Gamer guide | Find the right mechanical keyboard Cherry MX switches
Serious gamers appreciate the benefits of a good mechanical keyboard. However, not all mechanical keyboards are equal and, subjective preferences aside, the right tool is needed depending on the gaming genre.
Our guide provides a handy overview over the different keyboard switches available (mainly Cherry MX switches), their differences, and what games they are ideally suited for.
The main terminologies of Mechanical keyboard
To better understand the Mechanical keyboard, first we introduce the top 5 terminologies you must know.
1. Actuation force
Activation point (or operating position) is the key travel distance before the key press is accepted by the keyboard. Actuation force is the force required to reach this point.
2. Travel distance
The actual distance keys need to be pushed down before the keystroke is recognized. Notebooks generally have much shorter travel distances. Some gamers prefer shorter travel, they feel it requires less effort to actuate keys; others prefer larger distances for better feedback.
Clicky switches make an audible "click" when typing. While typically preferred by typists, they are noticeably louder and can affect noise sensitive people nearby.
Sometimes referred to as "tactile bump", tactile switches have a (sometimes subtle) bump before bottoming out. This bump represents the actuation point.
Linear switches have no bump before bottoming out, and travel smoothly, increasing resistance as you reach the end of the key press.
Different types of mechanical keyboard switch
There are several switch types: brown, blue, red or black switches, commonly referred to as MX switches.
The MX switch is actually "Cherry MX", introduced in the early 1980s by Cherry Corporation, and remains the the world's most popular mechanical switches. The switches are color-coded, each offering different characteristics and key feel.The keyboard switch type is a key factor in deciding your keyboard for work and play: typists who are required to type for hours also need to make the smart choice for optimum typing speed and accuracy.
1. MX black
The counter-force is the most subtle, with the lowest click sound; keys travel straight up and down, with 1.5mm enough to trigger. The MX black is suitable for both high and low speed typing.
It performs great for games because of the short travel and high actuation force. This is ideal for FPS games. Example: counter strike players use several frequently-used keys with key holds, so MX black is a good choice.
2. MX brown
Unlike MX Black, key travel is not vertical, and 2mm is required to trigger. This gives MX brown a more premium feel described of being "the autumn of Cherry". By combining the features of MX Blue and MX Black, it's ideal for most people.
The typing sensation is even smoother than the MX black, so it's suitable for long sessions. The experience is similar to membrane keyboards, making it easier to adapt to MX brown.
Due to the above reasons, MX Brown tends to work well for RTS (Real Time Strategy) players.
3. MX red
The actuation force is small, from 35g up to 60g (MX black starts at 40g). The typing feels light, it's vertical, with a trigger distance of 2.0mm, so it's quite relaxing to type while also being fine for gaming.
MX red is somewhere between MX black and MX brown; feeling lighter than MX black or brown. Overall, MX red is recommended for both FPS and RTS games, while also suitable for typing. The price of MX Red is generally higher than other switches.
4. MX blue
This produces the greatest counter-force, loudest noise and maximum mechanical feeling. With a trigger distance of 2.4mm, the actuation force is 60g, producing a great - albeit noisy - typing sensation. For most players, MX blue is far from the best choice, but it's suitable for typing.
5. Less common Cherry MX switches
While the four switches listed above are found on the vast majority of mechanical keyboards with Cherry switches, others exist:
Clear switches: stiffer version of MX Brown, with a tactile bump and a 65cN weight
Green switches: stiffer version of MX Blue, with a tactile bump, audible click, and 80cN weight, they are primarily used for space bars.
Wrap up: with APM (Actions Per Minute) playing such a central role in games, MX black, MX brown, MX red will not influence your APM as much as MX Blue. For competitive gamers, any one of the first three would be our recommendation.
Gearbest Mechanical keyboard zone: http://www.gearbest.com/mechanical-keyboard-_gear/
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