Cherry mx blue, red or brown

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Mar 15, 2014
What are the differences between cherry mx blue, red and brown switches in terms of quietness and gaming/typing performance


Apr 23, 2004
I'm sure Gee Bee really feels that way. However, keyboards are a very personal thing.

I'm not a gamer, but I'm a fast typist (110+ wpm). When I researched mechanical keyboards, I learned that the Cherry Red and Brown switches were the quietest (and Blues the loudest). So I looked for opinions comparing Reds and Browns.

Most people said that Reds were great for gaming, but not so good for typing. They said Browns were best for typing because they provide a small "bump" of tactile feedback, whereas Reds were smooth. So when I started visiting PC shops, I was prepared to like Browns and not Reds.

Well, it was the other way around. I found the Browns' tactile bump an unnecessary distraction. I know when I've pressed a key, because I see a character appear on my display. (If you're watching your fingers, you're defeating the purpose of fast typing.) So why did I need keys that "told" me I'd pressed them?

I love the Reds—they're light, fast, and simple, exactly what I need to type as fast and easily as possible. Beyond that, they're Cherrys, and they'll last longer than I will... That's enough for me!

I imagine many gamers play so fast that they don't care about feedback either, and would prefer Reds. But many fast gamers and typists prefer Browns. Many prefer Blues, too—which, with their clackiness and tactile bump, I'd find really distracting. (Maybe they see PC keyboards as a kind of musical instrument?)

If you record someone's typing, you can actually identify them from it, like a set of fingerprints. It's that individual. So naturally, everyone's going to have different keyboard preferences.

Key switches are about a lot more than how someone describes them, or even how they feel as individual parts. That's why those dummy switch "samplers" are useless—they're like picking up a tennis racquet, feeling the handle, and imagining what it's like to hit a ball with it, vs. actually taking it out on the court.

The only way to know what kind of switches you like is to try real keyboards, connected to real computers, so you can experience how they actuate under your particular touch. So I advise you to stop reading people's opinions and get out and try stuff. Hope this helps. Cheers, Ander


May 13, 2015
According to An introduction to Cherry MX mechanical switches

## A history of Cherry

Cherry Corporation was founded in the United States in 1953 and started producing keyboards in 1967, making them the oldest keyboard manufacturer in the world that’s still in business. The company was moved to Germany in 1967 and bought by ZF Friedrichshafen AG in 2008, but keyboards and mechanical switches are still produced under the Cherry brand.

Their most popular line of switches, the Cherry MX series, was introduced around 1985. These switches are usually referenced by their physical colour, with each colour denoting the switch’s handling characteristics – whether it is clicky, whether it is tactile, and how much force is required to actuate the switch, in centi-Newtons (cN) or grams (g).

## Linear switches

Linear switches have the simplest operation, moving straight up and down without any additional tactile feedback or loud clicking noise – we’ll come to these more complicated switches later on. There are two common types of linear switches – Black and Red.

Cherry MX Black switches were introduced in 1984, making them one of the older Cherry switches. They have a medium to high actuation force, at 60 cN, which means they are the stiffest of the four most common Cherry switches. These switches are used in point-of-sale stations, but typically aren’t considered ideal for typing due to their high weighting. They have found use in RTS video games, where the high weighting can prevent accidental key presses that might occur on less stiff switches. The stronger spring also means that they rebound faster, meaning they can be actuated quite quickly given enough force – although you may also find fatigue becomes more of a factor than with other switches.

Conversely, Cherry MX Red switches were only introduced in 2008 and are the most recent switch to be developed by the company. They have a low actuation force, at 45 cN – tied with Brown for the lowest of the four most common switches. Red switches have been marketed as a gaming switch, with the light weighting allowing for more rapid actuation, and have become increasingly common in gaming keyboards.

## Tactile, non-clicky switches

Tactile switches provide, as the name suggests, additional tactile feedback as the key actuates. As you press the key down, there is a noticeable bump which lets you know that your key press has been registered.

The most popular type of tactile, non-clicky switch is the Cherry MX Brown. This switch was introduced in 1994 as a special ‘ergo soft’ switch, but quickly became one of the most popular switches. Today, the majority of Filco keyboards are sold with Brown switches, as the switch is a good middle-of-the-road option appropriate for both typing and gaming. They are also ideal for typing in office environments, where a clicky switch might annoy some.

## Tactile, clicky switches

Clicky switches add a deliberately louder ‘click’ sound to the existing tactile bump, allowing for greater typing feedback. This makes it easier to know that you’ve hit the activation point. This is achieved by a more complicated mechanism, with a blue plunger and a white slider. When the actuation point is reached, the slider is propelled to the bottom of the switch and the click noise is produced.

The Cherry MX Blue is the most common clicky switch, and was first made available in Filco keyboards in 2007. Blue switches are favoured by typists due to their tactile bump and audible click, but can be less suitable for gaming as the weighting is relatively high – 50 cN – and it is a bit harder to double tap, as the release point is above the actuation point. Blue switches are noticeably louder than other mechanical switches, which are already louder than rubber domes, so these switches can be a bit disruptive in close working conditions.

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