Buying a mechanical keyboard involves a little more research than a standard rubber dome keyboard. Depending on your typing needs or keyboard usage, you’ll find that different mechanical keyboards use different types of keys. The most popular general type are the cherry MX switches, but even those come in different colors which dictate how they respond and feel.
For example, the Coolermaster SGK-4000 CM Storm QuickFire Rapid keyboard comes in both full-size and tenkeyless options, each with different ‘flavors’ of switch. Full-size is available with Blue, Brown, or Green Cherry MX switches, while the tenkeyless option comes in Blue, Brown, or Red. Understanding the difference behind these switches can help you make your choice.
For starters, Cherry MX Red switches are generally ideal for gaming customers. They have a low actuation force for quick and rapid use, meaning they’re also very responsive for typing without the loud, clicking noise. Cherry MX Brown switches are very similar, but includes a “tactile” response when pressing down so you know the key has been registered. With these keys, the only “click” sound will come from the depression of the key itself instead of the click of the switch.
Cherry MX Blue is the tactile, clicky switch that is perhaps the most notorious as a mechanical keyboard switch. Actuation force is higher than Red or Brown Cherry MX switches, but can be suitable for typists who prefer a more audible response to key presses. The Green version is even more stiff with a very high actuation force, typically reserved for space bars.
A great way to find the right mechanical keyboard for you is with a switch tester. Max Keyboard produces several O-Ring Sampler Tester Kits which you can use to test up to 8 different Cherry MX switches, including types like Black, Gray, Clear, and White which are a little more rare in consumer keyboards. Through this, and diligent research, you’ll find a long-lasting mechanical keyboard that is the perfect fit for your typing needs and will last much longer than traditional rubber dome keyboards.