Cherry MX Clear vs Brown Switches

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Updated August 29, 2022

If you’re shopping for a premium keyboard, you may wonder if Cherry MX Clear vs Brown switches are better for you. There are multiple mechanical keyboard switches to choose from, and each color denotes a specific typing experience. So, stick around to learn what wins the Cherry MX Brown vs Clear switches debate.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Cherry MX Clears and Browns are tactile switches that deliver a tactile bump with every keypress.
  • While these switches deliver some audible feedback, they do not offer clicky noises.
  • Both options are great for typists, but Clears require more actuation force to register inputs.

Cherry MX Brown vs Clear Switches

The mechanical switch type you choose for your keyboard will affect the audible and tactile feedback of your user experience. In general, there are three popular switch types: tactile switches, linear switches, and clicky switches.

Insider Tip

Buy a mechanical keyboard switch test kit to find a key switch that matches your personal taste.

The fundamental differences between these switches are the spring resistance, tactile bump, and audible feedback. That said, there are also nuanced differences that you’ll find, such as when comparing Cherry MX Black vs Red switches. For example, if you need the fastest-typing switch for gaming, consider comparing Cherry MX Speed vs Red switches.

The biggest difference between Cherry MX Brown and Clear switches is the actuation weight. While both provide tactile feedback, the Cherry MX Clears are heavier switches and require more rigid key presses to register inputs. Cherry MX Brown switches are medium-resistance and offer faster actuation than Clears.

Tactile Feedback

Since both models are tactile switches, key pressing should feel nearly identical between Cherry MX Browns and Clears. They both deliver a noticeable bump compared to smooth-moving linear switches, but the Clears’ heavy resistance makes typing slightly more arduous.

Warning

Typing on Cherry Clears can get tiring if you’re not conditioned for stronger spring resistance.

Auditory Feedback

You will not notice any clicky feedback from Cherry MX Clears or Browns, but they aren’t as silent as Cherry MX Black Switches. The Clear and Brown tactile response will deliver slightly audible feedback, but they are still ideal for quiet environments like shared workspaces or coffee shops.

Typing Experience

Either model is an excellent switch for typing, but the lighter resistance of the Cherry MX Browns will not tire your hands as quickly. Some users appreciate the stiff actuation of Cherry Clears, but Browns are generally a better pick for typists.

STAT: A 2021 Pew Research survey showed that 92% of Americans making $100K or more per year own a desktop or laptop computer. (source)

Cheaper Choice

Cherry Clear switches are considered “specialty switches,” so they aren’t as cost-effective or available as Cherry MX Brown switches. Whether you buy a pre-made mechanical keyboard or build your own, Cherry MX Browns are more affordable.

Cherry MX Clear vs Brown FAQs

What does bottoming out mean on a key switch?

Bottoming out on a keyboard refers to pressing a key to the base. Most keyboard switches do not need a full press to register, so many consider bottoming out an improper typing technique. Heavy typists often choose keyboard switches with minimal travel distance to type faster.

Should gaming switches have lighter springs?

Competitive gamers want the fastest-typing switches possible, and using a model with lighter springs will enable quick inputs. Switches like the Cherry MX Red and Black models have light springs and smooth actuation, allowing repeated inputs with minimal delay.

Are membrane keyboards a bad choice?

Membrane keyboards feature a plastic membrane and rubber domes instead of physical switches like mechanical models. Membrane models do not have much tactile or audible feedback, but they often offer advanced features and a lower price point than mechanical switch keyboards.
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