As someone who spends a lot of time typing on a mechanical keyboard, I always look for ways to improve my typing experience. One of the most important factors in that experience is the type of switch used in the keyboard.
Today, we’re going to be talking about two popular options: clicky and linear switches.
We’ll dive into the technical details, but don’t worry–we’ll keep it simple and easy to understand.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of which switch type is right for you.
Let’s get started!
What are Clicky Switches?
Clicky switches are a type of mechanical switch commonly used in keyboards. They’re called “clicky” because they produce an audible clicking sound when the key is pressed.
The sound is created by a piece of metal inside the switch that clicks against another piece when the key is pressed down. This clicking sound has become a trademark for clicky switches and is highly sought after by many users.
So, what makes clicky switches so special?
Well, there are a few reasons why people love them. First, that satisfying clicking sound is just plain fun to hear. It gives you a sense of tactile feedback that lets you know exactly when you’ve pressed the key down.
This could be particularly advantageous for touch typists who depend on muscle memory to type at high speed with precision.
But it’s not just about the sound. Clicky switches also offer a very distinct feel when typing. They have a tactile bump you can feel as you press the key down. Some people describe this feeling as “crunchy” or “snappy.” It’s a satisfying sensation that makes typing more precise and intentional.
There are also different types of clicky switches to consider. The most well-known is the Cherry MX Blue switch, which is the switch that many people think of when they hear “clicky switch.”
However, other options, including Kailh Box White and Gateron Blue switches, are also out there. Each switch type has its unique feel and sound, so it’s worth trying a few different types to see which one you prefer.
Gamers also love the feel of clicky switches, which provide a distinct sensation when pressing down on keys.
What are Linear Switches?
Linear switches are mechanical switches that don’t produce an audible “click” when the key is pressed down. Instead, they offer a smooth, consistent feel from top to bottom. This means there’s no tactile bump or feedback when the key is pressed down, which can be both a blessing and a curse depending on your preferences.
So, what makes linear switches so special?
Well, for starters, they’re very smooth and consistent. No bump or click interrupts your typing or gaming flow, making them feel more natural and intuitive.
Linear switches are also often considered very fast and responsive, as there’s no extra resistance to overcome when pressing down on the keys.
Another advantage of linear switches is that they tend to be very quiet. Without the clicking sound of other switch types, typing on a keyboard with linear switches is much less likely to disturb those around you.
This can be especially important if you work in a shared space or have roommates or family members who might be easily distracted by the sound of typing.
Several types of linear switches are available, each with its unique feel and sound. Cherry MX Red switches are one of the most well-known and widely-used types of linear switches, offering a smooth and consistent typing experience.
Other options include Gateron Yellow and Kailh Box Black switches, which offer similar characteristics but slightly different resistance and actuation force levels.
They’re also a good choice for those who need to type quietly, whether because of shared living spaces or personal preference.
Pros and Cons of Clicky Switches
- The most obvious benefit of clicky switches is the satisfying clicking sound. It’s fun and tactile feedback that lets you know exactly when you’ve pressed the key.
- Clicky switches also offer a tactile bump you can feel as you press the key down. This makes typing feel more precise and intentional, which can be especially helpful for touch typists.
- Because the click provides both audible and tactile feedback, it can help reduce errors. This is because you’ll know immediately if you’ve accidentally hit the wrong key or not pressed hard enough.
- Clicky switches can also be beneficial for gaming. The tactile feedback helps you know exactly when you’ve hit a key, which can be useful for fast-paced games where every millisecond counts.
- The most obvious downside to clicky switches is the noise. While some people love the clicking sound, others find it distracting or annoying. If you’re typing in a shared space or around other people, the sound can be a problem.
- Clicky switches are a bit more expensive than other types of switches. This can be a barrier for some users who are on a budget.
- The tactile bump provided by clicky switches can be less pronounced than other switch types, such as tactile switches. This means that the clicking sound might be the only indication that a key has been pressed down for some users. This can make typing feel less intuitive.
- Clicky switches can require more force to actuate than other switch types. This means they might not be the best option for users with hand or wrist issues or those needing to type for long periods.
Pros and Cons of Linear Switches
- The smooth and consistent feel of linear switches is often touted as their biggest advantage. There’s no tactile bump or feedback to interrupt your typing flow, which can make typing or gaming feel more natural and intuitive.
- Because there’s no extra resistance to overcome when pressing down on the keys, linear switches are often considered very fast and responsive. This can be especially helpful for gamers who need to react quickly to in-game events.
- Linear switches are also typically very quiet. Without the clicking sound of other switch types, typing on a keyboard with linear switches is less likely to disturb those around you.
- Linear switches are less expensive than other switch types, making them a good option for users on a budget.
- The lack of tactile feedback can be a downside for some users. It can be harder to know exactly when a key has been pressed down, which can be especially challenging for touch typists who rely on muscle memory to type. This can result in more typos or missed keystrokes.
- The absence of the audible click can also disappoint users who enjoy that satisfying sound. For some, lacking feedback might make typing less engaging or fun.
- Linear switches can be less forgiving than other switch types. Because there’s no tactile bump or other feedback indicating when a key has been pressed, it’s easier to hit the wrong key or not press hard enough. This can result in more errors or typos.
- Finally, some users might find that the smoothness of linear switches feels less satisfying than the tactile feedback of other switch types. It can be harder to tell exactly when a key has been pressed down, making typing feel less precise.
Clicky vs Linear Switches Comparison Table
|Features||Clicky Switches||Linear Switches|
|Feeling||Tactile and Audible feedback||Smooth and Consistent|
|Sound||Clicking sound when key is pressed||No audible feedback|
|Actuation Point||High actuation point||Low actuation point|
|Typing Experience||Better for typing experience||Better for gaming experience|
|Durability||Less durable than linear switches||More durable than clicky switches|
|Price||Usually less expensive||Usually more expensive|
Clicky vs Linear Switches: Which is Better?
Clicky switches are great for typists who want that satisfying feedback and audible confirmation with every keystroke. However, clicky switches may not be the best choice if you work in a shared office space or prefer a quieter typing experience.
On the other hand, Linear switches provide a smoother and more consistent typing experience, which can be great for gamers or anyone who needs to make fast and accurate keystrokes without distractions.
They also tend to be quieter, making them a better choice for those who need to type in a shared environment.
I’d recommend trying out both switch types before deciding if you’re still unsure. Many keyboard manufacturers offer switch testers or have demo keyboards available for testing.
Clicky and linear switches have pros and cons; the best depends on your preferences and needs. Consider using clicky switches if you’re a typist who enjoys satisfying tactile feedback.
On the other hand, linear switches are ideal for gamers and individuals who require a quieter and smoother typing experience in shared environments.
There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing between clicky and linear switches. It all comes down to what feels most comfortable and efficient for you.
So, take some time to experiment with both switch types and find the one that suits your needs best.