Cherry MX Switches: A Complete Guide & Comparison (2022)

cherry mx switches

Cherry MX switches are THE original switch for mechanical keyboards.

They’ve been around for decades, and are STILL popular (and for good reason)!

But which Cherry switches are best?

There’s still a ton to choose from–from the classic MX Reds to the new MX Ergo clears. Linear? Tactile? or Clicky?

In this guide, we’ll break down the different Cherry MX switch options, as well as a thorough review and sound test!

I’ve personally typed on 100+ switches at this point, and I’ll help you find the right Cherry switch for your keyboard needs 😎

Let’s clack!

Quick Switch Recommendation:

Before we dive into the details, here are my purchasing recommendations if you’re a beginner looking for some Cherry MX switches:

If you’re primarily a gamer, try the Cherry MX Reds or Blacks. The reds will feel lighter and faster and have a smooth & tappy sound. The MX Blacks will feel heavier & smoother, and sound deeper.

If you work on a computer (and type a lot), we recommend a tactile or clicky switch:

  • MX Brown (tactile) – clacky sound and you can feel the tactile bump. Would also be fine for gaming!
  • MX Blue (clicky – clacky & clicky sound (louder) and also has a light tactile bump. Probably wouldn’t be great for gaming!

If you’re looking for a heavier resistance, try the MX Clear (tactile) or MX Green (clicky).

If you MUST have a quiet keyboard, try the MX Silent Black switches.

Cherry MX Switch Comparison

Here’s a quick color chart for the most popular Cherry MX switches (and we’ll cover the less popular switches below that) 👇

SwitchTypeActuation ForceFeelSoundRecommended for…
MX RedLinear45gLight and SmoothQuietGaming
MX Silent RedLinear45gLight and SmoothVERY quietGaming, or when you need the softest switch possible.
MX BlackLinear60gHeavy and SmoothQuietGaming
MX Silent BlackLinear60gHeavy and SmoothVERY quietGaming, or when you need the softest switch possible.
MX Speed SilverLinear45gLight and SmoothQuietGaming
MX BrownTactile55gMedium & TactileMediumGaming & typing
MX ClearTactile65gHeavy & TactileMediumGaming & typing
MX Ergo ClearTactile55gMedium & TactileMediumGaming & typing
MX GreyTactile80gSUPER heavy & StiffQuietGaming & typing
MX BlueClicky60gMedium & TactileLouderTyping & annoying your coworkers
MX GreenClicky80gHeavy & TactileLouderTyping & annoying your coworkers
MX WhiteClicky80g (probably)Heavy & TactileLouderTyping & annoying your coworkers

There are also some low-profile Cherry MX switches as well.

We’ll go over all these switches below in detail–as well as make some general switch recommendations for you.

Switch Glossary

If you’re new to the world of mechanical keyboards, here are some definitions of some common switch terms you’ll see a lot:

ActuationWhen the switch + PCB actually REGISTERS the key was pressed (it’s somewhere in the middle of the keystroke)
Actuation Force (Operating Force)The force required to activate the keystroke (in grams). 45g is a “lighter” switch than a 70g switch
Pre-travel distanceThe distance the stem has to travel to actuation (in mm)
Total Travel distanceThe entire length of the keypress, until the switch “bottoms out,” i.e. “goes all the way down” (in mm)
“thock”“Thock” is a general term to describe the sound of mechanical keyboards, usually indicating a deeper-pitched sound. Heavy linears often “thock.”
HyperglideThese are the normal Cherry switches (using the latest “hyperglide tooling” manufacturing process to make them smoother and more precise)
LinearLinear switches do NOT have a tactile bump during the keypress. It’s smooth all the way down and back up.
TactileUnlike linear switches, tactile switches have a tiny “bump” during the keypress (near the actuation point) that helps your fingers “feel” when the key was activated
ClickyThese are just tactile switches, but with the addition of a tiny clicking mechanism to produce a high-pitched “click” noise

Current Cherry MX Switch Lineup

Here’s the current lineup of Cherry’s MX switch choices, as well as some switch info and my thoughts on each one!

Cherry MX Red (linear)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear45gSmooth, light, medium-softGamingAmazon or KBDfans

The Cherry MX Reds are THE classic mechanical keyboard switch–it’s the most popular linear switch in the world and has been for decades.

It’s a smooth keypress all the way down and back up, and generally feels pretty light (which makes it A+ for fast gaming that won’t hurt your fingers).

cherry mx red
Courtesy of Cherry!

However, many people (myself included) find them uncomfortable to type on, especially for long work sessions).

In my opinion, this video is WAY too loud, but it’s mostly accurate for the comparison

If you’re a gamer and don’t want to think long and hard about what switches you choose, the Cherry MX Reds are STILL a fantastic pick.

MX Silent Red (linear)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear45gSmooth, mushy, VERY quietGaming or office workAmazon

Cherry silent switches contain an additional sound-dampening piece attached to the stem (inside the switch) that greatly reduces the volume.

This makes it perfect for not annoying your coworkers (or your spouse).

cherry mx silent red sound dampening

However, that sound-dampening material can often leave the MX Silent Reds feeling a little “mushy.”

Click here to see our recommendations for the best silent switches.

I much prefer the MX silent blacks (see below)

MX Black (linear)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear60gVERY smooth, deep, quietGaming (or general use)Amazon

The MX Black switches are a heavier alternative to the Cherry Reds.

These are going to sound & feel “buttery” smooth, and definitely “thocky.”

cherry mx black

In my opinion, these are still great for gaming, but work better for typing than the MX red counterparts (the heavier feel is more comfortable to most people).

MX Silent Black (linear)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear60gStill smooth & deep, VERY quietGaming or office workAmazon or NovelKeys

The MX Silent black switches might be the quietest switch, period.

The black switches are generally a bit softer (due to the heaviness) than reds anyways–and of course the sound-dampening material in the stem takes that to another level!

Also, the MX Silent Black switches don’t feel as “mushy” as the reds. Or at least it’s not as noticeable.

If you want to make your keyboard quieter–the Cherry MX Silent Blacks are the best.

MX Speed Silver

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear45gLight, fast, higher-pitched “tappy” soundGamingAmazon

“Speed switches” usually have a shorter pre-travel distance than normal MX switches.

The MX Speed Silvers have a 1.2mm pre-travel, compared to the 2mm pre-travel of the normal MX Reds.

To be honest–this is a tiny increase in typing or gaming speed, and is barely noticeable, if at all!

The MX Silver switches still sound and feel great (and they do feel light), but if you’re looking to level up your gaming, the shorter pre-travel distance doesn’t actually make that big of a difference.

(and if you want a better switch that’s even cheaper, try the Akko Speed Silvers. Here’s our review)

MX Brown (tactile)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear55glight-medium feel, subtle tactile bumpGaming or TypingAmazon

If you want to learn more about how tactile switches work, check out this post.

The MX Browns are the go-to tactile switch, and I’d use the word “medium” to describe them.

  • Medium resistance
  • Medium tactile bump (it’s not overly stiff or crisp)
  • Medium noise (definitely louder than the linear switches)

In this case, “medium” is a good thing! The MX Browns are a solid balanced switch for work or gaming.

cherry mx brown
note the bump (the left part of the brown stem)

They’re just right.

MX Clear

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear65gthicker, heavy, stiff bumpTypingAmazon

The Cherry MX Clears are very similar to the MX Browns, except with a heavier spring. (65g operating force vs the 55g operating force for the MX Browns).

This produces a slightly deeper tactile “clack,” and the MX Clears are a bit softer, too.

cherry mx clear

The tactile bump feels very stiff, but still satisfying to type on.

I probably wouldn’t recommend these heavier switches for intense gaming, as they might wear your fingers out.

But for work and/or typing, the heavy bump feels great and can even lead to more accuracy.

MX Ergo Clear (tactile)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear55grelaxed, smooth, still the stiff bumpTyping or GamingAvailable in late 2022

The Cherry MX Ergo Clears are the newest switch (as of November 2022).

Before this switch was “officially” part of the Cherry MX switch lineup, members of the mechanical keyboard community had been modifying the MX clear switches with a lighter spring, and calling it an “ergo clear.”

It took years before Cherry actually adopted the community switch, but it’s here now!

cherry mx ergo clear difference

The stiff tactile bump is supposed to still be there, but with a lighter actuation force and lighter bottom-out force.

I can’t wait to try these when they come out!

Cherry MX Grey (tactile)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear80gHEAVY, deepTyping or GamingKBDfans

If you want an even HEAVIER tactile experience, the MX Greys are as deep and heavy as they make them.

And while the tactile bump is definitely still there, the MX Greys are a much softer sounding switch.

Not like a silent switch, but definitely muted.

The MX Greys are also extremely difficult to find in stock, as they’re technically a “speciality” switch from Cherry.

Related post: The best tactile switches for 2022.

MX Blue (clicky)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear60gLight, tappy, high-pitched clickTypingAmazon

Clicky switches are tactile switches (they have the bump), but with an additional “click” noise.

For Cherry MX clicky switches, the click noise is produced by a “click jacket” mechanism, which is a separate piece of plastic attached to the stem.

cherry mx blue

The resulting click is high-pitched (and you only hear it when the key presses down, not on the way back up).

Cherry MX Blue sound test

Most mechanical keyboard enthusiasts do NOT approve of Cherry MX Blues or MX Greens!

Some find them too loud and annoying. I don’t suggest using a Cherry MX Blue keyboard in public, at work, etc!

I did use them at home for a while and got used to the click–but there are other, BETTER clicky switches that are cheaper.

I made a few YouTube videos using the MX Blues, and got several nasty comments lol

MX Green (clicky)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
Linear80gHeavy, tappy, high-pitched clickTypingAmazon

The Cherry MX Green switches are the heavier, thicker version of the blues.

They use the exact same click jacket mechanism to produce the high-pitched click–but these switches are a MUCH higher actuation force.

cherry mx green

Although most of the mechanical keyboard community lumps the MX Greens with the MX Blues in the “don’t approve” category–I personally find the MX Greens less annoying than the blues.

They still have the higher-pitched click–but it is slightly more subtle.

If you do a LOT of typing, you might find these to be the most comfortable switch from Cherry (if you can put up with the clicking, of course).

MX White (clicky)

TypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest forBuy them at…
LinearNot sure! Either 55g, 70g, or 80gSimilar to Cherry GreensTypingAmazon

The Cherry MX Whites are a VERY rare switch that’s almost impossible to find.

They’re not even listed on Cherry’s website anymore.

Dislaimer: I’ve never typed on these switches!

I was able to locate them on Amazon, and I believe the actuation force is likely 80g (heavy like the MX Greens), but different vendors have different information!

Since they’re going to cost way more even when you can find them–I’d personally recommend sticking with either the MX Blues or MX Greens if you want a clicky switch.

Cherry MX Low-Profile Switches (linear)

SwitchTypeActuation ForceSound & FeelBest for
MX Low-Profile RedLinear45gLow-action, smooth and fastGaming
MX Low-Profile SpeedLinear45gSame, but VERY fastGaming

Cherry MX low-profile switches offer roughly the same sound and feel as regular MX switches, but are 35% thinner (and require your fingers to do MUCH less work).

These can be nice if you suffer from wrist pain, carpal tunnel, etc!

cherry mx low profile speed

The main difference between the MX low-profile Reds and Speed Silver is the travel distance:

  • MX low-profile Red: 1.2mm pre travel, 3.2 total travel
  • MX low-profile Speed: 1mm pre travel, 3.2 total travel

It’s a tiny difference.

They are typical found with low-profile keycaps as well (see our guide to keycap profiles here)

my Keychron K7
One of my low-profile keyboards

MX Ultra Low-Profile (not MX-style)

Just for the sake of being complete, it’s worth noting that Cherry does make laptop switches.

These are NOT for purchasing separately and installing in your mechanical keyboard!

The make two versions, a tactile and a clicky!

Both of these have high operating force (65g), despite a tiny pre-travel distance of 0.8mm.

At the time of this writing (late 2022), the MX ULP switches are exclusive to Alienware gaming laptops (like the M17), though they’ll likely show up in several different 3rd party laptops going forward.

How do Cherry MX switches work?

mechanical keyboard switch

Here’s a breakdown of the different parts of a mechanical switch:

  • Keycaps (not part of the switch): The keycaps are the part of the switch that you actually touch. They’re usually made from ABS or PBT plastic, and come in tons of different colors & styles! (and shapes and profiles). Click here to see our list of the best keycaps you can buy.
  • Switch stem: This is the part of the switch that extends down into the switch and moves up and down when you press the keycap (it’s connected to the underside of the keycap). The stem is generally colored to match the switch color. I.e. green switches usually have green stems
  • Upper housing: This is the part of the switch that contains the spring and rests on top of the lower housing. It has a hole in the center for the stem to fit into (the upper and bottom housings snap together, and you need a “switch opener” tool to take them apart. Or a flathead screwdriver, but that’s harder).
  • Spring: This is what provides the resistance when you press a key down, and also gives it that “bouncing” feeling.
  • Lower housing: The bottom half of the switch “shell” or “box.”

Here’s how a switch works:

  1. You press the keycap
  2. Which presses the stem down (compressing the spring, which provides resistance)
  3. The stem makes contact with the gold-alloy “leaves” (the copper part in the bottom housing)
  4. This sends an electric signal down to the keyboard PCB (circuit board)
  5. The keystroke is registered

About Cherry (The Company)

Cherry AG was founded in 1953 by Walter Cherry in Illinoise, USA.

They continued to make various computer devices for years, and released the first Cherry keyboard in 1973, and the Cherry MX switch in 1983.

Since 1983, Cherry has been one of the largest brands in mechanical keyboards and mechanical switches.

They are currently headquartered in Munich, Germany.

Conclusion: Are Cherry MX switches any good?

Yes, Cherry MX switches are still some of the best mechanical switches on the market. Since the company has been around for decades, they have refined their manufacturing process and produce switches of the highest quality (Cherry MX Hyperglide switches).

Even though they might cost a bit more (averaging around $0.75-$1.00 per switch), their switches are rated to last up to 100 million keystrokes, and are still heavily favored in the mechanical keyboard communities.

We recommend starting with the Cherry MX Red if you’d like a linear switch for gaming, or the Cherry MX Clears if you type/work a lot on your computer!

That said, you really can’t go wrong with Cherry switches…

They’re popular for a reason: they’re still fantastic!

Happy thocking (or clicking)!

Cherry MX Switch F.A.Q.s

Are Cherry MX the best switches?

Not necessarily. Though Cherry switches have been around for decades are very high quality–there have been a number of “Cherry MX clone” switches come to the market in the past decade, some of which are fantastic and affordable! Which switch you choose will come down to personal preference (for sound and feel).

Brands like Gateron, Akko, Outemu, Razer, and Kailh are also very popular in mechanical keyboard communities.

What is the difference between Cherry MX switches?

Cherry is one of the oldest switch manufactures in the keyboard world, and their switches are well-known for being high-quality and pleasant to type and game on. That said, many other switch brands, like Gateron, Kailh, and Razer, etc, also make “MX-style” switches that will fit the same keyboards, and are often much cheaper (and still great)!

Which Cherry MX switch is best for gaming?

The Cherry MX Reds and MX Speed Silvers are by far the most popular gaming switches from Cherry. The MX Reds are light and smooth, and the MX Speed Silvers are the same thing except with a slightly faster pre-travel distance to activating the keystroke. The Cherry MX Blacks are also a popular linear switch for gaming, though they’re much heavier and deeper sounding.

Which Cherry MX switch is best for typing?

The Cherry MX Browns and MX Clears (both tactile switches, though the MX Clears feel heavier) are generally recognized as the best Cherry switches for typing and work. The tactile bump of these switches can lead to more accurate typing, improved typing speeds, and even reduce finger pain. The Cherry MX Blues and MX Greens are also great for typing (they’re both clicky switches).

Is Cherry MX Red or brown better?

This will come down to personal preference based on how you want your switches to sound and feel. The MX Red switches are linear (meaning the keypress is smooth), and are a bit softer in sound. The MX Browns are a tactile switch (with a tiny tactile bump during keypress) that are a bit louder, and better for typing.

Is Cherry MX Blue or Red better?

This will come down to how you use your keyboard, and the sound you prefer. The MX Reds are a linear switch that is light & smooth & great for gaming, while the MX Blue is a clicky switch with a tactile bump (which some people prefer for typing). The MX Blues are much louder and feature a high-pitched “click” noise that some people find annoying.

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