Tactile vs linear vs clicky is a topic you’re bound to hear over and over in the world of mechanical keyboard switches. Choosing between these three switch types can be tricky, especially if you don’t know the differences between them.
Basically, while keyboards with linear switches feel smooth, those with clicky switches make loud noises. Our experts will help you understand the differences between these three switches and how to choose the right one for your needs.
- What Is the Difference Between Linear and Tactile Switches?
- What Are Linear Switches Best For?
- What Are Tactile Switches Best For?
- What Are Clicky Switches Best For?
Here is a quick comparison table detailing the differences of these switches:
|Features||Linear Switch||Tactile Switch||Clicky Switch|
|Noise||Quiet; almost silent||Audible; very low noise||Loud|
|Typing Feedback||Silent; great for gamers and silent typists||Offers good feedback||Offers a significant amount of clicky feedback|
|Gaming Experience||Fast and Responsive for gaming. Ideal for fast-paced gamers. However, due to the lack of feedback, the overall gaming experience might be considered average.||Since it offers some feedback, the overall gaming experience is considered moderate||Excellent feedback, which translates to an excellent gaming experience.
However, users may experience pain and stress in their fingers and wrists due to having to apply pressure to press down the keys.
What Is the Difference Between Linear and Tactile Switches?
The main difference between linear and tactile switches is that linear switches provide no feedback when depressed while tactile switches provide bumps that let you know they have been pressed. Also, linear switches aren’t as great for typing as tactile switches since they offer no feedback.
What Are Linear Switches Best For?
A linear switch is best for those who want a mechanical keyboard switch that provides a bumpless and smooth actuation experience when keys on the keyboard are pressed. They are consistent and quiet, ensuring that your gaming experience remains smooth.
Unlike what you get on other mechanical keyboard switches, you’ll feel no bump when pressing a linear keyboard. Instead, it’ll feel like there’s no hindrance between the key and keyboard layer; like a smooth, unhinged drop from the top of the keyboard to the bottom.
Normally, keyboards with linear switches make little to no sound. The only sound produced by linear switches is caused by the strength and force of the spring embedded in the switch moving up and down. This means that while the switch itself is noiseless, you may hear the sound of plastic hitting plastic when you press the key on your keyboard.
You can add some O-rings or foam pads into the switches’ stems to make sure the keys don’t touch the bottom of the keyboard. Adding these components will make your keyboard completely quiet. Although linear switches may come in multiple colors, you’ll often find them in red colors.
– Should You Buy Linear Switches?
Yes, if you love keyboards that provide you with smooth movements when you type. Linear switches are excellent for gamers and e-sports players as they need each stroke of their keys to provide smooth and efficient effects.
These switches provide gamers with seamless movement and more speed during gameplay. Thanks to the consistency and smoothness, you’ll be able to make double-clicks easily since you’ll feel no click leaf or feedback bump that’ll make you unsure of whether or not you’ve made a double-click.
Another set of keyboard users who are bound to like linear keyboards are those who don’t like clicky sounds on keyboards. If your go-to typing style is silent, then you should choose a keyboard with a linear switch.
Programmers who like getting their keystroke feedback on their monitor with the slightest movement should also consider getting keyboards with linear switches. You’ll be able to get more work done while applying the littlest force on your keyboard.
– The Cons of Linear Switches
Beginners who are new to the world of mechanical keyboard switches may find it difficult to get used to linear switches. The reason is that the smoothness offered by these switches may cause your key presses to bottom out consistently. This phenomenon may lead to you feeling discomfort in your fingers or even pain until you get used to how the switches work. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find out how great it is.
Also, people who type a lot may not like linear switches because of the bottoming out phenomenon. However, you can add foam pads and O-rings to modify the switch and fix the bottom out effect and noise. However, adding those modifications will alter the travel time and feel of your keyboard.
– Types of Linear Switches
There are many different types of linear switches you can choose from. These switches are color-coded and they all have their pros and cons.
Below are some of the top options around:
Cherry MX Speed Silver Switches
These linear switches are the ideal keyboard switches for gaming. They offer short actuation feedback while providing fast response speed. With this linear switch type, you’ll have an edge over gamers using other types of switches.
However, while it helps in improving your gaming experience and providing you with a competitive edge, the Cherry MX Speed Silver switch isn’t ideal for typing.
Gateron keyboard switches come in a variety of colors, including black and red. While the black offers heavy resistance, the yellow variant offers little resistance. The Gateron yellow switches are in-between these two with medium resistance. This resistance level makes the yellow a great choice for beginners who are new to linear mechanical keyboards.
The Gateron yellow switch offers a smoothness level that’s on par with what you get on a regular keyboard. It’s satisfying to use and it’s the best option for anyone who wants a linear switch but is on a budget.
Gateron Ink Black Switches
If you type a lot and you love your keyboard feeling smooth when you type, then the Gateron ink black is the perfect choice for you. It features a design that utilizes a different type of plastic dedicated to making your typing experience better. While it’s a great choice for typing, gamers may not find it to their liking.
What Are Tactile Switches Best For?
Tactile switches are best for those who want mechanical keyboard switches that provide a little resistance or bump when you press the keys on your keyboard. Yes, you can actually feel the bump when you press the keys on a tactile keyboard. Many people consider this resistance to be a turnoff. While the switches may be bumpy, they still provide an excellent experience that many keyboard users love.
The reason for the noticeable resistance is to prevent users from bottoming out while notifying them that their keypress has been registered. The level of bump or resistance you get depends on the type of tactile switch. You’re likely going to notice an audible click when you press on a tactile keyboard, and while the noise isn’t really loud and annoying, it’s still audible. The level of sound you get allows you to use tactile keyboards in public places without disturbing those around you.
Some people love the sounds that come from each stroke on a tactile keyboard. If you are a person who loves getting some feedback from your keyboard without wanting a loud noise, then keyboards with tactile switches are your best bet.
However, it’s important to note that you can’t distinguish a tactile switch from others without pressing the keys to feel the bump. It’s difficult to distinguish them from other switches just by looking at them.
– Should You Buy Tactile Switches?
Yes, if you are new to the world of mechanical keyboards. Although keyboards with tactile switches offer a different feeling than typical membrane keyboards, the resistance they provide makes you know you’ve pressed a key and you can move on to the next. If you’re a fast typer, you’re going to love using a tactile keyboard. Each feedback will let you know that a key has been logged and you don’t have to double-check.
Casual gamers will also find tactile switches to their liking. Since the click sounds it makes are not loud, it won’t annoy you. Also, if you communicate while gaming, your squad at the other end of the microphone won’t find it annoying since the sound is subtle.
– The Cons of Tactile Switches
The resistance or bump may leave you confused sometimes, especially if you get no resistance after another keystroke. It can be disadvantageous during competitive gaming as you may begin to second-guess your keystrokes.
– Types of Tactile Switches
Just like linear switches, tactile switches are available in many different options, and choosing the ideal one can be a tad confusing.
Here is a list of the best options available so you can make a great buying choice:
Cherry MX Brown or Clear Switches
The Cherry MX brown and clear switches are two of the most popular switches available. They produce a unique but small resistance. You can distinguish between both by feeling the spring force. The Cherry MX brown switch has a heavier spring force compared to the clear version.
You’ll hear a small thudding sound when you press a key with these switches. The Cherry MX brown and clear switches are quite reliable and durable too. If you are indifferent about the thudding sound, then these keyboard switches are a great option to work with.
Glorious Panda Switches
If you’re looking for snappy tactile switches, the Glorious Panda switches are some of the best you can buy. Not only are they inexpensive, but they also offer a distinct typing feel.
Unlike other tactile switches, the Glorious Panda switches offer a unique snappiness that makes them bump up faster, providing them with a distinct sound. They are ideal for users who love keyboards with strong tactile bumps.
Kailh Speed Copper Switches
Gamers who want to use tactile keyboards should consider getting those with Kailh speed copper switches. These switches are faster and lighter and the resistance they offer isn’t as strong as the bump you’d get from the two mentioned above. While the tactile feedback is still there, the shorter travel time makes them an ideal option for competitive gaming.
What Are Clicky Switches Best For?
Clicky switches are best for those who enjoy a clicking sound every time they press their keyboard. It’s a type of mechanical keyboard switch that produces an audible, loud noise as well as tactile feedback every time you press a key. It’s probably the most popular switch type for typing as both the noise and tactile feedback let you know you’ve made a keypress.
Out of the three main switches, clicky switches are the loudest. They are perfect for users who love loud mechanical keyboards. Typists are the main audience they are made for since they’re the group who tend to find clicky keyboards satisfying.
Clicky keyboards don’t have high travel times. The low level of travel helps ensure that you don’t make accidental key presses. However, this factor also means that you’ll have to apply a bit of pressure to get your keystrokes registered. If you’re not used to clicky keyboards, you may experience discomfort or pain in your fingers after some time.
– Should You Buy Clicky Switches?
Yes, if you have your workspace to yourself and find the clicky sound fun and satisfying. However, if your workspace is a public one or you often play games with other gamers, then getting a keyboard with clicky switches isn’t ideal.
These keyboards are so loud that people around you or at the other end of your microphone might find it annoying. The sound they make can also distract others and even you when you need total concentration on your games.
– Types of Click Switches
While there are various types of switches for clicky keyboards, our top two switches are:
Cherry MX Blue Switches
These are quality switches that feature a jacket-like design. The Cherry MX Blue switches are durable and reliable as they have a longevity rate of 100 million strokes. Thanks to their jacket-like design, they only make click sounds when you press them downward.
Kailh Box White Switches
If you’re looking for a clicky keyboard switch that’s ideal for all situations, then the Kailh box white switch is the ideal choice for you. They produce loud, audible clicks when you press them down and when they’re coming back up. The clicking sound is clear and the switches themselves are excellent for typing and general use.
Mechanical keyboards offer a lot of benefits over typical membrane keyboards. However, everything comes down to your personal preferences. So when choosing a mechanical keyboard, you should consider how much you like or dislike keyboard noises, bumps and feedback.
The rule of the thumb is that clicky switches are excellent for typing while tactile or linear switches are great for gaming, depending on the type of games you play.