Best Mechanical Switch Types for Office Use

March 13, 2024

To save on expenses, businesses usually settle for standard one-sheet rubber dome membrane keyboards for use with their team members. Yes, these are pretty good and absolutely usable.

However, you might be one of those people who want to type on a mechanical keyboard---a way better keyboard. You may prefer the smooth feel of linear switches that allow you to write faster. Perhaps you want that satisfying bump of a tactile switch for more precise and error-free encoding. Standard membrane keyboards don't offer this versatility.

How do you choose the right switch that offers a good mix of comfort, noise level, and performance in an office environment? Well, that's why we're here to guide you!

What are Mechanical Keyboard Switches?

Mechanical keyboard switches are key switch mechanisms that are used in mechanical keyboards. Unlike traditional one-sheet rubber dome switches found in many standard keyboards, mechanical switches use individual mechanical switches for each key. These switches offer tactile and audible feedback, making them popular among gamers, typists, and keyboard enthusiasts.

Key Components

  • Actuator: This part of the switch moves up and down when you press and release a key.
  • Contacts: These are conductive pieces of metal inside the switch. When the switch is pressed, the contacts come into contact with each other, closing an electrical circuit and sending signals to your computer.
  • Spring: A mechanical key switch uses a spring to provide resistance and to return the key to its original position after being pressed.

Types of Mechanical Switches

  • Linear Switches provide a smooth up-and-down motion without tactile bumps or audible clicks. 
  • Tactile Switches have a noticeable bump in the middle of the key press, which provides tactile feedback. 
  • Clicky Switches are similar to tactile switches but with an audible click sound when the actuation point is reached. 

Key Phases

  • Actuation: The point at which the switch registers a keypress. In a mechanical switch, you typically don't need to press the key all the way down for it to register.
  • Bottoming Out: The point at which the key is fully pressed down, and the actuator reaches the bottom of the switch.

N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting

  • N-Key Rollover (NKRO): Mechanical keyboards often support NKRO, allowing multiple keys to be pressed simultaneously without "ghosting" (missing keypresses).
  • Anti-Ghosting: Prevents unintended keypresses when multiple keys are pressed simultaneously.

Mechanical switches are known for their durability. With many rated for tens of millions of keystrokes, these switches often have vastly longer lifespans compared to traditional rubber dome switches.

How to Choose the Best Mechanical Switch for Office Use?

an image of a mechanical keyboard

You want to be different. You want to be more efficient. And best of all, the boss agrees to your request: you can use a mechanical keyboard.

Now, what kind of switch should you use for your mechanical keyboard? For that, you need to consider some factors when choosing a mechanical switch for office use:

  1. Noise Level: In a shared office environment, it's often better to use linear or tactile switches with low noise levels out of consideration to others. Remember that in an office, everyone is trying to concentrate on their jobs. A noisy keyboard is really annoying to some.
  2. Tactile vs. Linear
    • Tactile Switches: If you prefer a noticeable bump when typing without the audible click, tactile switches like Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Clear could be suitable. They provide tactile feedback without being overly noisy.
    • Linear Switches: If you prefer a smooth keystroke without the tactile bump, linear switches like Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Silent Red may be more suitable. They tend to be quieter and provide a consistent keystroke.
  3. Actuation Force
    • Light vs. Heavy Actuation: Consider the force required to actuate the keys. Lighter switches (e.g., Cherry MX Red) are great for extended typing sessions---perfect for tasks like encoding, transcribing, or writing long documents. Some may prefer the additional resistance of heavier switches (e.g., Cherry MX Black) for slower, more deliberate typing such as programming or graphic designing (when they use the keys).
  4. Typing Feel: Try out different mechanical switches before making a purchase. Many tech stores or keyboard enthusiasts' meetups may have keyboards on display for testing.
  5. Compact vs. Full-Size: Consider the size of your office desk. If you have a limited workspace, a compact (tenkeyless) keyboard may be preferable. If you have a large table or cubicle, then a full-size keyboard is more suitable for your needs.

Top Mechanical Switches Recommended for Typing in Office Setting

an image of a mechanical keyboard

Here are some popular switches known for their comfortable and quiet typing experience:

  1. Cherry MX Brown
    • Tactile switch with a noticeable bump, providing feedback without an audible click.
    • Quieter compared to clicky switches, making it suitable for office environments.
  2. Cherry MX Silent Red
    • Linear switch with a smooth keystroke and no tactile bump.
    • Features dampened switches for reduced noise during keypress and return.
    • Ideal for those who prefer a quieter typing experience.
  3. Cherry MX Clear
    • Tactile switch with a more pronounced bump compared to Cherry MX Brown.
    • Requires a bit more force to actuate, providing a firm and deliberate typing feel.
    • Quieter than clicky switches.
  4. Topre Switches
    • Hybrid capacitive switches with a unique feel that combines elements of both rubber dome and mechanical switches.
    • Offers a quiet and comfortable typing experience.
    • Popular in premium and high-end keyboards.
  5. Matias Quiet Click
    • Tactile switch designed to be quiet, making it suitable for office use.
    • Features a tactile bump for feedback without the noise associated with clicky switches.
  6. Logitech Romer-G Tactile
    • Tactile switch with a short travel distance.
    • Designed to be quiet and provide tactile feedback for comfortable typing.
  7. Ducky Cherry MX Silent Red
    • Ducky is a popular brand that uses Cherry MX Silent Red switches in some of its keyboards.
    • Offers a combination of smooth keystrokes and reduced noise.
  8. Razer Orange
    • Tactile switch from Razer with a soft bump for feedback.
    • Designed to be quiet and suitable for both gaming and typing.
  9. Zealios V2
    • Tactile switch with a noticeable bump, known for its smooth keystrokes.
    • Popular among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts for typing.

Conclusion

It's quite clear that in an office environment, you need keyboard switches that produce less noise. The quieter it is, the better it is.

But the sound of silence is not all. The ideal switch for you strikes a balance between comfort, durability, and performance. Choose wisely to change your typing experience. Your office duties will transform completely.

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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