Alright, keyboard aficionados, let's talk switches! You know, those tiny marvels under your keys that can turn typing into a satisfying symphony. If you're all about that satisfying click sound and that little bump that makes every keystroke feel like an event, you're in for a treat.
In this article, we're taking a deep dive into the world of clicky switches. We're checking out the heavyweights like the classic Cherry MX Blue and the innovator Kailh Box Jade. These switches bring together that tactile feel, that signature sound, and a typing experience that's just on another level.
We will also dissect the specs, break down the vibes, and help you find that perfect clicky switch for your keyboard. Whether you're punching out code, penning stories, or fragging foes, these switches are your ticket to a keyboard experience that's downright addictive.
Let's get clacking and discover the magic that happens right beneath your fingertips.
What are clicky keyboard switches and why are they popular?
You've probably heard the distinct sound of clicky switches and wondered what makes them so unique. As we dive into this discussion, you'll gain a better understanding of these 'clicky' beasts, discover their pros and cons, and find out why they're so popular among keyboard enthusiasts.
What are clicky switches?
Let's dive into understanding clicky switches.
Clicky switches are a type of mechanical keyboard switch that produces a distinct tactile bump and audible click when pressed. The source of this tactile bump is a small plastic component called a click jacket inside the switch housing. When the switch is pressed, the click jacket engages and creates a clicking sound.
Clicky switches are often preferred by typists and gamers as the tactile feedback and audible clicks help them to type more accurately and quickly.
Compared to other switches, clicky switches can be noisy, so they may not be ideal for everyone. If you are looking for a quiet switch, you may want to consider a linear or tactile switch instead.
Advantages of clicky switches
There's no denying the satisfaction that comes from using a keyboard with a tactile bump and clear audible click, making every keystroke feel important and productive. There are several advantages to using clicky switches on your mechanical keyboard.
Tactile feedback: Clicky switches have a tactile bump that you can feel when the switch is activated. The tactile bump of clicky switches can help you to type more accurately and quickly, as you will be able to feel when the key has been pressed all the way down.
Audible feedback: Get clicky switches if you want your mechanical keyboard to produce audible clicks as you type. This can be satisfying for some people, and it can also be helpful in noisy environments. For example, if you are typing in a coffee shop or library, the audible click can help you stay focused and avoid making mistakes.
Durability: Clicky switches are typically made with high-quality materials, which makes them durable and long-lasting. This means that you can enjoy your clicky switches for many years to come.
Customization: There are many different types of clicky switches available, so you can choose the ones that best suit your needs. You can also customize your keyboard with different keycaps and switches to create a unique typing experience.
Here are some additional advantages of clicky switches:
They are satisfying to type on: The tactile bump and audible click can be very satisfying for some people, and they can help to make typing more enjoyable.
They are easy to identify: The distinctive sound and feel of clicky switches make them easy to identify, even in a noisy environment. This can be helpful for people who are visually impaired or who have difficulty distinguishing between different types of switches.
They are versatile: Clicky switches can be used for a variety of purposes, including typing, gaming, and programming. This makes them a good choice for people who want a switch that can be used for multiple tasks.
Disadvantages of clicky switches
Despite their numerous advantages, it can't be ignored that the sound produced by these unique switches might not be everyone's cup of tea. These disadvantages include:
Noise: Clicky switches are known for their loud sound, which may not be ideal for everyone. If you are looking for a quiet switch, you may want to consider a linear or tactile switch instead.
Expensive: Clicky switches are typically more expensive than other types of switches. This is because they are made with higher-quality materials and require more complex manufacturing processes.
Not suitable for all environments: The noise of clicky switches may not be suitable for all environments, such as libraries, offices, or hospitals. If you are concerned about noise, you may want to choose a different type of switch.
Not as smooth as linear switches: Clicky switches are not as smooth as linear switches, as they have a tactile bump and audible click. This can make them feel less comfortable to type on for some people.
More prone to dust and dirt: Clicky switches are more prone to dust and dirt than other types of switches, as they have a tactile bump and audible click. This can lead to the switches feeling less responsive and can also damage the switches over time.
The popularity of clicky switches
In spite of any drawbacks, it's clear that these unique typing tools have gained a significant fanbase among enthusiasts and professionals alike. Clicky keyboard switches offer a number of advantages for typists and gamers. If you are looking for switches that provide both feel and sound, clicky switches are a great option.
Tactile feedback: Clicky switches for gaming and typing have a tactile bump that you can feel when the switch is activated. This can help you to type more accurately and quickly as you will be able to feel when the key has been pressed all the way down.
Audible feedback: Clicky switches also produce an audible click when they are pressed. This can be satisfying for some people, and it can also be helpful in noisy environments. For example, if you are typing in a coffee shop or library, the audible click can help you stay focused and avoid making mistakes.
Durability: Clicky switches are typically made with high-quality materials, which makes them durable and long-lasting. In fact, it takes millions of key presses before the switch needs to be replaced. You can enjoy your clicky switches for many years to come.
Customization: There are many different types of clicky switches available, so you can choose the ones that best suit your needs as you build a custom mechanical keyboard. You can customize your keyboard with different keycaps and switches to create a unique typing experience.
Satisfying: The tactile bump and audible click can be very satisfying for some people, and they can help to make typing more enjoyable.
Easy to identify: The distinctive sound and feel of clicky switches make them easy to identify even in a noisy environment. This can be helpful for people who are visually impaired or who have difficulty distinguishing between different types of switches.
Versatile: Clicky switches can be used for a variety of purposes, including typing, gaming, and programming. This makes them a good choice for people who want a switch that can be used for multiple tasks.
Top picks for best clicky switches for mechanical keyboards
In your quest to find the perfect clicky mechanical keyboard switches, you'll probably come across a few standout options. Let's delve deeper into these choices. Here are some of our picks for the best clicky switches on the market. Note that this list of the best clicky mechanical switches is not exhaustive.
Heavier actuation force compared to other switches on the list.
Pronounced tactile bump and audible click.
Requires more force to press the keys, which can affect typing speed and fatigue.
How to decide which clicky switches for your keyboard
When selecting the perfect clicky switch for your keyboard, there's a lot you need to keep in mind. You'll need to understand the different types of clicky switches available and consider factors such as sound level, tactile feedback, and durability. We'll guide you through all these.
Factors to consider when choosing a clicky switch
When choosing a clicky switch for your mechanical keyboard, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will help you find a switch that aligns with your typing preferences, comfort, and intended use. Here are the key factors to keep in mind:
* Tactile Feedback: Consider how much tactile feedback you want while typing. Some clicky switches provide a more pronounced tactile bump, making it easier to feel when a keypress registers. If you enjoy a noticeable tactile response, look for switches with a strong tactile bump.
* Audible Click Sound: The click sound of a switch can vary in loudness and tone. If you enjoy the satisfying auditory feedback of a click with each keypress, choose a switch with a click sound that appeals to you. Keep in mind that some switches are quieter than others.
* Actuation Force: Actuation force refers to the amount of pressure needed to register a keypress. Different switches have varying actuation forces, which can affect your typing speed and comfort. Lighter switches require less force but might lead to accidental keypresses, while heavier switches offer more resistance.
* Typing Speed and Comfort: Consider your typing speed and comfort level with different actuation forces. Some users prefer lighter switches for faster typing, while others prefer heavier switches to reduce accidental presses. Choose a switch that allows you to type comfortably and efficiently.
* Noise Level: Clicky switches can be noisy due to their audible click sound. If you're in a shared or quiet environment, you might want to opt for switches with a quieter click to avoid disturbing others. Alternatively, if noise isn't a concern, you can go for switches with a more prominent click sound.
* Key Travel Distance: Key travel distance refers to how far a key travels when pressed. Some users prefer shorter travel distances for quicker typing, while others like a longer travel distance for a more tactile experience. Consider your comfort level with the key travel distance of a switch.
* Typing Experience and Preference: Your overall typing experience is subjective. It's important to choose a switch that you enjoy using. Some people prefer a stronger tactile response and louder click, while others might prefer a more subtle feel and quieter sound. Experiment with different switches if possible to find the one that suits your preference.
* Intended Use: Consider whether you'll primarily use the keyboard for typing, gaming, programming, or a mix of activities. Different switches can be better suited for specific tasks. For example, gamers might prefer switches with faster actuation for rapid key presses, while typists might value tactile feedback and accuracy.
* Ergonomics and Long-Term Use: Think about how the switch's characteristics will affect your long-term comfort. If you'll be typing for extended periods, a switch with a comfortable tactile bump and actuation force can reduce fatigue.
* Customization and Availability: Ensure that the switch you're interested in is available and compatible with your keyboard. Some switches might be harder to find or might require specific keyboard models. Additionally, consider any customization options available, such as replacing keycaps.
Installation and maintenance tips for clicky switches
You've made your choice and now you're ready to dive into the world of clicky switches. But wait, there's more to it than just popping them onto your board.
We're going to walk you through the proper installation process, discuss how to keep those switches clean and well-maintained, guide you on replacing worn ones, troubleshoot common issues that might arise, and even share a few tips on how to enhance that satisfying 'click' sound.
Proper installation of clicky switches
It's vital to ensure the correct installation of your clicky switches for optimal performance and longevity. Properly installing clicky switches in a mechanical keyboard requires attention to detail and a few basic tools. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you install clicky switches correctly
Clicky switches of your choice
Keycap puller (for removing existing keycaps)
Lubricant (optional, for smoother keypresses)
Soldering iron and solder (if the keyboard requires soldering)
Desoldering pump or solder wick (if desoldering existing switches)
Prepare the keyboard.
If your keyboard already has switches installed, you'll need to remove the existing keycaps. Use a keycap puller to gently lift off the keycaps. Be careful not to damage the keycaps or the switch stems.
Open the keyboard case.
If you're replacing switches on a keyboard that requires soldering, you'll need to open the keyboard case to access the PCB (printed circuit board) where the switches are soldered.
Desolder existing switches.
If your keyboard has existing switches that need to be replaced, you'll need to desolder them. Use a desoldering pump or solder wick to remove the solder from the switch's solder joints on the PCB. Gently lift the old switch from the PCB once the solder is removed.
Install the new switches.
Place the new clicky switches into the switch cutouts on the keyboard's PCB. Ensure that the switch legs align with the PCB's solder pads.
Solder the new switches.
If your keyboard requires soldering, solder the new switches in place. Apply a small amount of solder to the switch's solder joints on the PCB. Be careful not to use excessive solder, as it can lead to connectivity issues.
Test the switches.
Before fully assembling the keyboard, it's a good idea to test the switches to ensure they're working properly. Use a key tester or keyboard testing software to check if each switch registers keypresses accurately.
Assemble the keyboard.
If the switches are working correctly, you can proceed to assemble the keyboard. Attach any stabilizers if your keyboard layout requires them.
Attach the keycaps.
Place the keycaps onto the stems of the installed switches. Press down firmly to ensure they're securely attached.
If you want a smoother keypress experience, you can apply a small amount of lubricant to the switch housing and stem. This step is optional and should be done carefully to avoid over-lubrication.
Close the keyboard case.
If you have opened the keyboard case, make sure to close it securely after installing the switches and keycaps.
By following these steps and paying attention to the details, you can successfully install clicky switches on your mechanical keyboard. But if you're new to mechanical keyboards and customization, it's best to leave this process to professionals or experts in the mechanical keyboard hobby.
Cleaning and maintaining clicky switches
Clicky switches work best if they're properly maintained and regularly cleaned to ensure their longevity and performance. Your clicky switches are your buddies. They're part of the team that makes your keyboarding experience enjoyable. So, don't neglect them!
Regularly dust off your keyboard to avoid debris getting into the switches. It's as simple as giving it a good shake or using compressed air.
To deep-clean and maintain clicky switches in your mechanical keyboard, follow this guide:
Tools You'll Need
Isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher)
Q-tips or soft brush
Compressed air canister (optional)
Lubricant (if desired)
Switch opener (for more thorough cleaning, optional)
Cleaning and Maintenance Steps
Use a keycap puller to gently remove the keycaps from the keyboard. This will expose the switch housing and stem.
Dust and Debris Removal
Use a can of compressed air or a soft brush to carefully remove dust and debris from around the switches. Hold the keyboard upside down and gently tap it to dislodge any particles.
Cleaning the Keycaps
Soak the keycaps in warm soapy water for a few hours. After soaking, scrub them gently with a soft brush to remove dirt and grime. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let them dry completely before reattaching.
Cleaning the Switches
Dip a Q-tip or small brush in isopropyl alcohol and gently clean the switch housing, stem, and surrounding area. Be careful not to oversaturate the switches. Alcohol evaporates quickly and helps dissolve any oil or dirt buildup.
For a more thorough cleaning, you can use a switch opener to open up the switch housing. This allows you to access the internal components for a deeper cleaning. Be careful as this may void warranties or damage switches if not done carefully.
If you're experienced and comfortable with lubricating switches, you can apply a small amount of switch-specific lubricant to the housing and stem. Lubrication can help reduce friction and create a smoother keypress experience. Ensure you use an appropriate lubricant and apply it sparingly.
Once the switches and keycaps are thoroughly clean and dry, reattach the keycaps by pressing them onto the stems of the switches.
Test each key to ensure that the switches are working properly after cleaning. Make sure all keypresses are registering accurately.
Consider cleaning your keyboard and switches regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris. The frequency of cleaning depends on your environment and usage.
Consider using a keyboard cover or a dust cover when the keyboard is not in use to prevent dust and debris from accumulating on the switches.
Common issues with clicky switches and how to troubleshoot them
You might run into a few hiccups with those mechanical switches. Because they have mechanical components, clicky switches can experience issues over time. Here are some common issues you might encounter with clicky switches and how to troubleshoot them:
1. Sticking or non-responsive keys
Issue: Some keys might stick or not respond consistently when pressed.
Remove the keycap and clean the area around the switch to remove any debris or dirt.
If the issue persists, you might need to disassemble the switch for deeper cleaning or replacement.
2. Key chatter
Issue: Key chatter occurs when a single keypress results in multiple inputs. For example, typing "e" might produce "ee."
Clean the switch and the surrounding area to remove any debris.
If cleaning doesn't resolve the issue, you might need to replace the switch.
3. Inconsistent click sound or tactile bump
Issue: Some keys might have a weaker or inconsistent click sound or tactile bump.
Clean the switch housing and stem to ensure no dirt or debris is affecting the mechanism.
If the issue persists, consider applying a small amount of appropriate lubricant to improve consistency.
4. Squeaky or scratchy key presses
Issue: Key presses feel scratchy or produce a squeaky sound.
Open the switch housing and inspect the stem for any burrs or imperfections. Gently smooth them out with fine sandpaper if needed.
Lubricate the switch's moving parts carefully with switch-specific lubricant to reduce friction.
5. Broken or stuck keycap
Issue: Keycaps might break or become stuck on the switch stem.
If a keycap is stuck, carefully use a keycap puller or your fingers to remove it.
If a keycap is broken, replace it with a new one.
6. Loose or wobbly keycaps:
Issue: Keycaps might feel loose or wobbly on the switch stem.
Ensure the keycap is properly seated on the stem. Press it down firmly to secure it.
If the issue persists, consider using keycap stabilizers to improve stability.
7. Keycap stems breaking
Issue: Keycap stems might break due to excessive force or wear.
Avoid excessive force when removing or attaching keycaps.
Invest in high-quality keycaps that are less prone to breakage.
8. Excessive noise
Issue: Clicky switches can be noisy, which might be disruptive in certain environments.
Consider using O-rings or dampening rings to reduce the noise of bottoming out the keys.
Switch to quieter switch types if noise is a major concern.
9. Switch wear and tear
Issue: Over time, mechanical switches can wear out, leading to reduced tactile feedback and click sound.
Replace worn-out switches with new ones to restore the original performance.
10. Keycap stems getting stuck
Issue: In some cases, keycap stems might get stuck inside the switch housing, preventing smooth keypresses.
Gently wiggle the keycap while applying even pressure to release the stem from the housing.
If you're experiencing persistent issues with clicky switches that you can't troubleshoot or resolve on your own, it might be a good idea to seek advice from keyboard enthusiasts, consult online forums, or consider professional keyboard repair services.
And there you have it! We've taken a wild ride through the realm of clicky switches, where every keystroke is a mini-celebration. Whether you're all about the iconic Cherry MX Blue's classic charm, the daring innovation of Kailh Box Jade, or any of the other clicky contenders, you've got a taste of what's out there.
Remember, it's all about finding that clicky soulmate that makes your fingers dance and your work (or play) a whole lot more exciting. From intense gaming marathons to hammering out those important emails, these switches are here to make your keyboard sing.
Go ahead and choose your clicky companion wisely. Whether it's that satisfying click or the tactile journey that makes you smile, your keyboard journey just got a whole lot more interesting.
Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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