Mechanical keyboard

Updated: 05/03/2022 by Computer Hope
Mechanical switches

A mechanical keyboard is a computer peripheral used to input text and other commands. The reason it's referred to as "mechanical" is that it utilizes a specific type of key switch. Mechanical keyboards are popular among typists and gamers as they can improve accuracy and may offer a more tactile feel when the keys are depressed.

However, depending on the switch design, these keyboards can generate substantial noise while in use, and tend to have a thicker profile than membrane-based keyboards.

What do switches for mechanical keyboards sound like?

Usually, when someone thinks of a mechanical keyboard, loud clicking noises come to mind. However, while some of the key switches on these keyboards are very audible, the volume of others is much more subdued. The following sections goes over the three main types of keyboard switches and their respective volumes.

Note

The term "actuation point" refers to how far a key must be depressed before a signal is sent to the computer.

Clicky switches

Blue "clicky" switches are what users generally envision as a traditional mechanical keyboard. When you press down, you'll feel a very pronounced "bump" at the actuation point and hear a loud clicking noise. Clicky switches are generally the preferred choice for typists as they offer the most feedback. Examples of clicky switches are the Cherry MX Blue, Outemu Blue, and Kailh Blue.

Tactile switches

Brown "tactile" switches produce noticeable physical feedback and sound when you hit the actuation point, but not as much as their blue "clicky" counterparts. Tactile switches can be thought of as a mix between the other two switch types as they offer the often-desired "bump," but not as much noise. Consequently, tactile switches are often used by gamers who communicate with teammates using voice technology or typists in an office environment. Examples of tactile switches are the Cherry MX Brown, Topre 45g, and Kailh Brown.

Linear switches

Linear switches are the quietest type of mechanical switch because they have no actuation feedback. However, most still produce a thumping noise when a key is fully depressed. Linear switches are the choice of gamers who need to quickly repeat keystrokes. Examples of Linear switches are the Cherry MX Silent Red, Outemu Red, and Kailh Black.

What is the best keyboard switch?

The best keyboard for you depends entirely on its application and, more importantly, your feedback preferences. In addition to reading keyboard reviews, we suggest getting a Cherry MX Switch Tester as it lets you try out each of the different key switch options before making a purchase.

Tip

Our favorites is the brown and blue cherry switches.

Input, Keyboard terms