboard can only register six keys at the same time. Users can still press more than six buttons, but the input results are only six buttons.
Have you ever tried pressing multiple keys on your computer at the same time and not all of them appeared on the screen? that’s called ghosting. Because the circuitry in the keyboard is simple, the membrane dome based keyboard is not able to accept multiple inputs simultaneously.
We will not find this on a mechanical keyboard because each key has an individual switch. All input that we enter in the keyboard, no matter how much it will be accepted by the keyboard and displayed on the screen. The only limit is the number of fingers we have. This ability is called Anti-Ghosting.
You Will Be Faster & More Precise
Using a mechanical keyboard will make us faster in doing our activities in front of the computer such as typing documents, assignments or daily work or playing games. That’s because our hands expend less energy to press a key so they still have a lot of energy to quickly move to another keys.
In addition to being faster, our hands will also move more precisely to press the keys we want, this is very important when playing online games because the speed and accuracy of pressing the keyboard keys will affect the outcome of the match we are doing whether it is winning or losing.
By having a mechanical keyboard, you can decide to set what kind of feel and typing experience can be given to your keyboard by changing the switches on your keyboard.
Switches on mechanical keyboards are mounted individually on each PCB port. You can replace each switch according to your needs. Install a quiet switch for use in public spaces, install a tactile switch for gaming, or install a clicky switch to satisfy your typing pleasure. All you can do on a mechanical keyboard.
Each key / keycaps on the mechanical keyboard can be customized at will, this is also supported by various keycap manufacturers who create unique, diverse and attractive designs. Of course this makes your keyboard look very attractive, and different from the others.
With its eye-catching design and looks dashing, the mechanical keyboard looks cool to decorate our gaming table or give a “pro” impression during gaming tournaments. In addition, most of the mechanical keyboards now have LED backlights, both RGB and mono LEDs, which can be customized with their own lighting character, something that is still difficult for membrane dome based keyboards to do.
Which is better linear or tactile or clicky?
For general use and the most preferred is the Tactile type switch. Tactile switches provide small bump feedback when used to type and provide a typing sound that is not too loud.
Tactile type switches are highly preferred and are the most ideal choice for people who want to have a great typing experience. The tactile switch is a favorite for people who want to build a custom mechanical keyboard.
Which is better linear or tactile or clicky for typing?
For typing linear and tactile switches are the most appropriate options. Linear switches provide empty feedback when typing and produce a quiet sound.
While the tactile switch provides a little bumpy feedback when typed and produces a fairly loud sound when typed. To get a quiet typing, most people will choose to use linear switches. While people who want a typing experience with more pronounced feedback, will choose tactile type switches such as Cherry MX Brown or Gateron Brown.
Which is more Durable linear or tactile or clicky?
The clicky switch is a switch that is known for its good durability. This is because clicky switches have a wider spring diameter than linear or tactile switches.
Clicky switches have very bumpy feedback and produce a loud sound when used to type, this is because the clicky switch uses a spring component that is larger and harder than linear and tactile switches, making it stronger and more durable like the Cherry MX Blue or Switch Greens.
Which is better linear or tactile or clicky for gaming?
For playing games, people prefer to use linear or tactile type switches because they are believed to be more responsive and more comfortable to play games.
In fact, the switch that most people like is the Cherry MX Red switch which is a linear type switch. Cherry MX Red was chosen because it is very smooth and very responsive for gaming. Some people also choose tactile switches such as Cherry MX Brown Switch, Cherry MX Clear Switch, and Kailh Speed Copper Switch. For the type of switch, the favorite is Cherry MX Red which is a linear switch.
What is the best Linear Switch?
Linear switches are switches that provide a very smooth typing experience. For a list of the best linear switches, you can see them in the table below:
|Cherry MX Speed Silver
|Best for Gaming
|Best Sound Feedback
|Cherry MX Black
|Gateron Ink Black
|Best Smooth Feel
What is the best Tactile Switch?
For tactile switches, there are some of the best tactile switches from different brands that we highly recommend. In the table below is a list of the best tactile switches:
|Glorious Panda Switches
|The Snappiest Tactile Switch
|Durock T1 Switches
|All-Around Tactile Switch
|Boba U4 Tactile Switches
|All-Around Tactile Switch
|Boba U4T Switch
|Halo Clear Switches
|A Long Smooth Bump
|Cherry MX Brown Switch
|A Small Bump
|Cherry MX Clear Switch
|Heavy and Bumpy
|Kailh Speed Copper Switch
|Topre Tactile Switch
|Outemu Brown Switches
|A Super Budget Option
What is the best Clicky Switch?
Clicky switch is a switch that provides loud bumpy feedback with a loud sound when typed. In the table below are the best clicky switches currently available:
|Kailh BOX White
|Kailh BOX Jade
|Kailh Speed Copper
|Fast And Bumpy (Great for Gaming)
|Smooth And Bumpy
|Cherry MX Blue
|Cherry MX White
|Smooth anda Bumpy
|Like The Cherry MX Blue
|Like The Cherry MX Blue
Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky: Which Better for You?
After explaining at length about the differences between Linear, Tactile, and Clicky switches, we hope you have understood some of the differences between these types of switches.
If you want a switch with no feedback and a quiet sound, then you should buy a linear switch, whereas if you want a switch that can give a little feedback when pressed and a little noise then the tactile type switch should you choose. Generally tactile switches are bought because of the Thocky sound they produce. Then you want to have a switch with feedback that bumpy, and sounds very loud, then the Clicky type switch is your choice. Choose a switch based on your needs.
There are many factors you can consider before choosing a switch for your mechanical keyboard such as where you use it, the typing experience you want, and what kind of typing sound it produces.
The choice all comes down to your own preference. Choose the type of switch that you think is most comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Kizaru is a fan, collector, and has a huge addiction to mechanical keyboards. Kizaru has a collection of dozens of mechanical keyboards that come in different sizes and use different switches. He also frequently contributes to various forums that discuss keyboards such as Reddit and GeekHack.