Beginner’s Guide To Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Are you new to the world of mechanical keyboards? Are you overwhelmed by the variety of switches available and unsure which one to choose? Look no further! In this beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches, we will break down everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular due to their customization options and complexity. The foundation of these keyboards lies in the Cherry MX switches, which come in different types. Whether you’re a gamer or a typist, there is a switch that suits your needs. From the recommended red switches for gaming to the crisp click of blue switches ideal for typing, we will explore the different switch options and their characteristics.

But Cherry MX switches are not the only ones out there. We will also delve into other types of switches like Kailh Box switches and Alps switches, offering you a broader understanding of the mechanical keyboard landscape.

So, if you’re ready to embark on your mechanical keyboard journey and find the perfect switch for your needs, let’s dive in and explore the world of mechanical keyboard switches together!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Mechanical keyboard switches offer customization and complexity, allowing for personalized typing and gaming experiences.
  • There are different types of mechanical switches, including linear switches (recommended for gaming), clicky switches (recommended for typing), and tactile switches (recommended for both gaming and typing).
  • Kailh Box switches are designed for gaming/internet cafes and have a unique housing design that prevents debris from entering the switch.
  • When selecting switches, considerations such as stick-slip or friction concerns, sound, smoothness, feedback, speed, and budget should be taken into account.

What is a Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

So, you’re new to mechanical keyboards and wondering what exactly a mechanical keyboard switch is? Well, let me break it down for you.

A mechanical keyboard switch is the part of the keyboard that you press down on to register a keystroke. It’s what gives mechanical keyboards their unique feel and sound.

There are different types of mechanical switches to choose from, including tactile switches, clicky switches, and linear switches.

Tactile switches have a noticeable bump when you press down on them, providing feedback to let you know that the key has been registered.

Clicky switches, on the other hand, produce a crisp click sound with each keystroke, adding an auditory element to the typing experience.

Linear switches, on the other hand, have a smooth and consistent feel, making them popular for gaming.

Each type of switch offers a different typing experience, so it’s important to consider your preferences and needs when choosing a mechanical keyboard switch.

Some people prefer the satisfying click of a clicky switch, while others prefer the smoothness of a linear switch. Ultimately, it’s all about finding the switch that feels right to you.

Mechanical Keyboard Switch Comparison Table

Name of SwitchPictureActuation Force (g)Switch TypeSound ProfileCost (USD)
Cherry MX RedCherry Mx Red45LinearSilent, smooth$0.40-$0.50
Cherry MX BlackCherry Mx Black60LinearVery quiet, smooth$0.40-$0.50
Cherry MX SilverCherry Mx Silver45LinearVery light, fast, smooth$0.45-$0.60
Cherry MX BrownCherry Mx Brown45TactileLight bump, quiet$0.40-$0.50
Cherry MX ClearCherry Mx Clear60TactileMedium bump, slightly louder$0.45-$0.60
Cherry MX BlueCherry Mx Blue55ClickyLoud click, tactile bump$0.40-$0.50
Gateron YellowGateron Yellow45LinearSmooth, very similar to Cherry MX Red$0.25-$0.35
Gateron Black (Ink)Gateron Black Ink (1)55LinearSmooth, slightly heavier than Cherry MX Black$0.25-$0.35
Gateron BrownGateron Brown45TactileSimilar bump to Cherry MX Brown, possibly smoother$0.25-$035
Gateron BlueGateron Blue55ClickyClickier and slightly higher pitched than Cherry MX Blue$0.25-$0.35
Kailh Box WhiteKailh White45ClickyClicky and light, similar to Cherry MX White$0.30-$0.40
Kailh Box BrownKailh Brown55TactileHeavy bump, quiet$0.30-$0.40
ZealPC Zilent V2Zealpc Zilent V2 (1)62gTactileSilent, tactile bump$0.80-$1.00
Gazzew Boba U4TGazzew Boba U4t (1)62gSilent, tactileDeep thock sound, minimal tactility$0.70-$0.90
Mechanical Keyboard Switch Comparison Table

MX Switch Types – The Three Starters

Mx Switch Types Three Starters

So you’re interested in learning about the three starter types of MX switches: Reds, Blues, and Browns.

Reds are perfect for gaming with their light and linear feel, while Blues are great for typing with their satisfying clicky sound.

Browns offer a balance between gaming and typing, providing a tactile bump without the loud click.

Reds

Reds are linear switches that are light to the touch and are often recommended for gaming due to their smooth and consistent feel. These mechanical keyboard switches, specifically the Cherry MX Reds, have become a popular choice among gamers.

The linear switch type means that there is no tactile bump or audible click when pressing down on the key. This allows for a seamless and uninterrupted keystroke, which can be beneficial for fast-paced gaming situations.

The light actuation force of Reds, typically around 45 grams, makes them easy to press and reduces finger fatigue during extended gaming sessions. So, if you’re looking for a switch type that offers a smooth and effortless gaming experience, Reds might be the perfect choice for you.

Blues

When you press down on a key with Blue switches, you’ll be greeted with a satisfying audible click and crisp tactile feedback, creating a typing experience reminiscent of an old typewriter. Blue switches are known for their clicky nature and are recommended for those who enjoy the satisfying sound and feel of a tactile switch.

Here are four key points to understand about Blue switches in your guide to mechanical keyboard switches:

  1. Typing Experience: The audible click and tactile feedback of Blue switches make them ideal for typing tasks, providing a satisfying and nostalgic experience.
  2. Comparison to Cherry MX: Blue switches are similar to Cherry MX Blue switches, as both offer a distinct clicky feel and sound. However, Gateron switches are often considered smoother and more affordable alternatives to Cherry MX switches.
  3. Clicky Switches: Blue switches fall under the category of clicky switches, which means they produce a crisp click sound when pressed. This auditory feedback can enhance typing accuracy and satisfaction.
  4. Considerations: It’s important to note that while the clicky sound of Blue switches can be enjoyable, it may not be suitable for quiet environments or shared spaces where noise levels need to be minimized. Additionally, the tactile feedback may require a slightly heavier keystroke compared to linear switches.

Browns

Brown switches offer a versatile and balanced typing experience that combines the smoothness of linear switches with a subtle tactile bump, making them a popular choice for gaming and typing enthusiasts. These switches are considered a middle ground between linear and clicky switches, providing satisfying feedback without the loud click.

When typing, you’ll feel a slight resistance and a gentle bump when the switch actuates, giving you a tactile indication of a keypress without being too distracting. This makes Brown switches great for those who enjoy a responsive typing experience without the audible click.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned mechanical keyboard user, Browns switches are a reliable and comfortable option for everyday use. They provide a pleasant balance between gaming and typing, making them a great choice for any mechanical keyboard guide.

Switch Types

Switch Types Heading Image

In this discussion, we’ll explore the different types of mechanical keyboard switches. These include linear switches, clicky switches, tactile switches, silent switches, and speed switches.

Linear switches offer a smooth and consistent keypress without any tactile feedback or audible click.

Clicky switches, on the other hand, provide a crisp and satisfying click sound with each keypress, making them ideal for typing.

Tactile switches offer a noticeable bump when pressed, striking a balance between linear and clicky switches.

Silent switches provide a cushioned and quiet keypress.

Lastly, speed switches are designed to make keypresses faster and more responsive. They shorten the distance for keypresses to register and bottom out.

Linear Switches

Linear switches, with their smooth and consistent feel, are the go-to choice for those seeking a lightning-fast and frictionless typing experience. They are a popular option in the world of mechanical keyboards and are often recommended for beginners. Here are some key points to help you understand linear switches:

  • Linear switches provide a smooth and consistent keystroke without any tactile feedback or audible click. They are great for fast typists and gamers who prefer a linear feel.
  • Popular linear switch options include Cherry MX Red, Gateron Yellow, and Kailh Box Red. Linear switches are often considered the fastest and most efficient for rapid key presses.
  • They offer a straightforward and easy-to-understand typing experience, making them a great choice for beginners entering the world of mechanical keyboard switches.

Clicky Switches

If you’re looking for a switch that provides a satisfying auditory and tactile experience, clicky switches might be the perfect choice for you.

Clicky switches are a type of mechanical keyboard switch that produces a crisp click sound and noticeable tactile feedback when pressed. These switches are popular among keyboard enthusiasts who enjoy the satisfying sensation and sound of each keypress.

They are especially recommended for typing, as the clicky feedback helps with accuracy and rhythm. Clicky switches are also great for those who enjoy audible input while typing.

So, if you’re a beginner exploring the world of mechanical keyboard switches, don’t forget to consider clicky switches as an option. They can add an extra level of enjoyment to your typing experience.

Tactile Switches

For a keyboard experience that’s both satisfying and engaging, look no further than tactile switches. These switches are the perfect balance between the smoothness of linear switches and the clickiness of clicky switches. When you press down on a tactile switch, you’ll feel a noticeable bump, giving you tactile feedback and letting you know that your keystroke has been registered. This makes tactile switches great for both typing and gaming, as they provide a satisfying and responsive feel. In a beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches like this article section, it’s important to provide contextually relevant information. To help you understand tactile switches better, here’s a comparison table that highlights their key characteristics:

SwitchTactile BumpSound LevelRecommended Use
BrownMildModerateTyping, Gaming
ClearPronouncedModerateTyping, Gaming
Holy PandaSharpLoudTyping, Gaming

With this information, you can make an informed decision when choosing tactile switches for your mechanical keyboard.

Silent Switches

When it comes to a quieter typing experience, silent switches are the way to go. These switches are designed to minimize the noise produced when typing, making them ideal for those who work in quiet environments or share a space with others.

Silent switches use various mechanisms to achieve noise reduction, such as dampening materials or unique stem designs. One popular type of silent switch is the optical switch, which uses light to register key presses instead of a traditional mechanical mechanism. This not only reduces noise but also eliminates the possibility of switch chatter or debouncing issues.

Additionally, there are low-profile silent switches available for those who prefer a sleeker keyboard design. So, if you want a more peaceful typing experience without sacrificing the benefits of a mechanical key switch, consider trying out silent switches.

Speed Switches

Looking to type at lightning speed? Speed switches might be just what you need!

Speed switches are a type of mechanical switches that are designed to make your keypresses faster and more efficient. In the ultimate guide to mechanical keyboard switches, speed switches are often considered the best switch for those who want to maximize their typing speed.

Speed switches come in a variety of options, including linear and tactile versions. These switches tend to have shorter actuation and travel distances, which means that your keypresses can register quicker and you can bottom out faster.

This can be especially beneficial for gamers or fast typists who want to reduce their response time.

If you’re looking to type at lightning speed, consider trying out speed switches and see how they can improve your typing experience.

Kailh Box Switches

If you’re after a switch that can withstand spills and debris, Kailh Box switches might just be the answer. This switch manufacturer has designed their switches with a housing that prevents debris from entering, making them perfect for gaming or internet cafes.

Kailh Box switches are available in various types such as linear, tactile, clicky, silent linear, silent tactile, and clickbar. The clickbar switches, in particular, offer a unique design that combines linear and clicky characteristics. They use a horizontal leg to produce a click or tactile event. Interestingly, removing the clickbar turns it into a linear switch. Clickbars are available in thin, midsized, and thick sizes, although aftermarket clickbars can be difficult to obtain.

Overall, Kailh Box switches are a great option for those looking for durability and reliability in their mechanical keyboard switches.

Clickbar Swtiches

Clickbar switches, like the cool kids of the mechanical keyboard world, combine the smoothness of linear switches with the satisfying click of clicky switches. They are an important type of switch to consider in a beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches.

Clickbar switches offer a unique experience by providing both tactile and audible feedback when pressed. This makes them a popular choice for those who desire both typing accuracy and an enjoyable typing experience.

Clickbar switches come in different sizes, including thin, midsized, and thick clickbars, allowing for customization based on personal preference. They are a great option for those who want the best of both worlds, with the smoothness of linear switches and the satisfying click of clicky switches.

Additional Types of Keyboard Switches

In this discussion, we’ll explore additional types of keyboard switches that you may be interested in.

First, we have Alps switches, which offer a different key feel and tactility compared to MX switches. They are often found in vintage keyboards.

Next, we have Buckling Spring switches. They are commonly found in IBM Model M keyboards and are known for their loud and tactile click.

Another type is Hall Effect switches. They rely on magnets and are highly reliable.

Additionally, we have Topre switches. These are electro-capacitive rubber dome switches known for their consistency and reliability.

Finally, we have Optical switches. They are gaining popularity due to their contact-less nature and resistance to bounce or debounce.

Alps/Matias Alps

Imagine typing on a vintage mechanical keyboard with Alps switches, feeling the distinct key feel and tactility that sets them apart from MX switches.

Alps switches have gained a cult-like following among keyboard enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Alps switches are no longer being made, and the ones available today are either still in a vintage board or de-soldered from one. Due to use and exposure, they may feel inconsistent and scratchy.

However, Gaote/Outemu is producing clones of Alps switches under the Matias brand. These clones aim to replicate the unique key feel and tactility of the original Alps switches.

If you’re a beginner exploring the world of mechanical keyboard switches, it’s important to be aware of the Alps/Matias Alps switches and their place in the history of mechanical keyboards.

Buckling Spring

Get ready to experience the ultimate satisfaction as you type on a vintage mechanical keyboard with Buckling Spring switches. These switches can be found in IBM Model M keyboards and are known for their loud and tactile click.

When you press a key, the large spring in the switch compresses and buckles under itself, making contact with the leaf and triggering actuation. This unique design produces a satisfying click that many enthusiasts consider to be the ultimate clicky switch.

Buckling Spring switches are a popular choice for those who appreciate a vintage feel and want to add a touch of nostalgia to their typing experience. So, if you’re a beginner exploring the world of mechanical keyboards, don’t forget to consider Buckling Spring switches for that classic and satisfying typing experience.

Hall Effect

Experience the smooth and reliable magic of Hall Effect switches, where magnets detect the position and speed of a magnet to provide an unparalleled typing experience that will keep you coming back for more. These switches are known for their high reliability, with the original Honeywell HE switch rated at over 30 billion keystrokes. Brands like Ace Pad, Wooting’s Lekker, and Steelseries’ Omnipoint have adopted Hall Effect technology into their own key switches, allowing you to adjust the point of actuation.

While Hall Effect switches are not usually sold individually, they can be found in complete keyboards. If you’re a beginner looking to explore the world of mechanical keyboard switches, Hall Effect switches offer a unique and satisfying typing experience that is worth considering.

Topre/EC

Discover the exceptional typing experience offered by Topre/EC switches, renowned for their unique construction and unparalleled consistency and reliability. Unlike traditional mechanical switches, Topre switches are ‘electro-capactive’ rubber dome switches that combine mechanical, electrical, and silicone components.

This innovative construction creates a non-contact switch that is immune to chatter and offers a consistent and reliable typing experience throughout its lifespan. While Topre switches are not hot swappable like other mechanical switches, they can still be customized with springs and membrane-sheet replacements.

It’s important to note that Topre switches are typically found in pre-built keyboards rather than being sold as individual switches. So, if you’re a beginner looking to delve into the world of mechanical keyboards, Topre/EC switches offer a unique and reliable option to consider.

Optical

Optical switches, with their contactless technology, offer a seamless and lightning-fast typing experience that will make your fingers dance effortlessly across the keys. These switches are becoming increasingly popular in both gaming keyboards from big brands and budget keyboards from smaller brands.

One advantage of optical switches is their smoothness right out of the box. They also have a longer hot swap life, allowing you to easily change out individual switches for rhythm games. Additionally, optical switches are impervious to bounce/debounce, ensuring fast and consistent keypresses without any double inputs. While they may have a lower polling rate, the added speed compensates for this.

When it comes to switch feel, optical switches can be both linear and clicky, offering a variety of options to suit your preferences. Gateron is one of the popular brands that offer optical keyboard switches.

The Parts of an MX-Style Switch

In this discussion, we’ll explore the key components of an MX-Style switch: the stem, top housing, bottom housing, leaf, and springs. These parts work together to create the unique feel and functionality of mechanical keyboard switches. By understanding how each component contributes to the overall switch design, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the customization and complexity that mechanical keyboards offer.

Stem

The stem of a mechanical keyboard switch is a crucial component that determines the keypress feel and actuation. It is responsible for transferring the force from your fingers to the electrical contact inside the switch.

The stem interacts with the switch housing and the keycap, allowing for the movement and actuation of the switch.

Different types of switches have different stem designs to achieve their specific feel and function. Tactile switches have a stem design that includes a bump or tactile event to provide feedback when the key is pressed. Linear switches, on the other hand, have a smooth stem design without any tactile feedback.

Kailh switches, which are a type of standard mechanical switch, also have different stem designs to cater to different preferences. The stem design can affect the overall feel and sound of the switch, so it’s important to consider when choosing a switch for your mechanical keyboard.

Top Housing

Now that you understand the stem of mechanical keyboard switches, let’s move on to the top housing.

The top housing is an important component of the switch that plays a role in its overall feel and sound. Here are four key things to know about the top housing:

  1. Material: The top housing is typically made of polycarbonate, a harder plastic that is smoother but less effective at sound dampening compared to nylon.
  2. Sound: The material of the top housing can affect the sound produced by the switch. Switches with transparent and solid top housings made of the same material may have a deeper or lower-pitched sound compared to switches with translucent top housings.
  3. Smoothness: While the top housing does not directly affect the smoothness of the switch, it can impact the overall stability and wobble of the keycap. If you have concerns about wobble or keycap fitment, consider using a switch with a top housing made of a blend that includes ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for increased smoothness.
  4. Personal Preference: The choice of top housing material ultimately comes down to personal preference. There’s no universally best plastic for switches, but it’s important to consider the qualities and characteristics that matter most to you when selecting a switch for your mechanical keyboard.

Now that you have an understanding of the stem and top housing of mechanical keyboard switches, you’re well on your way to becoming a beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches.

Bottom Housing

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of bottom housing in mechanical keyboard switches! The bottom housing is an essential component that houses the switch mechanism and provides stability to the keycap. It plays a crucial role in determining the overall feel and sound of the switch.

When selecting a switch for your mechanical keyboard, it’s important to consider the material used for the bottom housing. Nylon is a common choice as it offers sound-dampening properties, resulting in a quieter typing experience. Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is a harder plastic used for top housings, providing a smoother feel but less effective sound dampening.

The bottom housing material can also affect the switch’s wobble and keycap fitment. UHMWPE, a type of Polyethylene plastic known for its smoothness, is often used in switch stems. However, it can be volatile, so some prefer UHMWPE blends for better stability.

Overall, the choice of bottom housing material can significantly impact the performance and feel of your mechanical keyboard switch.

Leaf

Get ready to discover the fascinating world of the leaf – a crucial component that determines the tactile feedback and responsiveness of your keyboard switch! The leaf, also known as the contact leaf or metal leaf, is a thin piece of metal located inside the switch housing. It is responsible for making electrical contact when you press a key.

The leaf plays a significant role in the overall feel of the switch. It determines the actuation force required to register a keypress and provides tactile feedback. There are different types of leaves used in various switch designs, each offering its unique characteristics.

To help you understand the differences, here’s a comparison table of the most common leaf styles found in standard mechanical switches on the market:

Leaf StyleCharacteristics
Clicky LeafProduces an audible click when pressed
Tactile LeafProvides a noticeable bump when pressed
Linear LeafOffers a smooth and consistent keystroke

Understanding the leaf style of a switch is essential in choosing the right one for your needs. Whether you prefer a clicky, tactile, or linear feel, knowing the leaf style will help you find the perfect switch for your typing or gaming experience.

Springs

In this discussion, we’ll be exploring different types of springs used in mechanical keyboard switches.

First, we have linear springs, which provide a gradual and consistent force curve.

Then, there are slow springs, which reduce variance and feel stiffer for a more consistent keypress.

Next, we have progressive springs that get progressively heavier as you press down, giving a bouncy feel.

Additionally, we’ll touch on complex springs that start progressive and then become linear, as well as the unique Kailh Box springs used in Kailh Box switches.

Linear Springs

Linear springs in mechanical keyboards provide a consistent and smooth typing experience, making them ideal for those who prefer a seamless and effortless keystroke. These springs have a gradual and even force curve, ensuring that each keypress feels the same.

They are commonly used in linear switches, which are known for their smoothness and speed. If you’re new to mechanical keyboards, linear springs can be a great option to consider.

Slow Springs

As one delves deeper into the realm of mechanical keyboards, the allure of slow springs becomes evident. They offer a heightened sense of consistency and weight, making each keystroke feel deliberate and intentional.

Slow springs are an important aspect of mechanical keyboard switches that beginners should be aware of. They provide a more controlled and deliberate typing experience, ensuring that each keypress feels intentional and deliberate. Slow springs enhance the overall tactile feedback and typing experience.

Progressive Springs (Gets heavier and heavier)

Now that you have learned about slow springs, let’s dive into another type of spring used in mechanical keyboards: progressive springs. These springs are unique because they get heavier and heavier as you press down on the key, giving a bouncy feel to your typing experience. Progressive springs are often favored by enthusiasts who enjoy a more dynamic and tactile typing sensation. Let’s explore more about progressive springs in this beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches.

Complex Springs (Starts progressive and ends linear)

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of complex springs, which offer a unique typing experience. These springs start progressively and end with a linear feel. They provide a bouncy and tactile sensation at the beginning of the keypress, gradually becoming smoother and more consistent as you press down. This combination of progressive and linear characteristics creates a satisfying and comfortable typing experience. It makes complex springs a popular choice for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

Kailh Box Springs

Immerse yourself in the world of Kailh Box springs and experience the exhilarating bounce and smooth consistency that’ll elevate your typing to new heights.

Kailh Box springs are longer and thinner than traditional MX springs, providing a unique stiff feeling. These springs are used in Kailh Box switches, which are designed for mechanical keyboards.

With Kailh Box springs, you can enjoy a satisfying and responsive typing experience as a beginner exploring the world of mechanical keyboard switches.

Multi-stage Springs (Springs on springs)

Explore the world of multi-stage springs and discover the dynamic and bouncy typing experience they offer for an elevated keyboarding adventure.

These springs, commonly used in mechanical keyboards, provide a unique feel as they change in resistance throughout the keystroke. With multi-stage springs, you’ll experience a gradual increase in force as you press down, giving your typing a lively and responsive sensation.

They are a popular choice for those seeking a more interactive and engaging switch experience.

Switch Plastics

In this discussion on switch plastics, you’ll learn about the key points regarding Nylon, Polycarbonate, POM, UHMWPE, and P3 (JWK/Durock).

Nylon is a common choice for switch housing and offers sound dampening.

Polycarbonate is a harder plastic used for top housings.

POM plastic is self-lubricating and used for switch stems.

UHMWPE is a type of Polyethylene plastic known for its smoothness.

Additionally, P3 is a custom UHMWPE blend used by JWK/Durock in linear switch stems.

Nylon

To truly understand the characteristics of Nylon, you need to consider the stick-slip or friction concerns it brings to the bottom of the switch housing. Nylon is a common choice for switch housing material in mechanical keyboards because it offers sound-dampening properties. However, it can also lead to increased friction or stickiness when compared to other materials like polycarbonate. This can affect the smoothness of keypresses and may impact the overall typing experience. It’s important to note that the choice of switch plastic can have a noticeable impact on the sound and feel of the keyboard. In terms of sound, a switch with a transparent and solid Nylon housing may produce a deeper or lower-pitched sound compared to a translucent housing made of the same material. Understanding the properties of different switch plastics is crucial when selecting switches for your mechanical keyboard.

ProsCons
Offers sound dampeningIncreased friction/stickiness
Common choice for switch housingPotential impact on keypress smoothness
A common choice for switch housing

Polycarbonate

Consider the advantages and drawbacks of using polycarbonate as a switch housing material, as it offers a harder plastic that is smoother but less effective for sound dampening compared to Nylon.

Polycarbonate is a commonly used material in mechanical keyboard switches, particularly for the top housing. It is known for its durability and smoothness, which can enhance the overall feel of the switch. However, because it is a harder plastic, it may not provide the same level of sound dampening as Nylon. This means that polycarbonate switches may produce a slightly louder and higher-pitched sound when typing.

Despite this drawback, many keyboard enthusiasts still appreciate the smoothness and overall quality that polycarbonate brings to their typing experience. So, if you prioritize smoothness and durability over sound dampening, polycarbonate switches may be a good choice for you as a beginner in the world of mechanical keyboard switches.

POM

Experience the smooth and self-lubricating qualities of POM, a popular plastic used in switch stems that enhances the tactile feedback of your keystrokes.

POM, or polyoxymethylene, is known for its durability and low friction properties, making it a preferred material for mechanical keyboard switches. Here are three key reasons why POM is widely used in switches:

  1. Self-lubricating: POM has a natural lubricity that reduces friction between moving parts, resulting in smoother keystrokes and increased longevity of the switch.
  2. Stiffness and stability: POM has excellent stiffness and dimensional stability, ensuring consistent switch performance even after prolonged use.
  3. Compatibility with other plastics: POM blends well with other plastics, allowing for the creation of complex switch designs that incorporate different materials to achieve desired characteristics.

Incorporating POM in your mechanical keyboard switches can enhance your typing experience by providing satisfying tactile feedback and ensuring long-lasting performance.

UHMWPE

UHMWPE, a type of plastic known for its exceptional smoothness, takes your typing experience to a whole new level with its buttery keypresses. This high-performance material is commonly used in mechanical keyboard switches to reduce friction and provide a smoother feel when pressing the keys. It offers a unique combination of low friction, high wear resistance, and self-lubricating properties, making it ideal for creating smooth and consistent keystrokes. UHMWPE is often blended with other plastics, such as POM, to achieve even greater smoothness. Its use in switch stems helps to reduce wobble and improve keycap fitment. If you’re looking for a switch that offers a silky-smooth typing experience, UHMWPE switches are definitely worth considering.

UHMWPE SwitchesBenefits
Exceptional smoothnessProvides an incredibly smooth typing experience
Low frictionReduces the amount of resistance when pressing the keys
High wear resistanceEnsures durability and longevity of the switches
Self-lubricating propertiesEliminates the need for additional lubrication, reducing maintenance requirements
Reduced wobble and keycap fitmentHelps to create a more stable and precise typing experience

P3 (JWK/Durock)

Looking to elevate your typing experience? Dive into the world of P3, a custom UHMWPE blend used by JWK/Durock in their linear switch stems, to discover a whole new level of smoothness and stability.

Why choose P3 for your mechanical keyboard switches?

  • Unparalleled smoothness: P3’s UHMWPE blend ensures an incredibly smooth keystroke, reducing any friction or stick-slip issues.
  • Enhanced stability: The P3 blend provides excellent stability, minimizing any wobble or keycap fitment concerns.

When it comes to selecting the perfect switches for your keyboard, P3 offers a fantastic option for those seeking an exceptional typing experience. Its unique properties make it a popular choice among enthusiasts looking for smoothness and stability in their linear switch stems. So if you’re ready to take your mechanical keyboard to the next level, consider exploring the world of P3 switches from JWK/Durock.

JX

Now that you have learned about the P3 plastic blend used by JWK/Durock, let’s dive into another interesting plastic blend used in mechanical keyboard switches – JX. JX is a plastic blend used in the Thick Thock Konpeitou stem. This blend provides a unique feel and smoothness to the switch. It is specifically designed to enhance the typing experience and reduce any wobble or keycap fitment concerns. JX is known for its durability and consistency, making it a popular choice among keyboard enthusiasts. By incorporating JX into their switches, JWK/Durock has created a switch that offers a satisfying and smooth keystroke. So, if you’re a beginner looking to explore different types of switches, JX is definitely worth considering. In the next section of this beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches, we will explore another important aspect of switch selection – budget options.

Plastic BlendFeatures
JX– Unique feel and smoothness
  • Enhances typing experience
  • Reduces wobble and keycap fitment concerns
  • Durable and consistent
  • Popular among keyboard enthusiasts |

PME (Tecsee)

When considering the PME plastic blend from Tecsee, you’ll discover its unique properties that contribute to the overall performance and feel of the switch, making it a desirable choice among keyboard enthusiasts.

PME, which stands for proprietary Polycarbonate blend, is used by Tecsee in the housings of their switches. This plastic blend offers a combination of durability and smoothness, ensuring a satisfying typing experience. The PME plastic helps reduce any wobble or keycap fitment concerns that may arise. Its self-lubricating nature also adds to the smoothness of the switch.

With the PME plastic blend, Tecsee has created a housing material that strikes a balance between durability and smooth keypresses, making it an excellent option for those looking to enhance their mechanical keyboard experience.

HPE (Tecsee)

The HPE plastic blend from Tecsee revolutionizes the switch housing material, elevating the typing experience with its unparalleled smoothness and durability. This innovative blend combines UHMWPE with other materials to create a switch housing that is both smooth and stable. The HPE plastic offers a unique combination of smoothness and stability, making it an excellent choice for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Whether you are a typist or a gamer, the HPE plastic blend can enhance your typing experience. With its smoothness, it allows for effortless keystrokes, reducing fatigue during long typing sessions. Additionally, the durability of the HPE plastic ensures that your switches will last for a long time, making it a reliable choice for any gaming keyboard. When it comes to switch housing materials, the HPE plastic blend from Tecsee is your best bet for a top-notch typing experience.

TypeSmoothnessDurability
HPE Plastic BlendUnparalleledHigh
Other MaterialsVariesVaries

Note: The smoothness and durability of the HPE plastic blend are unmatched by other materials used in switch housing.

MPE Plastic / PE blends

Introducing the MPE plastic and other PE blends, these alternatives to UHMWPE offer a smoothness that glides like silk on your fingertips.

When it comes to switches in your mechanical keyboard, the choice of plastic is an important consideration. MPE plastic, along with other PE blends, provides an alternative to UHMWPE for achieving a smooth and frictionless keystroke experience. These plastics are known for their self-lubricating properties, which contribute to a smoother switch operation.

Whether you’re a beginner exploring the world of mechanical keyboards or an experienced enthusiast, understanding the different plastics used in switch construction can help you make an informed decision.

So, when you’re looking for that perfect switch that feels amazing under your fingertips, consider the MPE plastic and other PE blends for a smooth and satisfying typing experience.

Which Plastic is the best?

Immerse yourself in the world of switch plastics and discover the perfect material that will elevate your typing experience to new heights. When it comes to mechanical keyboard switches, the material used can greatly impact the overall feel and performance. Let’s take a look at some of the popular plastics used in switch manufacturing:

PlasticCharacteristics
NylonHarder plastic is used for top housings, smoother but less sound dampening
PolycarbonateHarder plastic used for top housings, smoother but less sound dampening
POM plasticSelf-lubricating, used for switch stems
UHMWPEKnown for smoothness, used for increased smoothness in switches
POM and UHMWPE blendsAchieve increased smoothness in switches
Other PE blendsAlternatives to UHMWPE for smoothness

Each plastic has its own unique qualities and considerations. While there is no definitive “best” plastic for switches, certain qualities should be taken into account when making a choice. Nylon offers sound dampening, while Polycarbonate provides a smoother feel. POM plastic is self-lubricating, ensuring smooth stem movement. UHMWPE is known for its exceptional smoothness but can be volatile. Consider using a blend of POM and UHMWPE to address any concerns. Ultimately, the choice of plastic will depend on your personal preferences and the qualities you value most in a switch.

How to Choose a Switch

Picking A Cherry Mx Switch

Explore the wide range of mechanical keyboard switches to discover the perfect switch for your typing or gaming needs. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you choose the right switch:

  1. Consider the switch type: Decide whether you prefer linear, tactile, clicky, or silent switches. Linear switches are smooth and fast, tactile switches provide a noticeable bump, clicky switches offer a satisfying click sound, and silent switches are quieter.
  2. Think about your typing or gaming preferences: If you’re a gamer, you might want a switch that allows for quick key presses. For typing, you may prefer a switch that provides tactile feedback.
  3. Take budget into account: There are budget-friendly options available, such as Gateron, Outemu, and Kailh switches. Mid-range options include Gazzew Boba, JWK/Durock/Everglide/C3, and Tecsee switches. High-end options consist of Gateron, Zeal, Drop, Everglide, and Frankenswitches.
  4. Consider the switch measurements and characteristics: Look at force curve graphs to understand the spring weight, peak force, travel, and tactility. Light switches typically have a force below 60g, while heavy switches go above 70 to 100 grams. You can also customize switches by swapping springs to achieve your desired feel.

By considering these factors, you’ll be able to choose a switch that suits your preferences and enhances your typing or gaming experience.

Things to Look Out For

When selecting a switch, it’s important to be aware of certain factors that may impact your decision-making process.

One thing to consider is the development of the Razer mechanical switches. These switches are a departure from the conventional mechanical switch and offer a unique typing experience.

Another factor to keep in mind is the type of switch or keyboard you’re using. Different switches may have different compatibility requirements, so it’s important to verify that the switch you choose will work with your specific keyboard.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that there are many different types of switches available on the market. From linear to tactile to clicky switches, each type offers a different feel and sound when typing. It’s a good idea to try out different switches before making a decision to determine which one you prefer.

Lastly, be sure to familiarize yourself with the different lines of switches available. Each line may have its own unique characteristics and features, so take the time to research and compare them to find the one that best suits your needs.

Cherry MX Brands and Manufacturers

Now that you’re familiar with the things to look out for when choosing mechanical keyboard switches, let’s dive into the world of Cherry MX and its friends.

Cherry MX is one of the most well-known and respected brands in the mechanical keyboard community, serving as the foundation for modern mechanical keyboards. However, they’re not the only players in the game.

There are various brands and manufacturers that produce high-quality switches for mechanical keyboards. Some popular ones include Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, and Zeal. Each brand has its own unique offerings and characteristics, allowing you to find the perfect switch for your needs.

Gateron switches, for example, are known for their smoothness and affordability. Kailh switches, on the other hand, are popular for their durability and customization options. Outemu offers budget-friendly options without compromising on quality. And Zeal switches are renowned for their premium feel and performance.

With a wide range of brands and manufacturers to choose from, you can explore different switch options and find the one that suits your preferences. Whether you’re a gamer, a typist, or simply looking for a comfortable and enjoyable typing experience, there’s a switch out there for you.

So, let’s continue our journey into the world of mechanical keyboards and discover the possibilities that these brands and manufacturers have to offer.

Lubing

In this discussion on lubing, we’ll explore three key points: the traditional lubing method, the Gazzew lubing method, and the necessary supplies for lubing.

You’ll learn about the traditional method, which involves applying lubricant to the switch housing, stem, and springs to improve smoothness and reduce friction.

Additionally, we’ll delve into the Gazzew method, which focuses on applying lubricant specifically to the stem rails for a smoother keystroke.

Lastly, we’ll touch on the supplies you’ll need for lubing, including lubricants such as Krytox, Tribosys, and Christo-Lube, as well as brushes, q-tips, and lubricant stations to aid in the lubing process.

Traditional Lubing Method

To achieve smoother keypresses, you can try the traditional lubing method on your mechanical keyboard switches. This method is commonly used by enthusiasts and can greatly improve the feel and sound of your switches.

Lubing involves applying a thin layer of lubricant to the moving parts of the switch, such as the stem and housing. By reducing friction between these components, the switch becomes smoother and quieter.

It’s important to note that lubing is not necessary for every switch, as some modern mechanical switches come pre-lubricated. However, if you have an older or traditional mechanical keyboard, or if you prefer a specific type of lubricant, lubing can be a beneficial process to explore.

Just remember to take your time and apply the lubricant to each individual switch carefully for the best results.

Gazzew Lubing Method

Get ready to elevate your typing experience with the Gazzew lubing method! This method is specifically designed to enhance the performance of tactile switches in your mechanical keyboard. Here are three reasons why you should give it a try:

  • Improved smoothness: By applying a thin layer of lubricant to the contact points of the switch, you can reduce friction and create a smoother keystroke. This not only enhances the overall feel of the switch but also reduces any scratchiness or resistance.
  • Enhanced sound dampening: Lubing your switches can help reduce the noise produced during typing. The lubricant acts as a cushion, absorbing the impact between the stem and the housing, resulting in a quieter typing experience.
  • Prolonged switch lifespan: Regularly lubing your switches can help prevent wear and tear, extending the lifespan of your keyboard switches. This is especially important for tactile switches, as they often have more intricate parts that can benefit from lubrication.

By following the Gazzew lubing method, you can take your mechanical keyboard experience to the next level and enjoy smoother, quieter typing with your tactile switches.

Lubing Supplies

When lubing your switches, you’ll need a few essential supplies to ensure a smooth and successful process.

The first thing you’ll need is a lubricant. There are different types of lubricants available, but the most commonly used ones for mechanical keyboard switches are oil-based lubricants, such as Krytox or Tribosys. These lubricants help reduce friction and smooth out the switch movement.

You’ll also need a small brush or applicator to apply the lubricant to the switch components. Additionally, having a switch opener tool can make the process much easier by allowing you to open up the switches without damaging them.

Finally, it’s a good idea to have some cleaning wipes or brushes on hand to clean any excess lubricant or dirt from the switches.

By having these essential lubing supplies, you’ll be well-equipped to maintain and optimize your mechanical keyboard switches.

Filming

Filming your mechanical keyboard switches adds an extra layer of satisfaction and excitement to your keyboard-building journey. It involves placing a thin layer of clear film between the switch housing and the stem to reduce wobble and enhance the overall feel and sound of the switch.

Filming your switches is a popular mod among keyboard enthusiasts because it can improve the stability and smoothness of the keystrokes. The film acts as a cushion, preventing the switch from wobbling side to side and reducing the chance of the stem rubbing against the housing. This can result in a more consistent and satisfying typing experience.

To help you understand how filming works, here’s a table that illustrates the before and after effects of filming:

Without FilmingWith Filming
Wobbly switchesStable switches
Inconsistent keystrokesConsistent keystrokes
Increased stem wobbleReduced stem wobble
Louder switch soundQuieter switch sound
Less smooth keystrokesSmoother keystrokes

By filming your keyboard switches, you can enhance their performance and make your typing experience even more enjoyable. It’s a simple and affordable modification that can make a noticeable difference in how your switches feel and sound. So why not give it a try and see the improvement for yourself?

Cleaning Lube from your switches

Removing excess lube from your switches can significantly improve their performance and restore their original feel. When it comes to cleaning lube from your switches, here are a few steps to follow:

  • Gather the necessary tools: You’ll need a switch opener tool, a small brush or toothbrush, and a cleaning solution like isopropyl alcohol.
  • Open up the switches: Use the switch opener tool to carefully open up each switch. Be gentle to avoid damaging the switch or the housing.
  • Note: Some switches may have an easily removable top housing, while others may require you to desolder them from the PCB.
  • Brush away the excess lube: Once the switches are open, use the brush or toothbrush to gently brush away any excess lube. Pay special attention to the stem, housing, and contact points.
  • Tip: You can also use compressed air to blow away any loose debris or lube particles.
  • Clean with isopropyl alcohol: Dampen a clean cloth or cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol and carefully wipe down the switch components. This’ll help remove any remaining lube residue and ensure a clean surface.
  • Caution: Avoid using too much alcohol, as it can damage the switch or the PCB.
  • Let the switches dry: Allow the switches to air dry completely before reassembling them. This’ll prevent any moisture from causing issues with the switch operation.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean the excess lube from your switches and optimize their performance. Remember to take your time and be gentle throughout the process to avoid any damage.

How to Change/Remove

To change or remove a switch, you can easily swap it out for a new one or take it out for cleaning, allowing you to personalize your keyboard experience.

If you want to change a switch in your mechanical keyboard, start by removing the keycap from the switch you want to change. You can use a keycap puller or your fingers to gently lift it off.

Once the keycap is off, you’ll see the switch underneath. To remove the switch, you’ll need to desolder it from the PCB (printed circuit board). This requires some basic soldering skills and equipment. Heat up the solder joints with a soldering iron and use a desoldering pump or desoldering wick to remove the solder.

Once the switch is desoldered, you can simply pull it out from the PCB. If you’re just swapping switches, you can insert the new switch into the empty slot and solder it back onto the PCB. Make sure to align the switch properly and apply solder to the joints to secure it in place.

With the switch changed or removed, you can now enjoy a customized keyboard experience that suits your preferences.

Hotswap

Hotswap keyboards allow you to effortlessly customize your keyboard experience by easily swapping out switches without the need for soldering or complex equipment. This feature is especially useful for beginners who are still experimenting with different switch types and finding their preferred typing experience. With a hot swap keyboard, you can try out different switches and find the right type of mechanical switch that suits your needs.

A hot swap keyboard typically has a PCB (printed circuit board) with multiple switch sockets that can accommodate different types of switches. You simply need to pull out the current switch and insert a new one into the socket. It’s a simple and convenient process that doesn’t require any technical skills.

The majority of mechanical keyboards use a standard switch and stem design, which means you can easily find a wide variety of switches that are compatible with hot swap keyboards. Whether you prefer linear, tactile, or clicky switches, you can find the right ones for your hot swap keyboard.

Here is a table that showcases some popular switch options for hot swap keyboards:

Switch TypeCharacteristicsRecommended For
Cherry MXHigh customization and complexityGaming and typing
GateronSmooth and affordableGaming and typing
Kailh BoxSpill and debris resistantGaming and internet cafes
ZealiosTactile and smoothTyping enthusiasts
NovelKeysUnique and custom optionsCustom keyboard enthusiasts

With a hot swap keyboard, you have the freedom to experiment with different switches until you find the perfect fit for your typing style. It’s a great way to personalize your keyboard and enhance your overall typing experience.

Maintaining your switches

Take the time to care for and maintain your switches to ensure a smooth and enjoyable typing experience that lasts. Mechanical switches in your keyboard require some maintenance to keep them in optimal condition. Here are some tips to help you maintain your switches.

First, regularly clean your keyboard to remove any dust, debris, or crumbs that may have accumulated between the switches. You can use compressed air or a small brush to gently clean the switches and the surrounding areas.

Second, lubricate your switches to keep them smooth and reduce any friction. Apply a small amount of switch lubricant to the moving parts of the switch, such as the stem and the housing. Be careful not to over-lubricate, as this can affect the switch’s performance.

Third, be mindful of how you use your keyboard to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the switches. Avoid excessive force when pressing the keys and try to type with a light touch. This will help prolong the lifespan of your switches.

Maintaining your switches is an important part of owning a mechanical keyboard. By regularly cleaning, lubricating, and using your keyboard with care, you can ensure that your switches remain in good condition for a long time.

Tools + Accessories

Enhance your mechanical keyboard experience with a carefully curated selection of tools and accessories that optimize your typing performance and customization options. Here are four essential tools and accessories for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts:

  1. Keycap Puller: A keycap puller is a must-have tool for easily removing and replacing keycaps. It prevents damage to the keycaps and switches, allowing for hassle-free customization and cleaning.
  2. Switch Opener: This handy tool makes it easier to access and modify your switches. With a switch opener, you can easily remove the top housing of your switches, making it simple to lube, clean, and modify them to your liking.
  3. Switch Tester: If you’re new to mechanical keyboards or unsure about which switches to choose, a switch tester is a valuable tool. It allows you to try out different switch types and find the one that suits your preferences in terms of feel and sound.
  4. Desk Mat: A desk mat not only adds a touch of style to your setup but also provides a comfortable and smooth surface for your keyboard and mouse. It helps to reduce noise, protect your desk from scratches, and add a personal touch to your workspace.

By investing in these tools and accessories, you can optimize your mechanical keyboard experience and fully enjoy the customization options that come with owning a mechanical keyboard.

What are the Best Switches?

When it comes to choosing the best switches for your mechanical keyboard, it all boils down to personal preference and the specific feel and sound you’re aiming for. As a beginner, navigating the world of mechanical switches can be overwhelming, but fear not! This beginner’s guide is here to help you find the perfect switches for your setup.

There are a wide variety of mechanical keyboard switches available, each with its own unique characteristics. Whether you’re looking for linear switches for smooth and speedy keypresses, tactile switches for a noticeable bump when typing, or clicky switches for that satisfying click sound, there’s a switch out there for you.

Some popular budget switch options include Gateron, Outemu, and Kailh, while mid-range options include Gazzew Boba, JWK/Durock/Everglide/C3, and Tecsee. If you’re looking for high-end switches, Zeal, Drop, Everglide, and Frankenswitches are worth considering.

Remember, the best switches for you depend on your personal preferences and typing style. It’s always a good idea to try out different switches before committing to a particular type. Happy typing!

Mechanical Keyboard/ Switch Communities

Now that you’ve learned about the best switches for your mechanical keyboard, let’s explore the vibrant communities that exist around mechanical keyboards and switches.

These communities are filled with enthusiasts, modders, and people who are passionate about the world of mechanical keyboards.

One popular online hub for switch enthusiasts and modders is the r/Switchmodders subreddit and the corresponding Switch Modders Discord server. Here, you can find discussions, guides, and resources on various switch modifications and “switch science” in general.

If you’re interested in collecting switches, the Switch Collectors Discord server, run by Theremingoat, is the perfect place to connect with fellow collectors and share your passion for unique and rare switches.

For a broader perspective on mechanical keyboards, the Geekhack keyboard forum is a valuable resource. It contains numerous interest check and group buy announcements, allowing you to stay up to date with the latest keyboard trends and releases.

Additionally, the r/MechanicalKeyboards subreddit and the Keebtalk forum are excellent platforms to engage with the mechanical keyboard community, seek advice, and share your keyboard setups.

By joining these communities, you can gain valuable insights, learn new techniques, and connect with like-minded individuals who share your enthusiasm for mechanical keyboards and switches. So, don’t hesitate to dive in and become a part of these vibrant communities!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any alternative switch options for those who want a different feel or experience than the standard Cherry MX switches?

If you’re looking for a different feel or experience than standard Cherry MX switches, there are alternative options available. Some popular alternatives include Kailh Box switches, Alps switches, Buckling Spring switches, Hall Effect switches, and Topre switches.

What are the differences between linear, tactile, and clicky switches in terms of sound and feel?

Linear switches have a smooth feel and quiet sound, ideal for fast typing and gaming. Tactile switches have a noticeable bump and moderate sound, great for typing. Clicky switches have a crisp click sound and tactile feedback, perfect for typing enthusiasts.

How do Kailh Box switches differ from other mechanical switches and what are their unique features?

Kailh Box switches are designed for gaming and internet cafes. They have a unique housing design that prevents debris from entering the switch. They also offer different types such as linear, tactile, clicky, silent, and clickbar switches.

Is there a specific type of spring that is recommended for certain types of switches or preferences?

For certain types of switches or preferences, different types of springs are recommended. Linear switches often pair well with slow springs, while tactile switches can benefit from progressive or complex springs. It ultimately depends on personal preference.

What are the different types of plastics used in switch construction and how do they affect the overall performance and feel of the switch?

Different types of plastics used in switch construction include nylon, polycarbonate, POM, and UHMWPE. These plastics affect the overall performance and feel of the switch by influencing factors such as smoothness, sound, and wobble.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a beginner’s guide to mechanical keyboard switches! Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of switches available, the parts that make up a switch, and how to maintain them, you can make an informed decision when choosing the best switches for your mechanical keyboard.

Don’t forget to join the mechanical keyboard and switch communities to learn more and share your experiences with fellow enthusiasts.

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