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A beginner's guide to switches

Video and resources

Video version of the guide available here

PDF of scoring sheet available here

On comparison

Comparison is absolutely essential to be able to develop your taste in switches and to really hone in on your preferences.

With a bunch of switches in front of you, you can test multiple hypotheses and run multiple experiments simultaneously. Comparison fast tracks the whole experimentation process. This way you should come to conclusions of what you like and what you don’t like faster and perhaps more importantly, more accurately, than before.


Below are some guidelines to help you find the best switches for you. This list of criteria is not exhaustive. But, at the same time, you do not have to meticulously grade each switch by what’s listed below either

The guidelines are more of a way to help you “work backwards.” Feeling and hearing a switch yourself sufficiently guides you to your preferences. However, if you want to find out why you prefer one switch over another, the criteria below can help explain that.

Travel distance

How shallow/deep do you prefer to type?


How light/heavy do you prefer to type?


Do you prefer a softer or stiffer bottom-out? (Won’t be applicable if you don’t bottom-out when typing)


When it comes to feel, we’ll have to segment a little into the three major different switch types, which are linear, tactile, and clicky.

Linear switches: smoothness

Do you prefer a frictionless or textured smoothness?

The main draw of linear switches is its smooth, linear typing experience. But there are different characteristics of smoothness.

Tactile switches: bumps

How intense do you like your tactility?

If linear switches are about the smoothness, then tactile switches are about the bump you feel as you press down. Broadly speaking there are 4 types of tactile bumps.





Clicky: clicky style

Do you prefer a more delicate or more substantial click?

Clicky switches are known for their crunchy feel.

There are two primary designs when it comes to clicky switches: click jackets and click bars


Learn to break down the sound signature that a switch provides.

Now the sound around switches is a bit of a thorny issue. Sound is the most complicated factor because switches only play a part in the overall sound profile when typing on your keyboard.

Upstroke/downstroke sound

There are two aspects to sound:



Distinguish between up and downstroke


Which flaws are actually significant to you and which ones aren’t?

Now, there are some flaws in switches that should be pointed out. Here, I’ll just point out two that people talk about most.

Spring ping

This metallic sound is generally considered to be undesirable because it interferes with the otherwise clean sound of the stem colliding with the housings.

Stem wobble

Thresholds, not absolutes


Which words effectively sum up a switch?


Distilling everything down into a number.


Video version of the guide available here

PDF of scoring sheet available here

Try switches before you buy them