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What are the quietest mechanical keyboard switches?

All switches are not created equal.

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Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

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Mechanical keyboards are awesome for PC gaming. They can be noisy, but that’s fine if you are playing alone. If you play multiplayer or stream your gameplay, however, you’ll want to know about the quietest mechanical keyboard switches.

You don’t want to drive away your loyal Twitch viewers or your teammates if you play competitive esports titles with a loud, obnoxious keyboard.

That means you could either go back to a boring membrane keyboard or learn about the types of keyboard switches that are best for gaming.

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

What are the quietest mechanical keyboard switches?

Short answer: Anything that’s either labeled as “tactile” or “speed”, or the new “silenced” options

Once you rule out any “clicky” switches, the main source of sound is from “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.

mechanical keyboard guts
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

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.

Silence that mechanical keyboard

silent mechanical key switches
Image: Prime Keyboards

Some manufacturers of mechanical keyboard switches also make silenced switches. These usually have a small section of rubber on the stem, which mutes the sound of the switch.

This does have the effect of making the switches feel mushy, which you might not enjoy. They’re also not the best switches for gaming, because of the slower feel.

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. Putting O-rings over the stems acts as bumpers to stop you from 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 your keyboard, and add a layer of sound-dampening foam below the circuit board, reducing the ability for sound to echo inside the case.

The biggest sound dampener that we’ve tried? Using a thick deskmat, which reduces the reflections of sound from your desk. While there’s so many vendors, we love CannonKeys, and the Rainbow Dino print that’s on our desk currently.

What do you think? Plan to update or upgrade 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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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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