Best Clicky Keyboard Switches: Top Picks for Tactile Typing Experience

When it comes to mechanical keyboards, the type of switch you choose can dramatically affect your typing experience. Clicky switches are favored by users who enjoy audible and tactile feedback from their keystrokes. These switches are constructed with a mechanism that produces a “click” sound at the actuation point, signaling that the keystroke has been registered. This characteristic sound is appreciated by both typists and gamers for its precision and the satisfying sensory experience it provides.

As the market for mechanical keyboards grows, so does the variety of clicky switches available. Manufacturers strive to meet the evolving needs of users, with switches varying in actuation force, travel distance, and the loudness of the click they produce. High-quality clicky switches enhance durability and provide a consistent typing experience, which can improve your efficiency and comfort during prolonged computer use.

Key Takeaways

  • Clicky switches are popular for their distinct audible feedback and tactile sensation.
  • There is a diverse selection of clicky switches tailored to individual preferences.
  • High-caliber clicky switches can enhance typing performance and comfort.

What Are Clicky Switches

When you’re choosing a mechanical keyboard, the switch type impacts both the feel and the sound of your typing experience. Clicky switches are distinctive for their audible feedback and tactile sensation.

Defining Clicky Mechanical Switches

Clicky mechanical switches are a type of keyboard switch that provide an audible clicking sound at the point of actuation, which is when the switch is pressed enough to register a keystroke. At the same actuation point, you also feel a tactile bump, signifying the keypress has been registered.

The Unique Characteristics of Clicky Switches

Sound: Clicky switches are named for their characteristic clicking noise, which is louder compared to other switch types. This noise typically comes from a click bar or click jacket mechanism within the switch. Tactility: You’ll feel a noticeable bump at the actuation point, providing tactile feedback that many typists find satisfying. Actuation Force: They generally require a moderate actuation force, meaning the amount of pressure needed to depress the key and register an input. Travel: The travel distance before actuation can vary, but it’s usually around the industry standard of 2mm.

Comparing Clicky, Tactile, and Linear Switches

Clicky switches are one of three primary types of mechanical switches, alongside tactile and linear switches:

  • Clicky Switches: Provide both an audible click and a tactile bump upon actuation, typically favored for typing.
  • Tactile Switches: Offer a tactile bump but no audible click, a middle ground between clicky and linear switches.
  • Linear Switches: Have smooth keystrokes with no tactile feedback or noise, preferred for gaming due to their consistent actuation.

The Best Clicky Switches on the Market

These switches are renowned for their audible ‘click’ and are favored by typists and enthusiasts who appreciate the auditory and tactile response during typing. Here’s a concise guide to the best clicky switches available.

Cherry MX Blue

Cherry MX Blue switches are legendary for their distinct clicky feedback and tactile bump. With an actuation force of about 50 cN, they offer a substantial feel that typists often prefer. The precise actuation ensures accurate typing, making them a standard against which other clicky switches are compared.

Kailh Box White and Jade

Kailh, another prominent name in clicky switches, offers Box White and Box Jade variants. Kailh Box White switches have a lighter actuation force compared to MX Blues, providing a crispy click without much resistance. On the other hand, Kailh Box Jade switches are characterized by their thicker click-bar design, leading to an even more pronounced click sound and heavier actuation force, suitable for those who desire a more substantial feedback.

Gateron Blue Switches

Gateron Blue switches are known for their smooth keystrokes and slightly lighter clicky feel than the Cherry MX Blues. They provide an actuation force of around 55 g, offering a nice balance between responsiveness and resistance, making them a popular choice for both typing and gaming.

Outemu Blue Switches

Outemu Blue switches are often praised for their affordability without major sacrifices in quality. Outemu Blues provide a tactile and clicky experience with a pronounced sound, akin to that of the Cherry MX Blues but typically at a lower price point, making them ideal for budget-conscious mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

Razer Switches

Razer switches are designed with gaming in mind. Their own version of the clicky switch is tailored to gamer preferences, balancing actuation force and tactile response for a swift actuation without missing the satisfying clicky feedback. These switches are typically found in Razer’s range of gaming keyboards and are valued for their durability.

Analyzing Key Attributes of Top Clicky Switches

Actuation Force and Travel Distance

  • Actuation Force: This is the amount of pressure you need to apply for a keystroke to register. It’s measured in centinewtons (cN) or grams (g). Clicky switches typically have a higher actuation force than linear switches, providing a more pronounced tactile feedback. As an example, Outemu Blue switches may require an actuation force around the common standard of 50-60g.
  • Travel Distance: Travel distance is the distance the switch must move to actuate. It can affect your typing speed and comfort. Clicky switches often have a standard travel distance around 2mm to actuate with a total travel of about 4mm. However, variations like the Kailh Speed Copper can feature a shorter actuation point, which might benefit gamers looking for quicker keystroke registration.

Durability and Lifespan

  • Durability: Measured in the total number of keystrokes before a switch begins to degrade, typically ranging from 20 to 100 million keystrokes. Brands like Kailh BOX White are renowned for their robustness and high durability ratings.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan is directly tied to the durability. A switch that can endure more keystrokes without losing its original feel or responsiveness will have a longer useful life. This longevity is essential for heavy users and professionals who rely on consistent performance over time.

Typing Feel and Acoustic Signature

  • Typing Feel: A key attribute of clicky switches is the tactile feel they offer—there is often a noticeable bump on the downstroke of each keystroke. This allows for more feedback, which can prevent typing errors. The tactility is generally a result of the switch design, such as the click jackets in Outemu Blue or the click bars in Kailh BOX White.
  • Acoustic Signature: The distinctive “click-clack” sound of clicky switches is what often defines them. This sound varies across different brands and models: Outemu Blue switches might produce a sharper click, while Kailh BOX White is known for a clear, less high-pitched noise. Your choice may depend on personal preference for the sound volume and pitch during typing sessions.

Comparative Overview of Clicky Switches

Sound Profiles across Brands

Different brands of clicky switches produce distinct sound signatures which can be one of the most satisfying aspects of a mechanical keyboard for you. For instance, Cherry MX Blue switches are renowned for their crisp, audible click which occurs on the downstroke, making them immediately identifiable. In contrast, Outemu Blue switches offer a similar click with a slightly different tone, often at a more affordable price.

  • Cherry MX Blue: Sharp, high-pitched click.
  • Outemu Blue: Similar to Cherry MX with a slightly fuller sound.

Tactile Feedback and Consistency

The tactile feedback you receive from a clicky switch contributes to your typing accuracy and speed. Clicky switches, by design, provide a tangible bump upon actuation, which is satisfying and helps to prevent accidental keystrokes.

  • Tactile consistency is where some switches excel, providing you with a uniform experience across all keys.
  • Tactile feedback varies between brands; some may have sharper or more pronounced feedback compared to others.

Suitability for Gaming vs Typing

Your intended use of the keyboard heavily influences the type of switch that will suit your needs. While clicky switches are often favored by typists and writers due to the auditory and tactile feedback that affirms keystrokes, gamers may have different preferences.

  • Gaming: Some gamers prefer clicky switches for their precise feedback, while others find the sound distracting.
  • Typing: If you’re a typist who values acoustic feedback and a clear indication of key actuation, clicky switches could be your best choice.

Mechanical Keyboards and Clicky Switches

Customizing Keyboards with Clicky Switches

With clicky switches, personalization is key. You have the option to select switches based on actuation force, travel distance, and the distinctiveness of the clicky sound. Popular clicky switches include:

  • Kailh BOX White: A balanced clicky switch with a sharp click.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Known for its iconic ‘click’ and tactile bump.

Purchasing Advice for Clicky Switch Enthusiasts

When looking for the perfect clicky switch for your mechanical keyboard, it’s essential to weigh performance against price and ensure the authenticity of the product.

Performance vs Price Considerations

When selecting clicky switches, your preferences in typing feel and acoustics are main drivers of your choice. Kailh BOX Whites, for instance, are renowned for their crisp actuation, making them an excellent option for both typing and gaming. On the other end, Cherry MX Blues are revered for their distinctive audible click and tactile bump.

Here’s a brief breakdown of popular clicky switches and their general price range:

  • Cherry MX Blue/White: Typically around $0.50 to $1.00 per switch.
  • Kailh BOX White/Jade: Usually costs between $0.30 to $0.70 per switch.
  • Gateron Blue: These can be found for around $0.20 to $0.40 per switch.
  • Outemu Blue: Often the most budget-friendly, at about $0.10 to $0.30 per switch.
  • Razer: Their proprietary switches are more variable in price and can be closer to Cherry MX in cost.

Aside from individual switch prices, consider the quantity needed as it affects the total cost—50 switches for a small keyboard up to 110+ for a full-sized variant.

Identifying Authentic Clicky Switches

To guarantee you’re getting what you pay for, purchase through reputable vendors. Authenticity signs include:

  • Brand marks, such as the Cherry MX logo or the distinctive coloration of Kailh and Gateron switches.
  • Consistent quality: Inconsistencies such as varying click sounds or actuation forces within the same batch may indicate counterfeits.

Here is a quick list of specific authentic clicky switches:

  • Cherry MX Blue are known for their consistency and quality, though priced higher.
  • Kailh BOX White and BOX Jade offer a balance of quality and value, with BOX Whites being more readily available.
  • Gateron and Outemu blues provide a similar feel and sound to Cherry MX at a lower cost, though the build quality can vary.

Remember to pay attention to the details and shop wisely to find the clicky switch that meets your needs perfectly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which clicky switches are considered the best for a mechanical keyboard?

The best clicky switches are often subjective and can depend on your preference for sound and feel. However, Kailh BOX White, Kailh BOX Jade, and Cherry MX Blue switches are frequently recommended for their satisfying tactile feedback and audible click.

How do Kailh Box White switches compare to other clicky switches?

Kailh Box White switches are lauded for their precise actuation and consistency. Compared to other clicky switches, they offer a lighter actuation force, which can lead to less typing fatigue, and their unique click bar mechanism tends to be more stable.

Gateron Blue and Gateron Green switches are among the top clicky options from Gateron. They provide a tactile bump with an audible click, with the Green switches requiring a bit more force to actuate than the Blue ones.

Which clicky switches offer a balance between sound and performance for gaming?

For a balance between an audible click and performance during gaming, Kailh Speed Copper switches are recommended. Their shorter travel distance and actuation point allow for faster key presses without compromising the clicky experience.

Are there clicky keyboard switches that provide a quieter typing experience?

While clicky switches are inherently louder due to their design, some models offer a slightly quieter experience. Cherry MX Blue clones, such as Outemu Blue, produce a softer click sound that may be less disruptive in quieter work environments.

How do the latest clicky switches from 2023 differ from earlier models?

The newest clicky switches from 2023 have focused on reducing key wobble and improving factory smoothness for a more consistent typing feel. Innovations in materials and mechanisms aim to enhance durability and the overall user experience.

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.