Best Linear Switches [2021]

Keyboard switches on a desk next to flowers and headphones.

There are so many linear switches available in the big bad world of mechanical keyboards, which one should you guys choose?

A linear switch is a switch that has uninterrupted travel all the way down. There is no feedback whatsoever and really no way to tell when you have actuated the switch besides when the entry shows up at the receiving end.

Terminology

Just like in the Tactile Switch article I have included a short guide with some useful terminology that will be thrown around.

Actuation: Actuation is when the switch actually activates and outputs to the device.

Bottom out: When the switch finishes traveling and hits the bottom housing.

Leaf: The metallic contacts in a switch, these themselves actually actuate the switch. The leaf is in the bottom housing as the picture shows.

Diagram pointing to the leaf on a mechanical keyboard switch.

Ping / Spring Ping / Leaf Ping: This is a metallic reverb produced by the sound of the spring, leaf, or both. In most cases it can be fixed by lube.

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Disclaimer… Please Read!

This review is largely preference, my rankings will likely be very different from yours. Do not base your opinions based of mine, the best way to get opinions on a switch is to just try them yourself, guides like this, sound tests, and keyboard senpais like Taeha Types is not a good way to understand how switches feel. Just hit up your local vendor and buy a pack of whatever switch your fingers and ears desire to try them out. Use this guide to gain a general understanding of the switch and where enthusiasts like me stand on these switches.

Gateron Black Ink

Gateron Black Ink mechanical keyboard switch with rocks behind it.

Gateron Black Inks are a switch made by Gateron. They feature a 60g actuation and a 70g bottom out and actuate at 2 mm and with a total travel of 4 mm. They do not come prelubed and stock are quite mediocre. But when lubed and filmed they are mega smooth and have a very thoccy sound signature.

These are number 1 because of how pleasant the sound is coming in with a low sounding thocc in most cases. It also has top tier smoothness after lubing and filming.

We do recommend lubing these as in their stock form they are a bit scratchy and do not sound the best. Filming is also recommended but not required since the housings are not unbearably loose.

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C3 Equalz x TKC Banana Splits

C3 equalz Banana split mechanical keyboard switch resting on a flower.

These switches are amazing, ill say that right off the bat. They are produced by TKC and C3 Equalz and are the first addition to the fruit switch lineup. They feature a hyper smooth experience with a nice high pitch clacky sound that is enjoyed by many typists around the world. They feature the typical 2mm actuation point and 4mm bottom out. They have no long stem action. These switches come with only a 62g weight option.

The Banana Splits take the number 2 spot because of the sound and smoothness being so good. They are pretty costly and have limited availability.

These switches don’t require filming or lubing but will benefit from both. We would recommend lubing these tasty switches up. There super good looking too, which is a plus.

Bobagums

Bobagum keyboard switch on a flower.

Gazzew’s linear deriving from the Boba U4s, which are top tier silent tactiles. These switches come in 62g and 68g variations, have great silencing power, and feature awesome smoothness.

Lubing these switches is always recommended but filming is not as housings may struggle to close with many types of film since they are already so tight.

These switches are perfect for a work or school keyboard. So if you like linear with a slight mush or just don’t want thocc or clack this is a right choice for you. They are the best silent linear on the market right now.

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C3 Equalz x TKC Equalz Tangerine

C3 Equalz Tangerine switch resting on a flower.

Smooth, clacky, and did we mention its smooth? By far one of the smoothest switches out of the box. This pre-lubed switch from TKC is amazing. It features a standard 2mm actuation and 4mm bottom out. These switches come with a 62g version and a 68g version.

It is hard to rank the tangerines considering it is among the smoothest switches you can buy, but some of TKC’s problems in the past really dock this switch a few points. Its sound signature is also, if you will, boring and flat. By no means is it bad, in fact, it’s great but the other switches here do better. Again, this is completely my opinion, you may love it you may not.

If you do like a lower more muted switch then these are a great switch to consider but if you want something more lively and clacky then they may not be for you.

Lubing is not required as the returns are diminishing after lube. Lubing with a thinner lube like 3203 or 3204 is preferred since the factory lube and the 205g0 can be too much. Filming will benefit the tangies but is not required by any means.

Gateron Milky Yellow

Gateron Milky Yellow switch on a flower.

Budget, budget, budget. These switches are as it stands the king of budget linears. Standing in at about 24 cents a switch. They have a very nice thoccy sound and feature quite smooth action after lubing and filming. They are no Black Inks but they are also not 75 cents a pop. These siwtches weigh in at about 50g actuation and 60g bottom out.

These earned a spot on the list since the Milky Yellows are pretty much the epitome of budget switches and have been for a while. These switches come in many forms or revisions. The outstanding outcome or what is widely agreed as the best outcome is the black bottom and milky top housings. As they provide the best smoothness and sound but obviously that is up to you.

Do lube and film these, as without they are quite scratchy and the housings are pretty wobbly.

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PrimeKB Alpacas

PrimeKB Alpaca V2 keyboard switch sitting on a pink flower.

These JWK Recolors follow a color scheme based on Minterley’s Bliss colorway. They feature very smooth travel with a deep sort of unique sound signature that is hard to find on any other switch making it a very desired switch throughout the keyboard community. They feature 62g springs which makes it a nice middle ground in terms of weight.

These switches do not need lube or films as they do come pre-lubed with a slight layer of oil and they have pretty tight housings.

Note that the latest version was tested. The previous iteration for this switch had quite loose housings but that has since been fixed. These switches are primarily only sold on PrimeKB and they have the newer version.

KTT Strawberry

KTT Strawberry switch sitting on a green plant.

These switches are an iteration of KTT’s higher-end switches. At around 40 cents a switch, they are mid to low-end switches in terms of price. But let’s not judge this book by its cover or more this switch by its price.

The KTT Strawberries are one of the smoothest stock switches out there right now, up there with tangerines for a bit more than half the price. And as far as sound goes, dang these really hit the spot, they have a clean and non-intrusive clack similar to that of the tangerines without the harsh high pitchiness. These have a 63.5g bottom out making them slightly heavier than Gateron Yellows.

Neither filming nor lubing this switch is required as they have very tight housings and very smooth travel in the stock form.

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Vintage Cherry MX Blacks

Vintage Cherry MX Black switch sitting on a rock.

Chances are if you have even the slightest experience in this hobby you have heard of Cherry’s lineup and cherry MX Blacks. These switches are those exact things, except old. When a switch is made a mold is used to cast the plastic, so these switches use an older mold which was known to be very smooth. This paired with cherry’s magically sounding amazing housings made the holy grail of linears.

Now if there so good why aren’t they number 1? Because these switches are very hard to come by, for starters it is near impossible to get these switches through a commercial vendor like NovelKeys, Cannonkeys, etc. Second, in most cases these switches must be removed from an old keyboard (like really old) and then cleaned and sold via mechmarket or something like that. That being said, these switches follow the standard Cherry MX Black weighting which is about 60g operating and 80g bottom out.

These switches do need lube but filming is hit or miss since they have nice and tight housings from the factory.

Conclusion

All these switches are great choices for any linear build. Some switches that weren’t included which are also great are most JWK manufactured Linears such as the Durock L Series, Halu Halos, H1s, Tealios, many KTT and TTC switches, and much more. We recommend going on YouTube and listening to sound tests and finding what you like as it is difficult to make a proper decision from just words and pictures.

If you want to try or buy any of these switches then a great place to start is by looking at your local vendor. Take a look at our vendor list. A compilation of tons of keyboard vendors sorted by region.

If you enjoyed this article and you want to talk more about tech then consider joining our Discord and as always thanks for reading!

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