10 of the Best Sounding Linear Switches in 2023
If you are in the market for a mechanical keyboard for gaming or typing, chances are you have noticed that most of them come with a linear switch.
While choosing a proper keyboard improves your user experience, you must also consider the sound the switch produces.
There’s no doubt that keyboards and switches are expensive; therefore, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with linear switches that produce a sound that annoys you.
Luckily, many brands produce switches; each sounds different from the others.
In this article, we have rounded up the switches consumers ranked as having the best sound.
1. Gateron Milk Yellow
Gateron Milk Yellow
The Gateron Milk Yellow linear switch is a crowd favorite because it’s affordable. One switch retails at $0.25, give or take and is widely available. However, the low price doesn’t take away from quality because once you lube the switch, it’s bound to offer top-notch performance. (Please note that the keyboard switches are lubed while in the assembly, but you will need to re-lube them after a few months)
Because Gatreon milk yellow is designed with an actuation force of 50g/55g, you will hardly need to exert energy on the keycaps to get a reaction. Compared to other switches on this list, this one isn’t the quietest as it produces a low thud-like sound. However, the sound is low enough to qualify as negligible.
Like all Gatreon switches, this one has a small stem size, ensuring a buttery-smooth feel when pressed. For this reason, it is perfect for beginner gamers and typists who aren’t ready to break the bank or just want to test out linear switches.
2. GK Gamakay
GK Gamakay developers claim that this switch is the smoothest in the game, and they might be right. They use high-quality lube to oil the switches making them incredibly smooth and sensitive to the touch. The only glaring downside of this switch is its bright exterior colours because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing.
On to the sound, the GK Gamakey produces a relatively high-pitched pop sound when pressed. I say high-pitched because linear switches are known to be quiet, which isn’t the case here. However, the sound should not deter you because many people find it quite calming when typing or gaming.
Retailing at an average of $0.95 per switch, this product falls on the expensive side. However, in retrospect, the price is somewhat justifiable as the switch is designed with a small stem for a smoother feel, an exterior made of quality material, and it’s pleasing to look at.
3. Cherry MX Speed Silver
Cherry MX Speed Silver
If you are an avid gamer, then the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches are worth checking out. They offer a 1.2 mm pre-travel distance, which is the distance that the switch will move to trigger the rest of the keyboard parts for a reaction. The short actuation distance will give you an upper-hand while gaming though it can be pretty uncomfortable when typing for extended periods.
This switch needs an actuation force of precisely 45g which means you will hardly need to exert force while gaming. Also, according to the Cherry designers, each switch can endure up to 100 million clicks before it gives out, which says a lot about the quality.
Considering that Cherry MX switches are popular in the market because of their great sound, this one doesn’t disappoint. But, unfortunately, it only produces a low tap-like sound that you can only hear if the room is entirely quiet.
Lastly, if you are big on aesthetics, you will appreciate that this product offers the option of choosing between the switch housing being opaque black or clear. This way, your RGB lighting will peek through, enhancing the overall look.
4. Everglide Aqua King
Everglide Aqua King
Although Everglide Aqua switches are new to the market, their new collection is better than the predecessor in every way. It comes packed with great features, but the most outstanding one is sound. You won’t hear the scratchiness that is common with most budget switches.
The smooth, silky sound is also thanks to the reasonably thin stem being lubricated on all three sides, not just the bottom, so it can glide smoothly. Also, unlike most switches, this one has a sturdier stem that doesn’t wobble.
You only need an actuation force of 60g, which is higher than most of the products in this list, meaning it’s not the best option for professional gamers due to increased latency. However, an average person will hardly notice as the response rate is relatively fast compared to most keyboards in the market.
The signature look of all Alpaca switches is that the stem which holds onto the switch is a light pink color which is quite aesthetically pleasing. Considering all its features, the fact that it retails at an average of $0.55 per switch is quite the bargain.
5. Novelkeys (NK) cream
Novelkeys (NK) cream
If you are in the market for a long-lasting switch brand and don’t mind lubricating it often, then the Novelkeys cream is a worthy choice. This product has been a bestseller since 2018 because of its magnetic base sound when it bottoms out. The sound is attributed to the switch’s POM housing, known for its sturdiness.
However, there is a catch. Out of the box, Novelkeys feels scratchy, which negates the catchy sound. Therefore, you will need to self-lubricate the switch/stem often up until the POM liners break in the switch.
All in all, this switch comes at a fairly reasonable price and is designed in an aesthetic cream color bound to match various aesthetics.
6. Durock POM linear
Durock POM linear
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Durock POM linear, as it is arguably one of the best mid-range switches in the market. For starters, the switches come in a tight POM housing, ensuring the stem doesn’t wiggle, and you get a soft thud when it bottoms out.
Before opting for this switch, it’s imperative to note that it is ‘self-lubricating.’ For context, the switch and stem are not lubricated in the factory, so you will need to do so until the scratchy-like feel dissipates.
Considering these switches don’t come cheap, they only make sense to someone who isn’t inclined to change their switches often and doesn’t mind lubricating them.
7. AKKO CS Switches
AKKO CS switches
When searching for a linear keyboard switch, you will notice that there are brands that will always pop up regardless of the specs you want. For that reason, it’s easy to miss out on equally good brands that don’t have an impressive following such as AKKO.
All the AKKO switches are fitted with three pins in the MX-style structure, which is compatible with most keycap sets. Also, you can easily remove or fix them onto the keyboard using a standard switch opener.
When used, it produces a unique low-pop sound that many find calming. Ultimately, the best part of this switch is that it’s relatively affordable yet has a long durability span. For context, lab tests reveal that each switch can withstand approximately 60 million keystrokes before you need to get it replaced.
As you would expect from a linear switch, this one requires an actuation force of 50g which means it’s perfect for professional gaming or typing for an extended period.
8. RK Royal Kludge Switch
RK Royal Kludge Switch
Royal Kludge (RK) produces her custom switches of relatively good quality. When making a purchase, you can choose between Lemon or Red switches. Considering they are both the same price, the difference is that the Lemon ones are quieter than the red ones, even though they both produce a soft thud sound.
RK switches are popular because they come in a 3-pin design, making them compatible with most keyboards. Coupled with the price, this product is a great option regardless of whether you are a gamer or use your keyboard for mundane tasks such as typing.
Because RK switches have a transparent upper cover, they can quickly transfer keyboard RGB light, which elevates your aesthetic. Lastly, if you have any questions, you can contact the RK customer care service center for help. They are open 24/7 and have a quick response rate.
9. Gateron Black ink switch
Gateron Black ink switch
The Gatreon black ink is quite popular in retail stores for many reasons, but the two outstanding ones have to be that it produces incredible sound and is widely available. The fact that you can visit any retail/online store and find it makes them a perfect addition for someone who uses their keyboard a lot, as you won’t have to wait around for restocks or group buys.
However, if you use it straight out of the box, you will not be satisfied with the performance. This is because it doesn’t come pre-lubed. Therefore, it will feel scratchy, and the bottom-up sound will be screechy.
To alter the predicaments mentioned above, you must lube up the switch and stem with Krytox. After which, the scratchy feel will dissipate, and the sound will gradually evolve into an excellent soft base.
Many consumers who are big on aesthetics prefer this switch as it gives you a lot of wiggle room to work with. Especially if your keyboard comes with RGB customization options.
10. Glorious Lynx Switch
Glorious Lynx Switch
Though Glorious Lynx switches are less popular than the others on this list, they are equally good. First off, they come with a flexible POM stem that is smooth and comfortable to touch. Also, they are relatively quiet and only produce a low-toned pop sound.
You only need an actuation force of 60g, which is quite suitable even for professional gamers. Unfortunately, its design is incompatible with most keyboards, so finding replacement switches is complicated.
As for aesthetics, its top cover is made of blue polycarbonate embroidered with quality branding. On the other hand, the bottom is covered with a nylon PA12 which is also quite sturdy. All its materials were sourced from Korea and Japan and are of good quality.
How to Swap Linear Switches
Keyboards are pretty pricey, especially if you are keen on the quality. Thankfully, most parts, such as the linear switches, can be replaced, meaning you don’t have to buy a whole new keyboard every time something is spoilt.
With that said, if you want to change the linear switches, you can easily do so. First, you need to confirm that the switches are hot-swappable. If this is the case, all you need to do is detach them using a keycap remover and switch remover and replace them with new ones.
If your keyboard is not hot-swappable, you need to take it to a professional to swap the switches. This is because those switches were put there using fire from a liquified solder. For that reason, you require a professional tool to detach them without spoiling the keyboard and switch sockets.
How to Improve the Performance of Linear Switches
Just like any other electronic part, switches require routine maintenance to ensure peak performance. The best part is you don’t need a lot of equipment to be able to perform the required maintenance.
Here are a few ways you can go about the task at hand:
Lube your Switch
If you buy a keyboard that states that all its switches are factory lubed, you will notice that at first, the switches feel and sound ok but then deteriorate after a few months. This is because you need to re-lube them to eliminate the friction between the switch casing and the metal stem.
To do this, you will need a switch lubricant, a keycap puller, and a switch remover. Once you have the equipment, as mentioned earlier, you will need to remove the keycaps manually, then the switch, and oil them as per instructions. (PS: This is a labor-intensive activity but will do wonders for the overall performance of the keyboard)
Switch the Film
Each keycap presses upon the switch, which lies on a film/membrane. After every few years, it’s imperative to replace the film with a new one as they tend to get worn out, interfering with the keyboard’s performance.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Linear Switch
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a linear switch:
Ease of lubing and changing film
Confirm whether you are ready for the effort required to lube and film your switches. Remember that while some will take a few minutes, others need several hours.
If you use your keyboard for prolonged periods, then it’s in your best interest to get switches that are cheap to replace.
Aside from how the switch sounds, you must also consider how it feels to touch. For example, you will find that the switch is quiet but makes you feel tired after using it for a while or the actuation isn’t as seamless as it ought to be.
As much as you can replace switches for a small price, make sure they are durable. This way, you don’t have to keep spending lots of time ordering new ones and replacing them.
It’s imperative to choose a linear switch that requires a low actuation force. This way, you can glide seamlessly from one key cap to the other. Additionally, you will hardly feel exhausted even after using the keyboard for prolonged periods.
Linear switches are the best option for gamers and people who don’t fancy loud keyboard noises while they work. Unfortunately, while they tend to be smoother and quieter than other switches, they are also more expensive. However, considering each brand of linear switches sounds different, this article contains several options worth checking out because they sound nice.
What is actuation force?
The amount of pressure you must exert on the keycaps to garner the reaction you want.
Which is the fastest linear switch?
A lot of linear switches that are considered good have almost the same response rate. Therefore, any switch that requires an actuation force of 40-60 is one of the fastest in the market. For perspective, Patreon and Cherry switches are great options.
Are linear switches better than tactile switches?
It depends on preference; Linear switches offer a quiet keystroke and feel smooth. On the other hand, tactile switches produce a loud click sound when pressed and feel bumpy to the touch.
Can you change from using one linear switch to another?
Yes, you can. Most switches come with a switch remover that allows you to safely and efficiently remove switches. If you don’t have a switch remover, you can quickly get one from any online store that sells electronics.
Alternatively, you can take your keyboard to a professional and have the switches altered for you at a small cost.
Which linear switch is the best for gaming?
Generally, all linear switches were designed with gamers in mind meaning you can’t go wrong regardless of the one you choose. However, ensure that the actuation force is as low as it can get, and the travel distance is short; this way, you will have a quicker response rate.