If you are a gamer, you understand why mechanical keyboards are quite the talk of the town. These keyboards have excellent responsiveness, durability, and versatility that you can hardly find on other keyboards.
If you’re a professional typist, then you already know that mechanical keyboards can give you a smooth, seamless typing experience that would make you the envy of other typists.
You also probably know that you could use mechanical keyboards with three different types of switches: linear, tactile, or clicky mechanical switches. Like everything keyboard related, it comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy smooth switches, linear switches are for you.
However, there is more to it. You shouldn’t just choose any linear switch you find out there. Different switches have their different strong points. In this article, we explore the best linear switches for your mech keyb build.
What are Linear Switches?
Linear switches are noiseless switches that produce a smooth actuation without any tactile feedback. A tactile switch has a bump in response to being tapped. Before the key bottoms out, after finger pressure is placed on it, it bumps out.
Linear switches do not have any tactile feedback. As such, to actuate these sorts of switches, you must push them down.
If you do not appreciate the loud noises from clicky switches or the bumpy rise tactile switches give you, linear switches are a great choice. The advantage of linear switches is that they give you a quiet, smooth, and seamless typing or gaming experience.
Linear switches are some of the most common mechanical switches you can find. If you are someone who gets easily distracted by loud, repetitive noises, linear switches should be your go-to, as you would barely hear any noises from them.
Identifying a Linear Switch
Identifying a linear switch is not hard as it is different from tactile and clicky switches. The two significant differences are in sound and tactility.
Linear switches are smooth and silent. This is what distinguishes them from clicky and tactile switches. Clicky switches are loud and bumpy, while tactile switches are bumpy and relatively quiet. So while there is a bit of a click sound underneath the linear switch, it is almost inaudible compared to other switches.
If your keyboard switch has no tactile bump when you tap on it, it is likely a linear switch. Linear switches bottom out when you tap on them. As such, there is no bump introduced in these switches. The lack of tactile feedback makes the typing experience smoother and faster on mechanical keyboards.
The Best Linear Switches
The following are some of the best linear switches you can find for your mechanical keyboard:
Cherry MX Red
Cherry MX has always made some of the best switches around. The Cherry MX Reds are some of the most popular linear switches you can find. That’s not just because the manufacturers can flood the market with their switches. It is also because these switches give you good value for your money.
They require 45 grams of force to actuate. Each switch has about 100 million actuations in it before it gets done. The Cherry MX Red also has a Silent variant that is even quieter than the regular variant.
The Cherry MX Red has several advantages, including the fact that it goes for a modest price and high-quality clicks.
Outemu created the Outemu Red as a great alternative to the Cherry MX Red. If you’re looking for a responsive keyboard, this is a great option. It is a low-priced quality switch. They have an actuation force of 50g, which is moderate for a linear switch. In addition, it has high-quality, inaudible clicks, which are great for gaming.
Outemu red switches have a travel distance of 4mm. That is the point at which you’d have to press the switch to register the instruction you’re planning to perform.
Its disadvantages are its low trigger level and the fact that it is lower in stability than many other linear switches.
This is a Chinese-made alternative for the Cherry Red MX. There used to be rumors and reviews on the low quality of these switches, but those have reduced and have almost been quelled. This is because they have improved their switches greatly since it was criticized.
Its actuation force is 5ocN, and it records a 2.00mm distance pre-travel, and 4.0m travel afterward.
Some of the negative reviews include that it might sometimes cause fatigue when used for too long. The Kailh black is also a linear switch that is great for typing and gaming. It has an actuation point of 60 cN force. It records a 2.00mm distance pre-travel and 4.0mm travel afterward.
These are also similar to Cherry MX Red switches. The significant differences are the upstroke and downstroke performance. The Gateron Red has minor friction points in downstroke performance, and it also has a pretty different upstroke performance. If you are a typist who is used to the Cherry MX Red, you will find the typing experience on Gateron Red different.
Also, when you tap on the keys, it takes longer to actuate than usual. A plus for the Gateron Red is that the contact noise is almost non-existent. This is one of the most noiseless linear switches you would find.
If you are looking for an affordable yet high-quality switch, the Gateron Yellow should be one of your top picks. With an actuation force of 50g, you do not need to add so much pressure before it actuates. Typing with it is a seamless experience as it gives you smooth, noiseless clicks. Its disadvantage is that it has a low actuation point.
If you are new to linear switches, the Gateron yellow should be a top pick for you as it comes in at a medium resistance. It also has a smaller stem size which makes typing pretty smooth. The travel distance is 4mm; this is the standard linear switch travel distance.
Durock Linear Switches
The Durock POM linear switches have a reasonably smooth, almost pre-lubed quality to them. At the same time, it does not come with any pre-lube.
The switches have a very solid and firm feel even under increased typing speeds when bottoming out. When typing at higher speeds, you might notice a slight spring ping and a wobble.
Zeal Tealios V2
These are some of the smoothest linear switches you can find. They have a transparent housing and signature teal system that makes them perfect for keyboard enthusiasts. Tealios V2 switches bottom out at 67g.
Without any lube, the switches sound great. When lubed, they can provide a smooth experience. While they are pricier than regular switches, they are not as pricey as some other linear switches. They are PCB-mounted switches. The makers have modified the Zeal Tealios V2 switches with wobble reduction and improved smoothness.
Gateron Ink Blacks
If you are used to other Gateron switches, the Gateron Ink Black will not disappoint you. It is constructed out of a type of plastic that guarantees you a much smoother typing experience than ever before. This smoothness is what makes it one of the most sought-after linear switches.
If ink black is your aesthetic, you would love these switches as they feature transparent smokey housing.
The Gateron Ink Blacks are durable and strong. As the name implies, it is coated black. The spring inside is also coated black to match the switch housing. This switch is quite smooth and has little spring crunch.
The NovelKeys Cream is a cost-effective linear switch that you can purchase at a mid-range price. These switches are perfect if you want to build a custom mechanical keyboard.
The switches have a great bassy sound when they bottom out. They have a creamy white color that you would love if creamy white is your aesthetic.
It might take a little bit of getting used to as the feel is not as smooth when it is brand new. Because it has a self-lubricating design, the feel gets more buttery smooth with time.
The Alpaca V2 switch is a recolor of Durock’s linear switch. These switches are smooth linear switches with 62g gold plated springs.
These switches have a pink stem based on SA Bliss by Minterly. While Durock makes the top of the switches from polycarbonate, they make the bottom ones with nylon housing. They also make the stem from POM.
They are lightly factory-lubed, providing a buttery smooth typing experience. The manufacturers add a thin oil lubricant to 3 sides of the stem instead of just the legs. If you also lube them after you get them, you are guaranteed an almost scratch-free switch.
The silent version has a dark smokey clear housing, with the same pink stem as the Alpacas. Both versions are LED compatible and bottom out at 62g. Their total travel time is the regular 4mm.
Some people call the C³Equalz X TKC Tangerine Switches the smoothest in the game, and they would not be far from the truth. Manufacturers make the tangerine switches in two colors: dark green and light green.
For the dark green stem, the spring weights are 67g, while the light green has 62g. As such, you should not hear crunches or pings.
They still have stock sounds that sound like a clack. You would also notice a slight vibration on the top-out and bottom-out. They have tiny wobbles when at rest or depressed.
Tangerine switches are pretty aesthetically pleasing; their colors might remind you of a tangerine. They also clip perfectly to switch plates but not too firmly that they cannot be easily removed.
The housing is made from UHMWPE (Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) which is a highly durable plastic. They have gold springs and a PCB mount. For a smooth typing experience, the switches are lightly pre-lubed in the factory. You can still lube them before installing them for an even smoother typing and gaming experience.
While most other linear switches come in packs of 10, tangerine switches come in packs of 25 switches.
- Akko CS Switch Series – The new line of Akko Custom Series (CS) switches comes with dustproof stem to reduce stem wobble with translucent polycarbonate (PC) bottom for better RGB backlit effects.
- Jelly Black 50gf Linear Switch – Jelly Black is the heaviest Akko CS switches with 50gf actuation force and a 22mm extension spring, returning a more forceful rebound comparing to Radiant Red and Matcha Green.
- Built-in LED Slot – Akko CS switches are equipped with LED slot ready for LED Mod/Assembly, and are SMD compatible (LED underneath the switch), giving you the flexibility to create a custom keyboard that stands out from the crowd.
- Durability and Longevity – With an approximate lifespan of 60 million keystrokes based on laboratory durability tests. The package comes with 45 switches and a plastic tray, ensuring your switches stay in top condition for longer.
- MX Style Compatibility – Akko CS switches come with an MX style structure, making them compatible with most keycap sets with (X) cross stem. Please note that a switch opener is not included.
- 【Smooth and Steady as Always】 Inspired by the color of the skyline and foggy mountains, Ajazz has upgraded and developed switches to the new Red Spirit (red-like linear), Sunrise Yellow (silver-like linear), Sky Blue (Tactile), Foggy Mountain Green (Linear), with equally impressive performance and fantastic feeling. Made of quality materials that are against wear and tear, both switches are proven to be long-lasting while maintaining outstanding activation response
- 【Gold-Plated Pins】 When a switch is stroked, the leaf makes contact and registers the stroke by establishing the electrical circuit, and that leads to the leaf the most complicated and vital part of a switch. The pins that are connected to the leaf are gold-plated, stainless and anticorrosive. As a result, the switches are contributing to a high sensitivity and steady performance
- 【Durable and Low Maintenance】 The switches are composed of PC top & bottom cases, metallic springs and gold-plated pins, which are all durable materials that can preserve in various environments and living conditions. Whether it be used in moist and sticky tropical summer or in dusty and freezing winter, the switches are up to challenge and steady in performance
- 【High Compatibility with Hot-swappable Socket】 For DIY lovers and mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, the Ajazz AS Switch are all compatible with hot-swappable sockets / switch holes and can be installed in any kit/plate that supports hot-swap
- 【Meet all your need in Transparent Beauty】 Comes in translucent green and blue, these switches are beauties of their own and great partners of backlights of all themes when accompanied by transparent keycaps and kits. As for those that treasure inner beauty more than the outside looks, the switches come in tactile and linear for devotees of either kind, ready to be taken home by gamers, bloggers, programmers or simply clackheads
- 【Epomaker Switch with Linear Feature】 Epomaker Sea Salt mechanical switches are made with initial force of 35g and end force of 60g. With a total travel of 2.00mm, this switch shows its characteristic to be outstanding. Designed a linear type, it aims at pulling up the smooth typing experience to the full!
- 【Factory Lubed】 Coming factory-lubed and special structured, the Epomaker Sea Salt switch can be self-lubed when being typed, which is especially helpful for maintaining a smooth feeling. The durable stem is credited to a more smooth and pleasing typing experience
- 【Compatible with MX Structure Keycaps】 Epomaker Sea Salt switches are designed with general MX structure so that they can fit most keycaps sets with (X) cross stem. This greatly improves the compatibility and you can feel free to change the switch and remake your own keyboard
- 【Built-in LED Slot & Durable Lifespan】 Equipped with LED slots for modification, the backlight can be shine-through even with PBT housings in the Epomaker Sea Salt switches. This provides more fun feature and options for DIYers. With a strong stainless steel spring, the lifespan can go up to 60 million times of keystrokes based on laboratory durability test. Get your keyboard something new and have fun with them!
- Gateron G Ks-3 Milky Yellow Pro Switch is Pre-lubed will feel better than regular milky yellow.
- Alloy contacts process upgrade, The improve the resistance to oxidation and vulcanization, Thus improving the service life of the switches.
- Yellow: Linear - 50g Actuation Force, Lifetime: 50 million cycles.
- Compatible with Cherry MX switch, suitable for most mechanical keyboards.
- Support 2 Pin 3mm Round Light, also compatible with 5-pin PCB Hot-swappable keyboards.
- Premium: 5 Pin PCB mounted linear switch. Unique light blue polycarbonate top shell with Glorious branding + Nylon PA12 bottom shell. The ultimate premium mechanical keyboard switch.
- Soft and Flexible: A POM stem provides an unbelievably smooth, quiet operation. Material is sourced from Japan, with a bottom out force of 60g. These mechanical keyboard switches are perfect for all workspaces.
- Unique: The factory-designed spring with nickel plating is sourced from Korea. Using premium grade copper leaf sourced from Japan. Creating premium linear switches.
- RGB: Passthrough for RGB compatibility, with Light Blue housing. Creating a premium look for these premium use mechanical switches.
- Compatible with all “+” stem keycaps and GMMK models. To be compatible with the GMMK 1, you need to clip the switches’ legs before installation. Compatible with non-glorious "+" stem keycaps and models.
Linear Switch Keyboards
If you are looking for something fresh out the box, ready to go, consider purchasing a mechanical keyboard with linear switches. You can find a few of the linear switches we’ve mentioned above in a few prebuilt mechanical keyboards. You’ll typically find red switches easiest to find amongst those options. They may not be the same brand or quality of switches mentioned above, but will have the same characteristics as a linear switch. Here are a few mechanical keyboards with linear switches:
Redragon K630 Dragonborn
The Redragon K630 Dragonborn mechanical keyboard is a 60% budget keyboard. You’re able to hot swap the red switches out if you decide you want to use a different set of mechanical switches in the future.
- 60% Layout In Wired: Brand New Redragon 60% design in wired only mode due to popular demand. NKRO 61 keys for ultra-compact and minimalistic design, frees up precious desk space for less clutter.
- Hot-Swappable Red Switches: Most quiet mechanical switch, linear and soft key travel makes every click easy to register. Hot-swappable with other Redragon switches. Made to last with switches rated for 50 million keypresses.
- Vibrant RGB: Up to 11 presets backlighting modes are free to choose by the keyboard itself. Brightness and flowing speed is also adjustable on board. Select your own preferred modes for any playing.
- Pro Software Customizable: Expand your options using the available software to design your own new modes and effects found on redragonshop. Macros with different keybindings or shortcuts for more efficient work and gaming. Check detail description below for download info.
- Dedicated for FPS Gamer: Place the keyboard proper straight on your desktop and no more crooked way for mouse space saving, your mouse will never hit the keyboard any more. Enjoy waving the mouse without any worries and go get that Team Kills.
HyperX Alloy Origins Core
The HyperX Alloy Origins Core is a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard with HyperX Red switches. It has an aluminum body and RGB effects.
- HyperX Mechanical Switches rated for 80 million keystrokes
- Full aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Ultra-compact, portable design with detachable cable
- Dazzling RGB lighting with dynamic effects
- Advanced customization with HyperX Ngenuity software
ASUS ROG Falchion NX
The ASUS ROG Falchion is a 65% wireless keyboard with ROG NX Red linear switches.
- COMPACT, WITHOUT COMPROMISE - ROG Falchion NX is a 65% form-factor wireless mechanical keyboard designed to change the way you play. Interactive touch panel and innovative two-way cover case, plus it’s the first ROG gaming keyboard with wireless Aura Sync RGB lighting.
- 65% FORM FACTOR GAMING KEYBOARD - A compact keyboard without compromise, masterfully incorporating arrow and navigation keys into a 65% keyboard layout. And at just 306 mm in length, ROG Falchion NX is almost the same size as a 60% keyboard. It gives you all the functions of a normal keyboard without taking up much desktop space.
- DUAL-MODE CONNECTIVITY | 450-HOUR BATTERY LIFE - A near-zero latency 2.4 GHz RF connection and up to 450 hours of battery life deliver the stability and longevity gamers need for the ultimate gaming experiences. It can also be used in wired USB mode.
- DURABLE PBT DOUBLESHOT KEYCAPS - ROG PBT Doubleshot Keycaps provide a unique and premium feel, as well as long-lasting durability. Optimized with mid-height keycaps, a shorter stem reduces key wobble for a more comfortable user experience.
- POLYCARBONATE KEYBOARD COVER - The transparent polycarbonate keyboard cover provides superb protection when you’re storing or taking ROG Falchion NX to LAN parties. The cover can also be placed under the keyboard when in use, to give the underside RGB lighting a diffused look.
The ROCCAT Vulcan is a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard. It has Titan mechanical switches with a linear option.
- TITAN SWITCH MECHANICAL (LINEAR) - Designed and built entirely by ROCCAT engineers and developed for gamers who love the feel of mechanical switches but demand a smooth and rapid actuation
- TENKEYLESS FORM FACTOR - This smaller factor allows for a larger pad and a bigger range of mouse movements, improving your aiming accuracy
- ADVANCED ANTI-GHOSTING - Technology optimized for gamers to ensure every key stroke of the most-used keys is registered – no matter how frantic the action gets
- CUSTOMIZED YOUR WAY - ROCCAT’s Easy-Shift[plus] technology adds a secondary function to compatible keys; Just hold down the designated modifier key for double the command power in an instant
- MIXER-STYLE MEDIA CONTROLS - The tactile volume dial and mute button allow you to adjust volume and mute/unmute on the fly; Instant Control at your fingertips
How to Improve Linear Switches
Linear switches like most mechanical switches for keyboards can be improved with some switch lubricant. It is a DIY project that takes a few materials to improve the overall traveling smoothness of your linear switches.
Lubricating linear switches cuts down on the friction between the housing and stem of a keyboard switch.
To lubricate your switches you’ll need:
- Switch lubricant
- Switch puller
- Keycap puller
If you enjoy a smooth typing experience, linear switches are a good option. To ensure that you have the best experience, you should choose the best switches for you and your keyboard.
When selecting a linear switch, try testing them out to see what you enjoy. Look out for minimal wobble, which does not have too much noise and manufacturers lube, enough to provide a seamless, smooth experience.