The best thing thing about mechanical keyboards is that they offer different kinds of switches. This allows you to choose your preferred typing or gaming feel.
But with the number of switches available in the market, choosing one that fits your needs can be a bit jarring. However, if we simply categorize switches according to type, then it will become a lot easier to identify which switch is best for gaming.
Linear switches are the most recommended switch for gamers. They offer the fastest response which is crucial for fast pace genres such as FPS titles. However, the truth is that you can use any switch for gaming. It will all come down to your personal preference.
In this article, we will help you explore your personal preferences by talking about different switch types, We will talk about linear switches, tactile switches, and clicky switches. And by the end of this article, you should have a better idea on what switch you prefer.
What are Mechanical Keyboards?
Before we proceed with talking about mechanical switches, let us first have a recap of mechanical keyboards. These keyboards utilize individual switches that are found underneath each key. Unlike membrane keyboards, mechanical keyboards have a more satisfying typing feel and have better durability.
The first modern mechanical keyboard is considered to be the IBM Model M, which was first released in 1985. It was meant to replicate the typing feel of a typewriter. However, due to their complex nature, they were replaced by the simpler membrane keyboard.
However, due to their superior feel, they made a comeback in the late 2000s thanks to gaming brands such as Logitech G and Razer. Today, mechanical keyboards have reached immense popularity and have given rise to the mechanical keyboard community. They are not only tools for gaming but are now being recommended by anyone who wants a better keyboard.
Different Mechanical Switches
Now that we know what a mechanical keyboard is, let us go through some common switches used for gaming. There are three switch types that is used in most mainstream gaming keyboards: linear switches, tactile switches, and clicky switches.
Clicky switches are the loudest switch out of the three. It has a tactile bump that lets you feel key presses as well as a loud and sharp noise. These switches were originally advertised as the gaming switch and was included in almost all of the early gaming keyboards.
However, nowadays these switches aren’t quite as popular. Apart from their loud noise, these switches are quite heavy. They are also not as easily modifiable as the other switch types.
Aside from a few manufacturers, most manufacturers such as Gateron no longer focus on this switch type. Additionally, this switch is quite heavy, which may slow down your reaction time. They are certainly great for typing but not for gaming.
You can still get used to this switch and they can be used for slower-paced games such as MMOs. But overall, there are better alternatives out there.
Some examples of clicky switches include Cherry MX Blue, Gateron Blue, and Razer Green.
Linear switches are the smoothest and fastest switches out of the three basic switch types. It neither has a tactile bump or an audible click. This switch type is highly recommended for gamers since there is nothing that can stop your keystrokes.
However, these switches are less ideal for typing. You can get used to them and their performance ceiling for typists is high. However, for those who are coming from clicky and tactile switches, you are most likely going to make lots of typos at first with linear switches.
Some examples of linear switches include Gateron Yellow, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Black, Cherry MX Speed Silver, and Razer Yellow.
Tactile switches bring the best out of both worlds. They eliminate the loud noise of clicky switches while maintaining their tactile bump. They serve as a good middle ground and are good for both typing and gaming.
There are currently lots of manufacturers for tactile switches. This means that you can get one that has a lower or higher actuation force. Also, these switches work well with lube so you can make them smoother and less tactile.
Some examples of tactile switches include Gateron Brown, Cherry MX Brown, and Glorious Panda.
Best Gaming Switch
Objectively, linear switches are the best for gaming. Regardless of what model you are using, any linear switch will perform better than other switch types for gaming. This is because there is no tactile bump that can slow you down during clutch situations.
However, not all games are the same. Some are less fast paced and require absolute precision. This is where other switches come in. Tactile switches can be beneficial in these scenarios since these switches offer accuracy.
And in some cases, even clicky switches can do the job. They aren’t recommended but are perfectly usable if you do not have other options.
At the end of the day, it is all about preferences. You have to physically try out these switches in order to have the best decision. We highly recommend purchasing a switch tester or a hotswap mechanical keyboard to try out different switch types.
The KBE team is dedicated to sharing our knowledge and creating useful resources about computer keyboards. This article was written as a team collaboration, combining our knowledge and years of experience using, building and modding keyboards. Meet the team here.