Linear keyboard switches are a great choice for those who prefer a quieter mechanical keyboard as more often than not, you’ll find that switches are loud.
These are the most simple types of keyboard switches that feel and sound somewhat similar to MacBook keyboards. There is no tactical bump and no loud audible click sound when a key is pressed.
So if you are into silent keyboards, these are what you’re looking for.
1. Gateron Milky Yellow: Best Budget Option
If you’re on a budget but don’t want to compromise quality, Gateron’s milky yellow switch is the best linear switch of choice that is both affordable and high-quality.
These have medium resistance with 50g actuation force that delivers that “thocky” but silent sound. The smooth and quiet performance delivered when pushing the keys makes it the perfect choice if you’re planning to use your keyboard for heavy typing office work.
You can find milky yellow’s almost anywhere so you don’t have to worry about finding replacements in case you misplace or lost some.
2. Cherry MX Speed Silver: Best For Gaming
The Cherry MX Speed Silver linear switch is the top pick for gamers. The 45g actuation distance is shorter than most tactile switches and delivers an excellent response time needed for competitive gaming.
Cherry MX’s are extremely durable as well and can take quite a beating. We all know how we start button bashing when we are in a tight pinch while playing competitive games with friends or by ourselves.
3. Cherry MX Silent Red: Best Quiet
The Cherry MX Silent Red, as the name suggests delivers soft tactile feedback which is perfect for those who want to stay away from tactile and clicky switches with loud feedback.
The quiet response is from the special dampening component, low operating force, and low spring resistance. This switch is not only great for gaming but also delivers a fantastic buttery smooth typing experience.
These silent red’s are compatible with most keyboards but the downside is that among the Cherry MX, the silent red type can be quite difficult to find and is quite expensive compared to the others.
4. Kailh NovelKeys Cream Linear Switch
Kailh NovelKeys Cream are the best-sounding linear switch that you can find on the market. These have that pleasing bassy sound when pressed.
The NovelKeys also have a mid-range price point which is quite remarkable for its aesthetic appeal and impressive performance.
The downside for those who tried these is that it can be scratchy when brand new but the sound ultimately smoothens out with continuous use. You can also use lubes if you don’t like the scratchy sound.
5. Gateron Ink Black Linear Switch
One of the most sought mechanical keyboard switches are the Gateron Ink Black switches. Gateron’s ink black switches are made from a plastic material different than most linear’s and deliver that stable and quick-to-rebound feel when pressed.
If you want to get your hands of these, you’ll need to install them yourself as there are not any keyboard available that have these pre-installed.
6. Cherry MX Black Mechanical Keyboard Linear Switches
Cherry MX’s black switches are smooth and have a high actuation force. The high actuation force is caused by the stiff spring needed to bottom out the key. This makes these excellent for gaming as it minimizes any accidental key presses.
The downside is that if you are a light presser, these might not be for you as you might accidentally not press the key down enough.
They can last up to 50 million keystrokes so you will likely not need to change them for many years unless you are ultra rapidly tapping your keys 24/7.
7. Razer Yellow Mechanical Keyboard Linear Switches
These switches have a light actuation force of 45 grams which is perfect for those who want to double-tap quickly.
You won’t need to worry much about sound as they are designed to be silent. You can also listen to the sound on Razer’s official website before you upgrade your keyboard.
8. Gateron Brown Mechanical Keyboard Linear Switches
The brown switches are a mix between both red and blue switches. The actuation force here is 55 g and the travel distance is 2 mm.
While not the most quiet in the world, the sound level is still quieter than most of the other types of switches.
9. Akko CS Silver Linear Switches
The Akko CS Silver feel fantastic and are a great choice for gamers and feel incredibly smooth.
The pre-lubed version is the way to go as you can simply install and start typing/gaming immediately.
They deliver a satisfying ‘thock’ sound when hit and the spring feels surprisingly good. Many buyers have claimed the Akko CS silver are S-tier quality despite their cheap price point.
10. Tecsee Carrot Linear Switches
These are great if you want a single color setup as the orange glows through regardless of your LED choices.
The springs might feel a little stiff at first, but they come with a 2nd set of springs which are a little softer. Overall great if you want something cheap but high quality.
11. Durock Silent Linear Dolphin
These are very silent once lubed but they are also very heavy. If heavy is not your thing look elsewhere.
The Durock Dolphin switches are much cheaper than others on this list, but you do need to do some extra lubing yourself to avoid that scratchy sound when tapping your keys.
An Overview of the Different Types of Switches
If you’re customizing your first mechanical keyboard and deciding which type of switch is best get the following overview of the different kinds of switches that will give you an idea about which one would suit your preference.
There are three different types, namely linear, tactile, and clicky.
A linear switch is a switch where the keypress has a consistent feel throughout the press. There is no “bump” in the middle of the keypress like there is on the tactile version. Linear’s are also smoother than the tactile version and currently the most popular are the Cherry MX Red’s which you might have already seen a lot about elsewhere.
Tactile’s have a small “bump” in the keypress about halfway through the press. The most popular tactile switch is the Cherry MX Brown.
Clicky’s are similar to the tactile’s, but they also have an audible “click” sound when the key is pressed down. These also tend to the loudest switches you can get.
Benefits of Using Linear Switches
Using linear switches might be based on your preference but there are important benefits why typists and gamers prefer linear over tactile or clicky.
Linear switches are smoother than tactile and clicky. This makes them easier and more comfortable to use for long typing sessions.
They are also faster than tactile and clicky switches since there is no “bump” in the keypress. This makes thems ideal for gaming.
Tips to Improve The Feel and Sound of Your Linear Switches
Yes, there are ways to still improve the sound and feel of your linear switches. Linear’s might already feel better with a less tactile bump than the clicky ones but the following tips can add more smooth feel and quieter feedback.
Lubricating Your Switches
One way to make your switches feel even smoother is by lubricating them. This is a process where you add a small amount of lubricant to the housing and stem.
You can use a silicone-based lubricant or a graphite-based lubricant. We recommend using a silicone-based lubricant as it is easier to apply and does not require as much precision as a graphite-based lubricant.
Another way to improve the feel and sound of your keys is by adding O-rings. O-rings are small rubber rings that you add to the stem of your switch. They help dampen the sound of your keys and make them feel smoother.
You can buy O-rings online or at your local hardware store. Be sure to get the right size O-rings to avoid any issues.
Installing a Switch Film
Installing a switch film can make your switches more sturdy and silent. A switch film is a thin piece of material that you add to the bottom of your switch. It helps dampen the sound of your keys and makes them feel more solid.