Cherry MX Keyboards vs. Alternative Switches: A Comprehensive Comparison


Mechanical keyboards have surged in popularity, particularly among gamers, typists, and tech enthusiasts. At the heart of these keyboards are the switches, which define the typing experience. The Cherry MX keyboard switches have long been considered the gold standard, but alternative switches are increasingly challenging their dominance. This article delves into a comprehensive comparison of Cherry MX keyboards and their alternatives.

The Legacy of Cherry MX Keyboards

History and Development

Cherry Corporation, a pioneer in mechanical switches, introduced the Cherry MX switch in the 1980s. These switches revolutionized the keyboard market by providing a reliable, durable, and tactile typing experience. Cherry MX switches are known for their consistent performance, longevity (up to 50 million keystrokes), and variety of switch types catering to different user preferences.

Types of Cherry MX Switches

Cherry MX switches come in several varieties, each with distinct characteristics:

  • Cherry MX Red: Linear switches with smooth keystrokes and no tactile bump, favored by gamers for their quick actuation.
  • Cherry MX Blue: Tactile and clicky switches, popular among typists for their audible feedback and tactile bump.
  • Cherry MX Brown: Tactile switches without the click, offering a balanced experience suitable for both typing and gaming.
  • Cherry MX Black: Heavier linear switches, ideal for users who prefer a stiffer keypress.

Alternative Switches

Razer Switches

Razer, a well-known name in gaming peripherals, offers its own mechanical switches, such as the Razer Green, Orange, and Yellow switches. These switches are designed to mimic Cherry MX but with slight modifications. For example, Razer Green switches are tactile and clicky like Cherry MX Blue but with a shorter actuation distance.

Romer-G Switches

Logitech’s Romer-G switches, developed in collaboration with Omron, are known for their shorter actuation point and faster response time. These switches are quieter and designed to enhance the gaming experience with more precise key presses and durability.

Kailh Switches

Kailh switches, manufactured by Kaihua Electronics, are often found in budget-friendly mechanical keyboards. They offer a wide range of switch types, including the Kailh Blue, Red, and Brown, which are similar to their Cherry MX counterparts. Kailh also produces innovative switch types like the BOX series, known for their dust and water resistance.

Gateron Switches

Gateron switches are highly regarded in the keyboard community for their smoothness and affordability. Available in similar varieties to Cherry MX (Red, Blue, Brown, etc.), Gateron switches often provide a smoother keystroke and are a popular choice for custom keyboard builders.

Performance Comparison

Actuation Force and Point

Cherry MX switches typically have a higher actuation force and longer actuation point compared to some alternatives like Romer-G and Razer Yellow switches, which can lead to faster response times in gaming. However, this difference is often a matter of personal preference rather than a clear advantage.

Durability and Build Quality

Cherry MX switches are renowned for their durability, with a lifespan of up to 50 million keystrokes. Some alternatives, like Razer switches, also claim similar durability, but user experiences can vary. Gateron and Kailh switches, while more affordable, may not always match the same level of consistency and longevity.

Sound and Feel

The sound and feel of a keyboard switch are subjective but crucial aspects of the user experience. Cherry MX Blue switches are known for their loud, clicky sound, which some users love and others find annoying. In contrast, Romer-G switches are much quieter, which can be beneficial in a shared workspace. Gateron switches are often praised for their smoother keystrokes compared to Cherry MX.

Price and Availability

Cherry MX Keyboards

Cherry MX keyboards tend to be priced higher due to the brand’s reputation and quality. They are widely available across various brands and models, ensuring that users can find a Cherry MX keyboard that suits their needs and budget.

Alternative Switch Keyboards

Keyboards with alternative switches, such as those from Razer, Logitech, Kailh, and Gateron, often come at a lower price point. This makes them attractive to budget-conscious consumers. These keyboards can also be easier to find in certain regions, offering more accessibility to a global audience.

Conclusion: Which is Right for You?

Choosing between Cherry MX keyboards and alternatives ultimately depends on personal preference and specific needs. Cherry MX keyboards offer proven reliability, a broad range of switch types, and consistent performance, making them a solid choice for both gamers and typists. However, alternative switches provide viable options with unique features and often at a lower cost, appealing to those looking for customization and value.

Whether you opt for the classic Cherry MX keyboard or explore the diverse world of alternative switches, the key is to find the switch that best complements your typing style and enhances your overall experience.

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