Shopping for a mechanical keyboard looks easy until you come across all the different switch colors to choose from. There are three categories of switches, and all of them have multiple color options. So, which one should you choose?
Mechanical keyboard color switches definitely matters if you're buying a keyboard for a specific purpose. For instance, if you're looking for gaming, then red or silver switches should be your choice. Similarly, go with clicky blue switches for typing and tactile brown switches for programming.
All of these color switches are built differently to serve a particular motive. You can't use blue switches for gaming and silver switches for programming. Same for green switches, they won't be ideal for fast typing, and blacks shouldn't be your option if you're looking for a loud switch.
It's getting a little confusing, isn't it? No worries, as I'll be highlighting all the color switches with their specific roles. Besides, I'll talk about which switch is the quietest, fastest, loudest, and smoothest.
Moreover, this article will also cover the best switches for typing, gaming, and programming. So, you know what to do, right? Read till the end!
What do the different color switches mean on a mechanical keyboard?
1. Clicky Switches
Clicky switches are the noisiest and have the highest tactile bump. They are slower than the tactile and linear switches but more accurate than both.
The main clicky switches are blues, whites, and greens, but you'll also find others like pinks and jades.
The blue switches are the most popular clicky switches. Typists who prefer accuracy and aren't bothered by the clicky sounds opt for these.
They are also similar to the blues, but they have a higher actuation force (80 g) and an even louder tactile bump. If you are into snappy switches, these won't be too bad.
White switches are the same as green switches stats-wise, but they have a different feel with a harder tactile bump.
2. Tactile Switches
Tactile switches are quieter and faster than clicky switches. They are ideal for someone looking for a switch for both gaming and typing. The brown and clear switches are the most popular in this category.
Brown switches have a tiny bump, and their actuation force is close to 45–50 grams. The pre-travel is also in the range of 1.5–2 mm, which is swift. I've personally used them for gaming and typing, and they performed really well.
Clear switches require just a little bit more pressing force than browns. But mostly, the performance is the same. If you want a switch that is a tad heavier than browns, then go for these.
3. Linear Switches
Linear switches are almost silent but not completely noiseless. However, they have no tactile bump, which means they have the smoothest actuations. Mainly, the red linear switches are widely used, followed by the black ones.
They are the lightest linear switch, with an actuation force of under 50 and a pre-travel of 2.0 mm. Many pro gamers go for these in their gaming keyboards. They also come in a silent variant.
If reds feel too soft, then blacks are your option. They have 10–20 grams heavier actuation than red switches. Black switches can help you become a more accurate touch typist as compared to their red counterparts.
4. Speed Switches
Speed switches are manufactured with high-speed gaming in mind. They are one of the fastest switches that you can get and will improve your reflexes and reaction time. The speed silvers are your primary choice in this section.
Speed Silver Switches
Speed Silver switches can be described in two words: Fast and direct. Their operating force is just 45 grams, and the pre-travel is 1.2 mm, making them the go-to for competitive gaming.
What Color switch is the quietest?
The silent red and silent black switches are the quietest. Their nature is linear, which makes them less noisy in the first place. On top of that, some more noise-dampening features combine to make the silent switches as quiet as possible.
You can get the Cherry MX versions of the silent reds and blacks. Apart from that, Gateron also manufactures both of these switches. If the budget allows, then I'd suggest going with Cherry MX, as they are the best in the business currently.
But if you're in search of a cheaper alternative, then Gaterons are not a bad option by any stretch of the imagination.
Which color switch is best for typing?
Generally, any option from clicky or tactile switches is ideal for typing. But from personal experience, blue switches are the best you can get for typing if you can compromise on the clicky noise.
Blue switches are great if the users have a separate workspace with no one beside them. The reason I mention this is due to the loudness of the blue switches.
They might be ignorable at the start, but your colleagues or friends will eventually start to get annoyed with the sound.
Therefore, it's recommended to use these switches where there's no public. Alternatively, one can go for the brown switches as well. They will have a quieter sound with almost the same tactile feeling.
But in the end, you're the one who has to decide.
Check out a couple of videos regarding the sound of both of these switches to get a feel for them.
What color switch is the fastest?
The speed silver color switch is the fastest you can put in your keyboard. They have a low pre-travel and less actuation force. If you're an avid gamer, then these are for you.
But keep in mind that they can be faster than you expect. Even a half-press on these switches gets registered instantly. The experience is like gliding on the keyboard.
If that's something you’re okay with, then go ahead with the speed silvers. Otherwise, the red linear switches are always available. They are not as fast, but they will be more than enough for competing in high-intensity gaming.
What color switch is the loudest?
Green-colored switches are the loudest mechanical switches out there. You thought blues were the loudest, didn't you? Well, that's what most people believe, but the reality is a bit different.
Green switches are comparatively louder than blue switches, but they aren't used as much as the blues. Again, I'll repeat the same thing. Don't use green switches in an environment where people are sitting if you don't wanna engage in a real-life 1v1.
Anyway, green switches are not only loud but also very accurate and precise.
Even a guy who makes numerous typos on membrane keyboards will find his life easier with a mechanical keyboard having green switches.
What is the best color switch for gaming?
When it comes to the best color switch for gaming, the linear red switches and the speed silvers come to mind immediately. These two are heavily used by professional gamers, and they recommend both of them as well.
Red switches are somewhat slower as compared to silver switches, but this makes them more accurate.
On the contrary, silver switches are less accurate but as fast as a tracer bullet! They'll be pressed even before you exert half the force of your fingers.
If you're someone who is a hyper-competitive gamer looking for the fastest switches, then I'd personally recommend the speed silvers.
However, the difference between them and reds isn't much. You might get a minor advantage with the speed silvers, but it's all that matters sometimes.
Having been to multiple gaming zones and playing different FPS games with these switches, I can safely say that they are bound to increase your gaming experience. Try them out yourself to believe.
What color mechanical switch is best for programming?
Many mechanical color switches can be great for programming. Firstly, of course, you have the clicky pair of blue and green switches. And then come the tactile switches in the form of browns and clears.
I personally prefer brown switches for typing or programming (if need be) now. The reasons are simple as follows:
- They are less noisy.
- The minor tactile bump is really satisfying.
- They are smoother and faster than clicky switches.
- They are very accurate and have room for touch typing.
I won't force my opinion on you, but this is coming from someone who has used every key switch. Not taking anything away from the blues, but they are just unusable sometimes in a crowded place due to their high decibel levels.
Besides, even if you have to do some late-night programming, the family members won't be disturbed as much by the tactile switches as compared to the clicky ones.
Psst! you might want to read my article on Are Mechanical Keyboards Good for Programming?
What is the smoothest keyboard switch?
Linear switches are the smoothest and softest keyboard switches, with a buttery actuation requiring minimal force. These switches go directly to their actuation point without encountering any tactile bumps along the way.
Linear switches are not only smooth while typing, but their sound is dim too. You will hear a clean and soft activation when the key is pressed.
They are mostly recommended for gamers because of being quick. But that doesn't mean that they can't be used for any other purpose.
If you're an accurate typist, then adjusting to red switches won't be very hard. Nevertheless, tactile switches will be a better choice for this domain.
So, does the color of the mechanical switch matter? Yes sir! I hope you now understand that someone opting for a silver switch for typing is just burning their money. Similar is the case with a person getting the green switches for gaming purposes.
There are reasons why so many different color switches exist. If one could be used for every task, then there wouldn't have been the three different switch categories.
Proper homework needs to be done before buying your ideal switch. And I certainly hope that this post will help you in that regard.
TheTechSetup is all about keyboards and switches. For more knowledge on this subject, keep a check on my blog for the next update.
Until then, read: Which Switch Is Best To Avoid RSI?