Best Tactile Switches [2021]

A variety of switches on a desk.

There are a plethora of tactile switches on the market, but which one is the best?

A tactile switch is a keyboard switch that produces a bump somewhere in the travel while still retaining its quietness compared to clicky switches. In theory the perfect blend between the sweet sound of linears and the lovely click of clickies. Tactile switches are perfect if you prefer a feedback when typing, most membrane keyboards will have a small and round feedback when typing, so tactiles are most similar to membranes in that way.

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Terminology

To get started, when talking about tactile switches many people will refer to types of bump and cool sciency terms like pre-travel, post-travel, actuation, and much more. Well, don’t let these big words intimidate you because I will explain them all.

Tactile Event: The bump in the switches travel.

Pre-Travel: Any linear or smooth uninterrupted travel before the tactile event.

Post-Travel: Post-travel is the linear travel after the tactile event.

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 of 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.

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 on the switch and where enthusiasts like me stand on these switches.

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1. Boba U4t: Fantastic Acoustics and Hefty Tactility

U4T switch with plant.

Boba U4T is a tactile switch designed by gazzew and manufactured by outemu. It’s the sister switch of the Boba U4 which is a silent switch and is mentioned below. It produces a relatively sharp bump which is quite prominent throughout the switch. It comes in both 62g and 68g bottom out.

We recommend lubing this switch but not filming as the housings are extremely tight and well built and may not close with film.

The reason Boba U4t earn such a high position on this list is because of the sound and at what price it comes at. The T in U4T stands for thocc and it definitely lives up to its name as this may be one of the thocciest tactiles I have heard.

2. Durock T1s: Bumpy and Smooth

T1 switch with plant.

Durock T1s are a tactile switch designed by Durock and manufactured by JWK. It features a roundish bump at the top of the switch with no pre-travel. It features a few weighting options ranging from 62 to 67 grams.

These are so high up because of the tactility and how it closely resembles the wildly sought after Holy Pandas at a very affordable price. They also have unrivaled smoothness since they do copy the material of Gateron Ink switches which are among the smoothest linears.

These aren’t number 1 since they don’t have the best sound and they have very loose housings. This can, of course, be fixed by film. These switches are pre-lubed with a thin coating of oil which makes lubing not required.

3. Glorious Pandas: Budget Snappiness… Relatively

Glorious Panda switch with plant.

Glorious Pandas are Glorious PC Masterrace’s attempt at recreating the wildly popular Holy Panda frankenswitch. It features a sharp P bump with a quick and sharp bump at the top.

These switches recreate the feel of the sought after holy pandas without the price and pain of having to frankenswitch. Although this switch is far from perfect, it has immense spring and leaf ping. Although the springs can be fixed with a spring swap the leaf ping is still there and still plays a large part in the acoustics of the switch.

Even though these have a similar feel to the Holy Pandas which are a staple in the keyboard world its spring and leaf ping bring it down to number 3.

4. TKC x C^3 Equalz Kiwis: Ideal if You don’t Like Heavy Tactility

Kiwi switches on a desk.
Picture Creds: Caughtquick, check him out at https://www.caughtquick.tech

Kiwis are the 2nd installment in the fruit switches by TKC in collaboration with C^3, and it does not disappoint. They feature medium-level tactility which is a nice breath of fresh air with all the high tactility switches on the market. With around a 67g bottom out the switch has a prominent P Bump with smooth pre-travel after a quick bump at the top. This switch does feature light lubing which makes it very smooth.

Personally, I think these switches are great if you don’t like heavy tactility and do benefit from gasket films and lubing.

These are number 4 because I prefer a heavier tactility and recently TKC has been having quality control issues where there fruit switches have been having actuation inconsistencies due to problems with the switch molds.

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5. Invyr Holy Pandas: Tactile Switch Royalty Sharp and Quick

Holy Panda switch with plant.

For years Holy Pandas have been the pinnacle of tactile switches, since then companies like glorious and in this case, Invyr has tried to replicate these switches. Similar to glorious pandas these switches have a sharp p bump at the top followed by smooth linear travel.

These switches benefit from both lube and film. Although the housings are quite tight the acoustics won’t be negatively affected by film. From my testing lubing these switches is a must as they are quite scratchy on the linear travel and there is quite a bit of spring ping, so lubing them is a must.

These aren’t number 1 because they have quite the hefty price tag at above 1 dollar per switch. This is quite expensive especially with the problems these switches are known for like spring and leaf ping. While you can’t go wrong with these switches they can be a bit disappointing especially with how much you are paying for them.

6. NovelKeys x Kailh Blueberries: Heavy Weight with Heavy Tactility

 NovelKeys x Kailh Blueberry switch with plant.

Blueberries are Novelkeys and Kailhs take at a tactile switch after the critical reception of Novelkey Creams. They feature a D-Bump with about 1 mm of post-travel and little pre-travel. The bump on these things is massive in duration but very round.

While filming these is optional lubing is necessary otherwise the switch will be very scratchy and pingy. These switches have the exact same material composition as Novelkey Creams which means they are quite scratchy before break in.

These switches are sixth on the list because they are very scratchy and the bump is frankly nothing special compared to the other switches on this list although it does get points for being a very long bump. Acoustics are also not very pleasant as they sound quite scratchy.

7. Zealios V2: Sharp Cheddar Cheese… Except in Switches

Zealios V2 switch on a mousepad.

These switches are like the bigger stronger and older brother too Holy Pandas, the tactility is as sharp as a knife and maybe even sharper. They boast a P-Bump with no pre-travel and about 3 millimeters of post-travel which is quite smooth out of the box. Zealios V2s are the product of a collaboration between ZealPC and Gateron.

Filming these is optional and same with lubing. From my research even lubing the stems of legs, which is not normally done in tactile switches but is common in these because of how sharp and harsh the tactility in the switch is.

These are seventh because of the price of these switches at about a dollar per switch they have mediocre sound as the tactility is so sharp you can hear the reverb from the leaf flicking back into place after the tactile event.

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8. Boba U4: Best Silent Tactile

Boba U4 switch with plant

This switch designed by gazzew is a silenced version of the U4t. These switches definitely take the cake when talking about silenced switches, they feature a nice round bump which takes up most of the switch and they have very little pre-travel. The stem wobble control is excellent with very tight housings.

Filming and lubing these is optional as they have very tight housings and quite a smooth switch. If you are lubing these to improve acoustics no need because it produces a mush sound which cant be improved much. Filming is not necessary, in fact recommended against, since they have a nice and tight housing.

These are eight because silent switches really aren’t my thing unless I’m at a public place. When you think of mechanical you think of clickity calckity and thoccity thaccity not mush mush, for that reason silent switches just got boring after a couple days of daily use. They made this list because they have quite an amazing tactile event and are a great experience for when I want to use a mechanical keyboard without disturbing others.

9. Cherry MX Clears: Solid Potential

 Cherry MX Clear switch on a rock.

This is one of three tactile switches by cherry, the others being the MX Browns and the MX Gray. These are considered to be the best out of those two. They feature a medium-sized bump with 2 millimeters of pre-travel and about 1 millimeter of post-travel. While they aren’t the greatest stock they still quite nice. Many people do swap the springs on them to something a bit lighter as the stock ones are quite heavy with around an 80 gram bottom-out force.

While filming these aren’t required they will still benefit from filming. Lubing these switches is definitely recommended since the nylon cherry housings are quite scratchy stock. As I was saying previously the springs on these switches are quite heavy and do benefit from a spring swap.

These switches don’t have the greatest stock form nor do they have very good acoustics and feel. For that reason, they ended up at number 9.

10. Cherry MX Browns: Mainstream

Cherry MX Brown switch surrounded by keycaps.

Cherry MX Browns are super common and what most people think off when tactile switches are mentioned. They are featured on almost every gaming board as the tactile option. Well, you may be asking since there on practically every mainstream prebuilt then why isn’t it number 1 on this list? It’s because these switches are not very tactile after all, especially in comparison to many other switches on this list. Wildly popular YouTubers like Glarses have dedicated their existence to hating these switches but he along with many others are joking about this, no functional switch is objectively bad and nearly everything in this hobby is up to your preference.

That being said this switch has quite a small bump and does not feel as tactile nor as smooth as other switches on this list. And I prefer more pronounced tactility over light tactility, but everybody is different and has their own preferences. These switches start out at about 45 grams of actuation and bottom out at 55 grams making it quite light especially considering how light the tactility is.

While filming this switch isn’t necessary lubing this switch is advisable since it has quite a scratchy and pingy housing. Filming this switch isn’t necessary but won’t hurt the sound nor the feel of the switch.

This switch is number 10 because the tactility is light which is not my preference but, it may be yours.

Where To Start?

If you wanna try these or any switches check out your local vendor! Who are those you may ask? Take a look at our vendor list. It’s a great compilation of all the keyboard related vendors sorted by region.

As always thank you for reading and please check out our discord and chat a little. We will happily answer any questions you have!

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Redragon K530 Review: Too Good To Be True?

When I was looking for a cheap and decent 60% board with hotswap capabilities, the Redragon K530 caught my eye. But when I received the K530 in the mail I was very disappointed for two reasons.

The Verdict

Redrapon K530 mechanical keyboard on grass

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Redragon K530 is an entry-level budget mechanical keyboard with a 60% layout. It’s Redragon’s first attempt at a 60% keyboard dating back to January of 2020. It delivers shockingly good Bluetooth and hotswap at a decent price with some caveats.

You get a nice simple, solid plastic case in either black or white. It also features one level of height adjustment with some rubber-tipped flip-out feet.

Unfortunately, it only comes with 2 switch options. Either linear reds or tactile browns, more on this later. Lastly, and one of the more important and eye-catching features is the hotswap capabilities or lack thereof.

If you want awesome Bluetooth capabilities and a decent case then this board is prefect for you.


In The Box

In the box you receive quite a bit especially at this price point.

  • The Keyboard: Obviously.
  • Plastic Keycap Puller: Its a standard red puller you will get with most prebuilts. Its not very good and will scratch up your keycaps. We recommend getting a metal one from amazon.
  • Tiny Metal Switch Puller: If you do choose to remove the switches use this. Its not very good for ergonomics but it gets the job done. By the time your finished with all the switches you will question why you even started taking the switches out because of how painful it is.
  • USB Cable: Right angle on the keyboard side to incorporate the USB connector on the side of the keyboard. Not braided but doesn’t develop any kinks, not the greatest cable either.
  • Extra Switches: This is pretty cool, it comes with an extra brown switch, but also comes with an extra Red (Linear but quite light), Black (Linear but heavier then red), and Blue (Clicky with the same weighting as browns.) This is pretty cool if you wanna try out different switches and how they feel.
  • Redragon Sticker: Tacky little sticker with the Redragon logo for people who want to rep the Redragon brand.
  • Documentation: Boring boring boring, except for the manual with all the key bindings and layers, that’s quite useful.
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Build Quality

K530 features a fully rectangular case. No weird shapes like the Keychron K6 or slots for aluminum panels. The case is solid and has barely any flex. On the back, there is a pair of kick-up feet with only 1 level of elevation and a label with some information and branding. Personally, I like it using it without the kick-up feet which makes it has about a 5-degree typing angle but with the feet, it will get up to about 8 degrees.

On the left side, there is a switch for Bluetooth on and off and a 3-way switch to change between Bluetooth modes with an RGB led next to it so show what mode you are on. Another LED is also there to show the battery and when you enter pairing mode.

Buttons on Redragon K530 keyboard

The USB port is on the side, which is a downside for many people. It basically cuts the use of any custom cables and can be negative towards cable management depending on how your setup looks.

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Stock Keycaps

The K530 comes with a set of ABS, double-shot keycaps. These keycaps don’t look very good with a significant and undesirable gamerey font. Speaking of the font it is also very inconsistent where the same letters look different on keys. While this may not be a bad thing the stock keycaps also have shiny and smooth sides which can be prone to scratching and fingerprints.

They are low-quality ABS which means they will shine up very easily and don’t feel very good when typing. Depending on how much you sweat and how much use the keyboard it will shine up in a couple months due to the natural oils and greases produced by your hands.

The keycaps are OEM profile which is common throughout prebuilt keyboards as such. The keycaps are sculpted in a way to hold your hands in place. Refer to the infographic below to see various keycap profiles and their height.

Comparison of different keycap profiles
Via Reddit: u/gtderEvan

The keycaps are either full black or full white. No accents or MAC extras. The sub legends are printed on the side of the keycaps that face you for ease of access.

The Stabilizers

This board features cherry-style plate mount stabilizers that could use some work. They are neither pre-clipped nor pre-lubed but since this keyboard is hotswap both can be done very easily.

Generally, every stabilizer set needs to be lubed for a good experience so if you would like to lube your stabilizers check out this guide by keyboard enthusiast Taeha Types.

Hotswap

PCB of Redragon K530 keyboard

One of the defining factors of this board is that it is hotswap, meaning that you can change the switches without soldering. While this is a welcome feature in most keyboards it is most welcome if it is done correctly.

Most hotswap boards use sockets from Gateron, Kailh, and Outemu. Some higher-end boards will use millmax sockets but usually, those are the only boards that you have to build and solder yourself. This keyboard uses Outemu hotswap sockets which is a huge problem with this board and is the main reason I haven’t recommended it to many people. Outemu hotswap sockets mean that only outemu switches can be used with the PCB since outemu switches have pins that are slightly less thick compared to other switches like Gateron and JWK.

Furthermore, its only 3 pin hotswap. Meaning PCB mount switches like Boba U4 or U4ts wont work without clipping the legs. This is an easy mod that can be done with a nail cutter but is still not favored by many people since its permanently modifying your switches.

Another problem that directly affects the hotswap is the way the LEDs are mounted. Instead of being mounted flush with the PCB, the LEDs protrude a bit as shown.

This can cause switches that don’t have a SMD cutout to not fit properly. Some examples would be Cherry MX Switches with the black housings and most JWK switches.

To conclude, this keyboard has hotswap capabilities but is limited by the fact it only accepts Outemu switches. Outemu switches aren’t the greatest but they definitely aren’t the worst and Outemu manufacturers many switches that are very good like Boba U4 and U4T. Lastly, the SMD issue limits use with even more switches. For this reason, we can’t recommend this keyboard for people looking for hotswap capabilities.

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Wireless

Wireless is where this board shines, it sports Bluetooth 5.0 flawless connecting, a giant battery, and its super easy to connect. It has 2 switches on the side to manage Bluetooth. One for turning the board of and on, and one for changing what device the Bluetooth connects to, and lastly it has a layered button on the keyboard to turn on pairing mode.

Wireless capabilities is definitely where this board shines as it has everything you could possibly need for connecting via bluetooth

Switches

Outemu brown switches

The version of the K530 that we have on hand is the black one with brown switches. These switches are meant to be tactile switches, tactile switches are a mix between linear and clicky; they have the bump of a clicky switch but also aren’t as loud as clickies.

Most brown switches in the keyboard community are known to not have the best tactility. But when I tried these switches I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of tactility they carried.

Redragon K530 with Brown Switches

While the tactility is pretty decent, the spring ping is terrible. The scratchiness and housing and stem wobble is also considerable. The switch uses the Kailh style latches that are quite difficult to open compared to genuine Kailh switches like Box Jades or Box Blacks.

While these do feel better than your average brown switch in terms of tactility, they lose some points in the lack of smoothness and spring ping.

Software

The Redragon software isn’t great but it is something. It is straightforward in terms of lighting and keybinds but if you want to experiment with more layers it will be tough.

Redragon Draconic Software

RGB control is quite extensive and there are a plethora of effects. The RGB is quite bright and vibrant with very good color accuracy. While the RGB is quite bright it is not as bright as the Drop ALT but not as dim as the Keychron K6. If you are looking for a board for the main purpose of RGB i would recommend something like the Womier/GamaKay K66 or K61 since they are at a similar price point and are very RGB-centric boards.

Lighting controls on Redragon Draconic software
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Conclusion

Birds eye view of the Redragon K530
How my K530 looked after thorough modding

Looks can be deceiving and that is the case with the K530. While it is a keyboard that works you won’t be very happy with what you get. The hotswap incompatibilities and the led issues are just too much and outshine anything good with this keyboard.

All in all, I do not recommend this keyboard because of the hotswap and how it does not accept most traditional keyboard switches like Cherry and Gateron switches. The only time I would truly recommend this board is to someone looking for very good Bluetooth, wants a decent tactile experience out of the box, and does not care about hotswap.

Thanks for reading!

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