Linear switches are the go-to for gamers because of their quick actuation and smooth keypresses. But since there are so many of them available, a newbie can get confused about which one to buy.
This is why I am here today with a list of the 8 best linear switches.
Overall, the Cherry MX Red is the best linear switch you can get. Yes, it's a little expensive, but it's a one-time investment, and you'll enjoy it for years. Its buttery actuation with no interruptions makes sure you're always in the action.
Apart from this, Gateron Milky Yellow, NovelKeys Cream, Kailh BOX Silent Pink, and more are among the other best options.
Below is a detailed overview of the 8 best linear switches. I'll cover everything you need to know before buying them. After that, there will be an FAQ section to answer some of the burning questions related to this topic.
Just as a note, the switches below are in no particular order.
Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX Reds are one of the most commonly used linear switches, and there are many reasons why. Firstly, they have a perfect operating force of 45 grams, along with a 2 mm pre-travel and 4 mm total travel.
They might not be the fastest linear switches, but they are ideal for someone who is buying them for both typing and gaming. They are not very light, so the chances of typing mistakes lessen. Secondly, they are fast enough to assist gamers as well.
The gold crosspoint contacts are the reason for the reliability, stability, and durability of Cherry MX switches. This ensures the electrical contact enclosures are self-cleaning and corrosion-resistant.
This is why these switches easily last for more than 100 million keystrokes.
All in all, it's the perfect starting point if you're looking for a linear switch that is great for everything. However, they can be a bit heavy on the pocket.
Gateron KS-3 Milky Yellow Pro
Gateron KS-3 Milky Yellow Pro has updated molds that reduce the stem wobble. They are also factory-lubed and go through the same lubing process as the KS-9.
This increases the smoothness of the keys and makes them more pleasing to use.
The switch requires an actuation force of 50 grams, which is slightly more than the MX Reds. Moreover, the pre-and total travel of the switches are the same, i.e., 2 mm and 4 mm, respectively.
The Gateron Milky Yellow Pro is a 5-pin switch featuring an MX stem. That's great news, as you can use them on hot-swappable boards that support 5-pin MX stem switches.
Furthermore, the gold alloy contacts ensure better anti-corrosion protection and antioxidant qualities.
The switches are very affordable and last for well over 50 million keystrokes.
The switches are best in their original form, but you can lubricate even more if you like your switches even smoother.
Lastly, just like the Cherry MX Reds, the Gateron Milky Yellow Pros are also well suited for both gaming and typing. However, the list will feature some switches that are specifically made for gamers and, similarly, for typists.
Cherry MX Speed Silver
Cherry MX Speed Silvers are the fastest Cherry switches at the moment. They are a perfect blend of linear switch characteristics with very low spring resistance. This means that these switches actuate immediately.
These are the perfect buy for gamers who play competitively, where a second or two can decide the result of the match. We are talking about an operating force of 45 grams, 1.2 mm pre-travel, and 3.4 mm total travel.
The build quality of this switch is the same as the Cherry MX Red, so it's also corrosion-resistant and can easily last for 100 million+ keystrokes.
These switches don't require any lubrication, but if you want to lube them, then there's no harm in doing so. But I suggest trying the switches in their original form before that.
To sum up, you can't go much wrong with a Cherry MX switch, and the Speed Silvers are the go-to for competitive and pro gamers.
So, if you're looking for a switch for your gaming setup, these might be the ideal match!
NovelKeys x Kailh Cream
NovelKeys x Kailh Cream switches are the first 'heavy' linear switches in this list. Firstly, the color looks very pleasant, and that's also how the switches feel.
The Kailh Crean switches can be termed a Cherry MX clone as their housing has MX-style latching. Moreover, both the stem and housing have self-lubricating POM (polyoxymethylene) material, making the switches stable and durable.
The actuation force of the NovelKeys x Kailh Cream is 55 grams, while the switch bottoms out at 70 grams of force. Furthermore, the actuation point and total travel of these switches are the typical 2 mm and 4 mm, respectively.
The switches are an excellent option if you've got heavy fingers and like to feel the switch actuating rather than bottoming out immediately like the Speed Silvers.
I won't recommend these for high-paced gaming, but they are more than enough if you're a casual gamer.
Another positive of these switches is that they are affordable as compared to other similar options.
C3 Equalz Tangerine
The C3 Equalz Tangerine switches come in light and dark green variants. The former has a lighter spring of 62 grams, while the former has a spring weighing 67 grams.
The keys have no tactile bump, which means they have very smooth actuation. The housing is made of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, which makes these switches abrasion- and wear-resistant.
The tangerines also have POM (polyoxymethylene) stems, which provide great stability and make the switches wobble-free.
They are also factory-lubed, so you won't feel the switches being even slightly resistant to actuation.
Lastly, they have a pre-travel of 2 mm and bottom out at 4 mm, and I'd term these 5-pin switches perfect for typists who are looking for a linear option.
Gateron Ink Black V2
Another switch that is excellent for both office work and gaming. These switches have 5-pins and are smooth and stable, having an operating force of 60 grams.
Moreover, their actuation point is 2 mm, and the total travel goes up to 4 mm, like most of the other linear switches. Gateron doesn't compromise on quality and features gold alloy crosspoint contacts, which provide anti-corrosion protection.
The light transmission in these switches is better as compared to some of the other options because of the use of translucent plastic, which reduces opacity.
The switch has an MX stem and is slightly lubed, with the option to lube it more. Due to their durability and build quality, these switches can last for more than 50 million keystrokes if used properly.
By proper use, I mean not punching the keyboard or throwing it away after losing a game. I know we've all been there.
Tecsee is slowly but surely making its name in the mechanical switch market, and that's because of their quality switches like the Tecsee Carrot and others.
This one in particular is their linear variant and is on the heavier side with a bottom-out force of 68 grams. The pre-travel is 2 mm, while the total distance is not 4 but 3.5 mm.
The switches use PME material in both the top and bottom housings. Similarly, their stems are made of POM, which makes the switch highly durable.
The Tecsee Carrots come slightly lubed, and you won't require more lubing.
But still, the option exists.
The sound of these switches is pleasing and won't disturb anyone sitting beside you. Moreover, the keys will easily last for more than 50 million keystrokes if used with good care.
Furthermore, the switches are 5-pin and MX-styled, so you can easily use them on hot-swappable keyboards.
Kailh BOX Silent Pink
Enough with the heavy linear switches! Here's one that is fast and optimal for gamers: The Kailh BOX Silent Pink. The key requires a very low actuation force of 35 grams and bottoms out at just 45 grams.
The total travel of the switch is just 3.6 mm, but the actuation happens way before that. Besides, due to the smooth keypresses, you won't even feel if you've bottomed out the key or not.
The mounting style, just like many of the other Kailh switches, is MX compatible, and the mounting is plate-mounted. The keys have superior build quality and can last for 50+ million keystrokes.
They are also not very expensive, so you can include them in your gaming setup without much worry.
Should You Get A Linear Switch?
Well, this depends on the kind of work you do. If your work largely consists of typing tasks or if you're a programmer, I'd suggest not going for the linear switches but with clicky or tactile ones.
The reason is that linear switches aren't the best bet for accurate typing. Due to the lack of a tactile bump, you won't realize if a key was pressed accidentally. This increases the chance of typos.
If you love to write without pausing every now and then because of a mistake, then linear switches might not be for you. Contrarily, if you're a gamer, then linear switches become the best choice.
Again, it all comes down to the reason you're buying the switches.
How To Improve Your Linear Switches?
There are multiple ways to improve your linear switches. Firstly, you can improve your keycaps. Get rid of the cheap ABS plastic ones and get the PBT or double PBT keycaps. They will be less greasy and have better build quality.
Secondly, lube your switches.
Lubricating the switches makes them smoother and more stable. Luning is a time-consuming process where you'll need to pull out each key and lube it. I recommend getting it done by an expert.
Another thing is to add a switch film to your keyboard. This will reduce key wobble and make the keyboard less shaky. Again, you'll need to pull out the keys before installing the film, so doing it at the same time as lubing will be a good idea.
Making these three improvements to your switches will definitely enhance your experience. Also, don't forget to regularly clean the keyboard.
Who Should Use Linear Switches?
Gamers must use linear switches. We all know how fast-paced gaming has become and how important each second is. If you're a little late in your movement, the game will be over. That's where linear switches help you with their quick actuation.
It will be even better if they are speed linear switches since they are way faster than the regular linear ones. But even if you use the latter, it will be more than enough.
Another person who could use linear switches is an accurate typist. If someone has good typing accuracy and wants to type quickly, then linear switches will help in this cause.
Do Pro Gamers Use Linear Switches?
Yes, almost all pro gamers use linear or speed switches. The reason is the same as I mentioned in the previous heading. Linear switches increase your movement speed and can give you a slight edge over your opponents.
This is also why all the gaming keyboards have an option for linear switches, as most pro gamers opt for that.
Some of them prefer a very light switch like the Kailh BOX Pink, some go for a medium option in the form of Cherry MX Red, while others prefer the heavy MX Blacks.
This comes down to their personal liking.
Psst! I have written a very detailed article on this topic, so make sure you read: What keyboard switches do pro gamers use?
Which are the best linear switches?
Linear switches by manufacturers like Cherry, Kailh, Gateron, Tecsee, and others can be termed the best in the business.
In particular, Cherry MX Red, Gateron Milky Yellow, C3 Equalz Tangerine, Kailh BOX Pink, and every other switch mentioned in this article are some of the best you can get.
Which linear switch is the best for gaming?
There are many, but specifically, the Cherry MX Speed Silver is the best linear switch for gaming. Not only is it extremely fast, but it's highly reliable as well.
We are talking about a lifespan of 100 million+ keystrokes. It can be much more if you take good care of your keyboard. All in all, it's one of the fastest and most preferred switches among gamers.
What is the best linear switch for typing?
Any heavy linear switch is good for typing. You can go with Cherry MX Black in this regard. It's not very quick, so you won't be making many typos using it.
Contrarily, a little slower actuation will actually improve your accuracy.
More good options would be Kailh Cream, C3 Tangerine, and Gateron Milky Yellow.
All of them have proven themselves in the keyboard switch community and have been fan favorites from the time they were launched.
What are the most thocky switches?
Gateron Milky Yellow Pros are hands down the most thocky switches. Even though these are linear switches, they do give a deep and thumping sound, which is pleasing and isn't annoying by any means.
If you prefer switches like these, then you'll love the Gateron Milky Yellow Pros. They have a considerable "thock" sound that is neither too loud nor too low. But one thing's for sure: it's really pleasant!
What are the deepest-sounding linear switches?
The Cherry MX Black and Gateron Ink Black V2 are two of the deepest-sounding linear switches. Generally, the linear switches that are heavier (have an actuation force of more than 50–55 grams) have a deep or thocky sound.
You'll also experience this with other switches like the C3 Tangerine and Gateron Milky Yellow Pro.
Is linear or clicky better for gaming?
Linear switches are by far the better option for gaming as compared to clicky switches. The reason is that clicky switches have a tactile bump and a slower actuation than linear switches.
This makes them less ideal for gaming, as gaming requires switches that have fast actuation. This is why you won't find many gamers using clicky switches for gaming.
Is linear or tactile better for gaming?
Linear switches are a much better choice for gaming than tactile switches. Tactile switches are better than clicky switches for gaming, but still, they can't compete with linear ones.
Tactile switches are faster than clicky switches but slower than linear switches. They can work for you if you play games casually and don't compete in tournaments or events.
Similarly, if you have other work like typing or programming along with gaming, then tactile switches might be a better all-around option than linear switches.
So, this was all about the best linear switches that you can get for your mechanical keyboard. All of these options are second to none, and you won't be disappointed after buying any of them.
I tried to include a switch from every category (heavy, light, speed), so there's something for everyone. Moreover, there are some budget options for people who don't want to spend a lot on their keyboard setup.
I cover detailed guides and reviews like this related to keyboards and switches here on TheTechSetup. So, for more information on these topics, make sure to keep revisiting!