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Mechanical Keyboard buying Guide

If you are looking for a keyboard, you have an enormous number of choices. One of the first decisions you should take is whether you are going for a mechanical keyboard or not. If so, read on!

Most keyboards that are sold use a simple technique for detecting an impact: the key is on a resilient piece of rubber, which allows it to be pressed and recycled. Below this “rubber dome” is a membrane that records the stop. The disadvantage of this operation is that the key must be fully pressed to register a stop. An advantage is that this type of switch is cheap to make, which also ensures a good price for the final keyboard.

Mechanical Keyboard

Topre Mechanical Keyboard
Topre Mechanical Keyboard

A mechanical keyboard is a very different beast. In a mechanical keyboard each key has a separate function switch and is therefore not part of a ‘mat’, which is the case with dome keys. A typical part of a mechanical switch is the metal spring that is in it. Another striking feature is that you can easily remove and replace keys from a mechanical keyboard, the so-called ‘key caps’.

A big difference between mechanical switches and dome and scissor switches is that you have to push the latter all the way down to the bottom to record an attack. That is not the case with mechanical switches. The so-called actuation point thereof is higher. In theory, that gives us all the benefits for the gamers among us. If you do not have to press a key all the way, you can move on to the next. Also as a gamer, you can benefit from it on paper, as it also means your actions will be faster.

Cherry MX

There are several types of switches which are referred to mechanically. The best known mechanical switch manufacturer is undoubtedly the German Cherry. The majority of keyboards have switches from this manufacturer. However, the patent that Cherry had on the switches has expired, so there are now also manufacturers who have been on the market with ‘copies’.

However, there are noticeable differences between Cherry switches and similar ones.

Tactile, linear, clicky switches

Three terms often encountered by mechanical keyboards are tactile, linear and clicky. These terms hit certain characteristics of the switches. We explain this by using the color coding of Cherry switches.

Cherry MX Black, blue, brown, red and transparent

Red switches
Red switches

Black, blue, brown, red and clear, or transparent are the best known and most common color coding in the assortment. The blue is
the only one that is clicky, which means that you hear a clear click the moment you press it. The much less common green variant is a stiffer variant of this switch. Clicky switches make quite a lot of noise.
The blue switch is also tactile, which means that you really need to go over a bump if you press it. The brown and the clear variant have a similar hub, with the brown at this point almost equal to a blue (without the click) and the clear which provides more resistance.

A brown switch is actually a blue, but without the noise.A linear switch is one that does not have to be a hub and that does not make any noise. The pressure you need to exert to press a key runs linearly without interruptions, as is the case with the other types of switches. Red and black are the colors associated with linear switches, the black clearly showing more resistance than the red ones.

Key Switch

With red and black switches, the impression gradually becomes heavier without interruption.
The Greetech switches found in Bloody are referred to as Greetech GT02A1ADW. They look like the most on the black Cherry MX switches. There is about the same amount of force required to push them and they are linear. The Kailh switches in the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate, called Razer Green switches by Razer itself, hold the middle between blue and brown Cherry MX switches. However, according to Razer, they have a smaller operating distance. This means that you take the test a little faster. These switches turn on when you press 1.9 mm, compared to the 2 mm of linear Cherry switches and 2.2 mm of clicky variants.

Conclusion

Which of these types of switches is best for you is very personal. Mechanical keyboards are no less noisy than the average keyboard with dome switches. The blue switches is on top, but the other are clearly louder. We recommend that you always try a keyboard (a certain type of switch) before you proceed to purchase. Not only because of the sound production, but especially for the strokes.

One thing is for sure, gaming cannot be done without a mechanical keyboard these days.