Which is More Durable: Linear vs Tactile vs Clicky Mechanical Switches

March 8, 2024

Mechanical switches boast tens of millions of keystrokes before wearing out. They are what makes mechanical keyboards tough and resilient against all kinds of abuse from gaming, typing, encoding, and other key-pounding activities.

But which of these types of mechanical keyboard switches have a longer staying power? Which of these can withstand the relentless onslaught of keystrokes and the test of time? Let's find out in this article.  

Differences Between Linear, Tactile, and Clicky Switches

The nice thing about mechanical keyboards is that the key switches are customizable. Do you want a fast, smooth typing experience? Do you prefer "feeling" what you type? What about hearing that pleasant clicking sound as you pound away on the keyboard?

Well, different mechanical keyboard switches can define your typing experience.

  1. Linear Switches
    • Feel: Linear switches provide a smooth and consistent keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click. The key moves smoothly from top to bottom without any interruption.
    • Feedback: They lack tactile feedback. There is no physical indication of when the key has been actuated.
    • Noise Level: Linear switches are generally quieter compared to tactile and clicky switches as they don't produce an audible click during keypresses.
    • Example: Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Black, Romer-G Linear.
  2. Tactile Switches
    • Feel: Tactile switches have a noticeable and deliberate bump in the middle of the keypress, providing tactile feedback to the user. This bump can be felt when the key reaches its actuation point.
    • Feedback: The tactile bump allows users to know when a key has been actuated without bottoming out the key. It's a more pronounced physical feedback compared to linear switches.
    • Noise Level: Tactile switches are generally quieter than clicky switches but may produce more sound than linear switches due to the tactile bump.
    • Example: Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Clear, Razer Orange, Gateron Brown.
  3. Clicky Switches
    • Feel: Clicky switches have both tactile feedback and an audible click sound during keypresses. They have a tactile bump, similar to tactile switches, but with the addition of an audible click.
    • Feedback: Users receive both physical feedback from the bump and audible confirmation of keypresses due to the click mechanism.
    • Noise Level: Clicky switches are the loudest of the three types, producing a distinct click sound with each keypress.
    • Example: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Green, Razer Green, Outemu Blue.

Which Switches Are More Durable?

a mechanical keyboard with 3 switches - linear, tactile, and clicky

Mechanical switches, by their design, are generally tougher than cheaper membrane switches used in most keyboards. Each switch is rated for millions of key presses. But which of the types of keyboard switches mentioned above lasts longer and can withstand more abuse?

The best answer is, it depends. 

The switch type (linear, tactile, or clicky) itself is not the primary factor. Instead, the durability of mechanical keyboard switches whether linear, tactile, or clicky is generally determined by the quality of the switch construction and the materials being used.  

  1. Build Quality: The overall build quality of the switches, including the materials used and the construction, is a significant factor in determining durability. High-quality switches from reputable manufacturers are likely to be more durable.
  2. Manufacturer Reputation: Established and reputable switch manufacturers such as Cherry, Gateron, and Kalih are known for producing switches with consistent quality and durability.
  3. Type of Usage: The durability of switches can also depend on how the keyboard is used. Intense gaming or heavy typing may put more stress on the switches over time. However, quality switches should still withstand regular use for years.
  4. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors such as exposure to dust and spills can impact switch durability. Some switches, like the Kailh Box switches, are designed with additional protection against dust and moisture.
  5. Keycap Material: The material and quality of the keycaps can also influence the overall durability of the keyboard. High-quality keycaps may contribute to a longer lifespan for the switches.

Taking Care of Your Mechanical Keyboard Switches

showing a hand cleaning a mechanical keyboard

To keep your mechanical keyboard switches in top condition for a long time, they need some tender loving care.

  1. Regular Cleaning: Dust and debris can accumulate between the keycaps and switches over time. Use a can of compressed air or a small handheld vacuum to remove dust. Regular cleaning prevents dust from affecting the switch's performance.
  2. Keycap Removal: Remove the keycaps occasionally for a deeper cleaning. Use a keycap puller or a flat tool to gently lift off the keycaps. Clean the keycaps separately, and wipe the exposed switches with a soft brush or cloth.
  3. Avoid Liquid Spills: Mechanical switches can be sensitive to liquid spills. Avoid consuming beverages near your keyboard, and use spill-resistant keycaps or keyboard covers if needed. In case of a spill, immediately disconnect the keyboard, remove keycaps, and clean thoroughly.
  4. Use a Keyboard Cover: Use a keyboard cover when the keyboard is not in use. This helps protect the switches from dust, spills, grime, and dirt.
  5. Type Gently: Mechanical switches are designed to actuate with relatively light force. Avoid using excessive force when typing as it can lead to unnecessary wear and potentially affect switch performance.
  6. Keep the Keyboard Stable: Ensure that your keyboard is placed on a stable and flat surface. A wobbly or uneven surface can put stress on the switches and affect their durability.
  7. Avoid Banging or Slamming: Avoid aggressive typing habits or slamming the keys (looking at you, short-tempered gamers). Mechanical switches are responsive and don't require excessive force. 
  8. Update Firmware: Check for and install firmware updates for your keyboard. Firmware updates may address performance issues or introduce improvements.
  9. Store Properly: If you need to store your keyboard for an extended period, keep it in a dry and cool environment. Use a dust cover to protect it from environmental factors.
  10. Read the Manufacturer's Recommendations: Follow any care and maintenance recommendations provided by the keyboard manufacturer. This information is often available in the user manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Conclusion

Mechanical switches---whether linear, tactile, or clicky---are a tough lot. Any of which can last for a long time and will give you many years of great gaming and typing.

High-quality performance needs corresponding care. Keep your keys in good condition and clean, and you'll have a long-lasting, smooth gaming and typing experience.

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.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Pinstack

Pinstack is a dedicated online media platform focusing on selling and reviewing mechanical keyboards. Our commitment is to provide comprehensive reviews, in-depth guides, and much more. With our active presence on YouTube and our website, we strive to deliver top-quality content across multiple platforms, aiming to bring the best to our audience.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscription Form
We care about the protection of your data. We’ll never share your details.

Pinstack is an Amazon Affiliate. All earnings from this website are from qualified purchases. Learn more about our affiliate disclosure terms.
2023 - Copyright, All Rights Reserved
magnifiercrossmenu
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x