Red Vs. Brown Switches

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Updated July 27, 2022

Those passionately searching for the best keyboard have likely staggered across the great switch debates. Keyboard switches are a hotly contested piece of equipment, and below, we’ll compare red vs brown switches. These are two common switch types, each with niche benefits, so stick with us to find out what makes them unique.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Choosing a computer switch depends on whether you use your keyboard primarily for gaming or typing.
  • Red switches are linear, meaning they have a smooth, quiet, and fast keystroke. They are commonly used for things that require rapid and repetitive commands, like gaming or typing.
  • Brown switches are tactile, meaning they have a bump that causes a slight resistance and sound with each keystroke. While also used for gaming, brown switches have slower strokes than linear and are suitable for typing.

Another significant decision you may consider before looking at the various keyboard switch colors is the switch types. For this, we have an article comparing tactile vs clicky switches.

Insider Tip

If you like the feel of the tactile bump but want to reduce the clicking sound, you can lube the switches to reduce noise.

Differences Between Red vs Brown Keyboard Switches

Although every mechanical switch accomplishes the same thing — translate the force of a keystroke from your finger to the electronic sensor beneath — the experience is different between types. For example, red switches are linear, meaning they have a smooth stroke and make little noise.

On the other hand, brown switches have a built-in tactile bump. This bump provides a slight resistance known as tactile feedback, which means that users will feel a small resistance with every keystroke. Additionally, brown key switches produce a more audible click than linear switches.

So now that we’ve established the experiential differences, we’ll explain the advantages of either type. But for another guide on keyboard switches, you can check out our article on Razer vs Cherry green switches.

Gaming

Most gamers prefer a linear over tactile switch for a few reasons. First, gamers require a higher audio awareness to listen to the in-game conversations and sound effects. The loud click of a brown switch can obstruct the audio experience.

Additionally, red switches type faster and are more sensitive because they lack a tactile bump. This sensitivity is desired for intense gaming, as many key combinations are repeated simultaneously.

Warning

Red switches are lighter by design, making them easy to press and cause typos without noticing.

Typing

While switches are always a matter of preference, the average typist prefers something with some form of resistance. Therefore, brown switches are recommended for those looking to type because the tactile bumps decrease the sensitivity. On the other hand, red switches are very smooth. They can have a lower actuation point, meaning it’s easier to press a key accidentally.

Durability

Both types of switches are incredibly durable. For example, if you get the official Cherry MX red or brown switches, they are said to last up to 50 million strokes.

STAT: Cherry MX offers a speed switch that responds 40% faster than the fastest linear switch. (source)

Red vs Brown Switches FAQs

How many types of mechanical switches are there?

Mechanical keyboards have three main types of switches: linear, tactile, and clicky. The differences between these three have to do with the actuation point, sound, and resistance.

How long do Cherry switches usually last?

Reviews say Cherry MX switches last around 10-15 years, depending on use.

How much do Cherry switches cost?

A full set of Cherry Switches for a compact keyboard (65 keys) will cost around $40-50.
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