Best Linear Switches for Gaming [Buyers’ Guide]

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While you can go your whole life without worrying about linear keys, mechanical keyboards, tactile keys, and all that fancy computer language, as a gamer, you must understand. 

To help you out, I have written this article to help you learn the difference between keyboards, what linear keys are, and everything else you need to know. If you are ready to gain this knowledge, then keep reading below! 

What are Linear Switches?

To understand a linear switch, we first need to look at the different switch types you can get.

Most keyboards on laptops and desktop computers are mechanical keyboards. On a mechanical keyboard, there is something called a switch under each button.

The switch registers when you push a button and sends a signal to activate the key. The point where a switch registers a key press is called the actuation point.

There are three types of switches:

  • Tactile switches
  • Linear switches
  • Clicky switches

Here are the main difference between the different switches:

Tactile switches (also known as brown switches) provide tactile feedback. They provide a “tactile bump” at a certain point whenever you press a key to let you know the key has been registered. Tactile buttons pop back up before they touch the bottom of the switch allowing for a shorter actuation distance. Tactile switches are great switches for everyday use.

Linear switches (red switches) don’t have this tactile bump. Instead, they feel the same no matter how far you press a button. Because there’s no tactile bump, you’ll often press the buttons to the bottom, even though the switch most often registers around the halfway point. This allows for a smooth feel and seamless experience. This also means that linear mechanical switches make almost no sound, which can be great if you get distracted by loud noises.

Clicky switches (blue switches) have a clicky feel and make an audible click whenever you press a key. This means you can feel and hear whenever clicky mechanical switches have registered you pressing a button. This also means you don’t need to bottom out each keypress, allowing for fast gaming and typing experience.

You can get speed switches within these designs. Speed switches, like the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches, are designed with shorter travel distances for fast-paced games.

This content was first published on GamersNotAllowed.com

Why are Linear Switches a Good Choice?

Besides enjoying a quiet gaming experience, linear switches are a good choice for gamers because you can get faster reaction times with linear switches.

Since they do not produce tactile feedback when you press down on them, you can game and type with higher accuracy and enjoy a nice speed boost. 

While this can technically give you a slight advantage in your gaming, you should not expect to experience a leap of skill if you get linear switches.

Linear switches are meant to produce a quiet gaming experience while allowing for more accurate typing, not to make you the best at Call of Duty or League of Legends.

Recommended Linear Switches

Now let’s look at some of the best switches for keyboard enthusiasts you can get.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to build your first mechanical keyboard, or an experienced gamer looking for the smoothest switches, here are the top choices on the market today.

Pro tip: Keep in mind, when purchasing linear switches, they come with between 10 – 60 switches per pack on average.

The average keyboard has 107 keys, meaning if you wish to change your keyboard’s switches completely, you may want to go with the larger 60-pc packs.

1. Cherry MX Red Key Linear Switches

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First up on the list is one of the top-leading keyboard companies, the Cherry MX Red Key linear switches.

German company Cherry MX produces some of the best keyboard switches you can get while still providing you with plenty of bang for your buck. 

Cherry MX switches have long been the standard key switches in the gaming community and are known for their high quality and exceptional performance.

Like other brands of linear switches, the Cherry MX Red switches are 3-pin. They have an actuation force of 45g, a click life of 50 million clicks, and a travel distance of 2 mm.

These switches can put most other competitors to shame. It is no surprise that they are one of the most widely used switches for gamers on the market today.

If you want your keyboard to be even more silent than it already is, the Cherry MX offers a silent version (link to Amazon). The silent version is the best choice if you are annoyed or distracted by the slight sounds of linear switches.

Check the current price on Amazon.

2. Feker and Matcha Linear Switches

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Another great brand of linear switches, the Feker and Matcha linear switches, come already pre-lubed. However, you may still need to add some lube to the switches to ensure they are properly ready to be placed into your keyboard. 

They are also slightly more difficult to press than other linear switches, requiring around 60 grams of force to actuate. While this may not seem like a huge difference, it can lead to fatigue over long periods of use.

Like other brands, these switches have a 50 million click lifespan and a total travel distance of 3.5 mm. They are also 5-pin switches and are an excellent choice for DIY.

You will, however, need several packs of these switches to replace your keyboard’s switches with them fully. They are affordable and will not break your wallet when you change your switches.

Check the current price on Amazon.

3. Kailh Black Key Linear Switches

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Next up on the list are the Kailh Black Key linear switches, and it comes with several features you will love.

These Kailh switches are waterproof and prevent dust from building up, which can cause issues with your typing and gaming.

The manufacturer also offers 36, 72, and 108-piece packages, allowing you to get the number of switches you need at an affordable price.

These switches require 60 grams of force to actuate, have a 60 million click lifespan, and have a 3.6 mm actuation point (travel distance).

While they require more force than other brands, you get a much longer lifespan, allowing you to go longer without changing your keys. It should also be noted that these are 3-pin keys.   

Due to the heavier force required for these switches, most negative reviews surrounding them are related to people tiring out after long periods of use.

If you plan on using your keyboard for hours on end for gaming or regular tasks, consider using a different set of switches to prevent that burnout.

Check the current price on Amazon.

4. Gateron Yellow Key Linear Switches

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The Gateron Yellow Key linear switches are an excellent choice if you are new to mechanical keyboards.

They offer you the chance to begin exploring the wonders of linear switches without breaking your wallet, as some higher-end brands will do.

These are 3-pin switches with an actuation force of 35 grams of force and a travel distance of 4 mm, which is slightly more than other brands but still a great travel distance.

On top of that, if you wish to hook up lights to the keyboard to spice it up, these switches support 2-pin 3mm round lights, 4-pin RGB lights, and SMD RGB lights.

When you purchase these keys, they come already pre-lubed, so there is no worrying about lubing them before placing them onto your keyboard. Set aside time to switch out your old switches with these, and you will be ready to go!

Gateron switches are a great choice if you’re on a tight budget.

Check the current price on Amazon.

5. Equalz Tangerine Linear Switches

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A slightly more expensive option, the final set of switches on this list are the Equalz Tangerine Key Linear Switches.

These Tangerine switches come pre-lubed when you purchase them, though you will want to double-check to ensure they are fully lubed and ready to place into your keyboard if you need to add some additional lube, set aside a little extra time, as it can take up to an hour. 

With an actuation force of 67 grams for the dark green stemmed switches and 62 grams of force for the light green stemmed switches, these switches are not for the light-hearted.

You will likely experience some fatigue if you use these for long periods, and they are not a good choice if you are newer to the world of mechanical keyboards. 

These switches’ actual travel distances differ between brands; unfortunately, I could find nothing online detailing the travel distance.

However, since they are one of the top brands for linear switches, you can expect the travel distance to likely be between 3 mm – 4 mm in total.

Check the current price on Amazon.

Mechanical Keyboards vs. Regular Keyboards

So, you know about linear switches and the best ones, but are mechanical keyboards better than regular ones? Which should you get, and how do you know whether or not a mechanical keyboard is right for you?

Worry not, for I shall explain the basics so you can make an educated decision when hunting for your next keyboard.

Mechanical keyboards use physical switches underneath the keys to send each keystroke to the computer, while regular keyboards use a squishy membrane for the same thing. Their physical switches make mechanical keyboards faster, more accurate, last longer, and feel better overall. 

Regular keyboards do not make the classic typing clickity sound mechanical keyboards create (those with tactile or clicky switches) and can feel wobbly due to the rubber dome underneath each key. 

So, how do you decide which keyboard type to get? Well, regular keyboards are cheaper and are best if you only plan on using your computer for an hour or two a day. If you plan on using a keyboard for long periods and putting it through a lot of stress, like with gaming, you want a mechanical keyboard. 

It will be easier to clean out the snack crumbs that fall between the keys, allow for more accurate gameplay, and provide a gaming experience you can not get with a regular keyboard. 

Improving Your Linears

Sometimes when you get linear switches, you may want an even quieter experience, or perhaps there were some minor imperfections during the switch creation process.

While this does happen, it is not too common and is easily fixed. More commonly, what will happen is the switch will be scratchy, especially if you get them directly from the factory. 

Lubricating your switches is highly recommended to produce an even quieter and smoother gaming experience. However, this lengthy process can take one to three hours. It is worth the time, as you will notice the difference between the lubricated and non-lubricated switches. 

I had mentioned that sometimes linear switches could have some imperfections due to the creation process.

Consider getting switch films if your keys feel slightly wobbly or shake more than they should. It is a relatively inexpensive project and only takes a few hours to complete.

I recommend getting a lube kit (link to Amazon) with all the necessary tools to build your new mechanical keyboard.

Conclusion

I hope you found this quick guide to the different types of switches useful. As you can see, each type of switch has its pros and cons. And the best option comes down to personal preference.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my other articles, like the differences between the i5 and i7 processors. Until next time, happy gaming!


FAQ

How Do I Lube My Linear Switches?

The basic process for lubing your linear switches is as follows:

  1. Remove the switch or switches from your keyboard.
  2. Carefully pull apart the switch to access the different parts.
  3. Now, lube the lower housing, the stem, the spring, and the upper housing.
  4. Put the switch back together.
  5. Place the switch back into the keyboard.

If you would like a complete guide on how to lube your keyboard switches, this article does an excellent job of that. 

What Switches Should I Get if I am New to Mechanical Keyboards?

If you are entirely new to mechanical keyboards, I highly recommend the Gateron Yellow switches. They do not require too much force to actuate while producing enough resistance where you can still type normally, and they are a good budget choice. 

What Should I Look for When Purchasing Linear Switches?

When purchasing linear switches, you want to check how wobbly they are (there should be minimal wobble), how much noise they make (linear switches should be difficult to hear), and finally, whether or not they are pre-lubed by the manufacturer. 

Do I Have to Change Out All of My Switches at Once?

No, you do not have to change all your switches simultaneously. You can slowly replace them one by one if you want to over time. However, doing as many possible at once is recommended to keep a consistent gaming experience.