Every key on your keyboard is a switch—you press a key, which activates an electrical impulse that is interpreted by the keyboard as a specific signal. In games, fractions of seconds often matter during professional death matches, so professional gamers want to use keyboards of the best possible quality.
The feel of pressing keys is also influenced by the best switches on the keyboards, which can be the difference between a slow response and smooth, decisive game handling. In this guide, you'll learn about the best gaming switches, what is the meaning of the colors, switches’ varieties, and how to choose a keyboard for yourself.
How switches work
The mechanisms that activate keystrokes and deliver data to the computer's CPU are known as keyboard switches. Keyboards are divided into two types: mechanical and membrane.
Mechanical switches are physical devices that are located under each key. These devices use a spring, a pin, and a contact. When you press a key, you press the spring, and the contact touches the circuit board, triggering a keystroke. The spring must jump back to its initial state. In mechanical keyboards, it's the response time that matters.
Membrane switches use the line of circuits running at the bottom of the keyboard. Here, instead of springs, the key presses a rubber dome so as to activate the switch, which springs back on its own. Membrane keyboards are very inexpensive to manufacture, but are sufficient for most everyday solutions—including casual gaming.
However, for gaming and typing, mechanical switches are considered superior. They respond faster in all your favorite games and reliably activate every keystroke. This is very important when, for example, you can press a key X times during a second—especially in high-profile games. The harder the switch, the faster it bounces back—but on the other hand, you then need more pressure to activate it.
What are the types of keyboard switch systems?
Mechanical switches are divided into three types: linear, tactile and clicking switches.
Linear switches can be pressed gently, with no tactile sensation or audible noise. They require little force to use and have a short and steep stroke, making them quick and easy to use.
Tactile switches are somewhere in the middle, require moderate effort to activate and produce a (relatively soft) bump.
The clicky switches provide a classic typewriter feel. They are really tactile to the touch, with a noticeable jump. There is also a loud, audible click when triggered. This is very good for writers and lyricists, but gamers also like this effect and can type rapidly.
The first step in choosing a switch is to determine whether it is linear, tactile, or clickable. Most gamers prefer the linear ones because they work smoothly, quickly and quietly. Meanwhile, tactile switches are ideal for multitasking, and clicky switches are ideal for typists.
Cherry MX and other companies
Deciding on a gaming keyboard at first often meant choosing between Cherry MX and a cheap membrane keyboard. Today, however, the market is now flooded with a plethora of switches with different features. We, however, will focus on Cherry MX, which is very popular to this day. To indicate its features, each type of switch on offer is marked with a different color. Many of Cherry’s rivals use a similar color palette.
Cherry Red switches are for gamers who want fast movement with little resistance. In the center, there is no physical bump to contend with. However, due to the lack of tactile feedback, Cherry MX Red may not be ideal for people who type a lot.
Cherry Black switches, on the other hand, are ideal for fast gameplay due to their powerful nature and heavy feel. Razer Yellow switches fall into the same category—they are springy and quite hard.
Cherry Blue switches are heavy and noisy, making them ideal for professional typists and writers. The same can be said about Razer Green. They're also a good option for players of titles like Minecraft, where you need to be sure to having pressed a key.
Brown switches are somewhere between red and blue. This is a multifunction switch because of its tactile bump, quiet travel and average actuation force.
What is the best switch for gaming?
There is no such thing as the best gaming switch. Although mechanical keyboards are usually considered more durable and perform better, the choice of options is entirely up to you. There are gamers who believe that red switches are the most versatile—and if you haven't played professionally, this is the best choice for you. But choosing a keyboard takes practice and experience.