Which Switches Should I Try?

My experience with mechanical keyboards stretches to MX Blues and Browns.

The blue switches were nice at first but after a couple years I started to hate the noise and the fact that they were very on or off. Granted, it was a cheap keyboard.

With the browns I loved them at first. Then the scratchyness started to annoy me. Now I’ve worn them out so they’re decently smooth. Not great, but okay.

I’ve tried some switch testers in a few stores. Hated the MX Red but was surprised I liked the Blacks. That was a long time ago though.

Funny thing is I cant really tell you what I like about the Browns. But I can tell you what I don’t like.

Actuation point feels a bit scratchy. I hate the wobble. They’re also indistinct and mushy. So, pretty much what all the haters say. However, I don’t really hate them.

To me, typing feel and performance are very important. I want switches that feel awesome and allows me to type fast.

With the Browns I bottom out about half of the time. Sometimes I press too lightly for it to register. I find it a bit difficult to be accurate and fast.

Ironically I probably type the fastest on really crappy keyboards. Like at the office where I have a cheap HP keyboard with terrible feel, but short key travel where can pretty much just bang away. Don’t get me wrong, nothing can make up for that terrible feel. Also, don’t mistake this for saying I like to be heavy handed. I don’t.

Anyhow, now that I’ve decided on a custom build I need to find the right switches.

Perhaps you can help me pick out a few switches to test. Preferably more common ones. Sort of “if you like this you would love these (more uncommon ones”.

I obviously can’t test all the switches out there so I have to narrow it down.

In essence:

I hate wobble. Really hate it.

I don’t know whether tactile or linear are right for me.

I’m likely to prefer somewhat shorter travel.

At least with linears I’m more likely to prefer heavier ones (than MX Red).

For linears, my default recommendation for newcomers is the Gateron Yellow. They’re super affordable, very common, almost always available and are slightly heavier than MX Reds (but lighter than MX Blacks). It’s a great switch price-to-performance wise with the only downside (imo) is the “meh” sound at stock.

For tactiles, since the MX platform sucks at providing reasonable tactiles (again imo), it’s a little harder to find good ones. The TTC Bluish White, the Akko CS Lavender Purple or the Durock T1 nice are price-to-performance switches. All of which are mostly in stock and are more tactile than MX Browns.

I personally wouldn’t spend more money on a tactile switch (or any switch for that matter) unless you really know what you’re looking for.

Hopefully this helps you out :slight_smile:

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Great suggestions, thanks! I have Milky Yellows and T1’s in stock at a local retailer, where they sell them in bulks of 5 switches. Makes it very cheap to test them out. :smile:

In the tactile department, you probably want crisper tactiles.

You can get a little more definite tactility with Ergo Clears [lubed MX Clears with lighter springs]. In your case, 68-72 G Progressive springs will allow you to feel some tactility at the top, while not being too light at bottom.

Or anything from a regular 67 G to something like an MX Black [60 G actuation] spring] will give you a punchier switch. With those, I get a crisp Ergo Clear that doesn’t bottom-out easily.

But what you really want may be a U4 Boba. It’s a silent tactile. Uses a Boba housing that’s much more stable than Cherry MX. Far less wobble. And it’s significantly more tactile than MX Brown. It’s like the T1 switch. You have to wear it in a little, though, because of the dampening. But it wears in nicely. Don’t even have to lube it.

If you are used to rubber domes, heavier switches, and stability, the U4 Boba definitely fits the bill. Try 62 G if you want close to MX Brown weight, or 68 G if you want more spring power, like a heavy linear.

If you want something that actuates early, try Kailh Speed Copper. In fact, a lot of Kailh switches are “speed” switches that really are faster. Pro Purple is like a speed MX Brown / Ergo Clear. And Halo True is a heavier version with a spring that mitigates against bottoming-out. See if you can get a Kailh switch tester.

Durock makes a line of tactiles with usually good housings that reduce wobble. The light and medium tactile housings are particularly good for this. You should definitely try Durock Medium Tactile, maybe around 65 G [e.g. Taro Ball] or go down to 63.5 [Penguin, MODE Signal]. The Medium Tactile at 63.5 G is kind of like an MX Brown without all the ‘noise’ [scratch, sandiness]. It’s a little heavier, but cleaner and crisper [depending on how you lube]. Take it to 65 or 67 G if necessary.

The new U4T Thock Boba switch also fits the bill. It’s about as tactile as a T1. But it is extremely sturdy [little wobble]. Clean-sounding [but LOUD], very smooth, doesn’t really need lube or film. It’s like a larger Brown that actuates earlier and is stable. Might be exactly what you are looking for, except for the noise.

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For linears, there could be an endless list of long-pole, smooth, and tight housings, but it’ll be a bit hard to have every option available. From what I’m guessing, you’re outside the US?

Some that are pretty good are Quartz v2 (v1 is 4.0mm travel), Boba U4T/LT, Koalas (or T1’s, like mentioned), and many others.

Also, if shipping is an issue, the aftermarket has never let me down. I have some stuff that should be 30+ shipping alone that I paid only 5 bucks for. Some people might not like what they bought (and paid shipping for!) and might sell it for a lot cheaper.

If you prefer short travel and hate wobble, you can go check TTC speed silver with shorter travel distance and stronger bouncing. Similar products are such as Gateron Silver Pro. If you feel the spring is too light, you can also change to a heavier one. In my opinion, buying switches is like buying stems and top/bottom housings design in this case.

Adding onto long pole, aeboard raeds are pretty nice (if you can find them). Extremely smooth once lubed . That is a bit of the problem, stock they have a pretty bad case of stick and slip, like some people talk about with nk creams. For stock switches, i like ttc’s range, their golden pink (which is a bit light) or ttc ace (same as gold pink but heavier).

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Thanks for all the good suggestions!

I found a Glorious sample pack at a local store. Figure it’s a good way to test many switches. However, I’m actually feeling a bit confused. These are the included switches:

Glorious Switch Sample Pack (pcgamingrace.com)

My impressions so far (note, this is with testing the switches pushed into the foam material they came with - I don’t yet have keyboard to mount the switches to):

Kailh Speed Silver - I like the shorter travel but it just feels too light and mushy

Kaihl Speed Bronze - Love the tactile feel but hate the sound.

Kaihl Speed Copper - One of my favorites. Again I like the shorter travel. It could perhaps be a little heavier though.

Kaihl Pro Purple - Great feel, I like the weight but somehow this feels like the most tiring of them all. Combining this with the Copper could be great.

Kaihl Box Brown - Feels a bit like a mushier but smoother MX Brown. It’s easy to like but I don’t find anything exciting about it.

Kaihl Box Red - I’m surprised that I don’t hate it. Don’t love it either, it’s more like ‘meh’.

Kaihl Box White - The sound is so offensive I don’t even want to talk about it.

Gateron Red - Just like the Box Red.

Gateron Clear - It’s just soft and mushy.

Gateron Brown - Feel like a worse MX Brown and it’s got a nasty hollow sound.

Gateron Green - Like a heavier MX Blue perhaps? Let’s just forget about it.

Gateron Black - Nice! Kinda surprising considering I’ve never liked linears before, and the reds didn’t impress me. But, this is actually nice. There’s a lot of ping noise from the spring though.

Kaihl Box Black - Even nicer! This might actually be my favorite of them all. I think it would be cool to get these with the travel distance of the speed switches. I also bet this one thocks.

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Based on really liking the Kaihl Box Black, would the Gateron Ink Black Box be a good alternative for a bit of a shorter travel?

It’s great that you found the Gateron Black and the Kailh BOX Black to your liking, but I need to say this: Switch sample packs like the one you bought only give you a vague indication of what the switch actually feels like. A keyboard full of Gateron Black for example will feel different compared to just a single Gateron Black switch.

It’s not a great way of determining if you like the switch in day-to-day use, but you can put that to the test by buying a batch of Gateron Black or Kailh BOX Black switches and installing them on a cheap hot swap keyboard!

Well, you’re in luck. Kailh recently released a BOX speed switch: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003835765663.html

Haven’t tried them yet though, so I can’t tell you what they feel like.

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Absolutely! The more I’ve tested the more confused I’ve got. Seems to me the only way to know for sure is to have a full keyboard and use it for at least a couple of weeks.
For example… I like tactile feedback, but I don’t like the bump - if that even makes any sense. The smoothness of linears is super nice, but how will I like typing on them? I think it’ll work great after some adjustment but I can’t know for sure. Then there’s the question of force, where the keyboard I’ve used for the past years sometimes feels a little too heavy and sometimes too light.

Trying to decide from a few samples without a full keyboard turns out to be very difficult. I have ordered a Keychron Q2 that will hopefully arrive next week, but still… I don’t think testing just a few switches will be enough.

This turned out to be a lot trickier than I thought. That’s why I’ve decided to just go a switch that is well reviewed, that I think I will like and one that’s got a bit of a shorter travel: Gateron Box Ink Pink. I think the fact that it’s on the lighter side and has shorter travel distance will make it easier for me to type faster.

As I understand it from reviews these switches have less wobble than they MX Brown’s. I also ordered switch films and 205g0 lube. Not entirely sure lubing is the right thing to do though. I’ve read that Kaihl Box switches will leak when you lube them. Is it the same thing with Gateron Box switches?

These look great but unfortunately I couldn’t find them in the EU. If (or when) they arrive in the EU I might give them a try, if I don’t like the Gateron’s.

For linear I would go with the Gateron Oil King. It’s smooth and low wobble with a spring comparison to MX Black.

For tactile i would go for a Durock light tactile or pewter switch. It’s just a tad more tactile then MX Brown but much smother. Wobble is better and the springs are close to the ones in MX Brown.

For a light linear the ttc golden pink, or ttc ace. The ttc ace is essentially a ttc golden pink but a little heavier. And they are pretty smooth as well.