Linear vs Tactile Switches: Comparing Key Feel for Your Perfect Keyboard

In the world of mechanical keyboards, a key aspect users consider when choosing switches is the difference between linear and tactile switches. These two types of switches offer unique experiences, and preferences often depend on factors like typing style, primary use, and personal taste.

Linear switches provide a smooth and consistent actuation without tactile feedback, making them popular among individuals who prefer not to feel a bump or hear clicking noises during use. On the other hand, tactile switches deliver a subtle bump sensation, giving users the feedback they need to know when a keypress has been registered. This feature is appreciated by those who require more physical feedback during typing or gaming sessions.

Ultimately, choosing between linear and tactile switches comes down to an individual’s preferences and the intended use of the mechanical keyboard. Understanding the pros and cons of each switch type can help users make an informed decision when selecting their ideal keyboard experience.

Understanding Linear and Tactile Switches

In this section, we will explore two popular types of mechanical keyboard switches: linear and tactile. Both have unique characteristics that may appeal to different users depending on their preferences and typing habits.

Linear Switches

Linear switches are characterized by their smooth and consistent keystroke, without any tactile feedback or audible click. This makes them a popular choice among gamers and fast typists, who might appreciate the uninterrupted motion that allows for faster actuation. Some well-known linear switch options include Cherry MX Red, Gateron Red, and Kailh Red.

Benefits of linear switches include:

  • Smoother keystrokes for quicker typing
  • Less finger strain due to lower actuation force
  • Quieter operation compared to tactile and clicky switches

Tactile Switches

Tactile switches, on the other hand, offer a small bump during each keystroke, providing the user with physical feedback. Unlike linear switches, the bump in tactile switches lets the user know when a key has been actuated. Popular tactile switch options include Cherry MX Brown, Gateron Brown, and Kailh Brown.

Advantages of tactile switches are:

  • Tactile feedback for improved typing accuracy
  • Often preferred for typing-heavy tasks like programming or writing
  • Less likely to result in accidental key presses

In summary, linear switches focus on smooth and rapid actuation, while tactile switches offer a more pronounced feedback through a small bump during the keystroke. Ultimately, the choice between these two switch types will come down to personal preference and how the user plans to utilize their keyboard.

Key Features and Differences

Actuation Force

Actuation force is the amount of pressure needed to register a keypress. Linear switches usually come in different actuation forces, with some, like Cherry MX Red switches, requiring low actuation force, which can lead to quicker response times and reduced finger strain. This makes them popular among gamers. On the other hand, tactile switches also require different forces depending on the model, with some requiring low and others high.

Travel Distance

Travel distance is the distance a key needs to be pressed before it registers the input. Linear switches tend to have a longer travel distance compared to tactile switches. This is important for users who require a swift and smooth keystroke, as it can offer a more responsive feel while typing or gaming.

In contrast, tactile switches have a shorter travel distance and provide tactile feedback midway through a keypress, letting the user know that the input has been registered. This feature can be useful for typists who require physical feedback during typing to prevent accidental double keypresses.


Tactility is the presence of a noticeable bump during a keypress, which provides physical feedback to the user. Linear switches are characterized by their smooth and consistent keystrokes, without any bumps or interruptions. Many people find linear switches ideal for gaming, as the lack of tactile feedback can lead to faster reaction times and increased speed.

Tactile switches, on the other hand, have a small bump on each keystroke, giving the user a sense of feedback during typing. Some users prefer the tactile feedback for typing scenarios, as it can help prevent accidental keypresses and enhance accuracy.

There are various switch types available, with Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh being some of the most popular brands. Each brand offers different types of switches based on the force required to actuate and the tactile feedback provided. The switches are often color-coded for easy identification.

Cherry MX

Cherry MX switches are the original mechanical switches that have inspired many clones. They come in various colors, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Cherry MX Red: Linear and light actuation force, suitable for gamers and typists.
  • Cherry MX Black: Linear, but with a heavier actuation force than Red, preferred by some typists.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Tactile and clicky, providing audible and tangible feedback for typists.
  • Cherry MX Brown: Tactile but quieter than Blue, suitable for office environments.
  • Cherry MX Clear: Tactile with a heavier force than Brown, ideal for users who prefer firmer typing.


Gateron switches are popular Cherry MX clones known for their smoother feel. They also come in various colors with similar characteristics:

  • Gateron Red: Linear and light actuation force, much like Cherry MX Red.
  • Gateron Brown: Tactile switch with a lighter force than Cherry MX Brown.


Kailh switches are another Cherry MX clone, offering various switch options depending on user preferences:

  • Kailh Red: Linear with light actuation force, a direct competitor to Cherry MX Red and Gateron Red.
  • Kailh Brown: Tactile switch offering an alternative to Cherry MX Brown and Gateron Brown.

When choosing a switch type, the key factors to consider are the preferred actuation force, tactile feedback, and noise level. Users can try different switch types to find the perfect match for their typing or gaming needs.

Comparing Performance and Durability

When it comes to comparing the performance and durability of linear and tactile switches, several factors must be considered, such as speed, accuracy, longevity, and lifespan.

Speed is an essential aspect for avid gamers and typists alike. Linear switches are known for their smooth and consistent actuation, which often leads to better and faster keypresses. In contrast, tactile switches provide a bump or resistance to indicate when a key is activated, potentially impacting typing speed for some users.

In terms of accuracy, the tactile feedback provided by tactile switches can be advantageous for typists, as it helps to minimize errors by providing a clear indication that a key has been pressed. Linear switches, on the other hand, lack this tactile feedback, which may result in occasional missed keystrokes or double presses for less experienced users.

Regarding lifespan and longevity, both linear and tactile switches boast impressive durability. The slight edge here goes to linear switches, which often have fewer moving parts due to their smooth operation. This simplicity can result in extended longevity as there are fewer components to wear out over time. However, it’s important not to overlook the robust build quality of tactile switches, which still provide a long-lasting and reliable experience for users.

Both linear and tactile switches have their own strengths when it comes to performance and durability. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences and the specific requirements of the user.

Usage Advantages


When it comes to gaming, the choice between linear and tactile switches often comes down to personal preference and the type of games being played. For many gamers, linear switches like Cherry MX Red offer a more comfortable and responsive experience due to their smooth and consistent keypresses. The low actuation force required for these switches can also help reduce finger strain during long gaming sessions.

However, some players might prefer tactile switches, as the tactile feedback can provide a more distinct sense of key activation. This can be particularly beneficial in games that require precise timing or quick reflexes.


For typing tasks, the choice between linear and tactile switches can again be influenced by personal preference. Those who enjoy a smooth and consistent typing experience might lean towards linear switches, as they can provide enhanced comfort during extended typing sessions.

On the other hand, tactile switches can offer a more satisfying typing experience for some users due to the bump and feedback they provide. This tactile feedback can help improve typing accuracy, as it provides a clear indication of when a key has been activated.

Overall, both linear and tactile switches have their own advantages when it comes to gaming and typing tasks. The choice between the two comes down to individual needs and preferences, as well as factors such as comfort, responsiveness, and typing accuracy.

Noise and Personal Preference

When comparing linear and tactile switches, noise levels and personal preferences play significant roles in determining the right choice for each individual. Linear switches are known for their smooth and consistent key presses, making them relatively quiet and noiseless.

Tactile switches, on the other hand, have a small bump on each keystroke, providing physical feedback for the user. While this offers a satisfying sense of responsiveness, it also generates a moderate level of noise. For those who value a quieter typing experience, the noise may be a drawback.

Another type of switch to consider is the clicky switch, which features a small bump on each keystroke as well, similar to tactile switches. The key differentiation is the louder click noise produced with each key press. This can be appealing to some for its audible feedback, but it may not be suitable for shared workspaces or quiet environments.

Ultimately, the choice between linear, tactile or clicky switches comes down to an individual’s personal preference. Some may find satisfaction in the smooth and silent operation of linear switches, while others may opt for the tactile bumps and moderate noise or even the louder clicky switches for a distinctive typing experience. It is essential to consider the usage environment and personal comfort level in order to make an informed decision when selecting the right switch type.

Alternatives and Market Options

When it comes to choosing a keyboard, linear and tactile switches are popular options. However, there are other alternatives in the market that cater to varying preferences and requirements.

Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards are a common choice for those who prefer a quieter typing experience. These keyboards use a rubber dome located beneath each keycap to register a keystroke.

The rubber material provides a soft and silent typing feedback, as opposed to the audible click or tactile bump in mechanical switches. Membrane keyboards also tend to be more affordable, making them a popular option for consumers on a budget.

Rubber Dome

Rubber dome switches are another alternative, using a similar mechanism as membrane keyboards. These switches consist of a rubber dome placed beneath the keycap that collapses when pressed, making contact with the underlying circuit to register the keystroke.

While not as precise as mechanical switches, rubber dome keyboards provide a softer feel and quieter operation, which may appeal to some users.

Other Brands

Besides the well-known Cherry MX and their clones, there are keyboard brands that offer different switch options. One such brand is Razer, known for its gaming keyboards and peripherals.

Razer offers their own line of mechanical switches, such as the Razer Green, Orange, and Yellow. These cater to various preferences for actuation force, travel distance, and key feel, giving consumers even more options to choose from in the vast keyboard market.

Ultimately, finding the right keyboard and switch type depends on each individual’s needs, preferences, and budget. With a wide range of options available, there’s likely a perfect fit for everyone when it comes to typing and gaming performance.

Factors Affecting Costs

When it comes to choosing between linear and tactile switches, an essential factor to consider is the cost. Generally, the prices can vary based on the type of switch, brand, and any additional features or materials.

Some prominent factors that may contribute to the cost differences are:

  • Brand: The brand of the switch, such as Cherry MX or Gateron, can affect the price. Cherry MX switches are considered as high-quality options and, consequently, more expensive than their Gateron counterparts. Nevertheless, there are budget-friendly alternatives available from lesser-known brands, but the quality and durability may vary.
  • Type of Switch: Linear switches and tactile switches can cause cost variations. The cost of each type can fluctuate depending on the design, materials used, and the desired features.
  • Additional Features: Extra features, such as RGB lighting or hot-swappable sockets, can significantly impact switch prices. If customization is essential, be prepared to spend more on these features.
  • Material: The materials used in the switches, such as plastic or PBT keycaps, can influence the price. More durable materials generally come with higher costs.

Despite these factors, it is possible to find a balanced option that suits your preferences without breaking the bank. Setting a budget before shopping can help manage expectations and encourage thorough research on different switch options.


In the world of mechanical keyboards, linear and tactile switches offer distinct typing experiences. Selecting between these two types of switches ultimately depends on personal preferences and intended use.

Linear switches provide a smoother, consistent keystroke, making them ideal for gamers who require fast and precise inputs. On the other hand, tactile switches offer a noticeable bump upon actuation, contributing to improved accuracy for typists who appreciate physical feedback.

Noise levels also vary between these two switch types, with linear switches generally being quieter compared to tactile switches. However, it is worth noting that tactile switches are not excessively loud and are still considered comparatively quiet when compared to clicky switches.

When it comes to choosing a mechanical switch for your keyboard, try testing out keyboards with both linear and tactile switches to determine which best suits your typing style and preferences. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the right switch for you will depend on your personal needs and favorite keyboard characteristics.

About the Author

Dan was initially only focused around gaming reviews and other content back in 2019ish on this platform. Since then he has decided to focus on the hardware and software side of things instead of just the games themselves. He has been focused on PC gaming and wants to give back to his community as much as possible.