Want to make your keyboard louder? More clacky? More comfortable for typing?
A mechanical keyboard with GOOD tactile switches can (seriously) change your life!
Here are my top 5 best tactile switches:
- Glorious Panda (Best Overall)
- Boba U4T (Community Favorite)
- Tecsee Sapphire (Best softer/muted)
- Kailh Speed Copper (Best for Gaming)
- Akko Lavender Purple (Best Budget Tactile Switch)
- Kailh Polia (most comfortable for typing)
Let’s dive into THOSE–as well as some other ‘honorable mention’ options below.
How the switches are ranked:
I’ve typed on 30+ tactile switches at this point, and there are a few factors you need to look for when choosing a switch:
Obviously, you’ll want to stay within your budget. Most switches are between $0.30-$1.00 per switch, which can add up depending on the size of your keyboard!
See below for definitions of what a tactile switch actually IS–but one of the factors we consider is “just how much can you feel the tactile bump?” Some are pronounced and obvious, others aren’t.
Sure, the switches will mostly be under the keycaps and you won’t see them anyways, but there’s still something to be said for how cool the switches look!
Some switches are built better than others and will last longer. We’ll go into more detail about this in a bit.
Ease of lubing & filming
Tactile switches are more difficult to lube than linear switches since you don’t want to lube away the bump accidentally! Some switches are more difficult to disassemble and assemble than others. Click here for our switch lubing guide.
Sound and feel
The most important for a great mechanical keyboard experience! How do the switches sound and feel? Believe it or not, there’s a pretty wide range between tactile switches.
What are tactile switches?
All switches fall under 3 broad categories:
- Linear: The simplest type. Pressing them is a straight, smooth path from the top to the bottom. There’s no tactile or auditory feedback when you press them, and they require the least amount of force to actuate.
- Tactile: These switches provide a tiny “bump” when you press them (generally around the actuation point). This “tactile feedback” helps your fingers feel when the key has actually been registered.
- Clicky: These are a sub-type of tactile switches. There’s the tiny bump, but with a small audible “click.” These are generally louder.
The tactile bump can lead to less finger strain over long typing sessions (and MAYBE typing speed, but only a tiny difference), which makes them ideal for typing, work, etc.
(Although they’re perfectly fine for gaming, too!)
The Best Tactile Switches:
Now that you know how I test and rank these, let’s dive into my top-recommended tactile switches:
Glorious Panda Switches (Best Overall)
- Precise Switching: Glorious Panda switches for mechanical keyboard have a very precise and clearly noticeable switching point; this makes both typing and playing on a keyboard equipped with this...
- High compatibility: Glorious Gaming Panda Mechanical Switches are three-pole switches, just like Cherry MX and Kalih switches, so the vast majority of sockets is compatible with this mechanical...
- Key Caps: Thanks to the use of a popular mounting profile such as that of the Cherry MX, this allows seamless adjustment of your key switches keyboard use.
The Glorious Pandas are probably the most “tactile” of the bunch, meaning the bump is crisp and pronounced. You’ll definitely KNOW you’re typing on a tactile switch.
They’re on the pricey end, but not insanely expensive.
I give the Glorious Panda switches the best overall for a few reasons:
- You can purchase unlubed or pre-lubed (for a bit more money, but I like having the option!)
- They don’t need filming (the housings are nice and tight. Very little wobble)
- Crisp tactile bump. Like, REALLY sharp sound and feel.
- Readily available just about anywhere!
I think they do need lube, and they’ll probably sound a little better if you hand-lube yourself…but sometimes that’s a pain! I like that Glorious gives you the option to buy pre-lubed.
If you want a tactile switch that is CLEARLY a tactile switch (sharp, large bump), the Glorious Pandas are a no-brainer pick for just about anybody!
Runner-Up: Drop + Invyr Holy Panda switches
- THE MOST TACTILE SWITCHES IN THE WORLD: With a name like Holy Panda, these switches had to be epic. Made with stems from Halo switches, housing found on Invyr Panda switches, Holy Panda switches...
- THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: The result is a snappy, tactile switch that is satisfying to type on.
- COMPATIBILITY: Holy Panda switches are compatible with plate-mounted Cherry-style PCB's and are perfect for hot-swap compatible barebones kits such as the Drop ALT, CTRL, SHIFT, ENTR, Carina, Planck,...
The Glorious Pandas above are “clones” of the Holy Pandas. Though there might be tiny differences in materials, sound, feels, etc, they’re very similar switches.
(The Holy Pandas are a tiny bit louder, but it’s a small difference).
Drop’s Holy Pandas have been around a lot longer, and are even more pricey (which is why they don’t take the “best overall” ranking for most people! The Glorious Pandas are a much better deal).
Boba U4T (and the U4 version) (Community Favorite)
In every mechanical keyboard community, the Boba U4T is consistently recommended as a favorite switch.
They’re similar to the Pandas (above) in the way they sound and feel (pretty low and thocky, with a really crisp tactile bump). They’re also priced similarly.
The great thing about the Boba’s? They sell the switch in four different options!
- U4T = loud and thocky, available in 62g and 68g versions
- U4 = The SILENT version, also available in 62g and 68g
Kinda cool to release the same switch in a silent version, and two different levels of resistance.
The 68g actuation force is going to be heavier, more thocky, and probably lower pitched.
But both the U4T and U4 are incredibly tactile, and are fantastic switches!
Click here to grab the Boba U4T’s on Swagkeys (I do NOT recommend buying these on Amazon, they’re way overpriced)!
Tecsee Sapphire (Best Muted Tactile Switch)
- ✅ TECSEE Sapphire Tactile | 1.9mm Pre-Travel | 3.8mm Total Travel | 55g Actuation | 63.5g Bottom Out.
- ✅ TECSEE Ruby Linear | 1.9mm Pre-Travel | 3.8mm Total Travel | 52g Actuation | 63.5g Bottom Out.
- ✅ TECSEE new Mix PC material lubrication for your hot swappable mechanical gaming keyboards.
I did a full review of the Tecsee Sapphire switches here, and I love them!
No, they’re not technically a “silent” switch (with silicon dampeners like the Boba U4’s), but they’re not quite as loud as most other tactile switches.
They sound “crackly,” and they feel “stiff like wood,” but not in a bad way.
The one negative thing about the Tecsee Sapphires is the tactile bump–it’s NOT very pronounced, and almost feels like a linear switch.
There’s a bump, but it’s a small one.
Also, the design is really cool looking! They’re sparkly! And Tecsee decided to use polycarbonate as the housing material, which is MUCH more durable and less scratchy than their “PME” material (used on Tecsee Carrot switches).
Again, not a silent switch per se–but definitely a softer, crackly sound.
Runner-up: Tecsee Purple Pandas
Here’s yet another “panda” tactile switch, also from Tecsee!
The Purple Pandas are lighter and more responsive (than the Glorious Pandas and Tecsee Sapphires), but they’re also made from the cheaper, less durable PME material.
But they’re cheaper, and worth a try if you’re on a strict budget!
What is the quietest tactile switch?
The quietest and most muted tactile switch is either the ZealPC Zilent switches or the Boba U4 switches. Both of these offer additional sound dampening (there’s additional silicone added to the switch stem to dampen the sound), while still maintaining a nice tactile bump that your fingers can feal during the keystroke.
Akko Lavender Purple (Best Budget Tactile Switch)
- Keyboard Switches & Akko CS Series – Akko Custom Series (CS) lavender purple switches are 3 pin plate mounted custom key switches made for DIY enthusiasts to obtain satisfying typing feelings with...
- Lavender Purple 36gf Tactile Keyboard Switches – Different from Ocean Blue, Lavender Purple Tactile Switch is produced with a 18mm extension spring that is aimed to create unique and smooth...
- Built-in LED Slot – Akko CS switches are equipped with LED slot ready for LED Mod/Assembly, and are SMD compatible (LED underneath the switch).
While the Lavender Purples aren’t technically the cheapest on this list (The Gateron Brown switches are dirt cheap, more below on those)–they’re EASILY the most “bang for your buck” switch.
The quality is REALLY high for only $0.30 a switch.
They sound and feel decent, with a satisfying tactile bump, and the materials of Akko switches are REALLY great quality.
The only downside to the Lavender Purples is that they definitely need to be lubed. The unlubed switches are pretty scratchy and don’t sound nearly as good.
If you don’t mind lubing your own switches (which isn’t that difficult), then the Lavender Purples from Akko are an incredible deal!
The 50g actuation force is a medium resistance, and if you want to go a tiny bit lighter, try the Akko Ocean Blue tactile switches (45g actuation).
Kailh Polia (Most Comfortable)
- Technical Details & Specs: Kailh Polia Switch --- Soft Tactile Feeling|Actuation Distance:1.9mm±0.6mm | Total Travel:3.8mm±0.6cmm | Operating Force:45g±10g |Actuation Force: 60gf±10g | Bottom Out...
- Mounting & Compatibility --- The 3-pins box switch comes with cross-stem is plate mounted，compatible with most hot swappable mechanical gaming keyboards or custom built keyboard.
- Premium Quality --- Kailh Polia Switch is SMD Compatible and the translucent top housing could let RBG shine through easily.
I just tried this tactile switch a few weeks ago.
While it doesn’t sound the best, and might now even “feel” the best for stuff things–this is one of the most comfortable switches I’ve ever typed on.
This is PERFECT for somebody who works on their keyboard all day long!
Kailh Speed Copper (Best for Gaming).
- These new speed switches are made with 3.5 millimeters of total travel with 1.1 - 1.4 millimeters of pre-travel.
- They also boast a 70 million lifetime click rating Cherry clear which is tactile switches
- Copper switches: Tactile, 40 g springs - 1.1mm +/- 0.3 mm in pre travel，Silver switches: Linear, 40 g springs - 1.1mm +/- 0.3 mm in pre travel
Most gamers prefer linear switches for a few reasons:
- They’re smoother
- They’re SLIGHTLY faster/easier to press
- They’re more muted
Well, they make tactile switches like this, too!
The Kailh Speed Copper tactile switches offer the following features that are attractive for gamers:
- 1.1mm travel distance to activate the keypress (most switches are between 1.5-2mm)
- Light actuation force of 45g
- A SLIGHTLY more muted sound
It’s very easy and fast to activate the switches, even with the tactile bump.
But in my opinion, “speed” switches won’t actually be that much faster in real-world gaming or typing. The speed increase is going to be a fraction of a millisecond–and you should choose switches based on how they sound and feel!
Luckily, the Kailh Copper switches sound pleasant and have a nice (but lighter) tactile bump.
Cherry MX Brown (and Gateron Brown)
Cherry MX switches have been the gold standard for decades, and the Cherry MX browns are the most “normal” tactile switches you can find.
- Sounds like a medium, clacky tactile switch
- Feels tactile, with medium resistance
- Decent price point
- Good materials and quality control
Nothing fancy, but Cherry MX switches STILL hold up in 2023 and offer great typing experiences.
And if you want to save money, grab Cherry MX clones!
- Gateron Brown (or Gateron Clear)
- Outemu Browns (ultra-low-budget, but they’re scratchy and wobbly)
But since you can pick up some Akko or Kailh tactile switches for only a LITTLE more money–why not just go with them?
Still, you really can’t go wrong with Cherry Brown or Cherry Clears. They’re phenomenal switches.
Honorable Mention Tactile Switches
Although the switches above are my all-time favorites, others are worth mentioning here too!
When I think of the Durock brand, I think of quality. They make excellent mechanical keyboard accessories (switches, stabilizers, etc).
The Durock T1 tactile switches are going to be VERY heavy and tactile, but also scratchy and wobbly right out of the box. You’ll want to lube & film these!
Most clear tactile switches are heavier (more resistance) than their brown counterparts, and Halo makes two tactile switches that follow this:
- Halo True = similar to brown switches
- Halo Clear = same switch but heavier (more resistant spring)
They’re both great switches, and the Halo Clear is also a community favorite for it’s clacky & thocky sound. They also have the tactile bump really early in the keypress (right at the top of the keystroke), which gives it a unique feel.
You can find the Drop Halos on Amazon (above), or grab off of Drop.
The Zealious switches are another fan favorite that offers a number of options for the same switch (in terms of resistance).
You can grab Zealios with 62g bottom-outs, up to 78g SUPER HEAVY bottom-outs.
They also make the “Zilent” tactile switches, which are essentially the same switch, but in a silent version!
You can grab Zealios (and Zilent switches) on KPRepublic (and use code KEEBNEWS to get a few bucks off!)
All of the Zealios switches are best described as “smooth and crisp,” with slightly different levels of “tactility” depending on the weight you buy. They’re also pretty expensive at over $1 per switch!
This is Kailh’s answer to the Holy Pandas (and Glorious Panda) switches.
They’re really tactile, with a sharp & crisp bump and a long actuation force of 1.9mm (compared to the 1.1mm Kailh Speed Copper switches).
They’re bumpier than the Kailh speed tactiles, but I do like the louder clacky sound.
Conclusion: Which tactile switch should you buy?
Although this will always depend on your sound & feel preference, as well as how you use your keyboard, we can generally recommend a few tactile switches:
- Really pronounced and crisp tactility? Try Glorious Pandas (or Boba U4Ts)
- Softer and more muted? Try the Tecsee Sapphire (or Boba U4 or Zilent silent switches)
- Gamer looking for light and fast? Try the Kailh Speed Copper switches
- For a more traditional typing feel, go with Cherry MX Browns or Clears
Happy clacking, tactile switch fans!
Tactile Switch F.A.Q.s
Are tactile switches Thocky?
Although most tactile switches offer a slightly higher-pitched “clacky” sound, there are plenty of tactile switches available that offer a good “thock!” One tactile switch famous for a thocky sound is the Gazzew Boba U4T tactile switch, which offers a large tactile bump and a smooth, lower-pitched sound (especially on the spacebar and other stabilizer keys).
Are tactile switches better for typing?
Although you can absolutely type on linear switches, the “tactile bump” offered by tactile switches can lead to a more comfortable typing experience over long periods of time, and also reduce errors and increase typing speed (since your fingers can better feel when each key has been activated). That said, the difference will always be a small one, and you should stick to whatever type of switch feels more comfortable for you!
Are Holy Pandas the best tactile switches?
This will always be a matter of opinion! The Holy Pandas are a community favorite for good reason: they offer a pronounced and sharp tactile bump and have a pleasing clacky sound. However, there are loads of other great tactile switches out there (like the Boba U4Ts, Akko Lavender Purple, and even the Glorious Panda “clones,” which offer an experience similar to the Holy Pandas), so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Is tactile better than linear?
Not necessarily, no. This comes down to personal preference, and both switch types have their own unique benefits. That said, if you’re looking for a more traditional “keyboard feeling,” tactile switches will probably be a better fit for you. Tactile switches are also preferred by typists (and anybody who primarily uses their keyboard for work), due to the higher level of comfort & accuracy they offer.