Furious Paul - Hardcore Gaming & Speed Running

Articles - Keyboards
By: - October 31, 2013

Best Cherry MX Mechanical Key Switch for Gamers and Typists

Cherry MX Brown Keyboard:
Cherry MX Brown Key Switches

So you are in the market to buy a new keyboard for your PC.  Your goal is to find the highest quality keyboard that has the best feel along with being amazing to type on.  Look no further because the mechanical Cherry MX keyboards are the perfect combination of quality and performance that meets these needs.

Cherry MX keyboards are more efficient, last longer, and feel much better to type on than any cheap rubber dome (membrane) keyboard in production.  High quality products demand higher prices so expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $250 for one of these.  The price is well worth it in my opinion thanks to the fact that these keyboards will simply last a LOT longer and feel MUCH better to type on.  They are essentially the BMW of keyboards with the high quality key switches manufactured in Germany.

If you are not familiar with the Cherry MX brand, then here is a quick rundown of the type of keys they make.  Cherry MX is a German-made brand of key switches that are manufactured for mechanical keyboards.  In my opinion they make the highest quality mechanical keyboards out there.  They cater to both gamers and typists alike, and their quality is superb!  After trying a variety of comparable options, I highly recommend keyboards made using their key switches.  They currently have 4 main types of key switches you can buy:  Black, Red, Blue, and Brown.  There is a few other colors, but they are not produced a whole lot any more because people were not buying them.  Here are the differences, according to the manufacturer, between the 4 different types of switches.  Then later on I will discuss my opinion on which is the best to use in different circumstances.

Blacks and Reds are primarily made for Gamers

Cherry MX Black Cherry MX Red

Black and Reds are linear key switches.  When they are actuated, they make no tactile bumps or sounds. The key simply presses right down to the bottom with NO indication or tactile feedback.  Tactile feedback typically lets you know exactly when the button is registering.  These keys are made for gamers who rapidly press buttons quickly, because they feel the tactile feedback (from bumps and sounds) get in the way of the quickness you need while playing games like First Person Shooters.

Both Red and Black are nearly the same, with the only difference being that the Reds require less pressure to press the key down to the bottom.

These keys are NOT recommended for typists, but they can work to type on just not as efficient as Blues and Browns:

Blues and Browns are primarily made for Typists

Cherry MX Blue Cherry MX Brown

Blues and Browns are key switches that do have tactile bumps letting you know exactly when the keys have been pressed or actuated.  The difference between these two key switches is that the Blues have a sound click actuation as well, but the Brown is silent without the clicks.

These keys are made for typists, and even gamers can use these as well.

Here is the actual manufacture's recommendations for the uses of these key switches:

Key Switch: For Gamer? For Typist? Clicky? Actuation force:
Brown Not made for gamers, but they do work nicely for them. Yes, but without the clicky noise. No 55 cN
Blue Not made for gamers, but they do work just okay for them. Yes, these are made for typists Yes 60 cN
Red Yes, made for gamers. Not really. No 45 cN
Black Yes, made for gamers. Not really. No 60 cN

My Opinion on these Key Switches!

Now that you are educated on the different types of key switches that are available, I am now going to explain to you what each type of switch is best suited for.  I might come off as a little bias, but just to let you know I have been using computers and mechanical keyboards for over 25 years.  I am a hardcore gamer and always strive for perfection in everything I do.

In short, I think the reds and blacks are a bit overrated, simply because of the fact that you have no exact feedback of key press actuation.  When I first got into the Cherry MX keyboards awhile ago, I tried all key switches with all different types of applications for long periods of time.  I played many different types of games, from FPS, to RTS, to MMORPGs for days with each type of key switch.  I find the Reds and Blacks are not really efficient at all for high level game play.  However if you are looking for that cutting edge in your gaming, you are going to need the tactile feedback from the bumps (from the Blues or Browns), so you know exactly in your head which keys have been pressed and for exactly how long.  I cannot stress how important this is in gaming!

I cannot understand why any gamer would want to use the Red or Black keys for any reason whatsoever.  Sure, they say you can double tap faster, but you can double tap really just as fast on the Blues or Browns (while at the same time providing tactile feedback).

I simply noticed a huge difference when switching from the blacks to browns after playing any game.  It really is a big difference actually.  I am simply way more efficient when using the Browns over the Reds or Blacks.  And I consider myself a hardcore gamer and I do believe that any true gamer will benefit from using the Browns (or even Blues) over the Reds or Blacks any day.

So here is my strong recommendations for the uses of these key switches:

Key Switch: For Gamer? For Typist? Clicky? Actuation force:
Brown Yes, made for gamers (this is the winner for gamers) Yes, but without the clicky noise. No 55 cN
Blue Yes, made for gamers (clicky noise can get annoying) Yes, these are made for typists Yes 60 cN
Red Not My Recommendation Not My Recommendation No 45 cN
BlackNot My Recommendation Not My Recommendation No 60 cN

So Blues Vs Browns, Which is Better?

When it comes to Blues vs. Browns, the difference here is the tactile sound you hear from the Blues, while the browns do not have any sounds to them (they are silent with no clicks).  In my opinion gamers should always choose Browns.  The tactile click sounds from the Blues are totally unnecessary and are totally optional.  Overall the sound clicks from the Blues can annoy people around you and even after awhile can annoy yourself (like it does me).  The bumps are really all the feedback you need to let you know a key has been actuated.

There's still a personal preference here, but overall I think the Cherry MX Browns are the overall winner when it comes to the Cherry MX key switches.  If you were to take your time and compare all the key switches, you too will most likely find that the browns work the best for just about everything.

To O-Ring or not to O-Ring, that is the question!

Rubber O-RingsIf you do not know yet, you can install rubber O-Rings on each cherry MX key.  They make it so when you bottom out, the rubber hits the plastic causing less clangy noise and even a slightly shorter bottoming out distance (which I think is really cool).  I have used keyboards with and without the O-rings for long periods of time, and even though it still is cool to type on a keyboard without O-Rings, I now pretty much always use O-Rings.  Using O-Rings does make my typing experience much more enjoyable!  These are the benefits of the O-Rings:

  • Less distance when bottoming out.
  • More cushioning when bottoming out.
  • A lot less noise when bottoming out.

All three of these are a must to me now and it feels very awkward to use a keyboard now without O-rings installed on each key.  I also feel the O-rings provide a slightly more competitive edge for gamers as well thanks to the less distance a key has to be pressed for it to bottom out.

So I give the O-Rings a huge thumbs up, and to me they are a must-have for any Cherry MX keyboard.

Check out my personal custom LED Backlit keyboard using Cherry MX Brown keys with O-Rings installed on every key:

LED back light Nighthawk X8 - Best custom LED Backlit gaming keyboard

Cherry MX Brown Gaming Keyboard - Custom backlit

Bottom Line
Whether you are a gamer or typist, you simply can't go wrong with Cherry MX Brown key switches for your mechanical keyboard purchase.  If you are a typist and really want that tactile sound click, then the Blues are alright too, as long as you (or people around you) are not annoyed by all the sound clicks.

The black and red switches are made specifically for gamers, but they are practically worthless in my opinion due to not having any tactile feedback.  Tactile feedback from button clicks (like from the browns and blues) is extremely important for just about any task you do, whether it's typing or gaming.  My performance dramatically improved every time I switched from red/blacks to browns.  And I feel this will be the same for many others as well.

Choosing to use O-Rings for your keyboard is a good move and you will not be disappointed.  I am personally hooked on o-rings and I cannot use a mechanical keyboard with out them now.  If you are at all skeptical about using o-rings, you can put just a few o-rings on your keyboard to try them out first.

Later on I will review many different brands of keyboards using the Cherry MX keys. As I have used a number of them.

Thanks for reading and please write down below in the comments if you really feel that the Cherry MX Reds or Blacks have any uses for you.

Gamer's POLL

Which Cherry MX switch do you prefer for Gaming?


Typist's POLL

Which Cherry MX switch do you prefer for Typing?


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