Optical keyboard switches: Razer Optical Switches — Speed of Light ⌨️

Razer Optical Switches — Speed of Light ⌨️


Razer™ Optical Switches deliver the fastest performance you’ll ever experience.

Pushing innovation to elevate the gaming experience is something we constantly strive for. It was what drove us to create the first mechanical keyboard for gaming, then subsequently design our own Razer™ Mechanical Switches to meet the needs of different gamers. And with Razer™ Switches, we’re redefining the standards of speed once again.


The swiftest actuation ever

Unlike traditional mechanical switches that have a lot of moving parts and actuate via metallic contact, Razer™ Optical Switch enables actuation via light. Imagine this: you press a key and a light beam instantly passes through the switch stem—which is when actuation happens—and sends a corresponding signal to your computer to perform the intended action.


Instant actuation

Razer Linear Optical Switch
A linear switch that actuates at a 1.2mm actuation distance, 16.67% shorter than other linear mechanical switches. At a lightweight 45 g of actuation force.

Razer Clicky Optical Switch
The only clicky switch to actuate at a 1.5 mm actuation distance (30% shorter than other clicky mechanical switches). At only just 45 g of actuation force.

Rapid-fire input
Same actuation and reset point for instant reset, for both the Clicky and the Linear Optical Switch


By using light to actuate, we eliminate bouncing found in traditional mechanical switches. As a result, the signal is sent the instant you actuate the key.


Key Feel Light and Clicky Tactile and clicky
Actuation Method Light Actuation Metal contact point
Actuation Force 45g 50g — 60g
Actuation Point 1.5mm 2.0mm — 2.2mm
Durability 100 million clicks 50 million clicks
Stability Cross Stem with Stabilizers Cross Stem



Key Feel

Light and Clicky

Tactile and Clicky

Actuation Method

Light Actuation

Metal contact point

Actuation Force


50g — 60g

Actuation Point

1. 5mm

2.0mm — 2.2mm


100 million clicks

50 million clicks


Cross Stem with Stabilizers

Cross Stem

Key Feel Light and Instant Linear and Silent
Actuation Method Light Actuation Metal contact point
Actuation Force 45g 45g
Actuation Point 1.2mm 1. 2mm
Durability 100 million clicks 50 million clicks
Stability Cross Stem with Stabilizers Cross Stem



Key Feel

Light and Instant

Linear and Silent

Actuation Method

Light Actuation

Metal contact point

Actuation Force



Actuation Point




100 million clicks

50 million clicks


Cross Stem with Stabilizers

Cross Stem

Razer Huntsman V2

Optical Gaming Keyboard with Near-zero Input Latency

Learn More

Razer Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless

Tenkeyless Optical Gaming Keyboard

Learn More

Razer Huntsman Mini

60% Gaming Keyboard with Razer™ Optical Switch

Learn More

What Are Optical Keyboard Switches, And How Do They Work?

We’ve written about the seemingly inevitable rise of optical keyboard switches, but surely, questions linger as to what exactly they are and how they work. Simply put, optical keyboard switches differ from typical mechanical switches in that they use light for actuation instead of a mechanical connection. Of course, there’s more to the story.

How Do They Work?

To be clear, optical switches still have mechanical components. Just like a standard mechanical switch, they have physical moving parts. You push on the key cap, a stem moves within a shaft, and a spring pushes the switch back to its reset position. Optical switches can have the same physical characteristics as regular switches, too, such as a linear action (like Reds), tactile (Browns) and clicky (Blues).

The important bit is in how the input is received and transmitted. Optical switch makers will tell you that traditional mechanical switches suffer performance degradation due to the oxidization and wear of the metal contact points inside, and there is also the issue of metal debounce noise that can add delay to the signal between the keyboard and PC by many milliseconds. Optical switches purportedly suffer from none of those issues.

Further, the nature of optical switches obviates any need for soldering switches to a PCB. This could both cut down on production costs (maybe) and eliminate a potential point of failure; when the welds under a key switch are done poorly, for example, it can wreck the whole key matrix, and the switch where the solder is befouled could eventually fail.

The Big Two: A4tech (Light Strike “LK”) And Adomax (Flaretech)

The two companies that we know for sure are making optical keyboard switches are A4tech (Light Strike “LK” switches) and Adomax (Flaretech switches). Although LK and Flaretech are both optical switches, they differ in key ways.

Light Strike “LK” Switches

LK switches have a horizontal infrared light beam shooting across the inside of the switch shaft. The stem of the switch blocks the light beam, but when you press a key, you push down the stem, allowing the light to make a connection across the shaft and actuate the command.

LK switches actuate at 1.5mm—this, as opposed to the 2.0-2.2mm actuation of most standard mechanical switches—and A4tech said that the switch resets faster than most, too. The company claimed that the LK switch could “respond” as fast as 0.2ms.

It also claimed that its Key Response PK Software could demonstrate this speed. Regarding such a claim: First of all, one should always be wary of a test that favors the entity that created both the test procedure and the testing software. Second, we have seen this test and the software in action, and although it’s certainly a great way to show off the switches’ capabilities on a tradeshow floor, it’s by no means scientific.

The test is set up with a small piece of plastic, about the size and shape of a spacebar, straddling two keyboards—one a Bloody keyboard with LK switches and the other an unknown model with regular mechanical switches. To perform the test, the demonstrator presses down on the plastic bar, pushing down a key on each of the two keyboards simultaneously, and the software spits out the actuation data.

In person, I noticed that the plastic bar was pressing down on a regular-sized key on the Bloody keyboard and a larger key on the no-name keyboard. The performance of those two differently-sized keys, even if they were using the same switch on the same keyboard, will always be slightly different. Then, of course, there’s the fact that the actuation points of the two switches were certainly different—remember, the LK switch actuates at least 0.5mm sooner than a normal mechanical switch, so you’ll always get disparate data if you press them at the same time.

This is not to say that A4tech is a shady company with a snake-oil product. Simply, the claims A4tech makes seem grandiose and not exactly scientific, but the concept, design and execution of the LK switches all appear excellent—just not as over-the-top excellent as A4tech would make it seem.

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Flaretech Switches

Whereas LK switches work using an IR light running across the inside of the switch shaft, Adomax’s Flaretech switches have all of the important components of the switch mounted on top of the PCB. The actual switch is basically “dumb,” and eminently replaceable.

In fact, the nature of the design makes the switches inherently modular. You can pluck any of them from their sockets with a special puller and swap in any other Flaretech switch. That means you can freely use any type of Flaretech switch (Red, Blue, and so on, depending on which types are available) to customize your keyboard. (This modularity may also be true of LK switches.)

Under each switch casing, and mounted onto the PCB, is an LED for backlighting and a sensor that uses infrared photothermal radiometry (IR PTR) technology to detect actuation when a physical object (in this, a switch) descends upon it.

It’s important to understand that the actuator can technically be almost anything. When we saw Wooting’s One keyboard at Computex 2016, we discovered that a fingertip would actuate the key event in the absence of a switch.

As the Wooting fellows have demonstrated, this technology is particularly compelling because it allows a keyboard maker to create analog input and also set the actuation point anywhere in the key travel (with a caveat).

The analog input allows you to use gradations of pressure to control a character or race car (or what have you) in a game. This input is in contrast to the simple on/off function of both traditional keyswitches and LK switches. When you depress a key on a keyboard—let’s say the “W” key— you’re sending an on/off message to the computer. Essentially, it says, “turn on the ‘W’ key.” When you depress a key (again, let’s go with “W”) on a keyboard with Flaretech switches (and well-written firmware) in analog mode, it says, “move forward more slowly or more quickly” depending on how far down you press the key.

Regarding variable switch actuation points, technically, with the right firmware, you can set the actuation anywhere in the Flaretech switch’s key travel. Presently, the Flaretech switch occludes the IR sensor until 2mm into its travel, though, so actuation may be adjustable only between 2mm and 4mm (when the switch bottoms out).

To explain further, we’ll quote ourselves from our earlier article on the subject:

It’s possible for Flaretech to adjust this issue, and upcoming iterations of the switch should offer pretravel of just 1mm, or even 0mm. Therefore, for now, Wooting can set the actuation point anywhere between actuation and the end of the total travel (a total of 2mm) to the tenth decimal. That is to say, actuation could be set at 2.0mm, 2.1mm, 2.2mm, and so on, all the way to 3.9mm. Presuming that Flaretech enables actuation earlier in the switch travel, the actuation point could then be set to 0.1mm, 0.2mm, 0.3mm, and so on, all the way to 3.9mm.

Obviously, this variable actuation is really only ideal on a linear switch, because any tactile bump will throw off your tactile equilibrium.

One of the big selling points of this technology is that in the absence of any soldering, making a keyboard outfitted with Flaretech switches is ostensibly less expensive, and presumably, keyboard makers would pass those savings on to consumers.

On the other hand, those PCBs could possibly be more expensive because you have to factor in the cost of the IR sensor (not to mention the LEDs) that they slap on top for every single key switch.

Both LK and Flaretech switches are Cherry stem-compatible, so they’re just begging for users to trick out the keyboards with aftermarket key caps.

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Why Optical Switches?

There are several reasons why optical switches portend to be superior to traditional mechanical switches, including speed, durability/ruggedness and the ability to expand the capabilities of the switch.


Several keyboard makers are experimenting with modifications to switches that ostensibly enable you to press keys faster for better gaming performance. Cherry has its Speed Switch, Tesoro has its low-profile Agile switches, and Kailh has a mechanical switch aimed primarily at laptops (but could be used on a regular desktop keyboard). Steel Series has its QS1 switch , too. All feature reduced actuation points and total key travel compared to traditional mechanical switches, all in the name of speed.

Optical switches could enhance speed, too. A4tech posits speed as the main selling point of its LK switches (which also have a shallower total key travel than typical mechanical switches), claiming that because optical switches do not suffer from the debounce issues that purely mechanical switches do, they are inherently faster.

(However, even assuming that all of the above—earlier actuation, shallower travel and no debounce—positively affect speed, there’s a human element at play here that may mitigate, or even obviate, the benefits of “speedier” switches.)

Robust Operation

We saw more than one keyboard submerged in water at Computex, and although one was an inexpensive non-mechanical keyboard designed for difficult environments, others were meant to show off how optical switch keyboards can function. Tesoro had one dunked in a tub, and Adomax had one under a little waterfall. Both still worked. (Hurray for sealed electronics and no solder.)

The underwater business is just a gimmick, but it points to the nature of the switches’ functionality. There are still physical moving parts inside the switches, but fundamentally the action concerns interrupting or affecting light. (But hey, if you’re into underwater gaming…)

The absence of solder on the switches and the non-mechanical actuation should contribute to longer-lasting switches, too.  


The most compelling door that optical switches can open is innovation, and it’s here that the two primary competing optical switch makers may differ sharply. The LK switches are intriguing, but as I mentioned, they still fundamentally offer a simple on/off function. By contrast, Adomax’s Flaretech design helped enable the analog controls and variable actuation that Wooting is developing, and that’s creating exciting questions about what capabilities mechanical gaming keyboards could and should offer.

In any case, it’s myopic to limit new technologies to the few use cases that early generations may offer. Once enterprising minds engage with new tech, they tend to come up with ideas and solutions that no one ever previously considered.

And Then There’s Marketing

Of course, no wise keyboard maker would allow itself to miss out on a marketing opportunity. Switch lifetime (50 million! 60 million! 80 million clicks!) and RGB lighting are two prominent keyboard features that are often more hype than substance. Sure, having a longer switch lifespan is great, but in real life, are 80 million clicks effectively better than 50 million? And RGB lighting is certainly something that appeals to many users, and there are better and worse ways to implement it, but there are plenty of users for whom RGB lighting is nothing more than an expensive cupholder (as it were).

By the same token, expect every possible spin from keyboard makers on why optical switches are better than standard mechanical ones. And as we’ve previously written, expect to see and hear more about optical keyboard switches in the coming months.

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Optical or mechanical switches: what to choose for gaming?

When it comes to gaming, absolutely every user wants to achieve maximum performance. In this regard, the question arises, which keyboard is better: mechanical or optical?

Mechanical keyboard switches have been unrivaled in gaming for quite some time now, offering the speed, durability and responsiveness that gamers crave.

But as optical switches become more and more popular, many began to wonder: what is still better for gaming?

Below we will explain the difference between optical and mechanical switches, as well as figure out which ones are best suited for gaming. Go!


  • 1 How it works
  • 2 Optical and mechanical switches: which is better?
    • 2. 1 Durability
    • 2.2 Speed ​​
    • 2.3 Comfort and noise
  • 3 Price and availability
  • 4 So which is better for gaming?

How it works

Mechanical switches work like this: after a key is partially pressed to the so-called activation point, two metal wires connect to each other and complete an electrical circuit, and then send the computer the information that the button has been pressed.

There are three main types of mechanical switches: linear, tactile, and clicky:

  • The linear switches are quieter, require less actuation force, and provide no tactile feedback.
  • The tactile is much louder and just needs to press the key to the middle.
  • Clicky switches produce a loud «click» in the middle of a keystroke.

Optical switches use a completely different process called light induction: they are also based on the mechanical principle of operation, but instead of closing contacts, a beam of light is reflected inside the switch housing (through the installed lens).

So which is better for gaming?

Optical and mechanical switches: which is better?

There are several things to consider when choosing which is best for gaming:

  • Durability: How many clicks are the switches rated for?
  • Speed: How fast is the key activated?
  • Comfort : how pleasant is it to press the keys?
  • Noise : how loud are the keys?


The average life of mechanical or optical switches depends largely on the manufacturer.

However, most optical switches on the market today have a lifetime of about 100 million clicks.

If we talk about mechanical models, then only Cherry MX is more or less close to this indicator. Most mechanical keyboard manufacturers promise between 50 and 60 million keystrokes, which is half that of optical keyboards!

However, it’s important to remember that even 50 million keystrokes equates to about 10-15 years of intense gaming or typing, and is likely to be enough for most people.

Speed ​​

The speed of the switches depends on several things, including the force applied to press and the distance the switch must travel to activate the key.

Mechanical switches also have a delay of about five milliseconds. Opticals, on the other hand, have no delay at all. This means that the response time of optical switches is typically around 5ms faster. However, it’s still hard to figure out whether this small difference really translates into better performance while gaming.

Otherwise, the speed of optical switches depends largely on the manufacturer. The best ones seem to be the Razer Optical Purple — Razer touts them as the fastest on the market and about 30ms faster than the Cherry MX (the fastest mechanical switches).

Comfort and noise

The convenience of mechanical and optical switches is largely a matter of personal preference. The same applies to noise. But given that there are many devices on the market, the likelihood that you will find the right keyboard is pretty high.

If we talk about mechanical switches, then, as we wrote above, there is a choice between linear, tactile and clicky. Thus, you can easily find comfortable, quiet and fast keys.

Optical keyboards have fewer options in this regard. You might like the standard keys on an optical keyboard, but not everyone is happy with this arrangement.

However, times are changing and many brands offer at least a few alternatives.

The Razer Huntsman series offers Razer Optical Reds (linear) and Razer Optical Purples (clicky) switches. The Gateron also has several options, including Gateron Optical Black, Blue, Brown, and Red, all of which have similar specs to their mechanical counterparts.

Pricing and Availability

There are dozens of manufacturers and types of mechanical keyboards on the market today, so you’ll likely find what you’re looking for fairly easily. In addition, most mechanical keyboards are upgradeable, making them louder, quieter, faster, or more durable.

Unfortunately, the situation is worse with optical keyboards, but in recent years there have been significantly more options. However, it is worth noting that there are far fewer modifications and custom keys available for optical keyboards.

Finally, you can easily find a good budget mechanical keyboard, while a good optical one will cost much more (like the Razer Huntsman).

So mechanical switches definitely win when it comes to price.

To sum up:

  • Optical switches tend to act faster than mechanical ones.
  • Optical switches have a longer life, although some types of mechanical switches can also last for a long time.
  • Mechanical switches are often more convenient to use.
  • Mechanical switches are quieter, especially linear ones.
  • There are several types of mechanical switches, as well as many models of keyboards, and they can be easily upgraded.

So which is better for gaming?

MECHANICAL . When it comes to mechanical keyboards, there are many more devices available on the market right now. However, this is logical since optical switches are still relatively new and only gaining popularity. Thus, many users are not yet ready to switch to them.

However, the situation may change in the near future, because we are seeing the release of an increasing number of optical devices. For example, the Razer Huntsman series offers customization, speed and reliability that gamers especially appreciate.

Source: makeuseof.com

Article about types of mechanical switches — Geekboards


This is the second version of the article about mechanical switches. The first one was written in 2014. Since then, the world of mechanics has changed, and so have our understanding and understanding of switches. It has been greatly improved since the first version. We abandoned the strict division into keyboards for printing and gaming, because this separation does not justify itself. There are programmers who love Cherry MX Black and gamers who love Cherry MX Blue. Instead, we tried to describe the switches from the point of view of the average user, as we have gained a lot of experience over the years with very different mechanical keyboards and switches.

Most switches originate as Cherry MX copies or ALPS copies, so we will try to describe them in more detail, while a brief digression will suffice for copies.


Cherry MX









Cherry MX 9 switches0031

First introduced on November 7, 1983 by the German company Cherry. Initially, only linear switches were available. Subsequently, the variety of switches was achieved by combining pressing force, the presence or absence of tactile feedback, and the presence / absence of a click. Visually, the switches are distinguished by the colors of the stem (stem color).

Cherry MX switches are the de facto quality standard in the industry. Gold-plated contacts do not oxidize over time, they can be poured over coffee, cola and other drinks of your choice, then rinsed under running water, dried well and used further.

In production, special attention is paid to accuracy and accuracy, which avoids failures, breakdowns, double clicks, rattling and other unpleasant features found in cheap Chinese clones.

Finding the right switches can be tricky, so we have developed a switch tester for you :3

Cherry MX RGB Switches

In 2014, an RGB version with a transparent body was introduced. The switches were developed jointly by Corsair and Cherry as part of a project to create a full-color keyboard backlight. After the implementation, Corsair had the exclusive right to release a keyboard with these switches for the first six months. The principle of operation is quite simple: a diode is soldered onto the printed circuit board, and thanks to the transparent and light-scattering case, the light penetrates directly under the key and illuminates the area around:

Cherry MX Brown (tactile)

Considered universal switches: quite quiet compared to Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Green, because they do not click, but at the same time, the actuation point is quite well felt: it is easy to determine when it is time to release the key without squeezing it completely. This feature will please those who work a lot with text. So if you don’t know exactly what you want, feel free to take Cherry MX Brown.

  • As first mechanic
  • For amateur games
  • Home
  • To office

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Cherry MX Blue (tactile, clicky)


Cherry MX Blue is the favorite of many mechanical keyboard users. With their click, they resemble a typewriter, but the click is less loud and grinding. In addition to the memory, the click allows you to more clearly feel the actuation point of the switch, and therefore typing on such switches is even more convenient and pleasant than on Cherry MX Brown. In addition, they are quite light when pressed, so the fingers do not get tired when typing. But there are also disadvantages: using such a keyboard in open space is unlikely to be a good idea: a click can annoy your neighbors in the workspace. Some believe that due to the large distance between the activation / deactivation points, fast frequent clicks may not always be processed, so Cherry MX Blue is not very suitable for games. Others do not experience any problems with frequent clicks and consider the problem far-fetched, so, as always, everything is very subjective.

  • To the office for work, or to the office with non-irritating colleagues
  • Go home if you don’t wake anyone at night
  • Experienced printer
  • Lovers of warm lamp clicks

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Cherry MX Red (linear)

Cherry MX Red is dearly loved by gamers. These are the most common switches for games. They are linear, and this is convenient for fast repeated taps. They are also fairly easy to press, unlike the Cherry MX Black (45g vs 60g). This is both a plus and a minus: fingers get tired less, but it’s easier to accidentally press an unnecessary button. It’s up to you to decide: either increase the accuracy of pressing, or swing your fingers.

In general, Cherry MX Red leaves a feeling of softness and smoothness, which is why everyone in addition to gamers often falls in love with them. Working with them is really a pleasure: fingers literally swim when typing.

  • Gamers with tired fingers or other switches feel heavy
  • Open space to work to relax and not disturb colleagues too much
  • Lovers of softness and smoothness
  • Home
  • To office

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Cherry MX Silent Red (linear)

Created in collaboration with Corsair and announced in 2015. This is Cherry MX Red for those who want maximum silence at all costs. Unlike the balanced Cherry MX Red, there is already an excess of softness: a sound-absorbing pad is installed in the switch, which dampens the sound of plastic hitting plastic both when the button is pressed and when it is released. Because of this effect, some people find that the feel of use is rather vague, like pressing into a pillow. Others, on the contrary, like such softness. Try to poke your finger into the table, and then into your palm — you will understand what it is about. But Cherry MX Silent Red has an iron advantage: they are really almost silent.

  • Office where colleagues are especially irritable
  • Home where people with very light sleep live
  • If you want something new and unusual
  • Particularly violent gamers whose aggressive presses are perfectly softened by these switches

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Cherry MX Black (linear)

First introduced in 1984. One of the oldest mechanical switches. They are also one of the tightest in the line. Frequent choice of gamers. On the one hand, this can be repulsive, because it will take more force than usual to operate, but on the other hand, this feature provides exceptional accuracy when working with the keyboard, since accidental pressing is completely excluded. This tightness also gives a pleasant distinctness of sensations, for which many people love Cherry MX Black. These switches have a particularly strong following among gamers: games require quick and precise taps for short periods of time, so the fingers do not have time to get tired.

  • Gamers
  • Lovers of the soul to knock on the buttons
  • Home

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Cherry MX Clear (tactile)

Quite rare switches found in nature. The principle of operation is similar to Cherry MX Brown, but with a more pronounced tactile response. Perfect for those for whom the brightness of sensations from Cherry MX Brown is no longer enough, and clicky ones are not suitable. Definitely, these switches are not for beginners. Cherry MX Clear is preferred for a third or fourth mechanical keyboard when they already know exactly what they want. In addition to a more obvious tactile response, they are also quite tight: 60-80 grams versus 40-60 grams for Cherry MX Brown, which eliminates accidental clicks.

  • Experienced mechanical keyboard enthusiast who wants to try something new
  • For those who don’t like clicks but love tactility
  • Strong fingers
  • Home
  • To office

Cherry MX Green (tactile, clicky)

Like Cherry MX Clear, Cherry MX Green are fairly rare switches found in nature. The principle of operation is the same as that of Cherry MX Blue, only the spring is tighter. As with the Cherry MX Clear, buying a keyboard with green switches is worth buying in two cases: when you’re sure the blue switches aren’t bouncy enough for you, and for the collection to try something new. The advantage of such switches, as in the case of other tight options, is that accidental presses are much more difficult to tolerate here. We strongly advise you to purchase noise-absorbing rings for such a keyboard: it will be a little quieter.

  • Home for an experienced mechanic, where you won’t surprise anyone with the knock of mechanics
  • Lovers of the heart to knock keys
  • For those who cannot live without clicks

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Cherry MX Speed ​​Silver (linear)

Introduced in 2015. Cherry MX Speed ​​Silver is the same Cherry MX Red, only with a shorter key travel. Inside, the contact is lubricated in the part that comes into contact with the stem, due to which the pressure feels especially even and smooth. Positioned as the fastest Cherry MX switches. With 40% less key travel (1.2mm vs. 2mm on standard switches), they are well suited for gamers who need the fastest possible response to pressing and those who find the long travel of conventional switches prevents them from typing even faster. When used, they really feel quite dynamic.

  • Fast gamers
  • Fast printers
  • To the home collection
  • To office

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Cherry MX Nature White (linear)


was first announced in October 2015 with the Ducky Shine 5 keyboards. The main audience for these switches are gamers for whom Cherry MX Red is too easy to press, and Cherry MX Black fingers get tired. Cherry MX Nature White is not too heavy and not too light, just the golden mean: 52 grams before actuation, unlike red (45 grams) and black (60 grams). There is an opinion on the Internet that one day they will become the standard in the world of switches for gamers.

  • Gamers who find it difficult to decide between Cherry MX Red and Black
  • For longtime lovers of linear switches
  • Particularly sensitive to pressure
  • To the home collection
  • To office


Topre switches are electrostatic capacitive switches from Topre Corporation of Japan. The Topre keyboard was first introduced in 1983. The Topre switch has the following structure: a key is located above the convex rubber gasket, and a conical steel spring is located below it; the spring itself, in turn, is placed directly above the printed circuit board. Despite the fact that such switches are separate components of the keyboard, they are mounted together on a single plate. The rubber dome is the source of most of the resistance and tactility.

Don’t worry about the rubber gasket failing or losing its properties, as can happen with cheap membrane keyboards. Topre switch keyboards serve happy owners for decades.

What category are Topre switches in? The structure of the switches can be described as “hybrid”: since their structure includes a rubber membrane, it seems impossible to unequivocally attribute them to “mechanical” — perhaps even the term “semi-mechanical” is not entirely correct. However, you can’t call them “membrane” either — because they have springs!

Topre 30g, 45g

At first, Topre switches feel like improved membrane switches with a rubber gasket; then it starts to feel like you’re working with mechanical switches like Cherry MX Red or Alps SKCM Cream Damped. The key travel is very smooth, and the tactile point is almost at the very beginning of the stroke. After overcoming it, the resistance practically disappears, because of which, during operation, the keys, as a rule, are squeezed out to the stop. The trigger point is in the middle of the stroke, but you are unlikely to feel it. When pressed all the way, the switch emits a characteristic and sonorous “clap!”, And when it returns to its original position, the sound is about the same. In general, users agree that Topre switches are quieter than most mechanical switches and sound good.

Combined with the lack of tactile feedback, this can cause unaccustomed users to press certain keys by accident. This problem is especially relevant for keyboards like the RealForce, which have switches with different weights for different fingers.

  • For sophisticated users who know what they want
  • For those who work a lot at the keyboard
  • Add to collection
  • To any office, even to irritable colleagues
  • Home


ALPS switches for mechanical keyboards were manufactured by the Japanese company of the same name until 1996. At the moment, all switches that call themselves ALPS or Alps are, to varying degrees of accuracy, copies of the same old ALPS. Original switches are often referred to in foreign sources as «Alps Complicated» (complex), due to the design, consisting of 10 parts per switch. There were linear, tactile, clicky and other variants of Alps switches.

The most popular clones at the moment are Matias switches, the design of which is greatly simplified relative to the original. If you are not an enthusiast, then there is no point in paying attention to other clones.

ALPS (and similar) can be a great alternative to Cherry MX switches: if you like tactility and want something more than Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Clear, then ALPS is the way to go.

Despite the fact that ALPS switches for mechanical keyboards are no longer available, if you are willing and persistent enough, you can find keyboards in good condition on the Internet, for example on ebay.

  • Experimenters
  • For those for whom Cherry MX is “something not right”
  • For broadening one’s horizons
  • To the home collection


One of the most famous ALPS clones installed in Matias keyboards. They are assembled in China by Gaote (Dongguan Gaote Electronics Co., Ltd.). The design of the Matias switches is quite simplified compared to the original ALPS.

ALPS Matias

They have a completely transparent housing that allows you to install LEDs directly on the board under the switch, as is the case with Cherry MX RGB.

Matias mechanical switches come in three varieties: clicky, tactile/quiet click and linear. As with the Cherry MX, the switch types are visually distinguished by stem colors.

They feel tighter and brighter than Cherry MX: they require more pressure to press, but the tactile feedback and click are much brighter and more felt (as if comparing Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Clear). Some say that after Matias all Cherry MXs seem almost linear 🙂

Another important difference is that the resistance of the switch drops after the key is actuated, which encourages the key to be pressed all the way down. For those who are accustomed to typing to the trigger, and not to the stop, this feature may seem annoying.

Matias Click (tactile, clicky)

Switches with a bright, distinct click. Definitely not the quietest and therefore not suitable for people with delicate hearing. Choosing such switches for work in the office should be done with caution. Tighter than Cherry MX. Their click is brighter and more “juicy”. The actuation point is slightly higher than Cherry MX Blue. Some consider it an honor.

  • Lovers of the soul to knock on the buttons
  • Nostalgic clicks like a typewriter
  • Lovers of something new
  • To the home collection

Matias Quiet Click (tactile)

When designing these switches, Matias tried to make them as quiet as possible, and they succeeded: they sound almost as quiet as a membrane keyboard, due to noise-dampening pads inside the switch. In fact, the word Click in the name of the switch does not reflect the essence: the switch is not clicky (otherwise, what would be the point of making it quiet), but tactile. Feels like Cherry MX Brown, but like the rest of the Matias switches, they are tighter and the tactile feedback is brighter.

  • Lovers of the heart to knock on the buttons
  • For those who lack the tactility of Cherry MX Brown
  • Lovers of something new
  • To the home collection

Matias Quiet Linear

Matias linear switches have a smoother, tighter feel than Cherry MX Silent Red but are otherwise very similar. Matias Quiet Linear are very quiet compared to conventional switches without sound absorbing pads, so they will fit perfectly in both the office and home for gaming. Some have argued that these switches are somewhat similar to the Topre, only slightly tighter.

  • Lovers of the heart to knock on the buttons
  • Lovers of something new
  • To office
  • To the home collection


Inexpensive Chinese clones of Cherry MX switches. They are released relatively recently, therefore, unlike the 30-year history of Cherry, they are not well studied and tested by the community to unequivocally state their reliability or lack of reliability.

They feel less smooth and smooth. When pressed, there is a roughness (you can often find reviews of «sand» when pressed). Often keyboards with Kailh switches have a problem with “rattling” or “double-click”, when pressing a key immediately prints 2 letters in a row instead of one. But keep in mind that the price of mechanical keyboards on Kailh is much lower.

In general, the comparison between Cherry and Kailh is not entirely correct, because these are switches from different price categories. If you buy a cheap mechanical keyboard for $30-40, then Kailh is quite good, because no one will expect miracles from mechanics at this price. Another thing is when they are put in premium keyboard models for $100-150. From our point of view, it is worth looking at such keyboards with caution, because for this money there are many high-quality and interesting options.

In order not to be unfounded, let’s show you an example of poor workmanship (probably, such problems are not in 100% of Kailh switches):

It’s worth mentioning that the quality of Kailh switches is increasing year by year. The first versions were VERY bad, but over time, bad reviews become less.

Kailh Brown (tactile)

Cherry MX Brown clones with similar feel and pressure to the original (see Cherry MX Brown)

Kailh Blue (tactile, clicky)

Cherry MX Blue clones, same feel and pressure as the original (see Cherry MX Blue)

Kailh Red (linear)

Cherry MX Red clones, same feel and pressure as the original (see Cherry MX Red)

Kailh Black (linear)

Cherry MX Black clones, same feel and pressure as the original (see Cherry MX Black)


Razer switches are clones of Cherry MX switches. In 2014-2015, the mechanical keyboard market faced a shortage of Cherry MX switches. Cherry’s manufacturing capacity was not sufficient to meet the growing demand for switches. Therefore, manufacturers had to look for other options. First of all, it was precisely this, and not the desire to reduce the cost of production, that was the main reason for the transition of many companies, including Razer, to Chinese analogues of Cherry MX.

At the time of writing, there are at least 2 manufacturers of Razer switches: Kaihua (make Kailh switches) and Greetech. All keyboards since late 2015 are rumored to be equipped with Greetech switches. Again, Razer is rumored to have dropped Kailh switches due to inconsistent quality.

The main attack on Razer switches is inconsistency. The feel of pressing from switch to switch can be different: some click more loudly, in others the click is barely audible. Some move more smoothly, others less.

Razer Green (tactile, clicky)

Slightly less vibrant tactile response than Cherry MX Blue. Otherwise, almost the same click.

Razer Orange (tactile)

Like the Razer Green, compared to the Cherry MX Brown, the tactile response is less bright and the touch is slightly lighter.

Razer Yellow (linear)


Very similar to Cherry MX Speed ​​Silver: same shorter key travel and the same amount of force required to actuate the key. Not as smooth as Cherry MX, you can find the feeling of «sand», but once in a while it is not necessary.


Perhaps the most famous, popular, high-quality and community-loved Cherry MX clones. They are loved mainly for predictable quality (switches are identical to each other in terms of quality and feel when pressed) and for a smoother key travel compared to even Cherry MX. On the negative side, the stem on the Gateron dangles much more noticeably than on the Cherry, which can make typing on tactile and clicky switches annoying, even though the stroke is smooth.

Stem colors do not match Cherry switches. For example, Gateron Clear is linear, while Cherry MX Clear is tactile. Below is a comparative table between Gateron and Cherry MX.

Gateron Clear Linear 35g
Gateron Red Linear 45g MX Red
Gateron Yellow Linear 50g
Gateron Black Linear 65g MX Black
Gateron Blue Clickers 55g MX Blue
Gateron Green Clickers 75g MX Green
Gateron Brown Tactile 50g MX Brown


The Zealio switches are a big part of the community: a lot of people love the vibrant tactile response of Cherry MX Clear switches, but for many, the pushing force is too much. As a result, Zeal PC decided to make their ideal switches. They are produced in the same place as Gateron and, in fact, are Gaterons. The only differences from standard Gaterons (aside from actuation force) are the gold-plated springs, which are resistant to corrosion and a more pronounced tactile response, which is achieved through the use of a more «angular» stem shape:


switches turned out great: very smooth action, excellent tactile feedback and balanced actuation force. The community loves them so much that they are almost never in stock, and sometimes Zealios can only be «gotten» by pre-order. Plus, they are quite expensive.


Another Chinese clone of Cherry MX switches. One of the most inexpensive mechanical switches known outside of China. Made popular by being used in super-cheap Chinese Motospeed keyboards (available for $30). Good quality for such money is not worth waiting for. The main problem is inconsistency.