Kailh Box vs Gateron: Which switch is better? (Sound Test & Comparison)

In the market for some Cherry MX clones?

Let’s compare Kailh Box Vs Gateron switches:

  • Kailh and Gateron are two different companies that make mechanical keyboard switches.
  • They’re both cheaper “clone” versions of Cherry MX switches
  • The big differences are the shape of the stem and the internal switch mechanism
  • Kailh Box switches have little boxes inside of them, and have stems shaped with a box, while Gateron’s are more Cherry MX-esque.

I’ve used dozens of different switches from both Gateron and Kailh, so let’s do a quick comparison, and maybe a few sound tests!

Key Differences Between Kailh Box Switches & Gateron Switches

Let’s breakdown the different aspects of mechanical keyboard switches, and example how Kailh & Gateron are different:

The Shape of the Stem

kailh box stem vs gateron and cherry

First, this doesn’t really affect the sound & feel–it’s mostly about look!

  • Gateron switches have the standard “cross-shaped” stem that MX clones have been using for years
  • Kailh Box switches have the cross surrounded with a box!

The only benefit this offers is an additional layer of waterproofing and dust-proofing! (these switches are rated IP56 water and dust resistance)

(and actually, this stem can be a tiny bit smoother to press in than other switches, but the effect is tiny)

This can be handy since the internals of a mechanical keyboard can be pretty sensitive to both dust & water.

Internal Switch Mechanism:

mechanical keyboard switch
basic parts of a switch (notice how the bottom housing is open…)

If you were to open up normal Cherry MX or gather on switches, they would look roughly the same inside of a switch.

  • The copper actuation “leaves”
  • A plastic pole that the spring sits on
  • Some empty space where the stem travels down
  • etc

But in Kailh Box switches, there’s an extra little “box” inside the switch that the stem travels to!

This box contains the actuation leaves (and in clicky switches, the click mechanism). This box helps protect against dust and water.

Kailh Box CLICKY switches operate totally different than Gateron or Cherry MX switches!

Box switches literally “click” in a totally different way, leading to a different sound and feel! (There’s a new mechanism called the “click bar,” and Kailh Box switches are really the only switch that has these).

In general, Kailh Box switches have a “crisper” and “crunchier” click than Gateron (in a good way)!

But for linear and tacile switches, the “box” in Kailh Box switches mostly just affects the dust & waterproofing.

Kailh Box & Gateron in Terms of Price:

Both Kailh and Gateron are “budget” versions of Cherry MX switches, but Gateron is a bit cheaper (but honestly, only a tiny bit)!

Also, there are “premium” switches for each brand that cost a bit more! For example…

  • Kailh Box Reds
  • Kailh Box Browns
  • Kailh Box Blues
  • Gateron Reds
  • Gateron Browns
  • Etc

Those are “vanilla” switches, and they’ll all be pretty cheap.

But compare that to the “premium” switches…

premium Gateron switch

It’s not a massive difference in cost in the end, but worth noting.

The Benefits of Gateron Switches:

Gateron switches are the most popular Cherry MX clones on the market, and for good reason!

They offer a great alternative to Cherry MX switches at a lower price, and generally have more (and fancier) options.

But compared to Box switches, here are some advantages that Gateron brings:

  • Ease of use – since they’re Cherry MX-style switches, you can use standard switch openers. Kailh-style switches require a different opener.
  • Far easier to lube – Gateron switches are easier to lube for 2 reasons: You have easier access to the actuation leaves, and they’re easier to assemble once you’re done!
  • Linear and tactile switches feel and sound SLIGHTLY better (though this is just opinion)!

Gateron switches are thought to be a bit more “thocky” and “sharp” than Kailh Box switches, especially for linear & tactile switches.

Gateron Milky Yellow sound test

(most people probably prefer this).

From my personal experience, Gateron DEFINITELY produces better-sounding linear switches. The Milky Yellows and Ink Blacks are some of THE top linear switches, period!

(those do cost a bit more, though!).

If you want top-notch linear or tactile switches, stick with Gateron.

The Benefits of Kailh Box Switches:

Now let’s talk about Kailh Box switches!

Here are some advantages that they offer:

  • Water and dustproof – since the actuation leaves are inside a box, they’re better protected from the elements!
  • Crisper and crunchier clicks – as mentioned earlier, Kailh Box CLICKY switches have a different (and IMO better) sound & feel than MX-style switches
  • Cost – The premium switches are cheaper than premium Gateron switches
  • Less wobble – because of the way that Kailh Box switches are designed, they have less switch wobble than Gateron switches (and therefore don’t usually need switch films)

If you’re into clicky switches, try some of the Kailh Box options! They’re super crunchy and metallic, without being overly loud and obnoxious.

All great choices!

Gateron or Kailh Box: Which switch is better for ME?

If you are first and foremost a gamer, you’re probably going to want a solid linear switch, and that means sticking with the Gateron brand.

If you want a solid tactile switch and want the best sound & feel at the best price, you’re still probably better off with Gateron.

But if you’re looking for a dust and waterproof switch, or just want to try something different, go with Kailh Box!

If you’re into clicky switches, DEFINITELY go with Kailh Box. The sound & feel of those switches is unmatched!

  • Kailh Box Navy
  • Kailh Box Pinks
  • Kailh Box Jades

So, there you have it – a simple comparison of Kailh Box vs Gateron switches! I hope this helped you make a decision on which switch is best for YOU! ❤️

Mechanical Switch Brand F.A.Q.

Are Kailh box switches better than Gateron?

It really depends on what you’re looking for, and what general type of switch you’re looking for! (linear, tactile, or clicky).

If you’re looking for budget linear and tactile switches that sound and feel great, you’re probably better off sticking with Gateron.

If you’re into clicky switches, Kailh box switches are known for their crisper and crunchier clicks, which some people prefer over the sound of MX-style switches.
Both brands offer great options, so it really just comes down to personal preference in the end. 🙂

What is the best switch for gaming?

This is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on your personal preferences! However, most people would probably say that linear switches are best for gaming, as they offer a smooth, responsive keypress with minimal travel and no “bump” in the middle of the keypress.

Gateron makes excellent “Cherry MX clones” at a budget price.

Are Kailh Box Switches good?

Kailh Box switches are a good alternative to Gateron & Cherry MX switches, and even offer additional benefits that other switches don’t (such as being dust and water-resistant).

They also have a slightly different sound and feel than MX-style switches, which some people prefer. However, it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Is Kailh compatible with MX?

Yes, Kailh switches are compatible with MX-style keycaps and sockets. They both feature a “cross-shaped” stem. And while box switches operate differently (and have an additional “box” on the top of the stem), they are 100% MX compatible switches.

Conclusion

Really, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly Cherry MX clone–you can’t go wrong with Kailh Box or Gateron switches!

It really depends on what you’ll be using your keyboard for.

If you’re into gaming and what top-notch linear switches, consider the Gaterons (Pro Red, Milky Yellow, or Ink Black).

If you enjoy a solid clicky switch that doesn’t annoy at all–try the Kailh Box Jades, Pinks, or Navy!

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