Cherry MX key switches on a mechanical keyboard

Choosing The Best Mechanical Keyboard Switches For Your Keyboard

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Are you a mechanical keyboard enthusiast looking for the best mechanical keyboard switches?

Whether you’re just starting out planning your first build, or are a long time mechanical keyboard collector, look no further.

What I’m about to show you is everything you need to know about choosing the absolute best mechanical keyboard switches for your keyboard.

Let’s dive right in!

The Best Mechanical Keyboard Switches (And Their Keyboard) Recommendations

Getting Started: Mechanical Keyboard Switches Explained

First things first… what are switches?

A keyboard switch affects the noise, response and travel time.

Each keyboard has a mechanism underneath each keycap called a “switch”.

The switch is the reason why mechanical keyboards are very popular – they not only feel great to type on but also sound nice to the ears.

You can’t explain it till you have a mechanical keyboard to play with… so if you’re interested, check out our best mechanical keyboards without numpads by clicking here.

Linear vs. Tactile (and Clicky) Switch Types

These are the two main preferences when it comes to picking out a mechanical keyboard switch.

But first… you need to know what it means to “actuate”.

Where mechanical and membrane keyboards differ is in their actuation.

Membrane keys only actuate when the key is pressed down fully (this is also known as bottoming out) which often means you have press down with force.

A mechanical key can actuate with the slightest hint of force – this is due to the way the key is constructed.

Now that you know that…

  • Linear – Must be pushed all the way down to actuate.
  • Tactile – Can be pushed halfway down to actuate.

Because less force is needed for a tactile key to actuate, it means you can continue pressing your next key after that to get a response.

Don’t get into the fluff of which one is better for gaming, typing or whatnot.

You want to test out both and see how they feel.

Clicky Switches

Clicky keys are a little different.

The “click” sound that you hear is also a factor you want to take in when choosing a keyboard.

Think of a typewriter, and how it has that “click” sound each time you press a key.

This is what they mean about a switch being “clicky”.

Keyboard switches can be known as clicky or non-clicky.

The general preference is a keyboard that is clicky – as that is a feature that mechanical keyboards have over membrane keyboards.

However, if you work in a shared workspace, non-clicky keyboard switches might be a better option as they’re more silent and won’t disrupt your co-workers.

Backlighting (In-Switch) vs. Underglow RGB Lighting

There are two types of RGB lighting you can get to match your overall Battlestation theme.

RGB Backlighting (AKA In-Switch RGB Lighting)

This is commonly referred to “per key” lighting or the lighting inside each switch.

The lighting usually “shines through” the keycaps

Example of an RGB backlight (or in-switch RGB lighting)

Underglow RGB Lighting

Underglow is pretty self-explanatory. This is when the lights glow under the board.

This won’t shine through the keycaps but will shine under the board and give a nice “outline” effect.

One of the best mechanical keyboard switches

Why Not Both?

Example of RGB underglow and backlit keycaps
u/potatobot from geekhack.org

I would prefer having one or the other since it looks cleaner, but again, it’s up to your personal preference.

How Many Types of Mechanical Keyboard Switches Are There?

Craploads!

Seriously, there are so many different types, all with varying degrees of differences.

The ones I have found to be most popular are…

MX Switches

You’ve probably heard of “Cherry” MX Switches which are one of the, if not the most popular keyboard switches on the market.

… until recently that is.

The Cherry MX switches had a patent which finally expired, which businesses then used to create their version of MX switches.

Don’t let this stray away from Cherry MX switches, though.

Cherry MX Switches are still widely popular and used on many high-quality and best-selling keyboards on the market today.

However, there are a few different types of MX Switch Manufacturers…

In a poll done by the /r/MechanicalKeyboard community back in 2017, the most popular MX style switch manufacturers were…

  1. Cherry
  2. Gateron
  3. Zealio

Others include:

  • Kalih
  • MOD
  • Panda
  • Outemu
  • Razer

etc.

Honourable Mentions

Straying away from the MX Switches are many other types which are rapidly rising in popularity.

These include switches like…

  • ALPS
  • Tai-Hao
  • Matias
  • Topre
  • Romer G

Each keyboard switch has its unique styles, and at the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preference.

If you just want to be guided down the right path – you can’t go wrong with a Cherry MX switch type on the keyboard.

But if you want to look in further to possibly even customize your keyboard, Cherry MX switches have many budget-friendly alternatives.

Ducky One 2 60% Cherry MX Mechanical Keyboard

Best high-end 60% keyboard with authentic Cherry MX keyboard switches

Ducky One 2 Mini on a battlestation
u/FML-Dobby from r/battlestations

By now you should know that the Ducky One 2 is one of the most highly-rated and reliable keyboards on the mech market.

I have put the Akko X version of the Ducky One 2 in the previous post I did, because, well… the keyboard is just that good.

Made by a highly reputable brand – Ducky, they have done an awesome job not only saving a ton of space but by having Cherry MX switches.

The Ducky One 2 keyboards come in 3 different types of Cherry MX switches:

  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Red

Cherry MX Reds are a popular choice considering the feel and sound, but it’s your personal choice.

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro 75% Cherry MX Mechanical Keyboard

Best budget 75% keyboard with authentic Cherry MX keyboard switches

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro on a battlestation
u/nxsfps from r/battlestations

You may not want to grab such a small keyboard, and maybe just wanted something more TKL.

Well, you’re in luck! The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro not only looks aesthetic…

It’s also engineered to be for pro gamers… but does it live up to its name?

Yes, absolutely! HyperX put in a ton of effort to make their keyboards more streamlined and approachable.

The keyboard comes in only Red LED, so unless you want the nice lighting of RGB you may want to skip this one.


If you’re content on getting this keyboard but on the RGB version, you can look into the HyperX Alloy Origins Keyboard which is RGB. The difference being their mechanical switches are HyperX Reds instead of Cherry MX.


Tecware Phantom TKL Outemu Mechanical Keyboard

Best low-mid range TKL keyboard with Outemu keyboard switches

Tecware Phantom TKL on a battlestation
u/Vackz from r/battlestations

Well damn, had I did more research before buying my first mechanical keyboard, this would be a top contender!

Not only does this keyboard have a nice aesthetic appeal to the eye with its design and RGB lighting…

Multiple LED modes with 9 different LED colour options…

Sturdy, well built, replaceable switches, multiple cable routes…

Oh, and the best part?

It’s $40.

DIERYA x KEMOVE 60% Gateron Mechanical Keyboard

Best budget 60% keyboard with Gateron keyboard switches

Another great budget-friendly find, the Dierya x Kemove keyboard would be another top pick in my books!

What makes this keyboard special is their software – the ability to completely customize your RGB lighting effects, key binds and macro keys is a major bonus!

Unlike some software which is limited in its functionality, the Dierya x Kemove keyboard offers almost complete control over your keyboard.

This keyboard comes with the Gateron key switches which are another well-known keyboard switch brand.

Straight out of the box, the keyboard comes with some well-finished keycaps that shine through very well coupled with the RGB lighting.

AKWOX Mechanical Keyboard Switch Tester + Keycap Puller & O-Ring Sampler

To be used to test MX keycap switches and includes DIY keycap kit


So I’m going to digress here and offer you the ability to test out 9 different Cherry MX switches bef0re you buy.

If you’re overwhelmed with the number of different keyboards, switches and keycaps available, don’t worry.

My recommendation is that you go for the safe, well-known, reputable Cherry MX switches.

Now the type of switch you want to try is up to you!

With the Akwox keyboard switch tester, you can get the gist of the type of feel and sound each switch has.

Each colour corresponds to a different type of feel and sound:


Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/2s39uo/a_laymans_guide_to_cherry_mx_key_switches/

Again, there’s no ‘best’ switch out there, it’s all up to your personal preference.

For example, if you are using a mech keyboard in a shared workspace, you would want to go for the Cherry MX Reds.

Since the sound is much more “soft” and won’t have that clicky sound we all love but will have the same type of feel.

If you are super careful about purchasing products online, and you don’t have a gaming store to test out the keys, this is a great choice!

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, simply going from a normal membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard is a massive upgrade.

Finding out what your favourite switch is will take some time, research and trial and error.

There are many different keyboards, switches and key caps out there, and mechanical keyboards can be customized to your hearts desire.

So if you decide to go down this rabbit hole, do your due diligence first, but pull the trigger!

If you’re interested in getting more of look at some of the best mechanical keyboards which have a compact (less than 10 or more keys) design to them…

Check out The 5 Best Mechanical Keyboards Without Numpads by clicking here!

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