For the sake of keeping this guide straightforward and brief, we are only going to cover the most commonly used Cherry MX keyboard switches. Some companies use specific switches that are unique to their own hardware. If shopping for their products, your best bet will be to use the knowledge from this guide to understand what these manufacturers compare their switches to.
There is a lot of hardware out there and this first article only just scratches the surface – covered in keys, that is.
Cherry MX switches are going to be the most common types you’ll encounter when looking for keyboards. Each variation will have its own pros and cons, depending on what you plan to use it for. For example, if you are using your PC exclusively for gaming purposes, you might not be concerned at all with the feel of a switch while typing. However, if your keyboard will do double duty between light typing and gaming, you’re going to want something that reacts well in both scenarios. Choosing according to your personal needs is key
- CHERRY MX RED
- CHERRY MX BLUE
- CHERRY MX BROWN
- CHERRY MX BLACK
- CHERRY MX SPEED
With the exception of the Black and Blue Cherry MX switches, these all feature a fairly light key press. Black and Blue are bit tougher to press and register, which, depending on personal preference, can be either a pro or a con. Heavy handed? Consider a Black or Blue to give a little push back. Want to mash keys effortlessly? Red, Brown, or maybe the Speed variation might be right for you.
Of course, these keys differ in more aspects than their resistance alone. The Red and Speed versions are both a light press, combined with a stroke that has no feedback, or click, to them. The click felt with Red and Speed switches is actually the switch bottoming out against the keyboard base. Basically, when pressing a Red or a Speed key, you are going to have little to no resistance until you hit the face of the board. While this might sound odd, it’s specifically satisfying to bottom out a key with a light press and quick activation. Downside? These can be a bit strange to type on and often result in a lot of multiple key presses when trying to fire off an email.
Looking for a feedback free press but with slightly stronger resistance? Check out the MX Black switch, it has that same bump free stroke, but coupled with about 50% more force required to press them than Red and Speed.
Sliding the fader slightly closer to all-purpose typing and gaming, we have the Cherry MX Brown. These keys are going to feel a touch heavier than the previously mentioned switches, but with a subtle tactile feedback at the midpoint of the press. The Brown variant requires little force, has a nice quiet sound, and a slight feedback that allows for comfortable typing, making it the best all-purpose key of the Cherry line up.
However! We can’t move on just yet. The odd ball of the bunch is the Cherry MX Blue. These switches are kind of a specific type. Loud – with a heavy press, and an audible, almost obnoxious click at the midpoint, these keys are primarily for typing. This, of course, does not mean you cannot use them for gaming, just that you might find the combination of the resistance and feedback a bit much over an extended session. While the resistance is similar to the Black switch, the click is really like no other offering of Cherry MX switch. While the Red, Black and Speed switches only give a slight sound when bumping the base, and the Brown has a subtle typing keyboard style feedback, the Blue is actual click. This is probably the number one turn off for these switches. But hey, if you want to have that feeling of an almost mouse click style feedback, these might be the keys for you.
THERE IS MORE, BUT DON’T WORRY
I know what you’re thinking: There have to be more switches out there! And you would be right. However, you now already know the essentials. Just keep the following principle in mind: The color-coding is key. The color scheme is going to match up between various manufacturers. So next time you see a manufacturer offer their red switch, you can expect its characteristics to be the same as the Cherry MX Red, with only some minor differences. We are talking 5% more force to press the switch, which is almost unrecognizable.
That just about covers the finer details hidden under your keys. Keep an eye on out on Uplay for more info on all things hardware!
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