Linear vs Tactile Switches

Lawrence Bonk Profile image

Written By:

Updated August 5, 2022

If you are new to the world of computer keyboards, you may look to compare linear vs. tactile switches. Some of the best keyboards, after all, feature one of these two designs. So what are the primary differences between these two types of switches, and which is best for you? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Tactile switches, as the name suggests, offer a more tactile experience during use, thanks to an added tactile bump on the switch.
  • Linear switches are more smooth and consistent and create less noise while typing.
  • Tactile switches create a tiny amount of delay as you type, whereas linear switches do not.

Keyboard Switches: Linear vs Tactile

Both of these switch types are affiliated with mechanical keyboards if you are comparing the different keyboard switches available. This means that they offer all of the benefits of a mechanical design when comparing optical vs mechanical switches.

Insider Tip

No matter which type you choose, stay on top of cleaning your keyboard with compressed air and microfiber cloths.

The primary difference here is in the feel, as tactile switches have a bit of give when you press down and linear switches do not, which is not totally dissimilar when comparing mechanical vs membrane keyboards. There are other differences beyond that, however, if you are wondering whether a mechanical keyboard is better for gaming.

Noise During Use

Tactile switches make more noise during use when compared to linear switches, though this is by design. The bump found on the top of tactile switches makes a clicking noise with each keystroke, but this is one of the reasons why tactile switches offer increased immersion, as this added noise helps users know they are hitting each key. However, if you are looking to absolutely minimize noise as much as possible, go with linear switches. Both linear and tactile switches are quieter than clicky switches, as these make the most noise during use.

Tactile Feedback

As the name suggests, tactile switches offer increased tactile feedback, while linear switches offer a smooth typing experience. Both of these options have their place, and it really comes down to personal preference. Do you like the satisfying click as you type, or do you prefer having no physical feedback at all? Tactile feedback does help newer typists keep an eye on how they are doing.

Response Time

It takes slightly longer for a key press to register with a tactile switch when compared to a linear switch. This means you’ll experience some slight delay, in the 1ms to 2ms range, with a tactile keyboard over a linear keyboard. This will not be noticeable in the vast majority of cases, though it could be something worth considering if you are a competitive gamer, where every millisecond matters.

STAT: High-end linear switches such as the Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX Speed Silver are often considered the best for gaming and speed. (source)

Linear Vs Tactile Switches FAQs

Should you get linear switches?

There are many types of mechanical switches, and going with a linear mechanical keyboard switch comes down to personal preference. You may prefer the tactile bump involved with a tactile mechanical keyboard switch.

What are clicky switches?

Clicky switches are a third type of switch that is much louder during use, though some typists prefer the increase in noise and often choose this type of switch.

What do all of the switch colors mean?

The various switch colors found with mechanical switches indicate firmness, durability, and other metrics, though the actual details vary from company to company.
Lawrence Bonk Profile image