What's your linear switch ranking?

I though it would be interesting to gather info about linear switches from people’s experience, as linaer switch are easy to compare.

My ranking splits into 3 categories, smoothness, off-center press and stem wobble, Stock, as lube makes the smoothness very similar.
Keep in mind that my ranking is based on samples I gathered, and switches can vary in consistency.

Smoothnes (with regard to feel only, no sound):

  1. Aqua Kings
  2. Durock POMs
  3. Boba Gums
  4. Ink Black
  5. Everglide Tourmaline
  6. SP Star Polaris
  7. Durock Linear
  8. Gateron Yellow (KS9)
  9. Akko Matcha Green
  10. Kailh BOX black
  11. Kailh Cream
  12. Cherry MX Black

1-4 - very smooth, 5-7 - fairly smooth, 8-10 - okay, 11-12 - not good (gritty).

Off center press (not necessarily regarding smoothness but mainly resistance and binding):

  1. Inks Black
  2. Boba Gums
  3. NK Creams
  4. Durock POM
  5. Akko Matcha green
  6. Gateron Yellow
  7. Durock Linear
  8. Everglide Tourmaline
  9. SP Star Polaris
  10. Aqua Kings (slight binding when pressing towards the north, other directions no binding).
  11. Cherry MX Black (moderate resistance).
  12. Kailh BOX black (heavy resistance).

1-5 - smooth action on all directions, 6-9 slight resistance, 10-12 binding or moderate to heavy resistance.

Stem Wobble:

  1. Aqua Kings (phenomenal - but sample could be from the first slugghish batches)
  2. BOX Black
  3. Durock linear
  4. Durock POM
  5. Matcha Green
  6. Boba Gums
  7. Black Ink
  8. Everglide Tourmaline
  9. SP Star Polaris
  10. NK Cream (those and down the list are pretty wobbly).
  11. Gateron Yellow
  12. Cherry MX Black

1-2 - superb, 3-6 very good, 7-9 decent, 10-12 - pretty wobbly.


I have some more swiches but it too much to compare, so the lists are comoposed out of popular or ones that stood out to me.

Some notes on others:

  1. KS3/KS9 Gat Yellows - the KS8 is the smoothest, the KS9 has a binding towards the north and overall resistance, KS3 is decent with nice stem wobble but less smooth.
  2. Everglide Amber/Coral/Sakura - Tourmaline is similar but slightly better.
  3. SP Star White, Luminous, Starry night - pretty similar to the Polaris.
  4. My Kailh BOX Pink sample has a massive binding towards the north side.
  5. Kailh BOX Cream is not really good, smoothness is a bit better than the NK Creams but it still has that gritty feel and off center has some moderate resistance.
  6. The silent versions of some switches (Durock Dolphins, Silent Black Inks, silent red/black, Silent KS9) are less smooth for some reason.
  7. Seems like the Durock linears I have (L5/L7/EVA) are pretty much the same.

Edit: 8. Something interesting about the NK Creams, while their smoothness doesn’t feel smooth in the traditional way as in striving to not feel the gliding at all, pressing the NK Creams you feel a bit of texture, roughness of some kind, but the action goes smoothly no matter if it’s on or off center, no binding or any resistance whatsoever compared to smoother linear that do have some.
So while the action feel rough, it goes down smoothly, kind of hard to describe but certainly interesting.

8 Likes

I was thinking about this just earlier today!

Why not - I’ll rank some using similar criteria, only including stock switches in consideration.

I’m also going to factor-in consistency (as I have experienced it); not so much as a ranked aspect for each switch, but if a given switch has outstandingly good or outstandingly poor consistency, that will affect my ranking. I also factor-in feel-noise from the spring, like over-compressed long springs that Slinky-chatter against themselves, or poorly wound ends whose crunch can be felt during travel.

I’ll also be dividing “wobble” into two categories; Resting Wobble, and Travel Stability. To some degree, Travel Stability will also factor-in how clean the travel feels, but mostly how stable it feels. (Is the cap traveling on a reliably level platform? Is it balancing on its tippy-toes?)

Bonus categories! ASMR Factor and Awards for lols

I’ll start with a few, and may add more later - I have 9 linears in a tester, all of which I have used in full boards, that I will directly compare. Why did I choose like 9 of my smoothest linears - I made some of these really difficult…


On-center Smoothness: (all of these have above average on-center smoothness)

  1. NK_ Silk Yellow (this surprised me >.>)
  2. Durock Cobalt (pre-lubed Durock POM recolor)
  3. Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT
  4. TTC ACE
  5. Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2
  6. Gateron Hippo (the Gats were close!)
  7. Tecsee Diamond
  8. Everglide Aqua King V3 R1 (from cherry-picked batch)
  9. Momoka Frog

Off-center Compliance:

  1. Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT (less that they’re stable, more they just don’t care)
  2. Durock Cobalt (quite stable)
  3. NK_ Silk Yellow
  4. TTC ACE (also stable)
  5. Gateron Hippo
  6. Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2 (mild friction)
    – above this line, no complaints; below not so great –
  7. Tecsee Diamond (mild proportional slip-stick)
  8. Momoka Frog (proportional low-grain friction)
  9. Everglide Aqua King V3 R1 (exponential friction; generally super low on-center, low slightly off-center, but bind-y more than that - generally inconsistent)

Resting Wobble (smaller # is better, less wobble):

  1. Everglide Aqua King V3 R1 (tight like hotpants; maybe they fit maybe they don’t)
  2. Tecsee Diamond (kinda tacky?)
  3. Durock Cobalt (again, stable)
  4. TTC ACE (again, also stable)
  5. Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2 (above average)
  6. NK_ Silk Yellow (average) —
  7. Momoka Frog (great N/S, meh E/W)
  8. Gateron Hippo (based on KS-3; an average Gateron)
  9. Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT (“tightest of them all” troll level: Frank Zappa)

Travel Stability:

  1. Everglide Aqua King V3 R1 (straight like a military dad’s haircut)
  2. TTC ACE
  3. Durock Cobalt (on rails)
  4. Gateron Cap Golden Yellow
  5. Tecsee Diamond
  6. Momoka Frog (above average)
  7. Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT (the spring w/ factory donut-dip saves it)
  8. NK_ Silk Yellow (average) —
  9. Gateron Hippo (it’s fine)

ASMR / Tactile Therapy Factor:

  1. Everglide Aqua King V3 R1 luscious thoxx :lips::droplet:
  2. Tecsee Diamond for refined tastes. be gentle, and open to a little weirdness. :gem:
  3. TTC ACE it’s just good m8 :spades: :green_heart:
  4. Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2 pre-buttered budget bois :butter:
  5. Durock Cobalt deep thoxx, xtra-slick :mechanical_arm: :ice_skate:
  6. Momoka Frog gentle thox :frog: :cloud:
  7. Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT smooth clacky clacks :umbrella:
  8. Gateron Hippo feelsgoodman:hippopotamus:
  9. NK_ Silk Yellow indeed, pretty silky, possibly harsh :tooth:

Awards:

  • Best In Show: TTC ACE
  • 2hipster4me: Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LT
  • Budget Bae: Gateron Cap Golden Yellow V2
  • Most Overhyped Since Creams: Everglide Aqua King V3 R1
  • Fair-to-middlin’: Momoka Frog
  • Acquired Taste: Tecsee Diamond
  • I’m not like the other um-wipes (but I might be like everyone else): Gateron Hippo
  • Yes, But Actually No: NK_ Silk Yellows
  • Giver of Thocks: Durock Cobalts

Notes on each in no particular order:

  • Durock Cobalts: These slide more smoothly than Silks (or the rest), but the chattery spring keeps it from first place there.

  • Gateron Cap Yellow V2s: Resting height is higher than the rest. Might be the most butter-for-buck switch I can think of right now. Among those switches one buys to use right from the bag; no fuss.

  • Gazzew × Nixdork Boba LTs: Resting height is lower than the rest. Not as stable or wobble-free as other Gazzew switches, despite the sales blurb. They are more smooth than typical Gazzew linears, though. Factory donut-dipped. One-and-done limited run.

  • Tecsee Diamonds: Have a slip-stick nature to the start of travel, and the soft stem absorbs some impact harshness. If you can get down with the stickness, I think these sound and feel fantastic - aside from that spring, which needs some love.

  • Everglide Aqua King V3 R1s: Even my cherry-picked batch is very inconsistent. Some are very smooth. Some are a little bind-y. All are at least a little sluggish - this was a deal-breaker for me. R2s are better, but honestly not by much. IMO, the single best thing about these is how great they sound - and they do sound great. As long as you pick-out the scratchy and bindy ones, they sound super clean and pleasantly deep. Next would be their uncanny stability - but I don’t find it worth the cost of sluggishness.

  • NK_ Silk Yellows: Quite smooth, reasonably stable, but high pitched. If you like the sound of rain-sticks, you might like timbre of these switches.

  • Momoka Frogs: Somewhat unusual as linears go; not silenced or dampened but bottom-out is a lot more mellow than average; probably a mixture of material and shaping. The travel is low grain but none the less defined by material friction.

  • Gateron Hippos: Probably the most normal-feeling umwipe switch, the stem is some kind of blend. It’s more consistent than the average umwipe, but not as slick. They do feel nice, but could use tuning. Pretty similar to a classic Yellow.

  • TTC ACEs: IMHO, these are the stock switch kings - no shenanigans. I don’t know that I’d call them the best in any individual aspect, but more than any other switch I know, these meet or exceed the bar for all of them straight from the bag. Plenty of switches have tried this, and plenty have done reasonably well. So far (and perhaps not for long), I think this is the only one that totally nails it with no caveats. This is the LS engine of switches.

11 Likes

So first of all great reply, really enjoyed it.

I’m considering getting a “high end” linear pack, I’ve lubed samples with Tribosys 3204 and noticed that Durock ones have some sort of resistance in the sliding action.
I thought it was just bad factory lube as I have a regular factory lubed linear that I’ve lubed with 3204, so I’ve lubed my EV-01 sample (factory unlubed Durock linear) and while it was better, it still has this subtle resistance.

Obviously every switch is going to exhibit this, the Gat Inks are noticeably better when going off center than the Durock ones, and the Durock ones are obviously better than most switches, but it’s not as I’ve expected them to be from reviews.
I was on the fence of getting a pack of EV-01’s but now I’m reconsidering, I would have gotten the Ink Blacks but I’m not a fan of it’s sound profile, while the Durock linear sound is amazing.

Could Durock have introduced new molds? I’ve recently got new T1, sunflower and Medium samples and they feel slugghish, have the same kind of subtle resistance the linears have (but a lot worse though), compared to samples I got couple months ago.

Did you happen to experience something similar?

Here’s photos of 2 samples, the clear (right) is the newer, the matte (left) is the sample from last year.


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I can tell you this definitely happened at some point - after the first run of EV-01s but before the second, if that helps. I don’t think they’re so much an intended revision as “these tools wore out and we need new ones” and they ended up being slightly different, with most people generally preferring the later revisions.

I have JWKs that feel nice and smooth, and some others not so much. If you happen to have some Black Inks and plenty of spare time, swapping the JWK linear stems into them works out nicely - or for tactiles like the T1, swapping in the stem and leaf. With the T1, it feels like the same switch, except more clean and smooth.

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My EV-01 sample is from Durock’s store, which was couple months after the R2 EV-01 GB, but the original T1 samples were exactly a year ago, a bit after the first GB.

Another weird thing I’ve noticed with the Durock Linears is that swapping a spring into them (in this case Gat Yellow spring) doesn’t result in the same weight feel, and pushing the Ink against the Durock linear, shows the Durock linear is noticeabley heavier for some reason, odd.

I’m actually considering Black Inks or the EV-01, while I love the sound of the Durock linears and not being a fan of the muted Ink Blacks, all of this is making me lean towards the Inks.

Guess I’ll get the Durock linears sometime in the future maybe, who knows maybe they’ll have better molds by then.

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About the spring yielding different weight curves in different switches; both housings and stems may have different interaction points with the spring relative to the key, and to each-other.

That is, some have a higher “shelf” in the housing or a more shallow “cup” under the stem, which can lead to the spring being more or less compressed.

Not a ranking, but aeboard raeds are slept on. Rlly smooth when lubed, very nice marbly, clacky sound. favourite switch i’ve tried (yet to get some black inks though)

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