In the fascinating world of mechanical keyboards, the heartbeat of your typing adventure is determined by a vital component: the switch. In our discussion today, we’ll pit two renowned switch brands against each other: Kailh and Gateron. Both are recognized as distinct Cherry MX derivatives, each boasting traits that make them stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re a keyboard aficionado seeking to feed your passion or someone simply scouting for an upgrade from your usual rubber dome keyboard, this guide has got you covered.
Gateron: Smooth Operator
Often considered the top pick when Cherry MX switches are not available, Gateron is renowned for its smooth keystrokes and overall performance. Their keys offer quick responses with a key travel distance between 2 – 4 mm. These switches provide a ‘thocky’ sound and high pitch that many find satisfying, though they tend to be louder than their Kailh counterparts.
Gateron’s durability is standard, with a lifespan between 50-60 million activations. They can also be modded to suit your preferences as they are compatible with Cherry MX customizations such as lubing or changing the keycaps. Lightest among them is the Gateron Clear/White linear switch requiring a mere 35 gf actuation force while their heaviest – the Green Clicky – requires 80 g.
For more on how Gateron compares to other brands like Cherry MX, check out this comparison article.
Kailh: Tactility & Sound
Kailh provides a unique tactile response coupled with some of the best ‘clicky’ sounds in the market. The keys have a standard short travel distance and provide numerous options for different user preferences and purposes. However, they can prove challenging when it comes to modification due to their design.
Kailh’s life cycle ranges between 60-80 million keystrokes – somewhat higher than Gateron’s. Notably, Kailh switches come with an IP56 rating making them dustproof – an added advantage for those in dusty environments or simply hate cleaning!
The lightest Kailh switch – BOX Silent Pink – also demands a meagre actuation force of 35 gf while their heaviest BOX Navy needs 75 g.
Price Point: Affordability without Compromising Quality
Both Gateron and Kailh provide quality experiences at prices significantly lower than Cherry MX switches. However, Gateron tends to edge out in affordability with slightly lower prices in regular lineups.
If you’re interested in exploring higher-end options beyond these two brands, here’s an article about the most expensive keyboard switches.
A Closer Look at Gateron: Types and Variants
Gateron switches are not all made the same. They come in several types, primarily classified into three categories: linear, tactile, and clicky. Linear switches, such as the Gateron Red, provide a smooth keystroke without any bump or click. Tactile switches like the Gateron Brown offer a noticeable bump halfway through the keypress, providing feedback when the key actuation point is reached. Clicky switches like the Gateron Blue not only give tactile feedback but also produce a distinctive clicking sound.
Diving Deeper into Kailh: The Range of Offerings
Like Gateron, Kailh too offers a variety of switch types to cater to different typing preferences. From the linear Red and Black switches which provide smooth keystrokes sans any tactile bump or audible click to tactile Brown switches that offer a subtle bump mid-keystroke for feedback. For those who love the satisfying ‘click-clack’ of their keys, Kailh’s Blue and BOX Jade switches deliver a pronounced click sound with each press.
Customizability: Making your Keyboard Truly Yours
A major appeal of mechanical keyboards is the ability to customize them according to your needs and preferences. Both Kailh and Gateron switches are Cherry MX compatible which means you can swap out keycaps for a more personalized look or feel. However, it’s worth noting that while Gaterons are relatively easy to modify with lubing or spring changes, Kailhs can be somewhat more challenging due to their design.
Impact on Gaming: Kailh vs Gateron
In gaming scenarios where speed is crucial, both Kailh and Gateron have their strengths. With its faster actuation force, Gateron can potentially provide quicker responses in high-speed games. On the other hand, Kailh’s tactile feedback could improve accuracy in games where precision matters more than speed.
1. Which is better: Kailh or Gateron?
This largely depends on personal preference. If you prefer smoother keystrokes and faster response times then Gateron would be better suited for you whereas if you like distinct tactile feedback and ‘clicky’ sounds then you might prefer Kailh.
2. Are either of these brands as good as Cherry MX?
While Cherry MX is often viewed as the ‘gold standard’, many users find that both Kailh and Gateron offer comparable performance at a lower price point.
3. Can I swap out my current keyboard keys for either of these brands?
Yes! Both brands are compatible with Cherry MX keycaps which makes them quite versatile when it comes to customization.
4. Which brand will last longer?
Kailhs have been reported to have a slightly longer life cycle than Gaterons – between 60-80 million keystrokes compared to 50-60 million activations for Gaterons.
The Final Verdict
When choosing between Kailh and Gateron, it ultimately boils down to personal preference. If smoothness and speed matter most to you then Gateron would be your go-to choice whereas if you prefer tactile feedback and love the ‘clicky’ sounds then Kailh would serve you better.
Keep in mind factors such as life cycle (with Cherry MX boasting up to 100 million keystrokes), travel distance (where a standard fast-enough figure is 2mm), actuation type (clicky/tactile/linear) and spring force (with 50gf being middle-level).
Whether you’re an avid typist who spends hours clacking away at your desk or a gamer seeking that perfect balance between speed and tactility, understanding what goes beneath each key press can truly transform your typing experience.