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You probably play games on a computer and heard about mechanical switches for keyboards. Many gamers prefer the use of mechanical keyboards for gaming. Usually, the rule of thumb is to use a red switch for FPS and brown switches for other games. But what’s the difference between these two kinds of switches?

What’s the difference between Red and Brown switches? Should I buy a Red or Brown switch for gaming? What are the criteria for deciding?

These questions and many more will be answered in this article.

Let’s go ahead and start!

What are Mechanical Switches?

A switch is the part of the keyboard that registers your keystrokes. Mechanical switches are different from other kinds of switches (e.g., rubber dome switches) because of their mechanical mechanism.

Even if you’re a casual gamer, you should know that mechanical switches have many advantages over rubber dome switches.

This is why almost all mechanical keyboards are designed for gamers.

How do Mechanical Switches Work?

Each switch has a stem on the bottom that gets pushed down once you type a key. This stem will then connect the stems of two points and complete an electrical circuit (e.g., over Bluetooth release). 

When you press the key, a spring at the top will push (bounce) up the stem and disconnects it from the circuit.

Mechanical switches are more durable. They last longer, have more stable characteristics and come with adjustable weights. 

But you often come around membrane switches with mechanical switches because of their size, backlit, etc.

What are Membrane Switches?

Membrane switches are basic switches that fulfill a simple function. They need a certain pressure to be activated and usually come as part of keypads or other devices. The only games where every key needs to be activated are usually not action-packed.

So if you buy membrane switches for gaming, it’s unlikely to have a good experience, especially when it comes to First-Person Shooters (FPS).

Mechanical Switches vs Membranes Switches

Membrane switches have a bump partway through the keypress. Mechanical switches, on the other hand, have tactile feedback that’s noticeable as you type. In mechanical keyboards, you’ll often come across Blue, Brown, or Red switches.

Blue Switches

Blue switches are quite clicky and loud. They’re generally considered average for typing and FPS games. But, blue switches aren’t ideal for other genres because of their loud clicking sounds.

Brown Switches

Brown switches are linear and require a little force to activate the switch (55 cm). This means that it’s not as clicky as blue switches but still provides tactile feedback. These are good for typing, FPS, but are also suitable for other genres.

Red Switches

Red switches are the lightest in weight (45 cm) and linear. These switches aren’t as clicky as brown switches but provide a small amount of tactile feedback. These are good for FPS games, but also other genres.

So, why would you choose mechanical switches over membrane switches? While membrane switches are great for simple purposes, mechanical switches are way better when it comes to gaming.

Apart from these basic differences, there must be some technical reasons behind this. We will list them down below:

Let’s explore some of the technical reasons to decide if mechanical switches are better for gaming or not.

Push-to-Activate vs Clicky NodesPush-to-activate means that you don’t have to press a key all the way down to activate it. Mechanical switches win here.
Reaction TimeMembrane switches will need a certain pressure to be activated. While they’re ideal for some cases, they won’t fit the bill for games that require fast reflexes. For example, you need to react quickly in first-person shooters.
ErgonomicsMechanical switches come with more ergonomic designs. They fit your fingers better and are way comfortable to use for extended periods of time compared to membrane switches.
WeightThis is one of the most important factors for gamers. Some membrane keyboards come with light weights, but they usually don’t have customization options. Mechanical keyboards come with adjustable weights and you can make the board as light or as heavy as you want.
BacklightingThis is another crucial factor for many gamers. You might not know, but there are many cases of gamers who lose their lives because they couldn’t see the keyboard well enough. Mechanical keyboards also come with backlighting and you can adjust the intensity of lighting according to your needs.
DurabilityMembrane keyboards won’t last a long time, especially if you’re a gamer. They will fail to register keystrokes after a few months and you’ll have to replace your membrane board. Mechanical boards, on the other hand, will last you a long time and support many keypresses without failing.

So, after this comparison table, do you still think membrane keyboards are the best for gaming?

No! Mechanical boards are way better when it comes to gaming. They also come with extra features like backlighting, ergonomics, adjustable weights, and durability.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Mechanical Keyboard?

There are many things to consider when buying a mechanical keyboard for gaming:

  • Backlighting: You probably want a backlight that you can adjust according to your needs and preferences. Make sure the board has that feature and you don’t have to pay extra for it.
  • N Key Rollover: This feature will make sure that every key is registered. It’s especially important for FPS games as you might require more than one key at a time.
  • Anti-Ghosting: You need to make sure that the keyboard has an anti-ghosting feature because it’ll let you press more than one key at a time. Just make sure your keyboard has this anti-ghosting feature, especially if you play MMOs.
  • Switches: The most important thing with mechanical boards. You have to know what kind of switches your board has before you buy it. 

For example, red switches are ideal for gaming because they’ll register every keystroke with the highest accuracy. Brown switches aren’t bad, but they lack the responsiveness of red switches.

Well, that’s it! We just wanted you to know what kind of switches are right for gaming and why mechanical switches are way better for gaming.

Which Switch is Right for You?

Most gamers prefer Cherry MX Red switches, and Cherry MX Brown switches depending on their needs and preferences.

Here we have reviewed both the Red and Brown switches to make it easier for you to choose the right one.

Cherry MX Red Switch

Cherry MX Red switches are ideal for gamers as they require the least pressure to activate and register a keystroke. Since you don’t have to apply a lot of pressure to use a Red switch, your fingers won’t feel as tired after extended periods of gaming.

The best thing about Red switches is that they are linear switches which means they don’t have any tactile bump and the resistance is consistent throughout the keys. This switch type is best suited for gamers as they require fast actuation.

What is the Actuation Force?

It requires around 45g of actuation force to register a keystroke, which is pretty good for a switch to perform during gaming.

What is the Actuation Distance?

The actuation distance of this switch type is only 2mm and they register a keystroke as soon as you press the key.

Is it Durable?

Yes, these switches are very smooth and durable. They last for more than 50 million keystrokes (or more), so you can definitely use them for a long time. Another benefit is that these switches are lightweight which means you can adjust the weight of the board according to your needs.

Is it Loud?

No, these switches are pretty silent so you won’t have to deal with any annoying clicks while typing or playing games.

Check this video to understand the sound difference between Red and Brown Switches:

Which Games are They Good For?

The Red switches are pretty good for FPS games. If you’re a gamer and you play lots of shooters, then Red switches are the best for you. Also, they are pretty ideal for typing.

Cherry MX Brown Switch

Cherry MX Brown switches are pretty good for both typing and gaming. They provide tactile feedback so you know when a keystroke has been registered. This type of switch isn’t as popular as the red or blue switches, but it’s still very good.

The best thing about Brown switches is that they aren’t clicky like the Blue switches which can be annoying in some games.

What Kind of Actuation Force is Required?

It requires around 55g of force to register a keystroke and this force is consistent throughout the keys.

What’s the Actuation Distance Required?

It requires 2mm to register a keystroke and it has a tactile bump so you’ll know when the switch is activated.

Is it Durable?

Yes, it’s pretty durable and you can pretty much type like crazy like a maniac since it’s not that loud. However, these switches are a little heavier as compared to the red ones.

So, Which Games are These Suitable For?

If you’re a gamer who plays Counter-Strike or Overwatch all day, then brown switches are pretty good for you. They’re quite a loader and provide tactile feedback which is crucial in competitive games.

Which Games are They Good For?

Brown switches aren’t the best for gaming but they’re pretty good. They’re not as responsive as red switches, but they still provide decent feedback. They are pretty ideal for typing though. So, it is a must resource for your office work.

Red vs Brown Switches: Which One is Ideal?

As per the comparison, it’s best to go for Cherry MX red switches if you want something really lightweight and linear

They require the least force and they’re pretty good for gaming. If you don’t have any experience with mechanical keyboards then the Red switches are the one for you.

However, along with basic gaming, you would use switches for your office work too. In this case, you’d better go for Cherry MX Brown switches. 

They’re not as popular as reds but still good and they provide tactile feedback. They’re ideal for typing and light gaming.

If I’m a Gamer, Which Switches Should I Go For?

Tests have shown that the best gamers prefer low-force switches because it allows them to type quickly and still have the same effect on other switches.

In this case, we recommend going for the Cherry MX Red Switch which provides low actuation force and a great amount of feedback. They’re really linear mechanisms with a lightweight so, they won’t tire you out while gaming.

Are Red or Brown Switches Better for Gaming?

According to the comparison we made, Red switches are better for gaming because of their lightweight and linear mechanism. The actuation force required is very low, so you can save your time by not having to press the key multiple times.

These bullet points will help you decide:

  • Both Red and Brown switches are pretty different from each other.
  • Red switches are better for gaming since they’re linear and low weight.
  • Brown switches are best for typing since they provide tactile feedback.
  • Red switches are pretty popular due to less actuation force and low price.
  • If you have a tight budget then consider going for Red switches which are less expensive.

Are Brown Switches Louder Than Red?

Yes, Brown switches are a little loud as compared to Red switches since they provide tactile feedback. They make a clicking sound when pressed which can be annoying at times. However, if you compare them to Blue switches then Brown switches are definitely quieter.

Are Red Switches Good for Gaming?

Yes, Bed switches are really good for gaming and they’re pretty popular among gamers. They provide a great amount of feedback and require the least actuation force. Even if you press the key multiple times, the risk of missing action is reduced because of its low actuation force.

Why Do Esports Players Tilt Their Keyboards?

Instead of having to move their hands left-right, tilting the keyboard makes it so that they can move around the entire space with up and down hand movements. This makes it easier for them to press the keyboard.

Conclusion 

There are no doubts about Bed switches being better for gaming performance, but they’re not the only popular choice. Brown switches are a close second and they provide a great amount of tactile feedback.

If you’re a gamer who prefers keeping things simple, then the Red Kailh switches can save you some bucks. They provide decent levels of feedback and the least actuation force required. However, Brown switches are better for typing and gamers who like to hold their keys longer while gaming.

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