Best Mechanical Switches for Gaming in 2022

Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On December 30th, 2021

Mechanical keyboards are the best for gaming (know which are the most expensive gaming PCs) because they provide a fast response and have a lot of customization options. Whether it’s that clickety clack given out by the Cherry MX Blue when you are dashing and shooting like a maniac in Doom Eternal or that same tactile bump without the noise when you are just “ridin” around on a horse in Red Dead Redemption 2. There are a lot of options when it comes to mechanical switches and they all have their own unique quirks.

Finding the best mechanical switches for gaming that’s perfect for you, will require some testing. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of playing video games with each kind of switch for a considerable amount of time, you could always get a mechanical keyboard tester that’s got an assortment of various switches for you to try.

If you are still unsure as to what kind of mechanical switch would be the best for your gaming experience, this list will help you get a better understanding of the different kinds of mechanical switches out there. There are switches that are perfect for gaming and even ones that can hinder your experience. So in the following sections I’ll list out six different sets including the one which I believe is the best for gamers.

Quick Mechanical Switches Recommendations for Gaming

Award Model Price
Budget Alternative Mechanical Switches For Gaming Gateron Red Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Red Mechanical Switch Alternative For Gaming Gateron Yellow Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Most Balanced in Performance Mechanical Switches For Gaming Kalih Black Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best Clicky Noise Mechanical Switches For Gaming Kalih Blue Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Most Balanced Alternative Mechanical Switches For Gaming Cherry MX Brown Check Price Read Customer Reviews
Best Mechanical Switches For Gaming Cherry MX Speed SIlver Check Price Read Customer Reviews

Breakdown of the mechanical keyboard switch

Surabaya,Indonesia - 12 august : this is what inside of old mechanical keyboard, this is my friend mechanical keyboard. this board already broken and i'm trying to fix it but have not ime to fix it

Before we get down to brass tacks, or in our case, the plastic keycaps, I’ll provide a brief overview of mechanical switches and how they differ from the usual membrane keyboards that you see in most offices and casual PC setups.

Parts of a mechanical keyboard switch

Keycap: This is the plastic cap that goes on top of the mechanical switch, it’s the first thing you see when you whip out your mechanical keyboard. It’s the part with all the lettering and provides your fingers with enough surface area to get those keystrokes in. You can easily customize your keyboard with different keycaps that come in a variety of colors, lettering and finish.

Stem: This is the plastic part you see when you remove the keycaps. This part is what holds the keycaps in place. When a keycap is pressed, the stem helps transfer this force to the slider.

Slider: The slider is another part that is below the stem. This is the part that breaks the connection between two metal contacts (called the metal contact leaves) whenever a key is pressed. When the key is released, after it is pressed, a spring that’s wrapped around the slider helps push it back into the top, making sure that it won’t stay down in the “pressed” position.

Metal Contact Leaves: These are two metal contacts that, when their connection is interrupted, sends the corresponding signal of that key. (If you are familiar with a normally closed switch, this is the exact same situation) This is how a keystroke gets registered and the signal of that specific key gets sent into the PC.

Properties of a mechanical switch

Gamer mechanical keyboard green switches on sunrise background.

I mentioned previously that each type of mechanical switch has its own unique features. All of these different quirks can be boiled down into three fundamental features.

Linear: This property defines how consistent and smooth a keystroke is going to be. Most switches that prioritize this property do not emit a lot of noise and they don’t require a lot of force to push it down. The Cherry MX Red is the perfect example of a silent linear switch.

Tactile: In switches that utilize more tactile properties, you would usually feel a slight “bump” or feedback halfway through the downstroke, especially when closer to the actuation point. (actuation point is where the metal contact leaves get disconnected wherein a keystroke gets registered) The Cherry MX Brown is a perfect example of a quiet tactile switch.

Clicky: This is the property that defines how loud the actuation point is going to be. When the slider severs the connection between the metal contact leaves, it’s going to give out this distinct “click”. The sound given out by mechanical keyboards are different from conventional membrane keyboards, and in my opinion, the mechanical ones have a more satisfying “click” to them. The Cherry MX Blue switches are the perfect example of a very good tactile and clicky switch.

With mechanical switches you get the option to customize your perfect keyboard. They are more durable and responsive than plain old membranes. Once you start banging away on a mechanical keyboard, you just don’t want to go back to the old membrane or scissor keyboards. I started with Cherry MX blues and I could never go back. Even if I have to work on my laptop, I’d still plug in my Hermes E2. (a very affordable starter mechanical keyboard)

So now, we’ve got a good idea on the types of mechanical switches. Without further ado, let’s get into the product reviews.

The Best Mechanical Switches for Gaming

The Gateron switches have always been a staple among many typing enthusiasts and budget gamers. Their lower price and smooth actuation have always made them one of the more well-known mechanical switches out there. The Gateron KS-9 Red switches provide the best utility at an affordable price. 

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  • Behavior
    • Linear
  • Sound
    • Quiet
  • Actuation Force
    • 45±15 gf (grams-force, not girlfriends)
  • Actuation Distance
    • 2±0.6 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 4±0.6 mm
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 50 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Office use
    • Gaming

Review

Here we have a budget gamer’s best friend: the Gateron KS-9 Red switches. These are decent for gaming and typing as they provide a smooth linear experience while keeping the noise to a minimum. Very handy if you have to finish up those sales by 5 and play Call of Duty with your co-workers at 6. (Working at the Stamford branch is awesome)

The Gateron KS-9 Red switches are one of the most affordable and DIY-friendly mechanical switches on the market. Recently, there has been a surge in Gateron switches because of its affordability and convenience. Although they aren’t as durable as their Cherry MX counterparts,. These are a great option to get started with. Highly recommended for gamers on a budget.

What We Like
Price - Compared to Cherry MX, these are very affordable switches. They don’t have any fancy gimmicks or new-age technology, just plain old vanilla mechanical switches that are directly cloned from the Cherry MX. I highly recommend this for budget builders.
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Durability - If you are worried about the durability, these switches are not for you. Although 50 million sounds like a big number, the Gateron switches are said to have a lower lifespan, especially when compared to it’s big brother, the Cherry MX. 
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Most beginners only come to know about the Red, Brown and Blue switches, yet they don’t realize that there’s a whole plethora of other colors with different features. These undiscovered switches also have a personality of their own. The Gateron KS-9 Yellow is one such alternative that could easily replace the Gateron Red.

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  • Behavior
    • Linear
  • Sound
    • Quiet
  • Actuation Force
    • 50±15 gf
  • Actuation Distance
    • 2±0.6 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 4±0.6 mm
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 50 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Office use
    • Gaming

Review

Maybe the Gateron Red, or any other Red Linear switches are too soft for you. Maybe you are looking for something with a little more feedback but also doesn’t make a lot of noise. If that is the case, you have to try the Gateron KS-9 Yellow switches. They strike a perfect balance between the Red and Brown switches in terms of actuation while keeping the noise to a minimum. These are another great affordable option for your office/gaming setup.

What We Like
Price - Just like the Gateron Red, these are very affordable and it’s a great choice for beginners. There are no Cherry MX “Yellow” switches in the market and this gives you the opportunity to flex on them Cherry enthusiasts.
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Durability - Just like most Chinese products right out of the market, whenever you aim for a lower price, you fall down on durability. This might not be the case in the future, but as of right now, the 50 million keystroke lifespan is a bit low, especially when Cherry MX has a rated lifespan of 100 million.
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Kalih switches are another cheaper alternative to the Cherry MX. Just like the Gateron, Kalih provides affordable mechanical switches but at a reduced durability rating. The Kalih Black Switches stand out from the crowd not because of a single defining feature, but because of a combination of smooth linear actuation and a gentle clicky noise that’s loud enough to satisfy you without distracting others.

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  • Behavior
    • Linear
  • Sound
    • Gentle
  • Actuation Force
    • 60 grams
  • Actuation Distance
    • 2 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 4 mm (approx)
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 60 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Office use
    • Gaming

Review

Kalih switches are another Cherry MX clone, who’s trying to build a more affordable version of the famous German brand. Just like Gateron, they themselves are another Chinese company who’s been making waves in the community to try and appeal to more budget friendly consumers.

The Black switches are great for various types of tasks because of it’s gentle noise and slightly higher feedback response. Speaking of noise, they are the perfect balance between the loud racket caused by the Blue type switches and the inaudible hush heard from the Red switches. The noise emitted by these Black switches are just enough to give you a satisfying click while simultaneously keeping your co-workers off your back. The linear actuation is an added bonus that makes it easier for gaming.

What We Like
Clicky Noise - The gentle clicky noise is just perfect for me. It’s a “you can have your cake and eat it too, without disturbing others” situation. It’s loud enough to satisfy me but not loud enough to disturb anybody else.
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Durability - Just like the Gateron switches, these have a relatively lower lifespan. Rated at 60 million keystrokes, these Kalih switches do not have what it takes to compete against the Cherry MX.
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Boy, I sure hope you are alone when you start jamming on these keys, it’s bound to get loud and annoying, especially for others as there’s nothing like the Kalih Blue switches when it comes to the loudest (and most annoying) clicky sound. You want to get banned from the office? Because this is how you get banned from the office.

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  • Behavior
    • Tactile
  • Sound
    • Loud
  • Actuation Force
    • 50 grams
  • Actuation Distance
    • 2 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 4 mm (approx)
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 60 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Gaming
    • Typing

Review

If you want that loud clicky noise, then you have to try out the Kalih Blue mechanical switches. They are loud and they will annoy the hell out of anyone. But wait! This isn’t about others, it’s about you living your best life with the 144Hz 1440p frames in your face and the sweet melody of the Blue switches clicking around in the background.

What We Like
Clicky Noise - Even though I made fun of the annoying noise, it is a personal favorite of mine. It’s great for typing because you have the tactile bump alongside the loud clicky noise. This way, you get the dual feedback package, acoustic and haptic.
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Versatility - The underlying issue is that the Blue type switches such as these are not the best for gaming and for office use. They work best when you’re typing when nobody is around. Because of this, you better not bring it to work.
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Want that gentle “click” sound without it getting too obvious? Also want to feel a more tactile bump and pushback everytime you press down? The Cherry MX Brown has what you need. It’s got the gentle click just like the Black Switches but instead of linear feedback it hits back at you with it’s tactile feedback. It’s a great alternative to the Black Switch, just without the linear actuation.

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  • Behavior
    • Tactile
  • Sound
    • Gentle
  • Actuation Force
    • ~56 gf (55cN)
  • Actuation Distance
    • 2 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 4 mm (approx)
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 100 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Gaming
    • Office work

Review

The Cherry MX Brown is another “moderate” mechanical switch meant to be the perfect love child of the Cherry MX Blue and the Cherry MX Red. It’s got the full tactile behavior of the Blue switches while trying not to sound too obnoxious. This is another perfect addition to your work/gaming setup. The boss won’t mind the noise and you can still have enough haptic response to keep you gaming at a steady pace.

What We Like
Durability - Cherry MX has been the go-to-standard when it comes to mechanical switches. They’ve been in this game since 1985 and they’ve been delivering ever since. No other switch has been able to replicate the amount of quality and durability that the Cherry MX has been able to deliver.
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Behavior - This “moderate” feedback behavior is not something that I’m very fond of. This “Jack-of-all trades” approach is cute and all, but then you’re “Master of none,” so you won’t have the best gaming experience nor the best typing experience. I believe it’s best to keep those two separate, even if you work from home.
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When you’re a hadrcore gamer, every second counts, so in order to get that extra edge, you need a keyboard that can keep up with your instantaneous demands. For this, you need mechanical switches that require less time/distance to actuate, this is where the Cherry MX Speed Silver comes in. Well known for it’s faster reaction time, these are the fastest mechanical switches in the West (and the East).

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  • Behavior
    • Linear
  • Sound
    • Silent
  • Actuation Force
    • 45g
  • Actuation Distance
    • 1.2 mm
  • Maximum Travel Distance
    • 3.4 mm (approx)
  • Keystroke Lifespan
    • 100 million
  • Primary Applications
    • Gaming

Review

This is the go-to standard when it comes to high-performance gaming. The Cherry MX Speed Silver mechanical switches provide a great silent linear operation that’s 40% faster than all the other Cherry MX switches.

These switches are made to be very comfortable and easy to use. They take after the Cherry MX Red in terms of functionality but with a lower actuation force and shorter travel distance.

What We Like
Performance - These high speed switches are very easy to use once you get the hang of it. They require a minimum amount of effort and help manifest your split second big-brain plays into the game-world. These are the best option for hardcore gamers who specialize in first-person shooters. (or other games that require fast reaction times).
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Versatility - These switches are great for gaming but they are difficult to type on. Because of their lower actuation forces and minimal travel distance it’s very easy to make accidental presses. These switches are very sensitive and it takes some getting used to. I don’t recommend these for beginners, and you might need a lot of practice to be able to get the hang of it. For beginners, I’d recommend going for the Cherry MX Red switches instead.
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Conclusion

Budget Alternative Mechanical Switches For Gaming
Red Mechanical Switch Alternative For Gaming
Most Balanced in Performance Mechanical Switches For Gaming

Finding the right mechanical switch can be a difficult task, especially when there’s a ton of choices (or colors) out there. Most enthusiasts would recommend getting a tester kit and checking out all the different switches. But it’s more tempting to just bite the bullet and get one with your favorite color, hoping that you’ll learn to love it when you get more practice in. Whatever you do, just remember that every great journey starts with a single keystroke.

If you want to know the Most Expensive Gaming PCs, check this article.

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