Are Tactile Mechanical Keyboard Switches Ideal for Fast Typing?

March 12, 2024

Tactile mechanical keyboard switches are famous for their unique 'bump' that offers an immediate response for every keystroke. Can these tactile bumps actually improve your typing speed? 

Are tactile mechanical keyboard switches truly the optimal choice for swift typing?

Let's find out.

What are the Different Types of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

One of the signature features of mechanical keyboards is that you can change or replace switches (get the hot-swappable keyboards so you won't have to desolder the switches). There are 3 main types of mechanical keyboard switches in the market, each with its own characteristics, feel, and actuation mechanisms. 

  1. Linear Switches
    • Characteristics: Linear switches provide a smooth and consistent keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click. There is no interruption in the force required to actuate the key.
    • Use Cases: Preferred by gamers for rapid keystrokes. Also suitable for users who prefer a straightforward and uninterrupted typing experience.
    • Examples: Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Black, Romer-G Linear.
  2. Tactile Switches
    • Characteristics: Tactile switches have a noticeable bump in the middle of the keypress. This bump provides tactile feedback to the user.
    • Use Cases: Popular among typists who appreciate the tactile sensation. 
    • Examples: Cherry MX Brown, Cherry MX Clear, Razer Orange, Gateron Brown.
  3. Clicky Switches
    • Characteristics: Clicky switches have both tactile feedback and an audible click sound with each key press. The click sound provides both tactile and audible confirmation of key actuation.
    • Use Cases: Enjoyed by users who want a tactile and auditory response during typing. However, the click sound may be disruptive in quiet environments.
    • Examples: Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Green, Razer Green, Outemu Blue.

How Do Tactile Switches Work

a close-up image of a tactile switch

Tactile switches provide an unmistakable bump when you press the key. This tactile bump is a key feature that sets these switches apart from linear switches. Here's a breakdown of how tactile switches work and what creates the tactile bump:

  1. Internal Mechanism: Inside a tactile switch, there is an internal mechanism that resists the downward force when you press the key. 
  2. Leaf Spring Design: Tactile switches typically use a leaf spring design to produce the tactile bump. The switch contains two metal leaves (also known as contacts or legs) that close the electrical circuit when the key is pressed.
  3. Tactile Bump: The interaction of the leaf springs makes the key press tactile. As the key is pressed, the leaves come into contact, and a bump is felt at the point where the leaves meet. 
  4. Actuation Point: The point at which the leaves make contact and the tactile bump is felt is known as the actuation point. It is the position in the keypress where the switch registers the keypress and sends the signal to the computer.
  5. Reset Point: After reaching the actuation point, the key returns to its original position for the switch to reset. 

How do Tactile Mechanical Keyboard Switches Speed up Your Typing

Tactile mechanical keyboard switches can make you type faster and more efficiently. Here are some ways in which tactile switches might speed up typing:

  1. Tactile Feedback: That tactile bump when you press a key allows you to feel that a key has been successfully actuated. The tactile sensation helps users develop a sense of when to release the key, leading to a faster transition between key presses.
  2. Reduced Bottoming Out: The tactile bump in these switches provides a clear indication of the actuation point, which can reduce the tendency to press the keys all the way down (bottoming out). This results in a shorter key travel per press and potentially faster typing speeds.
  3. Improved Typing Accuracy: The tactile feedback helps users feel the actuation point, allowing for a more accurate typing experience. Typists can develop a better sense of when a key has been registered, which leads to fewer errors.
  4. Finger Memory and Muscle Memory: Over time, users can develop finger memory and muscle memory for the tactile feel of the switches. This enables a more intuitive and efficient typing experience as users become accustomed to the specific tactile feedback of their keyboard.
  5. Comfortable Typing Experience: The tactile feedback in mechanical switches can provide a more comfortable typing experience. 

Tips on How to Type Faster

a woman’s hand shown typing on a mechanical keyboard

But let's face it: faster typing does not just rely on your switches or your keyboard. Improving typing speed involves a combination of practice, proper technique, and ergonomic considerations. Here are some tips to help you type faster:

  1. Learn Touch Typing: Touch typing involves using all fingers and placing them on the home row. Familiarize yourself with the position of each finger on the keyboard, and practice typing without looking at the keys.
  2. Use Correct Finger Placement: Assign each finger to specific rows of keys. For example, the index fingers are responsible for the middle row, and the pinky fingers handle the bottom row.
  3. Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is key to improving typing speed. Set aside time for regular typing practice. Gradually increase the difficulty level as you become more comfortable.
  4. Take Typing Tests: Online typing tests can help you track your progress and identify areas for improvement. Many websites offer free typing tests with varying difficulty levels.
  5. Focus on Accuracy First: Prioritize accuracy over speed when starting out. As you build muscle memory and improve accuracy, speed will naturally follow.
  6. Improve Hand-Eye Coordination: Enhance your hand-eye coordination by practicing typing without looking at the keyboard. Visualizing the keyboard layout mentally helps build familiarity with key placements.
  7. Employ Proper Posture and Ergonomics: Maintain a comfortable and ergonomic typing posture. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, keep your wrists straight, and position your keyboard and monitor at a comfortable height.
  8. Utilize Keyboard Shortcuts: Learn and use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks. This can significantly speed up your workflow by reducing reliance on the mouse.
  9. Take Breaks: Avoid fatigue and strain by taking regular breaks. Stand up, stretch, and relax your hands and fingers to prevent discomfort.
  10. Be Patient: Typing speed improvement takes time. Be patient, stay consistent with your practice, and celebrate gradual progress.

Conclusion

Tactile switches could potentially speed up your typing process. These switches provide a perceptible 'bump', serving as a form of feedback, which can aid in boosting both speed and precision when typing.

However, tactile switches aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. Factors like individual comfort, typing habits, and typing skills play a significant role. Continue practicing typing on your tactile switches, and words will be flying out of the keyboard efffortlessly.

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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