Kailh vs Gateron Switches

When it comes to fine-tuning your typing experience, the devil is in the details—or in this case, the switches. Mechanical keyboard enthusiasts often find themselves at a crossroads choosing between Gateron’s silky smooth keystrokes and Kailh’s audibly satisfying clickity-clack. Gateron has been the go-to for many when Cherry MX isn’t on the table, boasting a quick response and customizable experience. But there’s more beneath the keycaps. Join us as we dive into the nuanced world of Gateron versus Kailh switches, exploring the intricacies that could tip the scales in your next keyboard investment.

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

best kailh switches

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.

Comparing Kailh and Gateron

While Kailh and Gateron both produce high-quality mechanical switches, there are some key distinctions in their offerings that could tilt the scales for discerning typists and gamers. Here, we’ll delve deeper into the core aspects of each brand:

Build Quality

Both Kailh and Gateron are renowned for their premium build quality. However, Kailh takes a slightly different route with its box design, providing an additional layer of dust and water resistance that lends durability to their switches. Gateron, on the other hand, sticks to the tried-and-tested cross stem design.

Winner: Draw

Smoothness and Actuation Force

When it comes to smoothness, Gateron often gets the nod. Their linear switches, especially the popular Yellow, provide a smooth typing experience with relatively low actuation force. Kailh, however, doesn’t lag far behind. Their Speed Silver, with its 40g actuation force, delivers an exceptionally soft linear experience.

Winner: Gateron

Sound Profiles

Sound is a significant aspect of the mechanical keyboard experience. Gateron switches have a distinct “thocky” sound, particularly in their linear and tactile switches, which many find satisfying. Kailh Box switches offer a crunchier click sound, notably in their tactile and clicky variants, providing a different, yet equally enjoyable, auditory experience.

Winner: Draw

Overall Typing Experience

Overall, the typing experience can vary significantly between the two brands, largely due to their differences in design and mechanics. Gateron is often praised for its smooth keystrokes and satisfying sound profile. Kailh, meanwhile, is commended for its innovation, providing a solid, stable keystroke with less key wobble thanks to its box design. Ultimately, after considering all the nuances, it’s the innovative features of Kailh—like the box design that reduces key wobble—that might just tip the scales for some, making it the go-to for a top-notch typing experience.

Winner: Kailh

Pros and Cons

While both Kailh and Gateron have their strengths, they also have potential downsides that users should be aware of. Here, we present a balanced view of what you might encounter with each brand.

Kailh Box Switches

Enhanced stability due to the box designNot all keycaps may fit the box design, limiting customization options
Provides a unique typing experience with a crunchy click soundThe unique sound and feel may not be to everyone’s liking
Better dust and water resistance than most competitorsSome users have reported inconsistencies in quality control across different switch batches

Gateron Switches

Renowned for their smooth actuation and satisfying “thocky” soundPotentially more prone to key wobble compared to Kailh Box switches
Generally more affordable than KailhWhile their switches are generally high quality, some users report variations in quality control
Greater keycap compatibility due to the standard cross stem designThe switches, particularly Gateron Greens, can be quite loud, which may not be suitable for quiet environments

The path to the right switch is paved with trial and error. It’s a journey shaped by personal preference, and there’s no universal solution. The key lies in selecting what feels and sounds right to you. For an expanded selection, consider this exhaustive guide on the best 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.

Gateron’s Yellow switch stands out as a superior linear switch, favored by many for its balance between a smooth keystroke and just-right actuation force. Meanwhile, the Gateron Green switch is renowned for its loudness and tactile response, although it’s not for everyone due to its pronounced noise.

The Gateron White/Clear switch is a 35g linear with an opaque white stem and requires one of the lightest actuation forces, making it an excellent choice for those prone to typing fatigue.

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.

Kailh’s Box White switch provides a less intense, but equally enjoyable version of the classic Blue switch experience. Not to forget, it comes with the added stability and protection of the Box design.

Kailh also offers Speed Switches, which include Silver (soft linear feeling – 40g), Copper (soft tactile feeling – 50g), Bronze (soft clicky feeling – 60g), and Gold (extremely soft clicky feeling – 60g). These switches are designed for rapid actuation and minimal travel, making them perfect for gamers and fast typists.

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.

What to Choose for Your Keyboard

If you’re more into gaming, Gateron might just hit the spot with their smooth, speedy actuation. However, if you work in an environment prone to dust or spillages, or you’re eager to experiment with an innovative design, Kailh’s Box switches are worth considering.

Consider trying Gateron Yellows for a superb linear experience, or Kailh Box White for a slightly muted clicky feel with the added perks of the Box stem construction.


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).

For more insights on keyboard switches including comparisons like Outemu vs Cherry, visit our keyboard switch guide.

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.

Now, you’re all set to commence your journey into the realm of mechanical switches. Eager to delve further? Explore these in-depth guides on the best Kailh switches and a detailed comparison between Box Jade and Box Navy. Enjoy your typing adventure!