The Best Linear Switches for Your Mechanical Keyboard

August 1, 2023

Mechanical keyboards have garnered a dedicated following among enthusiasts, gamers, and professionals alike, thanks to their tactile satisfaction and enhanced typing experience. Among the diverse array of mechanical switches available, linear switches stand out as a seamless and quiet option for those who seek smooth keystrokes without any tactile bump or audible click.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the world of linear switches, exploring their unique attributes and benefits. Whether you're a seasoned mechanical keyboard user or a newcomer to this world of customizable typing, join us as we journey through the top contenders on the market. We'll explore the factors to consider when choosing the ideal linear switch for your specific needs and preferences. From actuation force and travel distance to smoothness and customization potential, we leave no stone unturned in our quest to unveil the best linear switches available.

Stay tuned for our top linear switch recommendations.

What are linear switches?

A linear switch is a type of mechanical keyboard switch that provides a smooth and consistent keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click during actuation. When pressing a key with a linear switch, the force required to press the key is linearly distributed, resulting in a straight vertical motion until it reaches the bottom. This linear and uninterrupted travel of the switch makes it a great switch among gamers and typists who prefer a more fluid and quiet typing experience.

Without the sound and feel of clicking sounds or tactile bumps, they don't provide as much feedback during actuation compared to tactile and clicky switches. This absence of feedback can be beneficial for users who prefer a smoother typing experience without any interruptions.

Linear switches are commonly used in gaming keyboards due to their smooth and predictable keystroke, which can be advantageous for rapid and precise key presses. They are also favored by some typists who appreciate the fluidity of the keystrokes and the relatively quiet operation.

How do linear switches work?

Linear switches work based on a relatively straightforward mechanism that allows them to register key presses without any tactile bump or audible click. The key components of a linear switch include the stem, spring, housing, and electrical contacts. Here's how linear switches work:

  1. Design and Construction: Linear switches consist of a housing made of plastic, a stem that contains the keycap mount, a spring, and electrical contacts. The stem is the moving part that moves up and down during a keypress.
  2. Resting Position: When you're not pressing a key, the stem of the switch rests in the up position. The spring underneath the stem provides tension, pushing the stem back to this default position.
  3. Keypress Initiation: When you press a key on the keyboard, the keycap on top of the stem is pushed down. As a result, the stem moves downward against the tension of the spring.
  4. Actuation Point: As the stem travels downward, it eventually reaches the actuation point. The actuation point is the specific distance at which the switch is triggered to register a keypress. Once the stem passes this point, it makes contact with the electrical contacts inside the switch.
  5. Electrical Contact: When the stem touches the electrical contacts, an electrical circuit is completed. This closed circuit signals the keyboard's controller that a particular key has been pressed.
  6. Bottoming Out: After actuation, the stem continues its downward travel until it hits the bottom of the switch housing. It's the point where the keypress is fully registered.
  7. Key Release: When you release the key, the spring pushes the stem back up to its resting position, breaking the electrical contact and resetting the switch for the next key press.

Advantages of using linear switches

Linear switches in mechanical keyboards are popular among certain users, particularly gamers and those who prioritize a smooth and quiet typing experience. These are some of the primary advantages of using linear switches:

  1. Smooth Keystrokes: Linear switches provide a consistent and smooth keystroke without any tactile bump or audible click. This uninterrupted motion can be beneficial for fast typists and gamers who require rapid and precise key presses.
  2. No Tactile Bump: The absence of a tactile bump in linear switches means there is no tactile feedback during the keypress. Many keyboard enthusiasts prefer this lack of interruption in their typing or gaming, as it allows for a more fluid and continuous keystroke.
  3. Quiet Operation: Linear switches are generally quieter compared to tactile and clicky switches. Without the added sound of a tactile bump or a click mechanism, linear switches produce less noise. Linear switches are great for offices, libraries, recording studios, and other environments where silence is desired.
  4. Fast Actuation: Linear switches typically have a lower actuation force and a shorter actuation distance compared to some tactile and clicky switches. This means it takes less force and less key travel to register a keypress, making them responsive and suitable for fast-paced gaming or typing sessions.
  5. Gaming Performance: Gamers often prefer smooth linear switches because of their quick actuation and linear travel, allowing for rapid key presses and reduced finger fatigue during intense gaming sessions.
  6. Customization and Modding: Linear switches are popular among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts due to the ease of customization and modding. Users can apply lubricants to enhance smoothness or modify the springs to adjust the actuation force according to their preferences.
  7. Simple Design: Linear switches have a relatively simple internal design, making them easier to manufacture and potentially more cost-effective compared to more complex tactile or clicky switches.
  8. Versatility: Linear switches are not limited to a specific task or use case. They are suitable for various tasks including gaming, typing, programming, and general computer use.

Disadvantages of using linear switches

While linear switches are smooth, consistent, and pleasant to type on, there are some potential disadvantages associated with using linear switches:

  1. Lack of Tactile Feedback: One of the primary drawbacks of linear switches is the absence of tactile feedback during keypresses. Some users prefer the tactile bump in other switch types as it provides a tangible indication that the keypress has been registered. Without this feedback, typists might find it harder to determine the actuation point.
  2. No Audible Click: Linear switches lack the audible click sound found in clicky switches. Some individuals find the click sound satisfying and beneficial as it confirms the actuation and provides auditory feedback. The absence of this sound might lead to a perception of reduced typing responsiveness for some users.
  3. Bottoming Out: Due to the smooth and consistent nature of linear switches, there is a higher chance of "bottoming out." Bottoming out occurs when the user presses the key fully until it hits the bottom of the switch housing, resulting in more impact and noise compared to lighter touches. This could lead to more finger fatigue during prolonged typing sessions.
  4. Typing Experience: The typing experience with linear switches might feel less engaging or less enjoyable for some users who prefer the tactile bump and audible click of other switch types. It's essential to consider personal typing preferences and comfort when choosing the right switch.
  5. Preference for Gaming: While linear switches are popular among gamers, some gamers might prefer tactile or clicky switches. That's because tactile feedback and auditory cues can be advantageous in certain gaming scenarios such as executing complex key combinations or activating specific abilities.
  6. Customization Complexity: While linear switches can be customized and modded to some extent, they might not offer the same level of versatility and ease of customization as some other switch types. Tactile and clicky switches, with their additional mechanisms, may provide more opportunities for modification.

Other Types of Mechanical Switches

Apart from linear switches, there are two other main types of mechanical switches commonly used in mechanical keyboards: tactile switches and clicky switches. Each type offers a distinct typing experience, and users often choose based on their preferences for feedback and sound.

  1. Tactile Switches:
    • Tactile switches provide a noticeable bump during keypresses, giving users tactile feedback. This bump is felt when the key reaches the actuation point, indicating that the keypress has been registered.
    • The tactile feedback can be beneficial for touch typists who rely on the sensation of the bump to know when to release the key, potentially leading to increased typing accuracy.
    • While tactile switches offer feedback, they are generally quieter than clicky switches since they lack the audible click mechanism.
    • Popular tactile switches include Cherry MX Brown, Zealios, and Holy Panda.
  2. Clicky Switches:
    • Clicky switches combine tactile feedback with an audible click sound during actuation. This distinctive click sound provides a satisfying auditory confirmation that the keypress has been registered.
    • The tactile bump and click can be advantageous for typists who appreciate both tactile and auditory cues, as it helps them know precisely when the keypress is registered without bottoming out the key.
    • However, the clicking sound can be loud and might be disruptive in quiet environments or shared spaces.
    • Popular clicky switches include Cherry MX Blue, Razer Green, and Kailh Box White.

It's important to note that various manufacturers produce mechanical switches, and each may have its unique design and characteristics, even within the same switch type.

Top Linear Switches for Mechanical Keyboards in 2023

Are you looking for the best linear switches on the market this 2023? Check out this list of fantastic linear switches.

Speed Silver Switches

For an unbeatable gaming experience, you'll want to consider the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches. These are some of the smoothest switches---known for their lightning-fast reaction speeds and smooth actuation. They are specifically designed to enhance your gaming performance with their shorter actuation distance, allowing you to react swiftly to every key press.

Whether you're playing fast-paced shooters or intense strategy games, the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches will give you a competitive edge. Not only do these switches offer incredible speed, but they also provide a satisfying typing experience with their linear design. The absence of tactile feedback ensures a smooth and consistent feel, perfect for those who prefer a seamless keystroke.

Gateron Yellow switches

Gateron Yellow switches welcome you to a world of effortless typing. Gateron Yellow switches have medium resistance, providing a satisfying and comfortable typing experience. These switches are perfect for those who prefer smooth and consistent actuation without any tactile feedback.

Whether you're a gamer or a typist, Gateron Yellow switches offer precision and accuracy. They allow you to glide through your tasks with ease. Not only are these switches budget-friendly, but they also provide a pleasant typing sound that won't disturb those around you.

DUROCK POM linear switches

DUROCK POM switches are the perfect choice if you want exceptional smoothness and consistency. These qualities make them a top choice for enthusiasts seeking the ultimate typing experience.

A DUROCK switch has a POM (Polyoxymethylene) stem, which contributes to its silky smooth actuation and eliminates any scratchiness.

The medium resistance of the DUROCK POM switches strikes the perfect balance between ease of use and tactile feedback, providing a comfortable typing experience without compromising on precision.

Upgrade your mechanical keyboard today and unlock a new level of typing bliss with DUROCK POM linear switches.

Cherry MX Red switches

When it comes to your typing experience, nothing compares to the smooth and consistent actuation of Cherry MX Red switches. Red switches are a popular choice among gamers and typists who value precision and a buttery smooth feel.

These linear switches provide a satisfying typing experience, making each keystroke effortless and enjoyable. Red switches have no tactile feedback, allowing for quick and quiet typing sessions. They are known for their responsiveness, making them ideal for competitive gaming.

Whether you're a gamer or a typist, red switches are recommended for their smooth movements and precision. Upgrade your mechanical keyboard with red switches to enhance your typing experience and enjoy the sleek and seamless actuation they offer.

Other Linear Switches To Consider

When choosing switches, also check these popular mechanical keyboard switches on this list:

1. Gateron Red: Gateron Red switches are similar to Cherry MX Red but are often considered smoother and more cost-effective. They offer a 45g actuation force and a linear keystroke, which is suitable for both gaming and typing.

2. ZealPC Tealios: ZealPC Tealios are premium linear switches known for their smoothness and consistency. They have a 67g actuation force, making them slightly heavier than Cherry MX Red, and are preferred by enthusiasts and gamers alike.

3. NovelKeys Cream: NovelKeys Cream switches are a popular choice for those who enjoy a smoother and quieter linear experience. They feature a unique self-lubricating POM (polyoxymethylene) stem, resulting in reduced friction and smooth keypresses.

4. Cherry MX Black: Cherry MX Black switches have a higher actuation force of 60g, making them suitable for users who prefer a slightly stiffer keypress. They are linear switches without a tactile bump, offering smooth and consistent keystrokes.

5. Kailh Box Red: The box design of Kailh Box Red key switches makes these switches even more durable than other mechanical switches. The box case helps prevent dust and debris from entering the switch. They offer a 45g actuation force and a linear feel, making them ideal for gaming.

6. Gateron Ink Red: Gateron Ink Red switches are praised for their smoothness and consistent actuation. With a 50g actuation force, they strike a balance between light and heavy keypresses, appealing to a wide range of users.

How to choose the best linear switch for your mechanical keyboard?

Choosing the best linear switch for your mechanical keyboard depends on your personal preferences, typing style, and intended use:

  1. Actuation Force: Consider the actuation force of the linear switch, which is the amount of force required to register a keypress. Lighter switches (e.g., 45g) can be preferred for fast typing and gaming while heavier switches (e.g., 60g) may suit those who prefer a more deliberate keypress.
  2. Travel Distance: Some switches have shorter travel distances, allowing for quicker keypresses while others have longer travel distances, potentially providing a more deliberate and satisfying typing experience.
  3. Smoothness: Look for switches that are known for their smoothness. A smooth switch provides a consistent keystroke without friction, enhancing overall typing comfort.
  4. Keyboard Use: If you are primarily a gamer, switches with fast actuation and smooth travel might be preferable. If you do a lot of typing, you might appreciate a switch with a comfortable actuation force and a satisfying keystroke.
  5. Noise Level: Linear switches are generally quieter compared to tactile and clicky switches. However, there can still be variations in sound levels between different linear switches.
  6. Customization: If you enjoy customizing your keyboard, some switches allow for modifications such as applying lubricants or changing springs.
  7. Try Switch Testers: If possible, try out different linear switches using a switch tester or sampler kit. This allows you to feel the switches' differences firsthand and make an informed decision based on your own preferences.
  8. User Reviews: Read user reviews and opinions to get a sense of how others perceive the switches you are considering. Real-world experiences can provide valuable insights.
  9. Brand Variations: Different manufacturers produce linear switches, and each may have its unique feel and characteristics even within the same switch type. Consider trying switches from various brands to find the one that suits you best.
  10. Budget: While not the most critical factor, your budget may influence your choice. Some prefer the best budget switches, which are easier on the wallet. Others are considered premium options with higher costs.

How to install linear switches on your mechanical keyboard?

Installing linear switches on a mechanical keyboard involves a relatively straightforward process. Here is a general guide to help you with the installation:

Tools and Materials Needed:

  1. Linear switches (make sure they are compatible with your keyboard's layout)
  2. Keycap puller (for removing keycaps, optional but recommended)
  3. Tweezers or a switch puller (for removing switches, optional but helpful)
  4. Soldering iron and solder (if your keyboard requires soldering)

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Prepare Your Workspace: Find a clean and well-lit workspace to work on your keyboard. It's a good idea to have a soft cloth or mat to protect the keyboard's surface.
  2. Remove Keycaps: If your keyboard already has switches installed, you might want to remove the keycaps to access the switches easily. You can use a keycap puller to gently lift off the keycaps one by one.
  3. Remove Existing Switches: If your keyboard already has switches soldered onto the PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and you wish to replace them with linear switches, you'll need to desolder the existing switches first. This step is not necessary if your keyboard has hot-swappable sockets that allow easy switch swapping without soldering.
  4. Install Linear Switches: Insert the linear switches into the switch sockets on the PCB. Make sure they are aligned correctly and fully seated. Apply gentle pressure if needed to ensure they are securely in place.
  5. Soldering (If Required): If your keyboard requires soldering, carefully solder the electrical contacts of the linear switches to the PCB. Be sure to follow proper soldering techniques to avoid damaging the keyboard or switches. If you're not experienced with soldering, seek assistance from someone with soldering expertise.
  6. Test the Switches: Before putting everything back together, test the switches to ensure they are working correctly. You can use key testing software or an online keyboard tester to check if all the switches are registering key presses accurately.
  7. Replace Keycaps: If you removed the keycaps earlier, put them back on the new switches. Ensure each keycap is aligned properly and fully seated.
  8. Assemble the Keyboard: Once the switches and keycaps are in place, carefully reassemble the keyboard, securing any screws or clips that hold it together.
  9. Test the Keyboard: Connect your keyboard to your computer and test all the keys to ensure everything is functioning as expected.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed linear switches on your mechanical keyboard. If you encounter any issues during the process or if your keyboard has any specific quirks, it's always a good idea to refer to your keyboard's user manual or seek guidance from the manufacturer.


In conclusion, when it comes to choosing the best linear switch for your mechanical keyboard, it all comes down to personal preference. Whether you prioritize budget, gaming performance, sound, durability, or smoothness, there's a linear switch out there for you.

Gateron Yellow, Cherry MX Speed Silver, NovelKeys Cream, Cherry MX Black, and Gateron Ink Black are all excellent options to consider.

Remember, you can also enhance the smoothness and quality of linear switches through DIY projects like lubrication and switch film.

Happy typing!

Erickson, a certified Interior Designer and Ergonomist, has cultivated a unique career blending aesthetics, functionality, and well-being. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Interior Designfrom a prestigious institution, Erickson is well-versed in creating spaces that are both visually pleasing and conducive to human comfort and health.
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