Switches form the basis of mechanical keyboards, creating the ‘mechanical’ component that characterizes these devices. Without them, these keyboards wouldn’t be the same. Despite being largely concealed, these components are just as distinctive as keycaps and cases, making it vital to recognize how they operate to fully grasp how keyboards work.
Complete List of All Mechanical Keyboard Switches
|Image||Switch Name||Switch Type||Mounting Type||Actuation Force||Factory Lubed?||Low Profile?||Housing Material||Stem Material||Spring Type||Cost||Buy|
|AEBoards Blaeck||Linear||5-pin||63.5g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.45||Cannon Keys|
|AEBoards Naevy R1.5||Tactile||3-pin||58g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||MPE||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|AEBoards Naevy R2||Tactile||5-pin||63.5g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.45||Cannon Keys|
|AEBoards Raed||Linear||3-pin||58g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||MPE||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|AEBoards Raed R2||Linear||3-pin||58g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||MPE||$0.45||Cannon Keys|
|Cherry MX Black||Linear||5-pin||60g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||Proprietary Thermoplastic||$0.60||Cannon Keys|
|Cherry Black Vintage||Linear||5-pin||60g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$2|
|Cherry MX Clear||Tactile||5-pin||65g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||Proprietary Thermoplastic||$0.60||Cannon Keys|
|Cherry MX Red||Linear||5-pin||45g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||Proprietary Thermoplastic||$0.60||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Anubis||Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Blue Macaw||Silent Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.75||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Cerulean||Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Cherry Blossom||Linear||5-pin||65g||FALSE||FALSE||POM||-P3||$0.70||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Coral||Silent Linear||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.75||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Dark Amber T1||Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Korbs by Tiny||Linear||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Lavender||Linear||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Lilac||Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon/PC, Nylon||POM||$0.55||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Makanisk Ultramarine V2||Linear||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon, Polyamide||P3||$0.66||Cannon Keys|
|Durock Piano POM||Linear||5-pin||48g||FALSE||FALSE||POM||Mystery||Gold-Plated Spring||$0.66|
|EQUALZ C3 Banana Split||Linear||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon, Polyamide||POM||Gold Plated||$0.7||Cannon Keys|
|EQUALZ C3 Tangerine||Linear||5-pin||62g/67g||TRUE||FALSE||UHMWPE||POM||Gold Plated||$0.7||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Azure Dragon||Tactile||5-pin||63g||TRUE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom PA66||POM||$0.5|
|Gateron Black||Linear||5-pin||60g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.23||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Black Ink||Linear||5-pin||60g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Ink||POM||$0.75||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Brown||Tactile||5-pin||45g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.23||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Brown||Tactile||3-pin||55g||TRUE||PC, Nylon PA66||POM||$0.33||Keychron|
|Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Yellow||POM||$0.48||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Cap Milky Yellow V2||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.30||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron CJ||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Ink, POM||POM||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Full Nylon Yellow||Linear||5-pin||63.5g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.23||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Milky Yellow||Linear||5-pin||50g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.23||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Milky Yellow Pro||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.3||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Mizu Mink||Linear||5-pin||50g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky, Proprietary Ink||POM||$0.77||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Oil King||Linear||5-pin||55g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon, Proprietary Ink||POM||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Pro North Pole||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||PC||Ink v2||Gold Plated||$0.68||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Pure Berry x Swagkeys||Linear||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||PC & Nylon Mix||POM||Long Spring||$0.4||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Red||Linear||5-pin||45g||FALSE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.23||Cannon Keys|
|Gateron Vermilion Bird||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom PA66||POM||Two-Stage 18mm||$0.5|
|Gateron X||Linear||5-pin||50g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon-blend, Nylon||POM||$0.49||Cannon Keys|
|Glorious Panda (Lubed)||Tactile||3-pin||67g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon PA66||POM||$0.69||Glorious|
|Glorious Panda (Unlubed)||Tactile||3-pin||67g||FALSE||FALSE||PC, Nylon PA66||POM||$0.69||Glorious|
|Gopolar Azure Dragon||Tactile||5-pin||63g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||Two Stage||$0.70||Kono|
|Drop x Invyr Holy Panda||Tactile||5-pin||67g||FALSE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||Halo switch||Two Stage||$1.5||Drop|
|Drop x Gateron Holy Panda X||Tactile||5-pin||60g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||Two Stage||$1.5||Drop|
|Jelly Strawberry V2||Linear||3-pin||52g||FALSE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom Nylon||POM||Long Spring||$0.3||Drop|
|Jelly Strawberry V3||Linear||5-pin||52g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Long Spring||$0.3|
|JWK JWICK Black||Linear||5-pin||58.5g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.24||Cannon Keys|
|JWK JWICK Yellow||Linear||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.24||Cannon Keys|
|JWK Mauve||Linear||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon/PC, Nylon||POM||$0.55||Cannon Keys|
|JWK Seal||Linear||5-pin||78g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.60||Cannon Keys|
|JWK Taro Ball||Tactile||5-pin||65g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||Gold Plated||$0.60||Cannon Keys|
|JWK Wuque Onion||Linear||5-pin||63.5g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.70||Cannon Keys|
|JWK Wuque Original Aspiration||Linear||5-pin||67g||FALSE||FALSE||PC, UHMWPE||POM||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Kailh BOX Crystal Pink||Clicky||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Clear||MX||$0.45||Cannon Keys|
|Kailh BOX Jade||Clicky||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Clear||MX||$0.45||Cannon Keys|
|Kailh BOX Jellyfish V2||Linear||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||PC||PA||$0.72||Kinetic Labs|
|Kailh BOX Jellyfish V2||Clicky||5-pin||50g||TRUE||FALSE||PC||PA||$0.72||Kinetic Labs|
|Kailh FLCMMK Ice Mint||Linear||5-pin||40g||TRUE||FALSE||POM||POM||$0.65||Cannon Keys|
|Kailh NovelKeys Box Royal||Tactile||3-pin||45g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon PA66||POM||$0.50||NovelKeys|
|KTT Grapefruit||Linear||3-pin||45g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.27||Kinetic Labs|
|KTT Kang White||Linear||3-pin||60g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||Progressive Spring||$0.15|
|KTT Mint||Linear||3 pin||45g||FALSE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom Nylon||POM||15mm||$0.2|
|KTT Matcha||Tactile||3 pin||40g||FALSE||FALSE||PC||POM||$0.4|
|KTT Rose||Linear||3-pin||43g||FALSE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom Nylon||POM||Progressive||$0.2|
|KTT Peach||Linear||3-pin||45g||FALSE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom Nylon||POM||Progressive||$0.2|
|Momoka Frog||Linear||3-pin||54g||TRUE||FALSE||PC, Nylon||POM||$0.50||Cannon Keys|
|Novelkeys x Kailh Cream||Linear||3-pin||55g||TRUE||FALSE||POM||POM||$0.50||Novelkeys|
|Novelkeys x Kailh Cream Chocolate||Linear||3-pin||55g||TRUE||FALSE||POM||POM||$0.50||Novelkeys|
|Outemu Gazzew Boba U4||Silent Tactile||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.65||Ringer Keys|
|Outemu Gazzew Boba U4T||Tactile||5-pin||62g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.65||Ringer Keys|
|Outemu Gazzew Boba U4T||Tactile||5-pin||68g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.65||Ringer Keys|
|Outemu Gazzew Boba U5||Silent Tactile||5-pin||68g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Milky||POM||$0.65||Ringer Keys|
|SP-Star Sacramento||Linear||5-pin||62g||FALSE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.58||Cannon Keys|
|SP-Star Meteor White||Linear||5-pin||57g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||$0.58||Cannon Keys|
|Tecsee Coffee Chip Cream||Tactile||5-pin||68g||FALSE||FALSE||PME||POM||$0.47||Cannon Keys|
|Tecsee Neopolitan Ice Cream||Tactile||5-pin||63.5g||TRUE||FALSE||PC||POM||Two Stage||$0.70||Cannon Keys|
|Tecsee Purple Panda||Tactile||5-pin||55g||TRUE||FALSE||PME||POM||$0.50||Keebsforall|
|TTC Bluish White||Tactile||3-pin||42g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Clear, Proprietary Blue||Proprietary Blue||$0.48||Cannon Keys|
|TTC Gold Pink||Linear||3-pin||37g||TRUE||FALSE||Proprietary Clear, Proprietary Gold||Proprietary Pink||$0.48||Cannon Keys|
|TTC Wild||Linear||5-pin||55g/42g||FALSE||FALSE||Top PC, Bottom PA66||POM||TTC gold spring||$1||Cannon Keys|
|TTC Matrix-01||Linear||5-pin||45g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Double stage gold spring||$1||Cannon Keys|
|TTC Matrix Tactile||Tactile||5-pin||63.5g||TRUE||FALSE||Nylon||POM||Double stage gold spring||$1||Cannon Keys|
What is the keyboard switches?
Every keyboard needs switches to make it function, and nowhere is this more true than on a mechanical keyboard. These little components, which sit underneath the keycaps, are the connection between the keyboard PCB and the keypressed.
While you may not see them, the manner in which they feel, sound, and look have great bearing on how your keyboard feels when you type.
Most of the available switches on the market right now is Cherry MX style switch, so from now on in this article, if we don’t mention anything specific, “switch” will stand for “Cherry MX style switch”.
Switches are typically divided into three distinct varieties, which are based on their design: Tactile, Linear, and Clicky.
- Linear switches are the simplest type of switch. They are consistent, with no tactile feedback or noise when pressing the actuation point, usually located in the middle. This means that most key presses will typically bottom out.
- Tactile switches, however, offer a bump at the actuation point, providing feedback that the key press has been registered.
- Clicky switches provide a click sound at the actuation point; this type of switch benefits users by allowing them to release the key quickly after feedback has been received.
Switches currently used are based off a design from German company Cherry. This patent has since expired, meaning other companies have been able to create their own versions of the design. Cherry MX is the term given to the switches still produced by Cherry, such as the MX Brown and MX Red.
MX-compatible refers to being compatible with the Cherry MX-style switch, characterized by its ‘+’ shaped stem; an example of this is Boba 4U switches:
Keycaps are also typically available in this style. However, they are not suitable for other switches such as Topre, which feature a different stem.
All Switch Parts
The two components of the housing are the base and top housing. The base housing is fitted with two pins which slot into the printed circuit board (PCB) and usually require soldering, unless it is a ‘hotswap’ keyboard where no soldering is required. Switches can either be plate-mount or PCB-mount, with the latter having two plastic legs which secure it to the PCB.
The stem is housed in the switch case, rested atop a spring and ‘+’ extrusion which locks into the base of the keycap. The two legs of the switch mediate the level of tactile feedback when the metal leaf makes contact with them.
The underlying base on which the stem sits is held in place by a spring. Spring weights vary, with stronger springs needing more power for a keypress.
When a key is pressed, the switch stem presses against the metal contact embedded in the lower housing. This action triggers the circuit board to register the keypress, resulting in its associated symbol appearing on the computer screen.
How to mod switches
Let’s now explore the different ways to modify switches to better fit your individual preferences. After getting up to speed on the key distinctions and components that make up any given switch, you should be able to tweak it to match your desired characteristics.
One of the first steps that modders tend to take, even for their first build, is lubricating the switch components. This can have a dramatic impact on how the switch feels, sounds, and even its weight, depending on the lube used.
Read more: Complete guide to doing switch lube.
You should at least bag-lube your switch springs before using your non-lubed switches to significantly improve your typing experience. If you want to be a bit more advanced, swapping out the stock spring in a switch is an effortless way to alter its response.
There are various springs available in different materials, weights, and in progressive options.
A thin film, known as a switch film, is applied to the base of a switch and positioned between the base and the top housing. This allows for a tighter fit between the two parts, which in turn helps lower any wobble and gives off a better feel and sound.
Read more: How to film switches.
Other Switch Mods
- Frakenswitches: Putting together different switch parts, known as transplanting, is often required to create a switch with desired qualities. The result can be quite unique, like the Holy Panda Frankenswitch, created by combining a Halo Clear or True stem with a YOK Panda housing.
- Custom your own color way: Occasionally, designers and vendors will offer alternative colors for existing switches. YOK Polar Pandas, for example, take the standard gray housing and give it a vibrant blue look. This is done to provide visual variety, as well as to coordinate with a particular keyset. Additionally, the spring weight may vary from the original.
Other Less-Popular Switch Types
Low-profile switches are ideal for creating thinner mechanical keyboards due to their flat shape. Compared to standard switches, these switches offer shorter actuation distances, making them perfect for tight spaces.
Cherry MX Low-profile
Since 2018, Cherry has added MX Low Profile Red linear switches to their selection. Ideal for both typing and gaming, these switches have an actuation distance of 1.2 mm.
For those seeking even faster response times, the MX Low Profile Speed linear switch has an actuation distance of just 1 mm, making them the perfect choice for gaming.
Many Logitech keyboards are outfitted with Logitech’s low-profile GL switches.
These switches feature a height that’s around half that of a traditional switch, and come in three distinct varieties – GL Clicky, GL Tactile and GL Linear – each of which provides its own unique feedback. The actuation point for all three is 1.5mm.
Optical or opto-mechanical switches are a relatively new development with potential to revolutionize keyboards. Unlike traditional mechanical switches that rely on making metal-to-metal contact to actuate, optical switches are triggered using light signals.
This leads to less physical contact and makes them more durable and less prone to degradation due to usage.
Razer is one example of a brand that has started producing optical switches. Their versions have been around since June 2018 when they debuted in Razer Huntsman and Razer Huntsman Elite.
- The Razer Clicky Optical Switch is a tactile and audible feedback technology with a royal purple hue. Its name alone tells you all you need to know about this exciting new switch!
- Razer’s Linear Optical Switch features a shallow actuation point, needing less pressure to activate than a Cherry MX Red. Although this short travel time is beneficial, it does take some time getting accustomed to. So make sure to give yourself a few days to get used to it.
- Razer Analog Optical Switch technology brings users a heightened level of control when gaming. Not only does it detect if a key is pressed, but it measures how far it is pressed; the switch can be configured to trigger different actions at various points of a single key stroke. This is similar to a joystick and provides more accurate movement within a game. The first keyboard to use this technology is the Huntsman V2 Analog, released in February 2021. With the Razer Analog Optical Switch, gamers are able to access a more precise gameplay experience.