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Which mechanical keyboard switches are the quietest?

All switches are not created equal.

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Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

If you love playing games on your computer, you probably already know that using a mechanical keyboard will give you the best control in-game. That’s all fine when you’re playing single-player, but if you play multiplayer or stream your gameplay, your listeners might get fed up with all the clacking sounds.

You don’t want to drive away your loyal Twitch viewers or your teammates if you play competitive esports titles, which means you may need to make some changes. That means you could either go back to a boring membrane keyboard or look for alternative mechanical key switches that don’t make as much noise.

With so many different options to choose from, how do you pick the ones that won’t sound like a machine gun going off?

Which mechanical keyboard switches clack the least?

Short answer: Anything that’s either labeled as “tactile” or “speed”

Once you rule out any “clicky” switches, the main source of sound is from you “bottoming out”, or pushing the key switch to the end of its travel distance and literally hitting the bottom of its slide. You’ve got two options here to make less noise while you’re frantically tapping keys.

Either you go tactile, and get used to the physical ‘bump’ sensation to train your fingers to bottom out less; or you go for “speed” switches with their lower actuation point, and get used to the short distance you need to tap them to perform commands. You could go for normal “linear” switches as well, but they have a longer actuation point so you wouldn’t have as long to travel after activating the keypress to stop from bottoming out.

READ MORE: How do mechanical keyboard switches work?

There are a few other things you can do to limit the sound your key switches make as well. You could put O-rings over the stems, which act as bumpers to stop you bottoming out. You could get thicker keycaps, as the ones that come with most keyboards are thin and amplify the noise. You could also open up your keyboard, and add a layer of sound-dampening foam below the circuit board, reducing the ability for sound to echo inside the case.

What do you think? Plan on updating or upgrading your keyboard to make it a bit quieter? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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