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Beginner Guide to Mechanical Switches

I'm sure there's been a time where you wished you needed a better keyboard. And although there are many extra features that can make your experience with the keyboard more pleasant, the base purpose of a keyboard is simply to type. And with so many types of switches out there, it's hard to know which is the best for what use case. I'm going to take you through the three main types of switches, then some other types of extremely specialized ones.


The industry standard for mechanical key switches is a German company called Cherry. Although many companies, such as Razer, Steelseries, and Logitech G, make their own switches, they are always compared to Cherry switches. If you are wondering which brand you should trust to make their own switches, you can check out my gaming peripheral brand tier list.


There are three main types of switches: red, blue, and brown. These are the colors Cherry assigned to the types of switches in the beginning, and thus most companies will follow suit with their switches. Keep in mind, the type of switch you like is also dependent on your personal preference.


Red switches are most often used for gaming. They have an incredibly smooth feel, not stopping until they hit the bottom. This can make it hard to know when the actuation point is, but also allows for very fast key presses. Reds make very little sound when pressed.

Typing: 4/10

Gaming: 9/10


Blue switches are superb for typing. They have an audible click, because the plunger is made of two parts that hit each other when pressed. They also have a tactile bump as you pass the actuation point, making it easy to feel if you've pressed the key hard enough. They are quite loud, however, so they might not be great for streaming or if you work at night. However, the sound can be muffled using o-rings (rubber rings that make your key switch softer and quieter).

Typing: 10/10

Gaming: 6.5/10


Browns are the happy medium between gaming and typing. They have no audible click, but have a tactile bump when the key actuates. They make a pleasant tapping sound, and feel nice to type on. These are a nice balance between typing and gaming.

Typing: 8/10

Gaming: 7.5/10

Specialized Switches

There are a few types of switches designed very especially for gaming or typing. I'm going to take you through a few types of extremely particular switches.

Cherry MX Black: Very quiet, similar to Cherry MX Red. They require a bit more force to actuate than the Cherry MX Red, so they are good if you wish your MX Reds had a little more feel to them.

Cherry MX Silent Red: Aptly named, they are Reds but a little shorter and absolutely silent, good for working at night or in an office.

Cherry MX Silver: Also known as "speed silvers", the Cherry Silver is very fine-tuned for gaming. They are like reds, but with an incredibly short travel time to actuation, allowing you to actuate fairly instantly.

Cherry Low Profile series: These are versions of Cherry reds and silvers that are shorter, to take up less space but also with an even shorter travel time. These switches, however, are extremely uncommon.

Cherry MX Green: These are like Cherry Blues but even heavier and clickier. I would say that these are not suitable for gaming, only for a satisfying typing experience.

Cherry MX Grey: Cherry MX Greys are have the characteristics of a brown (tactile bump with no click), but have the weight of a blue. These would probably be leaning a little more towards typing.

Overall, the main types of switches you will encounter are Red, Blue, and Brown. The other specialized switches are more uncommon. Although I have provided general ratings for typing and gaming, you will need to test out these switches yourself to see what kind suits you best.

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