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Which Mechanical Switch Should You Use?

When buying a new mechanical keyboard, you may be wondering which switch color is best for you. Here is a simple explanation of the differences, along with some examples so you can hear the difference.


Types of mechanical switches

Mechanical switches on keyboards like the Apex 7 and Apex 7 TKL fall into one of three categories:

  • Linear (red)
  • Tactile (brown)
  • Clicky (blue)

You'll notice that the red mechanical switches are smooth and have minimal resistance throughout the entire keypress, whereas brown and blue have a tactile "bump" on the way down that lets you know the key has been pressed enough. Blue switches also add a distinct "click" noise that you could compare to an old fashioned typewriter.

Here's a more detailed explanation of each with pros and cons:


Red mechanical switches

Hear red mechnical switches in action:

Feel:
Smooth, no bump

Sound Profile:
Quiet

Pros:
Linear switches are a favorite of super fast-paced gamers due to their lack of bump or click. This allows for quick, twitchy reactions with minimal resistance.

Cons:
The same lack of feedback and resistance can mean accidental keypresses if you're not super accurate.


Brown mechanical switches

Hear brown mechnical switches in action:

Feel:
Tactile bump

Sound Profile:
Quiet

Pros:
Increased accuracy and keypress confidence due to feel the "bump" of a key actuating when pressed.

Cons:
Slightly reduced speed due to the resistance of the bump.


Blue mechanical switches

Hear blue mechanical switches in action:

Feel:
Tactile bump

Sound Profile:
Loud Click

Pros:
Clicky actuation with a bump and distinctive click sound when a keypress registers. Great for typing and confident accuracy. Some folks really enjoy the clicky noise.

Cons:
Slightly slower reaction time due to more resistance. May be too noisy for some people.


A chart showing red, blue, and brown switches, each with a 2.0mm actuation point and 50 million keypress durability

The best switch ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you like the classic, clicky sound and feel, you'll love blue mechanical switches. If speed is a consideration, stick to linear (red) switches, and for a mix of both, go with brown.

You can also join the official SteelSeries Discord to find other mechanical keyboard fans to chat with!


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Editor's note: Play all 3 of the typing example videos above at the same time to hear what the SteelSeries office sounds like.