Best method to choose switches for first build?

I’m lost in all the choices and don’t know how to decide. I’ve got a first board coming in, supposedly in the next week or two.

It’s a plateless, solder board – hex 4b, that uses oring gasket mount. In retrospect I should have started with hotswap, but too late for that.

I am contemplating which swithces I should get, I don’t type text too much (emails, chats, but no essays or anything like that), I don’t game, but I do a lot of shortcuts in pro audio/video apps 10 hours a day. I’ve got myself a tester, and I love how tactile swithces feel. I have a JWK musetsu in the tester, Tecsee Coral, Durock Koala, and I love them all. I also have a few silent ones, like Boba u4, Gateron silent ink and Bobbagum, and they all feel really mushy to me. U4 is also much less tactile than the other tactile switches.

Someone told me though that newbs always prefer extremes – the most tactile, the most silent one, etc. I am slightly worried that using tactile switches dayly would get exhausting. Up until now I only used keyboards in apple’s macbooks and apple magic keyboard which are all some shape of scissor mechanism over a rubber dome. I quite enjoy the topre-like rumle these keys make, I guess it’s a muted, quiet low-pitch thock?

I also have toddler twins that I do not want to disturb with loud typing too much. So I was thinking to get a quiet switch that is not mushy/silent, but is a linear that has no loud clack.

So far my list of switches to try is as follows:

Mx blacks,
Gateron Black Ink,
Momoka Frogs,
Kailh Midnight Pro,
Turquoise tealios,
Aqua Kings,
Durock POM.

If I had to get switches right now I’d go for Musetsu – lowest pitch of all I’ve tried in my tester.

But I am also not sure what’s the best way to decide between all of them. It’s not realistic to buy 80 of each, lube all and try them out. I can afford to buy a few of each and try how they sound in same positions in my board without soldering them, but again, that woudl be different from normal use.

How do I approach this?


Some recommendations on rumble:

  1. avoid long-pole switches.
  2. linear switches rarely rumble. Gateron Black Ink can in some configurations.
  3. light tactiles like Pewter, MX Brown, and others can rumble in some configurations.
  4. ceramic keycaps and drum-like cases like original GMMK TKL may make it easier to bring out the rumble but loudness will be difficult to control.

Here is a sound test of an MX Brown board with some rumble:


In terms of quietness, you really shouldn’t have too many problems with any regular full travel switch. IIRK, plateless keyboards tend to be on the more quiet side, so as long as you don’t go for an extremely long pole switch (unless that’s what you want) you should be good on sound level.

In terms of silents, I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re going for a full silent build. I’m typing on an open-bottom, integrated plate Minivan on top of a wooden surface with silents and it’s barely making a sound, so I would recommend going for some full travel switches instead of looking for silents.

This is totally personal preference, but I would go for something like MX Blacks, Gat Inks, or Momoka Frogs. MX Blacks sound great in anything, but most people like breaking them in (pressing them many many times to smoothen out any imperfections) and spring swapping them for a lighter spring. Gat Black Inks are a similar story, they are very smooth out of the box but the spring might be a bit too heavy for some. Momoka frogs, however, are quieter than other linears while being silent. I don’t really have any complaints about them from the few spare switches I’ve tried but maybe it’ll be different on a full board, who knows.

Here are a few vids of Gat Blacks Inks and MX Blacks on plateless:


There are a humongous amount of switches out there these days - hard to believe there were less than ten* before 2015. *(if you don’t count the clear-housing versions as different switches, and ignore a slightly longer list of more obscure ones like the Tactile Grey or locking switches.)

While it’s no full substitute for trying in a build, there is some wisdom in the “get a switch tester” meme. A tester can’t tell you everything and often fails to represent more nuanced aspects of typing on a switch - but they can at least give you the gist, and help you avoid buying whole sets of switches you wouldn’t actually like.

I do see some on your list that I think might meet your stated goals;

  • Frogs manage to be less harsh than many linears on the bottom-out without actually using dampeners.

  • Kailh Midnight Pros strike an excellent balance of dampening and crispness; however, their stems can damage caps. Until those are revised, I’d recommend TTC silents instead, as they are very similar in sound and feel and pose much less threat to your caps. I’ll recommend some below.

  • Aqua Kings are deep sounding and also avoid being harsh; but they are also pretty inconsistent. My favorite Aqua King alternative right now is the Gateron North Pole; it has a polycarbonate housing like the AK’s do, but the stem is made from Ink material. Smooth, deep, and pretty mild in terms of loudness.

Durock POMs are great switches - stable and smooth - but I’d also say they’re on the loud side.

The TTC silents I mentioned all use fairly firm dampeners, so while they are less loud than just about any un-dampened switch, they’re also more crisp (that is, less mushy) on the bottom-out than almost any other dampened one. Here are a few:

  • Silent Bluish White: Big-bump tactile; smooth and poppy. I daily these at work and they remain one of my very favorite switches. (Not to be confused with the regular Bluish White, which has an un-silenced top-out.)

  • V2 Silent Brown: Medium-bump tactile. Does suffer from some metallic noise and could use some tuning for the spring, might be a good choice if the above is too “extra”

  • V3 Silent Red: Medium-light linear; great switch but caps do fit a little tight, so maybe not the best pick if you swap caps with any regularity

  • Frozen Silent: Light linear; even more smooth than the Red, but has the opposite issue of caps fitting loosely. You can get around this with just a little non-adhesive PTFE shower-head tape.

Generally, the TTC and Kailh Pro silents are the only ones I’d use for their own sake even if quietness wasn’t important, because I think they sound and feel great regardless - but in the world of silent switches I’d say those are exceptions to the rule of mush. The vast majority of dampened switches sacrifice smoothness and crisp feel for their hushed qualities - and while these aren’t totally excluded from that, I do kind of put them in their own little in-between category.

The last one I’ll recommend considering is an un-dampened frankenswitch that, depending on typing style, can be exceptionally quiet. Basically, any linear with a very fast curve spring - and while those aren’t popular as a style, they are easy to get - Halo True springs are just about the fastest curve springs I know, and are perfect for this application.

Some recordings just to get a general idea of what some of these sound like:

Frogs (high-profile caps in the recording, so a bit more loud and deep than they would be with Cherry or OEM):

North Poles (Aqua King alternative):

Unholy Trues (an example of that fast-curve frankenswitch type I mentioned):

Silent Bluish Whites - in a Portico:

…and in a KBD67 Lite:

Frozen Silents - in a Portico:

…and in a BBOX 60 (hollow plastic tray-mount, really amplifies any switch mounted in it):


Just buy topre and figure the rest out later

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I like to say that you shouldn’t expect finding the best switch for you on the first try, and even if you do(like I did) you won’t know it until you try out some more.

Soo just choose one you find interesting and take it from there, there are very few switches that are considered to be BAD.


Wow, really appreciate all the advice here!

I msut admit that sound test of frogs blew me away. They sound exactly like what I want to get in terms of character (obviously I can’t judge loudness). But I jsut looked where I could buy them in EU and it seems they are all sold out, but the bigger issue is that all vendors appear to have had jsut the 3-pin version in stock. In fact I cannot find these in 5-pin configuration anywhere, so I assume it’s a no-go for my plateless buid.

But I think my takeaway is that Nylon Bottom housing with POM stem and polycarb top with a fast-curve spring should yield the results I am looking for. Silent bluish white (which are also 3 pin only switch) share same materials.

Looking at MX blacks I see they are nylon top/bottom with POM stem as well, but they for sure sound very different, so surely there is something else that must affect the loudness/character of the sound apart from materials.

I will research this a little more.

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